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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.
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Discussion (84)
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
November 1, 2015
But why is being an "animal" bad?
July 7, 2015
In your article you make two points:

"We want to have relationships between person and person, not person-to-object."


"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."

So do these two things mean that looking at pictures of really pretty women in bikinis is not allowed and looking at real women in bikinis is also not allowed? You can control whether you look at porn on the web (or a porn magazine). You cannot always control if a really good looking person that you find very attractive walks by you in the grocery store (not that I've seen any women in bikinis in the grocery store, lol!).

Is it okay for example for a 24 year old who is having great difficulty finding a wife, if he is at the grocery store and sees a really beautiful woman, to at least notice her and perhaps feel a bit of desire? He is not drooling over her mind you, just naturally, and I believe understandably, a bit desperate.
April 5, 2015
Good answer Mr. Rabbi
March 4, 2015
Great answer. I chuckled at the mention of "tiny organ." I don't know if that was your intention Rabbi, but boy did it work.
St. Paul MN
September 30, 2014
All ADHD Animals
Yeah, easy to write this, but ADHD exactly lack the inhibition you're talking about, which is a neuro-biological deficit. Does that make all ADHD animals?
July 10, 2014
Is "porn" out there or inside of us
An image, a painting of a nude person, male or female, isn't necessarily porn. Much great art concerns nude representations of both males and females. BUT, we are manipulated by the entertainment community, the advertising community and the religious community to perceive naked images in various ways. The human body, the human being is supposed to be G-ds greatest creation. Our consciousness regarding the beauty and sanctity of the human form has fallen very far from what it should be. PORN to one person isn't PORN to another. Many indigenous cultures wore little to no clothes, which other cultures found "degraded", and butchered them to convert them to another religion and way of life. It is a very complex issue and relates directly to the Serpent in Gan Edan and what occurred afterwards.
Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman
Guanajuato, MEXICO
July 7, 2014
I view porn (not literally) this way. At the very least, the individuals in pornography are in a very sad and dysfunctional space in their lives spiritually. Viewing porn, you are using their spiritual dysfunction to find physical pleasure for yourself. At its worst, people (especially young women) are involved in porn as a result of mental and physical abuse. In many cases, even human trafficking is involved. In this scenario, you are deriving physical pleasure from the torment of others.

Another point: Do you think that it is spiritually and psychologically healthy to repeatedly imagine killing another human being? With porn you are selfishly focused on images that will bring you pleasure. Oftentimes the porn scenarios that will bring the most pleasure are morally and socially taboo. Why worry? You are not doing such things in reality? But to repeatedly find pleasure imaging what you find reprehensible in real life is spiritually, emotionally and psychologically destructive.
February 19, 2014
Not a harmless vice...
Just like alcohol, gambling, cocaine, heroin, crack and many other vices porn is addictive.

I heard once..." it is a harmless vice, compared to drug addiction". False. If you think harmless is spending hours a day viewing porn is harmless, think of all the productive activities you could have engaged in during those hours of porn surfing. I am sure everyone has heard the phrase 'time is money", think of all the "money' you have thrown away that could have been invested in a much more productive activity.

Before the internet existed, It began with nudy pictures acquired through a friend, acquaintance or family member. Your brain likes it, it is visually stimulating, your hormones react, you derive pleasure, especially if you proceed to manually stimulate yourself. In no time you will be buying magazines, now you are spending some money.

Your next trip will be to the strip club with the 'boys (co-workers, friends, etc) Now you are spending real money (cover charge, etc). Continues...
December 28, 2013
on the way out...
I have been watching porn for a long time now... I didn't realize this has been the major cause for low self-esteem. I remember myself before being addicted to porn - was lot confident and achieved quite a many things in life. My life has gone to stand-still and backwards with porn. I have made up my mind to finally quit this for better life.

Thank you for the article and the many who have written your experiences. I hope to come back here and write how my life has been away from porn in the coming days.