April 24, 2023

In Brief: It’s Adultery, Not Adultery Prevention

Why Dennis Prager is dead wrong about pornography.

Dennis Prager is a veteran commentator with profound insights on an array of cultural and political issues. Even the best of us gets it wrong sometimes, however, and such is the case with his recent declaration regarding pornography. Kylee Griswold takes him to task for it.

“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.

Griswold gives 14 reasons why Prager is wrong. We’ll summarize a few of them.

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.

Griswold calls pornography “a cheap knock-off” of God’s gift of sex. It fuels abuse because “the multibillion-dollar industry is by nature exploitative.” It “normalizes violence” and “models toxic masculinity.” Prager is Jewish and therefore doesn’t follow the New Testament, but Griswold notes that it violates the command not to “approve sin.” From another standpoint, she continues:

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.

Along those same lines, Griswold argues porn “shatters trust,” “destroys a wife’s self-image,” and “crushes intimacy.” Obviously, none of those things are good for marriages. She also comments on the damage it does to the act of sex for both wife and husband. She then concludes:

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

Read the whole thing here.

Update: Prager responded to the controversy here.

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