The Bible isn’t shy about sexuality, but it seems to steer a healthy course between the worship of sex and ignorance of it.
Although access to it may be easier than ever, porn itself is not new. It even shows up in the Bible.
You might be surprised to learn that archaeologists have unearthed pornographic figurines from biblical times. Some of these come from the Baal cult, which for several centuries was the main rival for the hearts and minds of the ancient Israelites. In this context, much of the Old Testament calls the worshipers of Israel’s God to be different, to keep themselves pure from the sex-obsession of Baalism.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from sexuality. It openly discusses sexual matters, describing scenes of love, lust, temptation, even sexual violence. Frankly, some parts of the Bible might be considered borderline pornographic. Yet it seems to steer a course between the worship of sex and ignorance of it.
The New Testament adds a focus on the concept of lust—unhealthy desire. One apostle writes about “the lust of the eyes,” and Jesus equates a lustful look with adultery. Another passage describes how unhealthy desire gives birth to bad actions, with deadly (or perhaps deadening) results. This might be our closest biblical connection to the modern use of pornography. Isn’t it, essentially, the cultivating of sexual desire?
The apostle Paul, one of the Bible’s most prolific writers, is no fan of regulations, and yet he wants his readers to have the best life possible. When some of those readers suggest that God’s love essentially gives them the right to do whatever they want, Paul agrees—sort of. “I have the right to do anything,” he quotes, and adds, “but not everything is beneficial.” He goes on to repeat the phrase and adds, “but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Because of its easy availability today, pornography can become a behavioral addiction, like gambling or shoplifting. And here the Bible offers help—not with a scolding, but with a deep understanding of the addict’s experience and a much-needed hope of freedom.
For more on how the Bible can lead to a fuller life, Look Inside.