Religious views on pornography

Religious views on pornography

Religious views on pornography often discourage people of various religions from viewing pornography, and cause support for legislation restricting its publication. These positions derive from broader religious views about sexuality. However, different religious groups do not always agree about what is pornographic, and some religious groups believe that freedom of expression should be favored over censorship.




There is no direct prohibition of pornographic media in the Bible. Pornography was neither as prevalent or as well developed during Jesus' life as it is today.[citation needed] Many Christians are generally against pornography based an interpretation of Matthew 5:27,28 (part of the Expounding of the Law).[1][2]

You have heard that it was 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[3][4][5][6][7]

Jesus is speaking of adultery, saying that lust towards a woman other than one's wife is adultery in one's mind. Most Christians interpret this to mean that since the purpose of pornography is lust, it is sinful. This interpretation regarding pornography as lust, and lust as adultery, is universal within Christianity.[citation needed]

Roman Catholic Church

Many are opposed to pornography because of religious convictions and morals, as exemplified by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states:

"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials." Section 2354[8]

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church teaches that pornography is "about violence, degradation, exploitation, and coercion" and "deplore[s] all forms of commercialization, abuse, and exploitation of sex, and defines pornography as "sexually explicit material that portrays violence, abuse, coercion, domination, humiliation, or degradation for the purpose of arousal. In addition, any sexually explicit material that depicts children is pornographic"."[9] The Sexual Ethics Task Force of The United Methodist Church states that "Research shows it [pornography] is not an 'innocent activity.' It is harmful and is generally addictive. Persons who are addicted to pornography are physiologically altered, as is their perspective, relationships with parishioners and family, and their perceptions of girls and women."[10]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was well known within the faith for expounding his organization's sentiments against pornography.[11] The LDS Church teaches that "Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. It is as harmful to the spirit as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are to the body. Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use." [12]

Other Christian views

Jerry Falwell has criticized pornography, saying sex is reserved for heterosexual married couples, to be used only in accordance with God's will, and asserts that use of pornography involves indulgence in lust (which in Christianity is a sin)[13] and leads to an overall increase in sexually immoral behavior.


Though the Torah (Jewish written law) has a great many prohibitions regarding sexual behaviors, pornography is not specifically mentioned. However, traditional Jewish laws of modesty (tzniut) require Jewish women to be modestly dressed (thereby forbidding pornographic modeling or pornographic acting for women). The halakhah states that sexually arousing images are to be avoided. [14]


Pornography is in direct opposition with the very heart of Islamic teachings, which is focused on how to gain a better self-control in order to increase spiritual awareness and prepare the soul to accept Allah (God). Typically, this is the spiritual aim of practices like Ramadan (the fasting one month a year) or night prayers (which are not compulsory, as only the five daily prayers are) or "zikr" in state of concentration. One of the aims of such practices (but its not the only one) is to learn self-control at a level that allows us to be less centered on our own needs, and hence, be more open to the needs of others. It kills selfishness and teaches mercy and forgiveness, preparing our soul to pray for the mercy and love of Allah. Now, when a Muslim falls in the trap of porn, he basically fails to control himself, so he becomes the prisoner of his own physical needs at the lowest level. It increases selfishness and locks his heart to mercy toward other people. It directly contradicts the spirit of Islam[citation needed].

That opposition between this "porn-use" attitude with the "fitra" (reverence instinct toward Allah, that all humans have, whether they are aware of it or not), creates a state of tension that lead to the destruction of the soul, leading to sadness and depression, and loss of self-esteem. That is why, in Islam, porn is seen as a fundamentally destructive force to eradicate from one's life and from society[citation needed].

The Qur'an 24:31 states "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and keep covered their private parts, and that they should not show-off their beauty except what is apparent, and let them cast their shawls over their cleavage. And let them not show off their beauty except to their husbands... "[15]

The Qur'an says what means "They are your garments and you are their garments." (2:187) "The sexual unison between husband and wife is more than seeking a relief from the urge of desire. Indeed the prophet taught that it is one of the charities in Islam. He said to his companions, enumerating examples of charitable deeds :

'And when the one of you makes love (has sex) it is a rewardable charity.' " [16]


Sikhs argue that pornographic books and films, prostitution and lust leads to adultery.[17] Pornography is said to encourage lust (Kaam),[18] which is a concept described as an unhealthy obsession for sex and sexual activity. Kaam is heavily discouraged for Sikhs, as this "can build barriers against God in their lives".[19]


  1. ^ 4. Adultery, Lust, and the Spirit of Marriage (Matthew 5:27-30) - Sermon on the Mount
  2. ^ Sermon on Matthew 5:27-30
  3. ^ Matthew 5:27-28 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -
  4. ^ The Churches speak on pornography: official statements from religious bodies by J. Gordon Melton
  5. ^ Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered - Answers to the Questions People Are Really Asking by S. Michael Houdmann
  6. ^ Christians, feminists, and the culture of pornography By Arthur J. Mielke
  7. ^ Catholic sexual ethics: a summary, explanation & defense By Ronald David Lawler, Joseph M. Boyle, William E. May
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText
  9. ^ "2081. Pornography and Sexual Violence". United Methodist Church. Retrieved 2007–06–24. 
  10. ^ "What's Wrong with Pornography?". United Methodist Church. Retrieved 2007–06–24. 
  11. ^ - Ensign Article - A Tragic Evil among Us
  12. ^ - Study by Topic - Pornography
  13. ^ See Matthew 5:27-29
  14. ^ Tzniut - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and [1] Pornography - Ask the Rabbi
  15. ^ Quran (Progressive Muslims Organization)/24 - Wikisource
  16. ^ Sexual Ethics
  17. ^ Moral issues in six religions - Google Books
  18. ^ Guru Granth Sahib Quotes on Sex, Lust, Promicuity, Attachement (Sikhism)
  19. ^ BBC - Religions - Sikhism: Sikh Beliefs

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