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Pornography: A Sin?

This post will deal with adult issues and activities.

What’s the harm?  I’m only looking!!!

So goes one of the most common rebuttals to being told that viewing pornography is sin.  It reflects the view in our society and, unfortunately many Christians, that sexual purity and fidelity only involve the body.

Looking ain’t cheatin’!

Believe or not, the Barna Group reports that 29% of born-again Christians say the it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual content.

This brings us to the question:  Is viewing pornography a sin?

How we got here is a whole ‘nother post, but what we can address, today, is the main question:

Is viewing pornography a sin?

What Scripture Says

Let’s start off looking at the word:  PORNOGRAPHY.

porneia_graphoIt has as its roots two separate Greek words:

  • Porneia Illicit, or “unauthorized” sex.
    i.e. sexual sin
  • Grapho Writing

That seems pretty clear, but that only means writing, right?  Not really, as the meaning of the word is centered on the porneia portion:  Sexual sin.

Today we could define pornography as:

Any media that causes sexual arousal, stimulation, or
release outside the marriage relationship.

Now, when my generation hears the word “pornography” we think of magazines and VHS tapes.  But, today, in the 21st Century, pornographic material has many forms:


  • Audio – Erotic/explicit audio books and “podgasms” (audio recordings of sexual activities)
  • Video – Sexually explicit material on DVD, the Internet, television, etc.
  • Text – Erotica, explicit romance novels, sex stories online (yes, “50 Shades of Gray” is porn, IMHO!)
  • Images – Photos, cartoons, advertisements, etc.
  • Animation – Computer generated sexual imagery and video, including Hentai
  • Virtual Worlds – Sexual activities and representations in games and in online worlds such as Second Life.
  • Streaming TV – Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, etc.

When sexually explicit material is accessed and/or viewed, through ANY technology or media,  it leads to sin.  Why?  Because in using pornography we are bringing people and activities outside of a Godly marriage into our sex lives, which God has bounded by marriage and love.

ring_on_bible_clip_artIn addition, much of what is depicted in pornography is expressly forbidden by God:

  • Pre-marital sex
  • Extra-marital sex
  • Homosexual sex
  • Group sex
  • Violent and abusive sex
  • and more.

Is viewing pornography a sin? When we view such material we are not just watching.  We are participating vicariously and in a lustful, desirous manner:

  • Sin is what is going on in the video/story (the vast majority of pornography does not depict “happily married couples”)  In accessing or purchasing it for entertainment, (getting turned on by sin) we rebel against God and enjoy what hurts Him.
  • Sin is what is going on in your mind as you watch it.  (Admit it, you want to be in the story/film!)

Most viewers of pornography are going to have one or more mental responses when interacting with pornography:

  • I wish I was there with him/her.
  • Why can’t/won’t my spouse do that for me?
  • If my spouse was that fit, endowed, turned one, creative, etc. it would be great!
  • I’ve never done that, but it’s fun to think about, or try
  • Because I know that’s wrong it is even more exciting.

Notice that the emphasis is on “I”.  Pornography turns our sexual activities inward, to our own lusts and desires.

Even if you are watching pornography made by a husband-wife team (yep, it’s out there) you are sinning because you are participating in their sexual expression from outside of their marriage, as well as reacting as you did, above.  You are not thinking about how they are nurturing their relationship and/or how they keep themselves in tip-top shape!  You are lusting!  Because of this, you are sinning (breaking God’s boundaries).

Even though you are not physically sinning, you are sinning in both your mind and heart.  As a result, you are separated from God.

Jesus clearly stated in the Sermon on the Mount that it is what is in our hearts that is sin, even before we act.  In speaking of adultery, He said:

“but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matt 5:28  NIV

Jesus is teaching us that sin, in this case adultery, is a heart matter, first and foremost.   Then, He expanded on His teaching in Matthew 15:18:

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery,
sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (NIV)

Is viewing pornography a sin?  Yes! Sin begins in the heart, in our desire and intent to act, or not act, in accordance with God’s Design.  And sin in the heart, if allowed to bloom, will guide the actions of the body.

God has limited sexual expression to marriage, to husbands and wives (married to each other).

Pornography Violates Marriage

Pornography brings outsiders and sinful activities before our eyes, where they can take root in our hearts.  It also insinuates itself in our marriage relationship.  This has a number of effects on each and every one of us who use pornography:


  • It violates the sanctity of the marriage covenant.
  • For singles, it perverts our expectations of marital intimacy.
  • It creates unrealistic expectations. (After all, it IS fictional)
  • It builds dissatisfaction as fantasy trumps reality.
  • It steals from our spouse when we satisfy our own needs selfishly.
  • It programs us regarding what activities we find acceptable.  For instance, if you watch pornography depicting spouse-swapping, you will become more accepting of it, possibly desiring to participate in spouse-swapping in the “real world“.
  • It  addicts us to sexual sin.
  • It weakens our relationship with Jesus, as sin always does.  We won’t seek fellowship with Him when we know that “He knows”.

Viewed in light of what we’ve already said, it is clear that involvement with pornography is sin.

Repentance and Recovery

What if you are involved with pornography?

  • First off, you are not alone.  It is epidemic.  Guys and gals are both falling.
  • Secondly, it is not beyond forgiveness: Pornography is not a “worst sin”.  James 2:10 tells us: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (NIV)
  • Lastly, there is hope and strength through Jesus Christ.  Satan may have you believe that Jesus is ready to “ZAP” you for your sin.  In reality, Jesus is waiting for you to turn to Him so He can cleanse you of all unrighteousness!

Satan likes to tell us that we are weak (we are) and sinful (ditto) and that we don’t deserve forgiveness (yep, he’s right again).

But, what he leaves out is that Jesus CHOSE to come to earth to pay the price for the sins of the weak, sinful, and unforgiven. That’s you and me.

If you are involved with pornography, you can come out of the darkness you are in.

It will not be easy, and you will need His strength in order to achieve victory.

Take these steps:

  • Admit to God that you are involved in sin, and that you need forgiveness.  This is confession.
  • Take actions to restrict Satan’s ability to tempt you (Internet filters, passwords, etc.).  This is repentance, or turning from sin.
  • Seek help.  There are many groups that can help.  Here are some places to start:

There are many more.

Deception, destruction, lies, dissatisfaction and sorrow are characteristic of our enemy:  Satan.

He LOVES pornography.  It’s one of his best weapons! Because of this it is often used against us!  In fact, pornography is often called the “sin of choice”.

Satan will also tell us that God put boundaries on sexual expression to be mean, or to play a cruel joke. These are not in God’s character. Because of Satan’s lies, however, we may begin to doubt God’s goodness and His design.

The limitation of sexual activity to marriage, including what we watch and read, is meant to bless us and protect us, not to frustrate us.   It brings us joy, and not sorrow.

Is viewing pornography a sin?  Yes.

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1 comment to Pornography: A Sin?

  • MichaelF

    The avoidance of porn is an act of self-protection that ultimately blesses others. When we guard our own mind, we are better able to protect those we love – children, spouse, church.

    In this act of self-respect and Godly-honor we are ultimately choosing to to love ourselves so we can better love others. Seems like I’ve heard simlar words…

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