Questions From Readers
Could a Christian’s habit of viewing pornography become so bad that he must be disfellowshipped from the congregation?
▪ Yes, it could. That is why it is so important to avoid all pornography. This includes books, magazines, films, videos, and Internet sites that describe or show pornography.
Pornography is now everywhere around the world. The number of people viewing pornography has increased because the Internet has made it easy to watch pornography. Some people have seen pornography on Web sites by accident. But others have looked on purpose for Web sites that show pornography. They may feel comfortable doing this because they are at home or at the office where they think that no one can see them. Why is pornography a danger for Christians?
Jesus’ warning gives us an important reason: “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.” (Matthew 5:28) It is true that sexual relations between a husband and his wife are proper and something a couple can enjoy. (Proverbs 5:15-19; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5) But pornography shows immoral sex and causes a person to have the wrong thoughts that Jesus warned us about. So reading or viewing pornography is against God’s command: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”—Colossians 3:5.
What could happen if a Christian viewed pornography once or twice? He would be in a dangerous situation. Asaph was in a dangerous situation once. He later said: “As for me, my feet had almost turned aside, my steps had nearly been made to slip.” If a Christian viewed pictures of naked men or women or of a couple having sexual relations, he could not have a clean conscience and be at peace with God. He would feel like Asaph, who said: “I came to be plagued all day long, and my correction is every morning.”—Psalm 73:2, 14.
A Christian who is viewing pornography should realize that this affects his relationship with Jehovah and that he needs help. He can get this help from the elders 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.” (Galatians 6:1) One or two elders can give him the help he needs. They can pray for him and have faith that Jehovah “will make the indisposed one well,” and his sin “will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15) Asaph benefited by drawing near to God. Those who receive help to stop viewing pornography will also benefit because they will have a better relationship with Jehovah.—Psalm 73:28.
But the apostle Paul said that some who sinned did not repent “over their uncleanness and fornication and loose conduct.”a (See footnote.) (2 Corinthians 12:21) Professor Marvin R. Vincent wrote about the Greek word that Paul used for “uncleanness.” He said that it means uncleanness that is dirty, or filthy. There is filthy, disgusting pornography that shows sex between two people of the same gender, group sex, sex with animals, child pornography, gang rape, cruel and violent treatment of women, and torturing or tying others up for sexual pleasure. Paul described some people in his time who were “in darkness mentally” and “past all moral sense [and who] gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.”—Ephesians 4:18, 19.
Paul also mentioned “uncleanness” at Galatians 5:19. A British scholar said that “uncleanness” here refers to unnatural lusts. All Christians would agree that the kinds of pornography we have discussed are filthy and cause people to have unnatural desires. Paul says at Galatians 5:21 that those who do these things “will not inherit God’s kingdom.” What would happen if someone has had the habit, perhaps for a long time, of watching filthy, shameful forms of pornography? If the person does not repent and stop this behavior, he would be disfellowshipped in order to protect the congregation and keep it clean.—1 Corinthians 5:5, 11.
It is good to know that some who viewed pornography received help from the elders and made changes in their lives. Jesus urged 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.” (Revelation 3:2, 3) It is possible to repent and escape the dangers of pornography.—Jude 22, 23.
It is much better not to be harmed by pornography at all. We should all be determined to avoid all forms of pornography.
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A Christian who is in the habit of viewing pornography should realize that he needs help and should go to the elders