The Expository Files.

What is Pornography?

Modern Controversies #8

One of the problems associated with pornography is the seemingly simple task of identifying what it is. We certainly can't leave it up to the Supreme Court to decide for us. They have already said they are unable; but they are also unsuitable. The movie (and now television) rating systems are certainly not adequate. They accept almost any immorality as "normal." Preachers have preached many sermons against pornography, yet we are still left with the question, "WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?"

Sure, we all know that the "XXX" movie or video in the sleazy back-room of the tape store or the skid row movie house is pornography. But is that ALL that we need to know? What about the "R" rated movies? "PG-13?" "PG?"

Where is the Christian to draw the line? We would all probably agree that Playboy Magazine (and all the other men's magazines) is pornography. But what about Redbook Magazine? Cable television has brought the "blue" movies into the homes of those who are interested; making it easier to hide the sin. But what about network television? Can you find pornography there?

What does God's Word teach us about this sin? The word "pornography" is a modern term that deals with all of the "-ographies" of our modern world (i.e. photography, cinematography, etc.) Obviously, then, it would not be found in the scriptures. And, perhaps, that is where the problem begins.

Preachers have taught against "pornography" but have not identified the sin from the Word of God. When we teach on the sin we will have no problem identifying WHAT pornography is; and why it is so harmful to the soul.

The KJV uses the term LASCIVIOUSNESS to describe this sin. (Mark 7:22; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19; 1 Pet. 4:3; Jude 4). This is an archaic word for an "unbridled expression of sexual urges" The RSV translated the underlying Greek word as licentiousness; the NAS, as sensuality. And other translations used a variety of terms such as debauchery; indecency; lewdness; sexual sin.

What does the N.T. say about this sin?

In Mark 7:14-23 we read, And after He called the multitude to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." And when leaving the multitude, He had entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."

Jesus is talking about how a man (or woman) is defiled (made spiritually unclean). The Jews were concerned about their systematic laws...i.e. clean/unclean foods, etc. But Jesus told them that they missed the point! It is not all of that ceremonial outward display of cleanness that makes a man pure, it is the heart that is to be pure! IT IS THE HEART!! That goes for the men and women of today, too!

Jesus said that "out of the heart" ( our MIND & EMOTIONS) come many types of sin. Among these sins he lists "sensuality." We have senses. God gave them to us. This term, "sensuality," relates to our sexual senses.

When you read the Song of Solomon we recognize that God expects us to be sexually stimulated by our mate. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS GOD GAVE US THAT MATE.

God is not condemning our being sexually stimulated as the Puritans taught. But, when we seek that stimulation from other sources than our mate, this defiles us. He is not just talking about where this sin might lead....look at the passage again. Jesus is not saying that it may "cause us to sin." He lists the sin of "sensuality" with other sins of the heart (i.e. pride, coveting, evil thoughts, etc.)

Paul warned those who had not repented after the commission of this sin, I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced. ( 2 Cor 12:21)

These three terms are dealing with sexual sins. The people of Corinth (LIKE THE PEOPLE OF TODAY) had a problem with this sin. (Compare also with the Galatians...Look at Gal. 5:19, ....Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality....THE SAME THREE TERMS)

Pornography is pleasurable. It feels good (stimulates those senses). But, should that surprise us? That's HOW Satan works. That's how he tempts men and women to ruin their lives.

Now look at Eph 4:17-19 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

One of the characteristics of the Gentiles was their practice of sexual sins; even perversions, including homosexuality.

Sexual sins are ALWAYS progressive. Pornography (sensuality) is ALWAYS progressive. Just look at any society. When people are given to pornography it ultimately leads to the lowest forms of evil.

If one begins looking at nude magazines like Playboy or Playgirl he or she will soon turn to "harder" forms of pornography; then to even more deviant sexual material; to child pornography; to bestiality; etc. etc. When one likes to be stimulated by the written word they will ultimately turn from the titillating stories in Redbook Magazine, to "romance" novels, to stories of deeper and deeper perversion. If one begins to go to movies that are sexually stimulating they will eventually desire scenes of greater graphic proportion and length and deeper perversion.

Before you know it "normal" and lawful sexual expression with your mate is not even attractive to you any more. Listen to the following excerpts of a true account...

The following is taken from a 1994 "Christianity Today" Magazine:

"Loneliness wasn't the only bitterness she tasted. She was also beginning to see the depth of her anger......." "She recalled all the years Brad had made her feel so stupid, as if everything were her fault......." "More than anger, though, Susan was plagued with self-doubt. For years she had fretted about what was wrong with her--what about her turned Brad off?

Now she discovered that when it came to a choice, between her flesh-and-blood and a glossy photo, she lost......" "Sometimes she wished he'd had a affair. Instead of one woman, there had been hundreds who had passed through their bedroom. At least with another woman, Susan could compete. Brad would have eventually discovered another woman's flaws. But how was she supposed to compete with picture-perfect fantasies? She wasn't built like them; she didn't smile like them....."

Pornography is not only PROGRESSIVE it is also ADDICTIVE. Psychologists who work in the field of addictions, say that when one becomes sexually stimulated that there is a chemical released in the brain. When one constantly seeks to be sexually stimulated by pornography they can be as addicted to that chemical as those who are on illicit drugs.

Dr. Victor Cline at the University of Utah has worked with hundreds of Pornography addicts. He says there are four stages to addiction.

FIRST: The addiction itself. It IS AN ADDICTION.

SECOND: The addiction always escalates -- You crave harder and harder pornography.

THIRD: You become increasingly desensitized: What was absolutely abhorrent before begins to become attractive.

FOURTH: You act out the behavior.

Peter said, Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Pet 4:1-5)

Many use some excuse for this type of sexual gratification. "My wife is ill..." "People marry much older than they did back then..." etc. But these are merely excuses that people use to salve their consciences.

Christ was able to live without even a wife! He didn't live to satisfy His physical lusts. He didn't reduce Himself to the practice of sensuality. Paul didn't debase himself in this manner, either. NOR SHOULD WE!!

Some Christians might even tell you that it is O.K. or that it is NORMAL. But Jude said, Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4)

What is pornography? ANYTHING..... ANYTHING... ANYTHING that you allow to stimulate you sexually other than your mate.

Notice I said ALLOW.... It's your choice. When something comes across TV that is sexually stimulating, TURN THE CHANNEL. If you see a movie that becomes "steamy," leave the theater. If you are reading and the text becomes sexually stimulating, simply refuse to read/see it. If something or someone at work is sexually stimulating, divert your attention.

Remember, Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."

 By David A. Beck 
 From Expository Files 3.8; August 1996