The vast majority of Christians and conservatives think porn is a problem.

But, due to the taboo nature of the topic, there’s not much open discussion of it among Christians. This has resulted in a lack of clarity on what the real problem is. The conversation is not as simple as it seems. Here’s some questions off the top of my head that are worth examining:

  • Is there a difference between porn and erotica? If so, what distinguishes them?
  • Since erotic poetry is included in the Bible, does that mean it’s ethical for Christians to publish and enjoy other erotica?
  • If the Bible includes verbal erotica that prompts images in the mind, is there any reason we can say it is wrong to create or enjoy other forms of erotica?
  • At what point (and why) in the following sequence does enjoying sexual imagery become immoral?
    • The Song of Solomon => Other Erotic Poetry => Erotic Stories => Artistic Renditions of Nudity => Artistic Renditions of Sexual Acts => Animated Videos of Sexual Acts => Photography of Nude Women => Photography of Sexual Acts => Videos of Sexual Acts
  • What is the difference between the erotica found in the Song of Solomon and the most frequented porn sites on the internet?
  • Is looking at porn equivalent to lusting after a woman? If so, why?
  • If a wife divorces her husband because he looks at porn, is that a legitimate divorce in God’s eyes?
  • Does viewing porn really cause a man to lose sexual interest in his own wife… or is this just unfounded rhetoric?
  • Does viewing porn cause single men to be less motivated to get a wife? Or would these men be unmotivated regardless of their porn viewing habits?
  • Does porn create unrealistic standards for women?
  • Is there any ethical way to consume porn? In other words, is porn inherently sinful or is it contextually sinful?

Fundamentally, we have a conceptual problem. The definition of erotica is “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.”

The Song of Solomon is erotica.

50 Shades of Gray is erotica.

PornHub is erotica.

And, arguably, this blog is erotica.

Yet looking at them together, we instinctively know there is a difference between them. Yet we have not yet developed the sophistication to distinguish good erotica from bad erotica. Perhaps we could say ethical erotica is simply “erotica” and unethical erotica is simply “porn.” But we are still unable to distinguish the two.