Friday, February 24, 2012

Turning Away from Sin: Porn Clarification

The unbridgeable gulf between Art and pornography as mentioned in the previous TOB post should go with a certain understanding. It is not to be understood in the sense that when one views pornography he is not bringing to it everything else about himself, as though one could go from viewing, say, a holy icon and be virtuous, and then view pornography and be evil, and never the twain shall meet. There is a sense in which a person brings everything of himself to everything that he does. The false dichotomy that sin creates, especially in one who has seriously fallen, is just that - a false one, though the fragmentation of it in the effects produced in a person would be very much real.

St. Thomas Aquinas says:

"For everything naturally desires good, nor can anyone desire anything for himself, save under the aspect of good..."


The Thomistic principle states that when man sins he is doing what he thinks will make him happy, and in that respect desires good. It is impossible for a man to say, "I will do what will make me unhappy..." even though what he does, because of original sin, makes him unhappy indeed.

Christopher West takes this principle and turns it in upon itself, so that it is this misapprehension of the good that is what essentially makes sin sin, rather than there being a fundamental original root of sin in man, the effects of which cause such misapprehension, and which effects, in being effected, are truly in likeness after the root; they are truly sin.

In Christopher West World, sin is just a "blindness"; it is the inability to see the good that makes sin sin. In other words, his understanding of original sin is deplorable. As a result, he teaches that if one continues doing what inherently causes this "blindness", it is possible through that very practice of what inherently blinds him, to be made to see. Thus he writes:

"Who knows, maybe one day those now caught up in society’s sex obsession [i.e. those who view pornography] may “pore” over John Paul II’s TOB, finding “the same scenery that they had left, but this time illuminated by the sun.”" (From West's article, "Everyday Mysticism")


The implications are all there: the evil of viewing pornography is solely a fumbling after goodness totally focalized within the one viewing pornography. It just needs to be illuminated or "untwisted". In West's teaching, he removes the objective evil which is committed against God and neighbour and even against self, and which attaches to the soul of the sinner.

Though man desires good and his happiness when he sins, it remains that the objective evil he commits in doing so, is a definitive evil, which cannot be obliterated from him except through the mercy of Jesus Christ. And it cannot be removed by Christ unless that person repent, and he cannot repent when he believes that his sins are just blind fumblings which contain his salvation and redemption (in twisted form), and that he just needs it "illuminated" for him, or "untwisted".

Do some people need to understand that there were certain hidden motives and reasons tangled up with having done what they did, lest they take themselves to be totally evil beings? Sure, but that sort of thing is subsumed in the objective repentance of objective evil that one has committed. It cannot come the other way around, never mind solely through that way while negating the other.

West talks a deal about how there is a good behind everything, that evil is not a thing, but a parasite feeding off the thing (though even this is giving him too much credit since he refers to it more as a mere "distortion"). What is interesting is how this is used to make viewing pornography less evil than what it is, having the potential in it, because there is a good behind it (the naked human body), for a person to come to good - if only in retrospect "seeing" that he was just seeking goodness all along.

But the fact that a person brings the good bound up within himself to viewing pornography (and its making) actually makes viewing pornography even more evil, not less so. Because the "good at bottom" that the person brings in viewing pornography is a good only insofar that the good is being corrupted - through viewing pornography. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography - nothing but evil. The good that he brought to viewing pornography, whatever it may have been, has thusly been corrupted. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography. And though the man did not view it saying to himself, "Let's see what ways I can be evil..." but was seeking what in his birth into original sin has been seen as a good, the evil he has committed in doing so is objective, and, well, committed. Nothing good can come from viewing pornography.




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