Note: Due to the nature of the topic, it is highly recommended that this guide NOT be used in coed discussion groups.
Pornography is big business in the Western world. According to conservative estimates, it is a $10 billion industry in the U.S. alone! Pornography is easy to obtain. Many people see it as harmless recreation while others consider it criminal. But how does God view it? That’s what a Christian should want to know. The Bible is the place to go to find out what God thinks about pornography. This guide will help you to discover a portion of what the Bible has to say about this topic.
por-nog-ra-phy—a noun, [from the Greek word pornographos meaning writing of harlots, derived from porne which means harlot, combined with graphein which means to write] 1. The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. 2. Material (as in books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement.[i]
Biblical Derivatives of Pornography
The specific word pornography is not used in the Bible. However, the Greek words that pornography is derived from include:
porneia – harlotry (including adultery and incest):—translated in the New Testament from as fornication or sexual immorality.
porneuo – to act the harlot, i.e. (literally) indulge in unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practice idolatry: – translated in the New Testament as commit (fornication). [ii]
Evidence from Scripture
EXODUS 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant … nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
1. What does this commandment say about lusting for anything that is not yours to have?
2. What is the connection between pornography and coveting (or lust)?
3. What is the difference between “lust” and “love”?
MATTHEW 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, `You shall not commit adultery.’ “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
MATTHEW 6:22-23: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
4. What link is made between what a person sees and the physical act of adultery?
5. What impact do the things that you see have on your body and mind?
COMMENT: Note the emphasis God has put on having a clean and pure mind. Social science has provided good reasons for God’s commands: “Research clearly demonstrates a direct link between pornography and bizarre antisocial behavior (sexual aberration, sexual violence, pedophilia [sexual abuse of children]). FBI investigations, plus records of many law enforcement agencies, testify that pornographic materials are ‘found data’ (i.e. involved) in large numbers of ‘lust murders,’ autoerotic fatalities, mutilations, rapes, and ravages of women and children.”[iii] “For pornography to be harmless, the people who are depicted in its images would have to be unreal….However, the women violated in pornography are human beings. Beyond the glossy pages, the naked and used women are real…. Pornography makes women chattel, and all women have reason to fear that the attitudes of the men with whom they live and work are transformed by the images of pornography. Pornography operates in a subliminal way, as a manifestation of the inequality of the sexes and a rationale for sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Depicting women as anonymous, ever-wanting/waiting, empty sex toys for men, stripping and exposing their bodies for monetary gain and entertainment cannot possibly translate into a message that can exist in harmony with equality, dignity and humanity…. Moreover, even non-violent pornography seriously undermines the value of women in real life. In the porn world, a woman’s value is directly linked to her sexual desirability, according to pornography’s artificial, glossy, airbrushed criterion. Without regard to her as [a] woman of dignity, intelligence, political autonomy, wisdom, and personality, pornography reinforces sexual stereotypes and promulgates a demeaning message about the role of women in society. The addictive nature of pornography creates a self-perpetuating cycle, magnified by the fact that exposure to pornography lessens repulsion to pornography and desensitizes its consumers of its harms. Properly evaluated, pornography looses its definition as “thought” or “speech” but rather becomes an action, in and of itself.”[iv]
6. Who are the victims of pornography?
7. Why would a woman pose for pornography? Would it be wrong for a woman to pose? Why?
8. How are women to be treated? Read I Peter 3:7 and comment.
9. How valuable are women to men? Read Proverbs 31:10-12 Proverbs 31:10-12 10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband does safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
American King James Version×, 28-31 and compare with what pornography teaches.
1 CORINTHIANS 6:18-20: ” Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
10. To whom does your body belong?
11. What do these verses teach concerning sexual morality and this concept of who owns your body?
12. Is the use of pornography possible while fleeing sexual immorality? Why?
EPHESIANS 5:5: “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
13. What clear warning is given?
PSALM 101:3: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes….”
EPHESIANS 5:11-12: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”
14. If it is shameful to speak about those things that are done, would it not also be shameful to listen to someone talking about such things?
15. What about viewing such things portrayed in pornographic pictures or films?
16. What about reading written pornographic descriptions of such things?
PROVERBS 5:18-21: “… rejoice with the wife of your youth…. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, And be embraced in the arms of a seductress? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He ponders all his paths.”
17. Whom do these verses from Proverbs teach to be the correct channel for affections, desires and passions?
18. What is the wrong source?
1 THESSALONIANS 5:21-22: “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
2 TIMOTHY 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
PHILIPPIANS 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–-meditate on these things.”
19. What are you instructed to avoid?
20. What things are you instructed to do and think about?
1 THESSALONIANS 4:3-7: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;…. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”
1 PETER 1:15-16: “… as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ “
21. What is “sanctification”? How does one “possess his own vessel in sanctification”?
22. Because you are called, what part should pornography have in your life?
1. What is pornography?
2. Suppose someone said to you, “I like to read girlie magazines now and then. I’m not harmed and no one else is either. So, what’s wrong with that?” How would you answer?
3. What should you fill your mind with? Why (what are the reasons for doing this)?
[i] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1991), p.916.
[ii] James Strong, The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), p. 685.
[iii] Rus Walton, Biblical Solutions to Contemporary Problems, (Arlington Heights, IL.: Christian Liberty Press, 1988), p. 202, sources cited.