Questions From Readers
Could a Christian’s practice of viewing pornography become so bad that it results in his being expelled from the Christian congregation?
▪ Yes, it could. That underscores why it is vital to shun vigorously all pornography—both written material and images—in magazines, in films, in videos, and on the Internet.
Pornography is found everywhere around the globe. The Internet makes pornographic material more available than ever and has increased the number affected by this terrible plague. Some, young and old, have accidentally come across pornographic Web sites. Others have deliberately gone to them, feeling less inhibited because they can read or view pornography in secret—at home or at the office. Why should this seriously concern Christians?
We find a fundamental reason in Jesus’ warning: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) Of course, normal sexual relations are proper and a source of pleasure between marriage mates. (Prov. 5:15-19; 1 Cor. 7:2-5) But that is not the focus of pornography. Rather, it features illicit sex that stimulates the sort of immoral thoughts that Jesus warned against. Plainly, reading or viewing pornography goes directly contrary to the divine direction: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”—Col. 3:5.
What if a Christian did view pornography on an occasion or two? His case might, in a sense, be likened to the dangerous situation in which the psalmist Asaph once found himself: “As for me, my feet had almost turned aside, my steps had nearly been made to slip.” How could the Christian have a clean conscience and be at peace with God if he was gazing at pornographic images of naked men or women or of a couple engaging in fornication? Nor was Asaph at peace: “I came to be plagued all day long, and my correction is every morning.”—Ps. 73:2, 14.
A Christian caught up in that badness should wake up and face his need for spiritual help. That help is available in the congregation: “Even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself.” (Gal. 6:1) A Christian elder or two could give him the help he needs, including ‘prayers of faith that can make the indisposed one well, and his sin can be forgiven.’ (Jas. 5:13-15) Those who have sought help to remove the stain of pornography have seen that drawing near to God has been good for them, as it was for Asaph.—Ps. 73:28.
However, the apostle Paul said that some who sinned did not repent “over their uncleanness and fornication and loose conduct.”* (2 Cor. 12:21) Regarding the Greek term there rendered “uncleanness,” Professor Marvin R. Vincent wrote that it has “the sense of impurity on the side of sordidness.” It is a sad fact that some pornography is much worse than scenes of nakedness or of a man and woman engaging in fornication. There is sordid, abhorrent pornography involving homosexuality (sex between those of the same gender), group sex, bestiality, child pornography, gang rape, the brutalizing of women, bondage, or sadistic torture. Some in Paul’s day who were “in darkness mentally” came to be “past all moral sense [and] gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.”—Eph. 4:18, 19.
Paul also mentioned “uncleanness” at Galatians 5:19. A British scholar noted that it “may here [signify] more especially all unnatural lusts.” What Christian would deny that the above-mentioned abhorrent, sexually degrading forms of pornography are “unnatural lusts” and are sordid? Paul concluded at Galatians 5:19-21 that “those who practice” such uncleanness “will not inherit God’s kingdom.” Consequently, if someone developed an entrenched practice of viewing abhorrent, sexually degrading pornography, perhaps over a considerable period of time, and would not repent and turn around, he could not remain in the Christian congregation. He would have to be disfellowshipped in order to preserve the cleanness and spirit of the congregation.—1 Cor. 5:5, 11.
It is good to know that some who fell into viewing abhorrent forms of pornography went to the elders and received the spiritual help needed to make drastic changes. Jesus appealed to Christians in ancient Sardis: “Strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, . . . continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, . . . you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you.” (Rev. 3:2, 3) It is possible to repent and be snatched out of the fire, as it were.—Jude 22, 23.
How much better, though, it is for each of us to be firmly resolved not to come anywhere near that dangerous position. Yes, we should be absolutely determined to avoid all forms of pornography!
As to distinctions between “uncleanness and fornication and loose conduct,” see The Watchtower of July 15, 2006, pages 29-31.
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A Christian caught up in badness should wake up and face his need for spiritual help