Should We Expand Our Definition of Pornography?

If you’re a Christian male, it’s likely that you’re reading this on an internet browser outfitted with content filters and accountability software. Why is that so? Because it’s likely that you’ve been tempted to look at things you shouldn’t look at online. Don’t act shocked and don’t get defensive. I’m a red blooded male and I’m a student of the statistics.  

If you’re a Christian female, it’s less likely that you’re reading this on a filtered and monitored browser.  Why is that so? Because it’s less likely that you’re tempted to look at internet pornography (but not much less). However, I think it’s possible you may be consuming pornography in other forms. Hear me out.

What exactly is pornography? Stop! Don’t google that! Here’s a simple definition: 





writings, pictures, films, etc, designed to stimulate sexual excitement

That definition sounds simple enough, right? Maybe it’s too simple. More and more thinking Christians are starting to wonder if limiting the definition of “pornography” to sexually explicit images is accurate or wise. Why? Because, what “stimulates sexual excitement” is very subjective. Furthermore, what stimulates excitement in men is, for the most part, different than what stimulates excitement in women. 

What stimulates excitement in most men? Easy answer: The female form. This is God’s design and although that design is marred by sin, it’s still good. What stimulates excitement in most women? Easy answer: There are no easy answers. Is it the male form? To some degree, yes. But there’s more to it. Is it security? Is it sensitivity? Is it quality time? Is it date nights? Is it doing the dishes? Is it being the best dad you can be? Is it fixing her car? Is it talking about your feelings? Is it listening to her without trying to fix her? Is it… ? 

Why are sexually explicit images so tempting for most men? Because, those images are strategically designed to target and tantalize men’s fallen sexual impulses. Why don’t sexually explicit images tempt most women with the same consistency and in the same ways? Is it possible that their fallen sexual impulses are targeted and tantalized in other ways? Based on what we know about the differences between most men and women, I’d say it’s not only possible, it’s likely.

Russell Moore is the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. In an article linked below, Moore wrote about the similarities between romance novels, romantic films, and sexually explicit pornography.  Moore says: 

Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the “work” of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.

Do you see the connection? Is Russlle Moore  reaching too far? What do you think? I know what I think but I’m not going to attempt to answer these questions by myself. Below are a few links to articles written by people who are much smarter than I am and are much more qualified to engage in this discussion. 

Beware Romantic Pornography 
By: Betsy Hart
FTA: Just as sexual pornography twists an understanding for men about real women’s bodies and sexual appetites, so romantic pornography twists the perception for women about real men and how they “ought” to behave toward women, which tends to amount to, well, behaving like a woman.

Can Romance Novels Hurt Your Heart?
By: Russell Moore
FTA: Men want the illusion of women who look just like women but are, in terms of sexual response, just like men. Women want the illusion of men who are “real” men, but, in terms of a concept of romance, are just like women. In both artificial eros and artificial romance, there is the love of the self, not the mystery of the other.

Are Chick Flicks Romantic Porn? 
By: Laura Leonard
FTA: While traditional pornography appeals to men’s visual instincts and creates a false physical ideal of the female body, so the argument goes, chick flicks create in women a false emotional ideal of romance and marriage. 

Final thought:  Speaking from experience, I think it’s critical for both men and women to protect themselves from those writings, pictures, & films (in any form) designed to stimulate sexual excitement (in any form). Incidentally, if you are a Christian struggling with sexual addiction or sexual brokenness of any kind, our friends at First Light Ministries are here to help you.