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Is Watching Pornography a Sin?

The Bible teaches that sin is anything that goes against the will of God. As the will of God has been revealed in scripture, the Bible is always a good place to start in determining which of our thoughts and behaviors would honor or dishonor God.

Pornography is indeed a sin because it defies what God created human sexuality to be. God desires that sex be sacred and enjoyed in the context of marriage between one man and one woman. Pornography therefore distorts the holiness of sex and brings along with it unrealistic expectations, violence and inhumane acts.

But why is pornography so addictive and popular? Why is it that above many other industries aimed at capturing our attention, the pornographic industry is thriving?

The pornography Industry is worth $97 billion dollars! The internet era has made pornography easily accessible, giving people the opportunity to feed their sexual appetites or fetishes whenever and wherever they want to. And nothing is taboo. Things such as child pornography, bestiality, incest, and paedophilia are rampant and heavily viewed.

Pornography’s Grip

When we indulge our minds with erotic pictures and videos, dopamine is released in our brains and we get a sense of relief. By way of self-medicating, our brains begin to look forward to the next time we will feel this way.

This is one of the reasons pornography is so addictive. We human beings are sexual beings by nature and in accordance with how we were created. Dopamine isn’t a bad hormone; it is a ‘feel good’ hormone that relaxes the body. We do need to ask ourselves what is triggering out bodies to release this hormone: is it a good or a bad thing? Pornography is harmful.

A Context for Understanding What the Bible Says about Pornography

Ephesians 5:31-32 reads:

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

The reason marriage is a mystery is because it displays the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross for his chosen ones to a watching world. God intended for sex to be enjoyed in the context of marriage as sacred and honorable, giving God glory. Pornography doesn’t do this, rather it glorifies fornication and harmful acts of violence on human beings as sexually arousing.

Look back to the beginning. When God created man and woman (recorded in Genesis 2), His intention was/is that one man and one woman would please only each other sexually in the covenant of marriage. In this covenant relationship, the ways these two people would show love to each other, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, would be in a way which brings honor and praise to God. Pornography doesn’t serve any of those purposes. It does the complete opposite.

God created human beings in his image and likeness. This means the character of God should be reflected in how we live daily.

Your mind may be reeling with questions, especially if you didn’t realize the dangers of pornography and didn’t realize viewing it is sinful. You might be asking …

1. How can pornography be wrong if it’s been there throughout human history?

Just because something has existed for centuries does not make it right before God. Actually, it goes to show how fallen and sinful the human nature is. From our earliest days, we humans have yearned to create, view, and read things that satisfy our flesh, but in turn disobey God by taking what he made for good and perverting it.

2. How can you claim the Bible addresses pornography while we know Pornography is a new invention?

The word pornography may not explicitly appear in the Bible; however, the scriptures are clear on what God categorizes as sin. The Bible also uses the Greek word ‘porneia’ from which pornography is derived. This word usually points to fornication, sexual immorality, prostitution, adultery, and other forms of immorality. Scripture warns of the moral decay that results from pursuing desires of the flesh above honorable ends. Here are some examples:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral (porneia), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revellers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10)

Put to death, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality (porneia), impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Let the marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral (porneia) and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4)

Flee from sexual immorality (porneia). Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6: 18-19)

The union of one man and one woman through a marital covenant where they become one through sexual intercourse is considered honorable before God. When society defies what God created sex to be, this inevitably breeds lust and becomes sin or a form of disobedience towards God.

3. How can pornography be bad if it doesn’t harm anybody?

Pornography is indeed harmful. Some of the actors in erotic films are young, many trafficked children, victims of paedophilia. A study on an analysis of top selling and top renting titles found 88% of scenes showed aggression by males against females. This is referred to as BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism), and appeals to people who become sexually aroused by seeing others tortured.

4. Isn’t pornography and masturbation a harmless substitute for fornication?

It’s easy to think that engaging in pornography and masturbation is harmless. We assume this because we’re pleasuring ourselves. Even though another person is not there physically and you’re just watching depictions of sexual behavior and pleasuring yourself, the objective we must always pursue is following God’s will. The Bible talks about sexual immorality:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)

Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4)

5. Isn’t pornography beneficial for a married couple?

Pornography may sound like a good source of learning for a married couple but what it actually does is set an unrealistic expectation for each spouse. Pornography is not real life, neither are the other subtle sex scenes we see in movies. Pornography depicts fantasies and portrays them in a way that looks easy and exciting (having perfect bodies too). Pornography leads to feelings of unsatisfaction, insecurity and doubt in relationships, and often times leads to lust outside of the marriage.

This is unfortunate and nowhere close to how God created sex/relationships to be viewed. Pornography demoralizes relationships and human beings and what God intended them to be.

Conclusion

Seeing these arguments that pornography is both sin and seeing evidence of its harmful nature, we must conclude it is damaging to individual and human relationships and harmful to society as a whole.

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