The Bible on Pornography
Tommy Glendol McClure
The morals of our nation and man-kind continue to erode and decay just as cancer slowly conquers its victim. Pornography, another moral issue viewed by many as being harmless, is a prime mover and largely to blame for this downward slide into the cesspool of moral decay and sin. Recently, pornography has risen its ugly head on the information superhighway, the World Wide Web. I am reminded of the words of Scripture, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart" (Gen. 6:5, 6).
Pornography, an age old problem, can be traced back to first century Roman culture. By definition it is "the representation of erotic behaviour in books, pictures, statutes, motion pictures, etc. that is intended to cause sexual excitement. The word pornography, derived from the Greek word porne (prostitute) and graphein (to write), was originally defined as any work of art or literature depicting the life of prostitutes."' Webster defines it as: "(1) the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement; (2) material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement."' Pornography will be on the battlefield until the separation of the sheep and the goats on that great and blessed day of the Lord. True are the words of Solomon, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: andthere is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us" (Eccl. 1:9, 10).
The Worldly View
Pornography is one of the more controversial subjects of our time. There has been much argument on both sides and even in the courts. In 1957, in the case Roth v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that obscene material was not protected under the Constitution. Judge William Brennan wrote that the First Amendment had originally been written to allow "unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people," and that obscene material supplied little, if any, social value. The Supreme Court went on to define obscene material as that which "deals with sex in a manner appealing to the prurient interest." "Prurient," according to the court, meant "material having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts."
In the 1973 Supreme Court case Miller v. California, a ruling was handed down that remains the foundation by which a work is judged to be obscene. In this case, Miller had been convicted for mass-mailing brochures that advertized sex-oriented books. The ruling set forth in this case required that "community standards" be applied in determining whether or not a work is obscene. This ruling tightened the Roth decision, that obscenity was not protected by First Amendment rights.
Even though many Americans oppose pornography, there is much argument and discussion and little agreement by society in general on what should be done about it. Some see any restrictions on it as "censor-ship" of their First Amendment rights. Others see it as a form of discrimination on the basis of sex. In a controversial paper written by two antipornography activists (Andrea Dworkin, a writer, and Catharine MacKinnon, a law professor), they wrote, "Most frequently, pornography promotes rape, pain, humiliation, and inferiority as experiences that are sexually pleasing to all women because we are women. The studies show that it is not atypical for men to believe and act on the pornography. Each time men are sexually aroused by pornography the sexually explicit subordination of women they learn to connect women's sexual pleasure to abuse and women's sexual nature to inferiority."3
No matter how the world or the highest earthly court may rule on pornography, God's people must appeal to the divine standard of God's writ-ten word, the Bible, and "not to think of men above that which is written" (1 Cor. 4:6). Honest students of God's word striving to be "doers of the word, and not hearers only," will seek, search and submit to God's principles of truth regarding this matter (James 1:21-25).
The Bible Teaches
Pornography is sinful because it violates the principle taught by Jesus in Matthew 5:27, 28!
Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Jesus teaches that not only the act but the very thought that would cause the act is sinful. The magazine racks of our local grocery stores contain such porn publications as Playboy, Penthouse, and other smut publications purchased by those who have lust in their hearts (2 Pet. 2:12-14). Women who dress (or maybe I should say, undress) in sucha way that causes arousal of the sexual desires in men, are just as guilty as the men who lust after them (1 Tim. 2:9, 10). Jesus teaches a divine truth that is far reaching and this principle of truth applies equally to the male and female involved. Pornography violates this principle of Divine truth!
Pornography is sinful because it is lasciviousness!
W.E. Vine defines lasciviousness, saying the word "de-notes excess, licentiousness, absence of restraint, indecency, wantonness; . .. the prominent idea is shameless con-duct."' Most certainly, pornography in any form is void of holy thoughts or actions. Pornography encourages a gross lack of self-control and self-denial. The mind or heart of the individual who desires to be party to this smut is without restraint and is condemned by God's word (Mark 7:21-23; Rom. 13:12-14; Gal. 5:19-21). A Christian must subdue all fleshly lusts (1 Pet. 2:11).
Pornography is sinful because is promotes fornication!
All manner of unlawful and illicit sexual behavior is portrayed through this media. The so-called "soft core" magazines, such as Playboy and Penthouse, glamorize and glorify the life of a "Playboy" and teach that men can enjoy the sexual pleasures of the female without the commitment of a lifelong, lawful marriage relationship. The "hard core" forms promote bestiality, sadomasochism, homosexuality, prostitution, lesbianism, "kiddie porn," and violent pornography. Fornication is defined by Thayer as "illicit sexual intercourse in general" (532). All of these sexual sins fall into the realm of fornication! Smut publications generally depict the woman as nothing more than a tool of pleasure, a thing to conquer and a mere piece of meat, rather than a lifetime mate who is an "help meet" (Gen. 2:18). The apostle Paul teaches that those who desire to inherit the kingdom of God must "flee fornication" (1 Cor. 6:9-20).
Pornography is sinful because it dishonors God's law of marriage!
In the beginning God said, "It is not good that man should be alone," and he made woman to be an "help meet" for man (Gen. 2:18). For Adam, God made Eve, not Steve! And in Genesis 2:24 the record says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Cleaving to a wife is far different than one-night stands and live-in partnerships which are glamorized by pornography. A good majority of movies and T.V. shows (even prime-time programs) promote and condone unlawful sexual relation-ships. Hard and soft core pornography flies in the face of the God-ordained marriage relationship, and the sexual union is depicted as nothing more than a recreational activity to satisfy an outof-control desire. The Bible teaches that the sexual desire is to be satisfied within the bounds of a lawful marriage relationship. The sexual union is re-served only for a man and woman joined in lawful marriage by God's divine standard (1 Cor. 6:9-20; 7:2; Heb. 13:4).
Pornography is sinful because it violates the principle of the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12)!
The kingpins and servants of pornography violate the first and second great commandments as well (Matt. 22:36-39). Porn pimps dish out their smut at the expense of men, women, children and even animals, for the express purpose of gaining an easy dollar (Eph. 4:17-19). Alcohol and illegal drugs are some-times part of the package deal! No love for God and their fellow man is ex-pressed by the producers and consumers of smut! The words of the apostle Paul ring true, "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:9-10). And Paul teaches that those involved in such filth are given over by God "to a reprobate mind" (Rom. 1:21-32).
Pornography is sinful because it is destructive to society in general!
Consider the effects on society by the out-of-control AIDS epidemic! Study the case of Ted Bundy, a serial rapist and an admitted murderer of more than two dozen young women. Bundy said in his eleventh hour interview with Dr. James Dobson, "Pornography can reach out and snatch a kid out of any house today . . . It snatched me out of my home 20, 30 years ago ... There is no protection against the kind of influences that are loose in society." He also stated, "What alcohol did in conjunction with, let's say, my exposure to pornography, was alcohol reduced my inhibitions; at the same time the fantasy life that was fueled by pornography eroded them further."5 He also admitted how in the early days he was generally half-drunk, "almost without exception," and alcohol diminished his inhibitions when he went on his rape and murder sprees! These are just a few examples of the poison fruit this sinful activity bears. Even though all consumers of pornography are not affected like Ted Bundy, this illustrates the destructive force of pornography on society. It is void of any good works (Gal. 5:19-21).
Brethren, do not be deceived and misled! Pornography is not just restricted to skid row or "adult" X-rated sleeze shows! It is in your local grocery store, in the words of pop music, and is even piped into homes through cable T.V. and computers that are "online" via the Internet, to name a few sources. This is a real problem that all Christians must battle! No judicial court decision can overrule the divine decision about this subject! In order to receive the inheritance that is reserved in heaven for us, God's people must live under the constraint of Divine law, not under the influence of smut (1 Pet. 1:4; Col. 3:3-7). Without question, the Bible teaches that pornography is sinful! I urge all to adhere to the divine admonition given by the apostle James, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:21-25).
1 The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, pp. 615-616.
2 Webster, Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 916. 5 Carol Gorman, Pornography, pp. 27, 28.
4 Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 650.
5 "Fatal Addiction," Ted Bundy's Final Interview with Dr. James Dobson (Video Tape).
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Guardian of Truth XL: No. 13, p. 16-18