It has struck me over the years how many Christians always know that something is wrong but have completely the wrong idea as to why it is so. This then leads to a warped understanding of God and can result in the unnecessary and sometimes harmful suppression of certain feelings. I therefore feel it would be useful to disentangle the truth from error.
A short while ago a sex shop opened in my home town. Of course all the local Christians were against it. Now I personally have never been inside one because as a single Christian I would just get depressed at seeing all the things I currently have no use for. My guess is that they contain sex aids and porn.
Now we all know that porn is wrong. But why is it wrong? Many people appear to be disgusted at the sight of naked bodies-which is ironic since everyone has those particular features and enjoys the fact that their partner has them. How can breasts be attractive on your wife and offensive on someone else? We must remember that when God made Adam and Eve He did not cover them up because their bodies were ugly and offensive-they were made to be beautiful and attractive.
Nudity in itself is not wrong. It is possible to have non sexual nudity-the marble sculptures of naked bodies may or may not have been originally produced as porn, but our perception of them certainly seems to have changed. Today they are viewed more respectfully as representatives of the beauty of the human body.
And contrary to popular opinion, nudist clubs are not free for all orgies. In fact they have very strict rules about behaviour and anyone doing anything sexual is thrown out. (Unless it is with their partner in the privacy of their chalet-just like at any other holiday resort.) They exist so that people who like to have a little more exposure to the sun than most can have somewhere private to go where they WONT feel that their nudity is linked to sex.
Things are not so simple when it comes to public places. I know that it would be hard for most men to be able to look at a naked woman and not have inappropriate thoughts - so it of course is not advisable for women to walk around naked in public! But neither should they be ashamed of who they are. Women were made to be beautiful and should celebrate this (while being careful to avoid pride.)
I have also heard the argument that porn is wrong because it gives people an unrealistic expectation of what real women (or men) are like. Yes, pictures of perfect women could breed dissatisfaction with your wife. It is encouraging to remember though that in some ways our expectation of perfection is natural. Perfection in everything is God’s way and it certainly was so in the beginning. In heaven everyone will be beautiful, yet it is wrong in our current state to value ourselves and each other based on our appearance.
Following on from this is the view that porn is wrong because it is explicit. Yet if we dig around in the bible (especially in the New Jerusalem version) we will find that God is not shy of using sexually explicit language. The passages in Ezekiel 16 and 23 (which incidentally, I have never heard read out in church) paint a ‘disgusting’ image, according to the notes in my bible. I can’t help thinking that the commentator believed that God put in the sexually explicit language to make the tale more unpleasant. But if God created sex as we all keep saying, why would He then say it was disgusting? It is clear from the passages that He is upset with the unfaithfulness-and when these sexual acts are done outside of marriage then they do become disgusting.
This leads me to the real reason why porn is wrong. I believe that it is wrong because the people involved are offering their sexuality to someone who is not their marriage partner. By looking at a picture that a woman had agreed to pose for, a man can have sexual thoughts about her. Yet it is God's way that we should only have sexual thoughts about our marriage partner. Now a man can think sexual thoughts about a woman whether she has given him permission or not, but to deliberately pose for an an image designed to stimulate sexual thoughts is giving express permission and therefore becoming part of the adulterous act.
However, not all nude pictures should be viewed as pornographic. If a woman posed nude for a picture for breast cancer awareness or a plastic surgery advert would this be wrong? In my opinion it would not because the target audience is women who want to know about breast cancer or plastic surgery-not horny men (or lesbians) wanting thrills. The message and intent of the picture is clearly not sexual.
Of course the model may want to consider that men may see the picture anyway and misuse it. There is a fine line here and it is better to err on the side of caution. But it is also wrong to end up going so far down the other route that you end up hating your body and feeling guilty about legitimate sex within marriage.
Which brings me back to my first point. Naughtiness and eroticism are not wrong. As I pointed out above God is no stranger to eroticism and does not think twice about using sexual imagery. Therefore I believe that most of the items in sex shops should not be held in contempt by Christians. The only items that we should protest about are the pornographic ones. But the naughty outfits, the handcuffs, the body paint and everything in between-don’t you think they would make a great addition to your marriage bed?