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By Richard Gunther


Pornography is seen, by many people (but not all) as a bad thing. By extremists it is considered a threat, a menace, and something close to Satanic, while to many other people it is seen as a legitimate pleasure and a fantasy which brings (momentary) enjoyment.

But what exactly is pornography, and why is considered harmful? And what about it is harmful? Obviously, there must be (perceived at least) something harmful about it, or a lot of responsible adults wouldn’t be doing so much to protect children from it.

"Pornography" comes from two Greek words "porne" = harlot and "grapho" = to write. In other words, the narrow meaning is "licentious writing", or "sexually immoral". So even in its narrowest form, pornography is considered as a moral issue. This, logically, leads us to ask the next question - on what basis do we judge anything as either moral or immoral.

For the Christian the answer is easy. All morals are illuminated by the divine, absolute standards of right and wrong, as contained in the ten commandments. Jesus amplified these commands to the extent that, for example, a man might not literally commit adultery, but if he even imagined the act, his thoughts were on the same level, in God’s sight, as the act. In that case, all men (and women) must be guilty of adultery at some time or other in their lives, so what is wrong with pornography, since it merely extends what men and women do in their thoughts to a slightly more visible level? (Gen.6:5, Ex.20, Jer.17:9, Matt.5:27,28)

What pornography does is present immorality in a graphic and pleasurable way, so as to lead the person viewing it into thoughts which they would not ordinarily have.

Pornography is morally wrong, no matter how it is disguised, and while it offers people something worth having, in the end it degrades and ultimately ruins them. Pornography is a branch of sin, and sin wears many disguises, often making itself appear as: 1. Fun, 2. Enjoyable, 3. Enlightening, 4. Valuable.

Pornography offers the viewer something good, but its effect is ultimately poisonous, in the following ways :

1. Pornography degrades the image of God. God created the first woman to portray His ‘female’ aspect. All of Nature shows this male/female duality, and likewise the woman was created to present a full ‘picture’ of God. God is not just male or just female, He is both male and female, so men and women exist to reflect the complete nature of God. But pornography reduces the female aspect to the level of objects for lust. Women likewise lose respect for men and reduce them to objects for lust. Therefore pornography is not only a direct attack on God’s creative act but also a breach of the divine Law.

2. Although God created physically beautiful women, He also created them to think and accomplish things. Pornography reduces or degrades many women to ‘lust-objects’, appealing to men’s basic instincts. Likewise some men have been devalued the same way. Men and women so used fail to grasp the wide and multifaceted possibilities they have to live life to its fullest. It would be like someone who buys a Rolls Royce and uses it for keeping a few hens - the enormous potential of the car is reduced to a mere roost for a few fowls.

3. Pornography appeals to the sinful nature. Ironically, because God made the human body, there is nothing intrinsically immoral or sinful about it. The first humans wore no clothes because they saw nothing immoral. Like very young children, they had no conception of modesty. As most (but not all) students of ‘Life Drawing’ classes will say, the naked body becomes a ‘neutral’ object, to be defined with lines, shading and surface texture. It is only when the student makes the conscious effort to look at the body in another way that it can become an object of lust - which shows that there are two sides to pornography : the inherited sinful nature, which is unavoidable, and the conscious choice.

4. Pornography goes against God’s provisions for people to maintain a lifestyle of modesty. Knowing that human nature is biased towards immorality, God made several provisions to help prevent people from provoking each other.

(a) As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they covered themselves because "they knew that they were naked" (Gen.3:7) They could no longer look at themselves or each other without feeling shame. In other words, God’s inbuilt moral law (which is written on every person’s heart Rom.2:15) began to operate.

(b) God commanded that the sons of Aaron should wear "Linen breeches (trousers) to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach" Exodus 28:42. These trousers covered the bare flesh from sight, to avoid causing anyone watching from being diverted in their thoughts from the holiness of what the priest was doing. In a similar way, one does not place pictures of women in bikinis on the walls of a prayer-room.

(c) Both Christian men and women are to observe modest practices.

Paul urges men everywhere to "lift up holy hands" . . . and adds "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness (humility) and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;" 1 Timothy 2:9. The expression "in like manner also" shows that men too should wear appropriate clothes, and present a modest, unprovocative view to other men and women.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;" 1 Peter 3:3. Some men and women dress like large signposts, which read "Come And Get Me I’m Available". Their clothes are deliberately cut to reveal, or expose bare flesh. Visual prostitutes.

Through the centuries, the battle has continued between licence and modesty. In some cases modesty has become twisted into prudery. Some over-modest women of Victorian times wore coverall bathing costumes, and entered the sea from wheeled carriages. On the other hand, nudists maintain that clothes are unnecessary, although it seems that teenage nudists are rare, due to their innate sense of modesty. Nudism is, as far as I can see, a noble attempt to attain innocence, but it has a terrible in-built flaw: the inherited sinful nature. It is quite possible that only the very young and the very old are comfortable with nudism, since at the former end true innocence exists, and at the latter end the effects of ageing create such an undesirable effect on the human body that lust is difficult to find.

Christians ought to be careful that they keep a correct balance between modesty and freedom of choice. It is not for one Christian to set modesty standards for another Christian, since all Christians are answerable to god as individuals, and god knows our hearts better than we know our own or other people’s hearts.

One of the driving forces behind pornography and nudism is the evolutionary theory, which reduces humans to animals, thereby eliminating any real need for moral consciousness. Animals, of course, show no sign of any moral consciousness. They never try to wear clothes, or act in licentious ways. All their lives their every action is dictated by instinct, which is a sort of computer program which handles all stimuli moment by moment.

Humans, on the other hand, have a moral consciousness, which intrudes its standards uninvited into situations wherever the universal moral Law is being broken. As C.S.Lewis noted in ‘Mere Christianity’ (page 16,17) on the subject of quarrelling : "Quarrelling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are; just as there would be no sense in saying that a footballer had committed a foul unless there was some agreement about the rules of football."

The only way a person can freely, and without inhibitions, indulge in pornography therefore, is by doing either of two things :

1. Changing the rules, making immorality Right, or

2. Suppressing the Conscience.

For number 1. See the pursuit and love of Nature, naturism cults i.e. witches and their like, Evolutionists, worshippers of Nature, animists, and those who deny divine origins. For number 2. See Romans 1:18-32 in which the whole process of degeneration begins when people suppress the truth.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold (the Greek means "hold down" or "suppress") the truth in unrighteousness;

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Romans 1:18-21

There are many examples of pornography in the Bible, all of which illustrate that it is first of all tempting, pleasurable and full of promise, but in the end it produces chaos and degeneration.

The general principle of pornography :

"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman.

Lust not after her beauty in your heart; neither let her take you with her eyelids. (Tempting, or enticing looks). For by means of a whorish (harlot, seductive) woman a man is brought to a piece of bread (ruin): and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

Can a man take fire in his chest, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon (stand or walk about on) hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goes in to his neighbour's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent." Proverbs 6:23 - 29.



The origin of pornography.

A woman (or man) is not an inherently immoral sight, neither is nakedness, but the inherited sinful nature can convert sinless objects into a cause for sin. This is why Jesus warned about out thought-life, which was the main reason for the Flood of Noah’s day ("every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually" Gen. 6:5)

Jesus said : "But I say unto you, That whoever looks on a woman (with the intention of ) lusting after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" James 1:14

"Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death." James 1:15

The Bible makes it clear that when anyone goes against the moral Law, they begin to travel down a path of degradation, ending finally with death. The man who continually indulges in pornography begins to die - similar to those who smoke. For a while there may be pleasure and immunity from great harm, but ultimately the body is ruined and premature death follows.

David and Bathsheba.

"And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon." 2 Samuel 11:2

First David "saw" the woman, then he spent some time "looking upon" her. It was this second stage which led to his immoral act. His adultery led, to an assassination plot against Bathsheba’s husband, many lies and finally murder. Joab David’s general was implicated in the plot. David’s adultery led to the loss of Bathsheba’s first child. David also lost the respect of many people including those of his own family. When his son Absalom transgressed, David was constrained from judging him because he himself had already broken the Law, so he was compromised by his own sin. Absalom’s rebellion led to much shedding of blood, intrigue and foul play. The root cause of all these troubles was pornography.

The adulterous woman.

The whole of Proverbs chapters 5 and 7 are a warning about pornography and related areas. (They can also be read as a warnings against ‘spiritual adultery’ - those who mix God’s Word with error, or cult teachings).

All the symbols of modern pornography are present in the two chapters. The enticing, pleasant words (common to many of today’s pop songs), the suggestion that morals are not important ( Similar to today's "If it feels good, do it" message), the visibly attractive setting (such as many of today’s movies portray - i.e. "The Beach" with Leonardo DeCaprio, in which he and a suitably, alluring, half-clothed and beautiful woman lust after each other for a while and eventually have sex. The whole idea that it might be adulterous affair is swept aside by music and visual effects. In this way lust is equated with love, and morals are twisted to suit the sinful nature)

But having depicted the attractiveness of immorality, the Bible goes on to say that, in the end, those who practise it will "go down to death", tasting something "bitter as wormwood", find that "their flesh and their body are consumed", that they are "caught in the cords of their sin", that they "fall like a bird in a snare", or go "like an ox to the slaughter", "For her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death."

The increase in pornography today is a sign of the end of the Age, and a warning to Christians that at any moment the Lord Jesus could return. In Luke 17 Jesus said the people living just prior to His return would be similar in behaviour to those living "in the days of Noah" and "in the days of Lot". We make an assumption here, but it seems reasonable to suppose that part of the lifestyle in those days included open and rampant immorality - such as we have today. Many of the lifestyles which the Bible defines as immoral are not only practised openly in the western world, but advocated and publicised, and defended by the Bill of Rights. Some of the immoral practises are found in Christendom too, such as women who divorce their husbands and remarry, or vice versa, abortion, homosexual’s and lesbians gaining positions of leadership within the Church, and so on.

Television, videos, magazines, music, books and now the InterNet, all carry pornographic material, which some people like to classify as ‘soft’ and ‘hard’, although such a distinction may be difficult to defend. All pornography is wrong, according to the Bible. One could not speak of ‘soft’ murder/lies/theft or ‘hard’ murder/lies/theft. It is what it is, and for Christians it should not be entertained.

According to Peter Mancer the director and designer of ‘Family net’ ( "Many schools and families do not appreciate the ease of access to inappropriate sites and the huge number of sites available. Peter estimates 30% of all InterNet traffic is pornography, and he has found between 300 and 500 objectionable web sites are being introduced every day." He says that "Any child who is only two mouse clicks away from InterNet pornography". (Challenge Weekly March 21 2000)

What is the remedy to pornography?

For the Christian, personal modesty is the rule. For interpersonal relations, Christians are not to judge the unsaved, or try to impose their standards on others. On the other hand, Christians are to make a conscious effort to avoid pornography - not only because they know why it is wrong, but also because they have a Lord to please.

Paul admitted the universal dilemma. All Christians have an inherently sinful nature. Like a bowling ball, if unresisted, they will curve away from the straight line. The straight line equates to the Law of God, and the bias equates to the inherited sinful nature.

"For we know that the law (the moral Law of God) is spiritual, (and therefore perfect): but I am carnal, sold under sin.

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Romans 7:14

From this we can deduce that every waking moment Paul was in a struggle with the inherited Adam seemingly still alive in his body. Paul could not look at a woman without noticing lust intruding. He could not hear worldly music without finding himself enjoying it, despite the tainted lyrics. He could not have a conversation without wrong thoughts, foolish thoughts, inane and trivial and unwise thoughts interfering with what he knew was the best thoughts he could think. He could not have fellowship with other Christians without noticing - against his will - their faults and failings, and a critical spirit emerged inside him despite his best efforts to love his brethren in an unqualified way. Paul, (and all instructed Christians) was aware of the battle against his flesh. He asked the question "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Knowing that the only final hope, was the return of Jesus, and the new, resurrection body. In a strange sort of way, Adam was a dealer in a drug called pornography, (to name just one of the many sins we all inherit), and his needle of sin-fluid has been injected into the flesh of the whole human race. Paul was one of those who was born already addicted, but he was determined to break the habit. So must we.

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