It is peculiar, isn't it, the ability of images to obscure and to distract, and the difficulty of thinking clearly about them? It's scarcely a new theme in human thought, but topical at the moment given what seems to be our lack of balance and the weakness of our culture in this area.
A propos of which, I recently ran into Naomi Wolf's oft-quoted article from earlier this decade, The Porn Myth, in which she tried to pinpoint the ways in which the normalisation (and ubiquity) of pornography has damaged the culture. There are insights in it, but this doesn't stop her from being dense, as it were, in passing, such as here:
The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.The tacit assumption here is that moral arguments, and physical- and emotional-health arguments, are separate: that the proposition, “that porn damages people's ability to form and sustain healthy relationships”, is somehow irrelevant to the moral status of the thing. But this is unreal. Moral thought, amongst other things, is about integration; and it is most certainly about the real world.
After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian...
Our culture doesn't seem to be able to keep these categories in perspective: they're either made completely separate or they're collapsed, so that on the one hand learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, and one forgives for the sake of one's own emotional health; and on the other hand, calling an argument “moral” is a way of dismissing it as mediaevalising or prurient, even at the hands of people with concerns of their own that are evidently moral in nature.
Along these lines—if some slippage between “moral” and “religious” may be allowed—the New York Times' Room for Debate site has a list of reflections, alternately interesting and obtuse, on God-talk and the Mark Sanford scandal. The inimitable Eve Tushnet has a fun commentary on the reaction to the whole thing. (The link listed under “good people” is also worth a look.)