Sex has seeped into our culture to such an extent that we can no longer accurately define pornography. It used to be simple: Selling sex for money. Nowadays we Clinton the definition, questioning what is sex versus what is sexy, all the while wondering whether we’re artsy or just plain perverted. As a result, we not only question what constitutes pornography, but we question whether or not individual interaction with pornography is acceptable. For the sake of this discussion the latter is, of course, the more valuable question, simply because to the God who granted us free will, the choices we make are what ultimately matter to our relationship with Him and each other.
So, when it comes to drawing lines regarding porn and porn-related behaviors, the first question anyone needs to ask themselves is: What do you define as pornography and, more importantly, why?
The common definition of pornography involves “obscene writings, drawings, photographs or the like”. ”Obscene” is defined as “offensive to morality or decency; causing uncontrolled sexual desire.” Biblically speaking, there is no direct commandment proclaiming pornography evil. Yet, there are several commandments regarding acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. And, in relation to writings, drawings and photographs, God prohibits us from making graven images to worship.
When approaching any graphic material we must ask ourselves if we are in any way submitting ourselves to that image. In the case of pornography, are we submitting to uncontrollable desire when we confront an obscene image? Conversely, are we ascertaining authority from our relationship to that image? In either case, how will our relinquishing or claiming of control impact the choices we go on to make?
Porn advocates would argue that as long as a porn user remains “in control” of their porn usage, there is no harm being done. In a recent conversation, my editor relayed two stories to me. The first involved an older, fairly observant Jewish man who found Playboy harmless because his own father, a loyal family man, had a lifetime subscription. The second involved an Orthodox man announcing in front of his wife that he’d be going with his buddies to a strip club to celebrate a friend’s bachelor party, to which his wife didn’t bat an eye. Both are examples of the “no harm, no foul” theory at work.