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What's Wrong with Pornography?

What's Wrong with Pornography?



Is pornography bad? If so could you please explain why it's bad and how it affects a person's life?


Good question. Too often we just assume something is bad because everyone says it's bad, without thinking into the reasons.

Everyone knows that child pornography is bad because it's been demonstrated over and over that people who look at that stuff end up acting it out—and really destroy people's lives. That's beyond the unconscionably cruel exploitation of the children involved.

Other forms of pornography are harmful for a similarly oft-repeated reason: Pornography makes women into objects of desire rather than real people. We want to have relationships between person and person, not person-to-object.

But there's something much deeper than that in pornography, something that gets at the very core of being a man. A real man is someone who maintains control over himself. Animals can't do that—they just respond to their instincts. People are free in the sense that they can decide what is the right and proper thing to do.

But when someone is looking at pornography, he is actively undermining that inner strength of his, allowing himself to slip into being an animal. The eyes see, the hormones are triggered and the mind is washed away in a sea of biological tyranny. A grown human being becomes a slave of one tiny organ of his body. In his relationship with women, as well, he becomes enslaved in his passion for them—and a cinch for them to manipulate.

If you want to rise in life and become a whole and healthy human being, you need to maintain control of your mind. It's your mind, after all. And the first step in controlling your mind is to control your eyes. Keep them from staring at that which doesn't belong to you.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Discussion (91)
July 21, 2016
1. Why do we assume the most important reason for a man to abstain from watching pornography is so that a woman does not manipulate him? To say that he should learn to treat other humans (men and women) with dignity and respect, by containing his yetzer ha ra would have been enough. Implying that women desire to manipulate, and that is what a man must, most chiefly, guard against, is misogyny, and does this otherwise useful post a disservice.

2. It's a Christian idea, stemming from the Victorian Age, that women do not struggle with lust, or that she is an angel in the house; Jews had never really believed such a thing. We miss the opportunity to address all humans who may struggle with these issues when we address men alone. Women are not sexless. Temptation arises in them as well. It's important to address these issues head-on in order to promote a vibrant Jewish community, enriched by its access to truth, rather than stymied by its consistent fear.
basha r.
May 10, 2016
animals don't make choices

some animals making intellectual /moral choices
google for -
Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals
May 8, 2016
I agree. I believe that adults can be harmed just as much when people view their pornographic images. I'm not saying all porn should be illegal to view, but it should be illegal to knowingly view non-consensual pornography, even if it's that of an adult.
New York
April 9, 2016
What is the real crime
IMO the real crime is a slippery slope of relating to people from the martian point of view of extreme otherness.

From there objectification is a two step at best. The fact that this 'two step' is the only dance too many youth experience as their first expectation of sexuality is a travesty.

Where is the partnership? No waltz, no 'mashed potato' just the tango, every time. How many times will we step on toes, then?
January 2, 2016
Bravo! Male vs Man... May G-d bless you and keep you Tzvi.
Vancouver, WA
December 16, 2015
Intellectual rigour? Really?
Come on, get real. Animals have sex by instinct and cannot use their minds to chose to not have sex. Animals kill other animals as part of instinctual design, and cannot chose to do otherwise. Animals are very instinctually territorial and cannot chose to behave differently. Just a couple examples.

Animals cannot pick up or even read any books and gain an accumulated knowledge or awareness of anything such as man does. It's an obviously very different category of existence. You're assertion has no relevance, no criteria, is specious and erroneous. So, rigour? Or no brainer.

Sorry, try again.
Eleazar Goldman
San Francisco
December 14, 2015
I think the statement, "Pornography makes women into objects of desire rather than real people." indicates the lack of ability to think clearly and logically. This is pretty much a meaningless statement. The writer doesn't clearly and precisely say what he is talking about. He apparently think it sounds bad but lacks the intelligence to say what he is talking about. A sexual interest in a female very much enhances the recognition that she is a real person.
Robert H. Biggadike
West Covina
December 2, 2015
I take issue with two itmes in this
a}he becomes enslaved in his passion for [women]—and a cinch for them to manipulate.
the idea that 'women are manipulative' displays a degree of negative atitude towards women, possibly even an underlying mysogyny

b}Are we the same a s other animals? No, we have the ability to choose what we think, feel, and do in the outer world

Do you think then that other animals are incabable of making choices in what they think, feeling and do?
if so then you are a lacking in intellectual rigour
December 2, 2015
Wow. What a great thought, connection. There are a couple of places in Tanakh that can translates to English, 'animal-like': Ps 92:6 "An animal-like man does not know; a fool does not understand this. 92:7 When the wicked flourish like grass, and all the evildoers blossom, it is for them to be destroyed forever." Basically, the Torah-less.
November 1, 2015
Is MAN an animal?
Are we the same a s other animals? No, we have the ability to choose what we think, feel, and do in the outer world. We can become more and more animal-like, rather than uniting more and more to our higher natures of Mercy, Intelligence, compassion, Wisdom. The man who thinks that seeing a young and beautiful female can ever satisfy his need or desire for love and a soul connection, is in a state of self-delusion, as the outer raiment of a soul is not necessarily the beauty of her inner-self, or, even fidelity in a relationship.
Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman
San Francisco