Authentic Art vs. Pornography

David by Michelangelo Florence Galleria dell'Accademia

David by Michelangelo Florence Galleria dell’Accademia

One of the perpetual debates on the Internet among Catholics is whether it is possible to portray the naked body in art without offending its dignity. I’ve observed the controversy with interest, and it has only increased my commitment to share the gloriously liberating teaching of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the body.

In the restoration project of the Sistine Chapel (1981-94), John Paul II insisted on removing several of the loincloths that other clerics had had painted over Michelangelo’s original nudes. In turn, when he dedicated the restored Sistine Chapel, he described it as “the sanctuary of the theology of the human body.” It seems Michelangelo, he said, had been guided by the evocative words in Genesis 2:25, which enabled him, “in his own way,” the Pope said, to see the human body naked without shame (see John Paul II, homily April 13, 1994).

In his theology of the body, John Paul II wrote that some works of art (such as the Sistine Chapel) portray the naked body in a manner that “allows one to concentrate in some way on the whole truth of man, on the dignity and beauty — even ‘suprasensual’ beauty — of his masculinity and femininity” (TOB 63:5). In contrast to this kind of authentic art, pornographic portrayals of the body raise objection, the pope insists, not because they expose the human body per se. The human body in itself always retains its inalienable dignity. Rather, pornography raises objections because of the way in which the human body is portrayed (see TOB 63:5). Pornographers portray the body with the explicit intention of arousing lust — or, as theologians would say, “concupiscence” — in the viewer. This was not the intention of Michelangelo.

Those who believe it’s always improper to portray the naked body in art — and think it holy or “Catholic” to do so — simply cannot justify their position after touring the Vatican. It would be extremely difficult to count the number of depictions of nakedness in St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museum. If you’ve ever been to Rome, you may have noticed the juxtaposition of the nude art within the Vatican and the nudity on the billboards just outside the Vatican. The difference vividly illustrates the distinction between pornography and a respectful portrayal of the body in art.

In response to a debate several years ago among some Catholics on the Internet, Dr. Michael Waldstein, a renowned scholar on John Paul II’s teachings, put it this way: “Some images [of the naked body] push us to concupiscence, others do not. . . . Going to the Sistine Chapel and looking at the naked women on the ceiling is for this reason a very different experience than watching a pornographic movie. It is not presumption, but the experience of many men, that one can look with purity at Michelangelo’s nudes and take delight in their beauty. Michelangelo himself must have looked at his naked models in a pure way in order to be able to paint nudes in that pure way. . . . Of course, if one does feel a slide into concupiscence when looking at Michelangelo’s nudes, it is a good idea to look away. That need to look away should also be a trumpet blast for recognizing . . . that one is in need of a serious transformation.”

Admittedly, living in a “pornified” culture makes it difficult to see the human body as anything other than an opportunity for lust. But this is a notion we must counter as Catholics. As St. Paul said, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the impure, nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15). The human body is not inherently pornographic. The human body is inherently “theo-graphic.” It is meant to reveal and proclaim the mystery of God. This is precisely why John Paul II speaks of the body as a “theology.”

Those who see Michelangelo’s nudes as an occasion of lust are, as Dr. Waldstein observed, in need of a serious transformation. Catholic artists should respond to our pornographic culture not by refusing to portray the human body in its nakedness, but, by portraying it rightly so that we can reclaim the glorious theological truth of our creation as male and female.

Here’s a video reflection I did at Benedictine College on “Naked Without Shame vs. Shameless Nakedness.”

What other differences do you see between authentic art and pornography? Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the HeartWatch the trailer below.

Watch the Short Film

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

411 thoughts on “Authentic Art vs. Pornography

  1. Pingback: article source
  2. Pingback: 2019
  3. Pingback:
  4. Pingback: hs;br
  5. Pingback: tureckie_serialy
  6. Pingback: serialy
  7. Pingback:
  8. Pingback: +1+
  9. Pingback: watch
  10. Pingback: ++++++
  11. Pingback: HD-720
  12. Pingback: 2020
  13. Pingback: Video
  14. Pingback:
  15. Pingback: movies
  16. Pingback: movies online
  17. Pingback: karan johar
  18. Pingback: Top Movies
  19. Pingback: Movies1
  20. Pingback: 11 10 2019
  21. Pingback: Google
  22. Pingback: Serial smotret
  23. Pingback: kinokrad
  24. Pingback: kinokrad 2020
  25. Pingback: Watch TV Shows
  26. Pingback: casino
  27. Pingback: filmy-kinokrad
  28. Pingback: kinokrad-2019
  29. Pingback: serial
  30. Pingback:
  31. Pingback:
  32. Pingback: dorama hdrezka
  33. Pingback: movies hdrezka
  34. Pingback: HDrezka
  35. Pingback: kinosmotretonline
  36. Pingback: LostFilm HD 720
  37. Pingback: bofilm
  38. Pingback: 1 seriya
  39. Pingback:
  40. Pingback:
  41. Pingback:
  42. Pingback:
  43. Pingback:
  44. Pingback:
  45. Pingback: See-Season-1
  46. Pingback: Evil-Season-1
  47. Pingback: Evil-Season-2
  48. Pingback: Evil-Season-3
  49. Pingback: Evil-Season-4
  50. Pingback: Dollface-Season-1
  51. Pingback: serial 2020
  52. Pingback: Dailymotion
  53. Pingback: Watch+movies+2020
  54. Pingback:
  55. Pingback:
  56. Pingback:
  57. Pingback: #1plus1
  58. Pingback: 1plus1
  59. Pingback: Film
  60. Pingback: Film 2020
  61. Pingback: Film 2021
  62. Pingback: human design
  63. Pingback: dizajn cheloveka
  64. Pingback: human-design-space
  65. Pingback: koma 2020
  66. Pingback: The-Gentlemen
  67. Pingback: led-2
  68. Pingback: pod-vodoi
  69. Pingback: vk 2020
  70. Pingback: DSmlka
  71. Pingback: viagra
  72. Pingback: viagra online
  73. Pingback: +
  74. Pingback: ¯jak Son³k
  75. Pingback: astrolog
  76. Pingback: generic cialis
  77. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  78. Pingback: watch online
  79. Pingback: viagra generic
  80. Pingback:
  81. Pingback: buy cialis
  82. Pingback: viagra pills
  83. Pingback: cialis
  84. Pingback: generic viagra
  85. Pingback: buy cialis cheap
  86. Pingback: cialis pills
  87. Pingback: levitra
  88. Pingback: strelcov 2020
  89. Pingback: film t-34
  90. Pingback: Cialis price
  91. Pingback: online pharmacy
  92. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  93. Pingback: viagra online
  94. Pingback: generic cialis
  95. Pingback: cialis generic
  96. Pingback: Beograd film 2020
  97. Pingback: sildenafil citrate
  98. Pingback: cialis
  99. Pingback: buy viagra
  100. Pingback: psiholog
  101. Pingback: cialis online
  102. Pingback: psyhelp_on_line
  103. Pingback: coronavirus
  104. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  105. Pingback: PSYCHOSOCIAL
  106. Pingback: buy cialis pills
  107. Pingback: viagra woman
  108. Pingback: cialis otc
  109. Pingback: cialis prices
  110. Pingback: viagra
  111. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  112. Pingback: generic viagra
  113. Pingback: Generic viagra
  114. Pingback: film doktor_liza
  115. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  116. Pingback: cialis otc
  117. Pingback: viagra for sale
  118. Pingback: djoker film
  119. Pingback: cbd
  120. Pingback: chloroquine online
  121. Pingback: viagra for sale
  122. Pingback: buy viagra online
  123. Pingback: buy ciprofloxacin
  124. Pingback: cialis 10mg
  125. Pingback: buy levitra
  126. Pingback: naltrexone cost
  127. Pingback: sophia viagra
  128. Pingback: cialis otc
  129. Pingback: viagra cialis
  130. Pingback: viagra
  131. Pingback: kaletra generic
  132. Pingback: cialis discount
  133. Pingback: pfizer viagra
  134. Pingback: cheap viagra
  135. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  136. Pingback: cialis canada
  137. Pingback: viagra for sale
  138. Pingback: viagra generic
  139. Pingback: buy cheap cialis
  140. Pingback: ed meds online
  141. Pingback: tadalafil 5mg
  142. Pingback: buy cialis online
  143. Pingback: tadalafil generic
  144. Pingback:
  145. Pingback:
  146. Pingback: cialis visa
  147. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  148. Pingback: viagra price
  149. Pingback: viagra coupon
  150. Pingback: otc viagra
  151. Pingback: cialis generic
  152. Pingback: cialis coupon
  153. Pingback: cialis 5mg
  154. Pingback: generic vardenafil
  155. Pingback: buy generic cialis
  156. Pingback: vardenafil coupon
  157. Pingback: viagra for sale
  158. Pingback:
  159. Pingback: casinos online
  160. Pingback: generic tadalafil
  161. Pingback: buy viagra
  162. Pingback: bitly
  163. Pingback: installment loans
  164. Pingback: viagra
  165. Pingback: personal loan
  166. Pingback: online pharmacy
  167. Pingback: installment loans
  168. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  169. Pingback: 20 cialis
  170. Pingback: cialis buy
  171. Pingback: cialis to buy
  172. Pingback: pharmacy
  173. Pingback: propecia
  174. Pingback: cialis to buy
  175. Pingback: 20 cialis
  176. Pingback: best cbd oil
  177. Pingback: real casino online
  178. Pingback:
  179. Pingback: dom 2
  180. Pingback: levitra coupon
  181. Pingback: hollywood casino
  182. Pingback: zoom-psykholog
  183. Pingback: zoom-viber-skype
  184. Pingback: viagra cost
  185. Pingback: Vratar
  186. Pingback: Cherkassy 2020
  187. Pingback: prescription drugs
  188. Pingback: cialis tadalafil
  189. Pingback: moskva-psiholog
  190. Pingback:
  191. Pingback: buy cialis online
  192. Pingback: tadalafil 10 mg
  193. Pingback: cialis buy
  194. Pingback: metformin
  195. Pingback: viagra canada
  196. Pingback: prednisone generic
  197. Pingback: 323
  198. Pingback: 525
  199. Pingback: generic tadalafil
  200. Pingback: dom2-ru
  201. Pingback: casino real money
  202. Pingback: Tenet Online
  203. Pingback: cialis online
  204. Pingback:
  205. Pingback: propecia online
  206. Pingback: psy psy psy psy

Comments are closed.