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Dennis Prager Is Dead Wrong About Pornography: It’s Adultery, Not Adultery Prevention

Prager not only gives men permission to use porn but implies their wives should be glad their husbands consume it.

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“Men want variety. … If pornography is a substitute for one’s wife, it’s awful. If it’s a substitute for adultery, it’s not awful.”

These words came courtesy of one of the biggest conservative talk show hosts in America, Dennis Prager, in response to a porn question from Jordan Peterson during a discussion of Exodus for The Daily’s Wire’s eponymous series.

This is “not a religious answer,” emphasized Prager — who comes from a Judaic background and claims to be “less interested in the interior person” than in “how you act” — but a “moral and realistic answer.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Not only does pornography as a means of adultery prevention fail the religious test. It miserably fails the moral and realistic test as well. As Todd Friel of Wretched explains, Prager’s message is horrible for both men and women — first because it gives men permission to use porn, providing them an “out,” and second because it essentially tells wives they should be glad their husbands consume it.

Beyond subscribing to the pitfall of utilitarian ethics, in which the ends justify the means, Prager’s view proves a detestable way to stave off adultery. Here are just some of the reasons why.

1. Porn Is Adultery of the Heart

Prager recommends pornography as an antidote to adultery, but the two are one and the same.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about lust’s relationship to adultery in graphic terms:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

Prager addresses this exact teaching in his discussion with Peterson, saying that Judaism cares “how you act,” not the intentions of the heart: “Looking with lust is not a sin in Judaism,” he says emphatically.

But it’s not true to say the God of Abraham as presented in the Old Testament cared only about external actions. As “The Bible is Art’s” John Higgins points out, both the first and last of the Ten Commandments concern intents of the heart, not outward actions that immediately affect other people.

2. Porn Is a Gross Depiction of a Gift

Sex is a gift from God that within marriage is beautiful for many reasons, not the least of which are its opportunities for commitment, closeness, and procreation. Pornography is a cheap knock-off that mocks these virtues. Its depiction of sex not only rejects the kind of intimacy that can be found only in a committed union, but it also portrays women and girls as objects of men’s sexual pleasure.

3. Porn Exploits Other Women

That portrayal involves women Prager doesn’t even acknowledge. His “moral and realistic” calculus centers solely on a husband’s desires and, to a far lesser degree, how that man’s actions affect his wife. But what about the other women involved in the creation of pornography?

The multibillion-dollar industry is by nature exploitative, and it has a known track record of profiting from the mistreatment of people, especially women. Trafficking and non-consensual sex are common, and it’s nearly impossible to tell which content is not a result of these factors. Consuming porn fuels this evil and abuse.

4. Porn Normalizes Violence

Studies reveal a significant percentage of porn includes men engaging in physical or verbal aggression toward women, who are almost always shown responding neutrally or even positively, reinforcing that this dynamic is normal.

Some studies have shown that 40 percent or more of Pornhub videos included violence or aggression. A different study that analyzed more than 300 of the most popular pornographic videos concluded nearly 90 percent showed physical aggression, and nearly 50 percent included verbal aggression.

5. Porn Models ‘Toxic Masculinity’

Typically, “toxic masculinity” is a smear thrown around by leftists to describe things that are really healthy masculinity. But if any male behavior is toxic, it’s the kind that objectifies and dominates women — and Prager recommends men watch this.

It’s important for married men to consider not only what kind of imagery they view, but what kind of attitudes about women and sex they’re modeling for their own children. You can tell yourself porn is saving your marriage (it’s not), but what are your sons and daughters picking up from your screen or behavior along the way?

6. Porn ‘Gives Approval’ to Sin

Since pornography contains all the aforementioned sins, its viewer grants tacit approval by consuming it.

The New Testament is relevant here, even if Prager doesn’t follow it. After discussing the “dishonorable passions,” including sexual sins, of unrighteous men in the beginning of his letter to the Romans, Paul the apostle reinforces the wide scope of this debasement: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

7. Porn Violates Marriage Vows

Even if a man doesn’t care what Paul said, he should care what his former self said — specifically his promises to his wife. When two people commit to each other in marriage, they don’t vow specifically not to commit adultery.

Instead they vow “to love and cherish” and “forsake all others,” “for better, for worse.” In greenlighting porn, Prager communicates that “for worse” doesn’t apply when men “want variety”; “forsaking all others” doesn’t include naked women on a screen; and “to cherish” means regarding one’s wife as an object of sexual pleasure that can be substituted with masturbatory fantasies.

8. Porn Shatters Trust

In entering the covenant of marriage, men and women exchange a profound degree of trust — beyond faith that their spouse won’t sleep around. How is a woman to feel when she finds out her husband is looking to other women for sexual gratification? Prager intimates she should be glad. But is nagging doubt really cause for celebration?

How long has he been hiding this? Is it really to prevent infidelity, or am I not enough? What is he thinking about when we have sex? Am I a bad wife?

Pornography invites these suspicions and more.

9. Porn Destroys a Wife’s Self-Image

Porn consumption doesn’t just change how a woman thinks about her husband or marriage; it changes how she thinks about herself.

Marital intimacy is exclusive, and thus there’s an expectation not only of sexual confidentiality but also respect and honor. Since the fall of man, nakedness has been a source of shame and privacy — with the exception of the marriage context. What a betrayal of trust for a wife to learn her body is now an object of comparison and her sexual mannerisms a performance to be scrutinized.

Sure, she works hard at her 9-5, runs errands and miles on the treadmill, cooks and cleans and tends to the endless needs of her family — but can her body that incubated and birthed multiple kids really compete with that of a woman who sells sex professionally? She wonders.

10. Porn Crushes Intimacy

In her book “The Great Sex Rescue,” Sheila Wray Gregoire uses the example of Jared and Melissa, a Christian couple who graduated from the “honeymoon” phase of their marriage into the regular patterns of life. Melissa is pregnant, Jared works a lot, and they don’t spend as much time together. With intercourse declining in frequency, Jared turns to porn — a habit he feels justified in, thanks to his church men’s group reinforcing a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband so he doesn’t give in to temptation. It sounds an awful lot like Prager’s advice.

But what does that mean for Melissa and the couple’s intimacy? Gregoire writes:

Melissa feels like she’s been punched in the gut. She’s pregnant, working full-time, keeping house, and she’s still not enough for him? Now, every time they have sex, all she can picture is her husband watching porn. Sex is fast, quick, and to the point. Even when he wants to try something for her, she can’t stomach it because she wonders if he learned it from porn.

11. Porn Ruins Women’s Libido

This is simple. If women are afraid their husbands will turn to pornography if they don’t provide sex whenever it’s desired — especially if their role models are promoting it as a cure for adultery! — they’ll have sex out of pure obligation. And, as Gregoire often says, there’s nothing sexy about duty sex.

12. Porn Breeds Sexual Dysfunction

Pornography can also lead to serious sexual dysfunction in both men and women. While men’s risk of erectile dysfunction increases with age, a recent study found a “higher than expected” correlation between young men’s porn intake and ED, with a whopping 23 percent of men under age 35 experiencing the problem.

Gregoire writes about how it affects marriages:

Many women live in sexless marriages because the husband prefers pornography. Or he’s used porn so much for so long that he suffers from erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or delayed ejaculation, all of which increase with porn use. Without the stimulation of pornography or masturbation, many men are unable to maintain an erection or reach climax. Other men have so trained their bodies to react to sexual stimulation quickly that they have no ability to last very long.

Although it’s discussed far less, many women also suffer from sexual dysfunction, such as vaginismus, or persistent pain during sex. Gregoire writes that this disorder, which is often wrapped up in trauma, internalized messages, or other psychological factors, is more prevalent among religious conservative women than the rest of the population, leading to the belief that so-called purity culture, “duty-sex” messages, and legalism like the kind Prager prescribed are one cause.

13. Porn Corrupts Your Thought Life

Not only is pornography thought to “rewire” the consumer’s brain, but consuming sexual impurity, aggression, and violence also takes a toll on a person’s thought life. In his letter to the Phillippians, Paul instructs Christians that whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy — “think about these things.”

14. Porn Defaces Divine Imagery

One of the most beautiful descriptions in Scripture is the church as the bride of Christ. It shows “the nature of Christ’s love for the church and how that self-sacrificing, sanctifying love is manifested for us,” as Hans Feine once explained in these pages. Marriages are meant to reflect this — the “holy and blameless” wife, and the husband giving his life for her.

By reducing marital faithfulness simply to “not adultery,” we deface this divine spiritual union between Christ and His bride and downplay the future “wedding of the Lamb.”

Consuming porn isn’t self-sacrifice. It’s self-centeredness — and no excuse about it being a “substitute for adultery” can change that.


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