Archive for April 11th, 2008


Porn-again Christianity

I’ve heard people say the filthiest work in all of history is the Bible, with incest, orgies, polygamy and more abounding in its pages. Those people have obviously never seen a single episode of a soap opera, and certainly have never viewed actual porn, if they can say that. The Bible is pretty tame reading overall. Though I think Song of Solomon is sexy in a romantic way. (OK, strike that last line from the record…it may damage my already shaky standing as a manly man.)

People, I have been a naughty boy at various points in my life, and like certain famous jurists and others in recent history, I cannot give a good definition of the word pornography, but I sure know it when I see it. And I admit, I like the way a lot of it looks. I’m a man, what can I say? (And there are a fair number of women who feel the same way, admit it ladies…)

Not that I’m admitting to any regular or even recent viewing of porn. Nor am I denying it. *Ahem* Soooo, where was I?

Ah yes, porn. More importantly, porn and Christians. Most importantly (because it’s my topic today): Is it OK for Christians to view porn?

This is a big one, and I’m going to need at least the next two days, maybe three, to sort this one out completely. You may accuse me of doing so simply to stretch out a prurient topic. Accuse away. I never claimed to be a saint. Or even a very good deacon. Or a suitable altar boy for that matter.

First, let’s have the Christians among us, mostly but not exclusively the men, be honest. It’s pretty clear that the porn industry, particularly on the Internet, is now one of the big drivers of the economies of the First-World countries (the United States in particular), or at the very least one of the major areas for depositing disposable income that our struggling oil companies and pharmaceutical giants and other corporations need to keep overpaying their CEOs. So, I imagine that the levels of porn viewing among Christians are probably not that far below other people. Maybe even higher depending on how vanilla they take their real sex or how infrequently they are able to get it.

Like so much shit I talk about around here, I don’t have a firm answer on whether it’s OK for Christians to view porn. A lot of it is situational, I thinkbased on what kind of porn you’re viewing and why. In fact, tomorrow will probably bring my threat assessment list of what porn is worst and best for Christians and, by extension, everyone elsesince I’m obviously of the view that people should choose Christ.

So let’s tick off some of the points…

Porn is primarily used for masturbation, and I’ve made it clear that I think masturbation is generally an OK thing, and I stroked…I mean, stoked…the fires of that discussion with another post not long after that. So, the primary endpoint of porn, relieving sexual pressures on a solo basis, isn’t itself a bad thing.

Also, porn is often used by couples to stimulate arousal and, frankly, get some cool ideas for new things to try in their bedrooms. And as I noted here, 95% of everything goes in the bedroomof married couples at least. So, the secondary end point of porn use is good, at least in marriage, in that it can help bring a couple closer sexually and make it less likely that things get boring and someone gets tempted to look elsewhere for his or her jollies.

On the other hand, the porn industry isn’t the most savory thing in the world, both in the way a lot of its actors get used or abused, and in the fact that it basically promotes fornication. Kind of feels wrong as a Christian to give money supporting an industry like that. But then again, I buy products made in China an awful lot, and that means I’m supporting human rights abuses on a gigantic scale, albeit indirectly. So, which is worse, really?

But if you’re getting the porn for free off the Web (which I hear is pretty easy to do…I wouldn’t know personally of course. Being the straight-laced guy I am *ahem* *cough* …yeah), you haven’t done that. And if you buy amateur porn where the people weren’t victimized by an industry but rather putting themselves out there, the argument is pretty weak, though you could argue your support encourages unmarried amateurs to commit fornication and encourages married amateurs to expose themselves (though I don’t know of any specific biblical doctrine against exposing oneself to someone else through indirect media…doing it in person, of course, could promote covetousness and adultery). And if it’s something from a porn professional who is selling and marketing his or her own stuff, you also sort of lose the victimization aspect, though the other objections are similar to the amateur-hour porn ones.

There’s also the argument that viewing porn is wrong because you are objectifying a person sexually in your heart and you are essentially committing fornication and possibly adultery in your mind. Well, as for the first point, the person on screen or on the pages you are viewing isn’t there in the flesh, so um, how exactly is your objectification going to hurt their feelings? Now, if it’s a live webcam thing or a visit to a topless joint, you might have a point.

As for the mental fornication/adultery thing, I know all about the biblical passages about how sinning in your mind is virtually the same as sinning in reality. But I don’t know anyone who can control his or her mind that well so as to avoid sinful thoughts. I mean, how often does a thought pass through that (1) I should take that item without paying, (2) I’d sure like to tap that ass, (3) maybe I should lie about being sick to get a day off work, (4) I’d love to beat my motherfreaking boss to a pulp, and (5) insert a hundred other random thoughts here. And those are just the thoughts that hit you before you brush your teeth in the morning.

So, my point is that when Jesus told us, for example, that lust in the heart (that is, your thoughts) is as bad as actually committing adultery or fornication, I’m sure he wanted to caution us to guard our thoughts. But I think the overarching concern was that we not harbor such thought about people with whom we interact or might have a real chance of meeting one day.

I’m not saying that porn is inherently good or that Christians should be seeking it out in massive quantities. But on the other hand, I mean, if you’ve already paid for it, what’s the point of burning it or throwing it out? The deed is done, and unless the act of using the porn is causing you to sin (such as in giving less energy to your spouse, a topic touched on at a blog on Christian Sex and Marriage…I don’t know that I agree with that post, though it is interesting), then I don’t see the problem, personally. And as for erotic fiction, I really don’t get how that can be bad unless you’re an easily-led drone who is going to try something illegal or immoral described in a book just because it sounded cool on the page. I mean, these are fictional characters. It’s a pretty damned big stretch that I’m committing mental adultery or fornication with someone who doesn’t exist.

And if you, as a married Christian couple, want to bring some porn into the bedroom…well, subject to some of the cautionary points I’ve already noted, go for it. At the Christian Sex and Marriage blog I noted above, there was another post on porn that suggested porn “kills real sex” but I really disagree with that one. Some people do get big expectations upon viewing porn, but for most, I think it is more of a stimulator and inspirational thing than it is a destroyer of good sex in the real world. I mean, if one has a kink, for example, and that kink is something that the other partner is uninterested in doing for real (or if it’s impractical, such as filling a hot tub with cold pasta, rubber duckies and bubble wrap), porn may be the only way for either or both of you to enjoy any taste of that kink.

Bottom line, if I were the owner of some porn on my computer or in a locked box somewhere in my home (and I’m not saying I am…just hypothetically. You know, I have a friend who does), I’m not just tossing it out on a whim. On the other hand, I think it would do some good for all peopleChristian or otherwiseto evalaute what they have porn-wise and really, honestly determine if it serves a purpose or if it’s perhaps harmful. Does it encourage you to bad thoughts or tendencies? Is it illegal or immoral (e.g. kiddie porn)? Is it distracting you from real relationships and interactions with someone you love? Is it an old film on a VHS tape and you just don’t want to shell out money to replace your broken VCR?

So, next up, my list of the worst and most harmless kinds of porn, from my personal semi-informed biblical and intellectual positions (not to be confused with any positions described in the Kama Sutra). I’ll even give you a cool color-coded threat-level system inspired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Until, then don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or don’t do anything I would. Or anything I might be thinking about right now…

…Um, bye.

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


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April 2008

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