6 minute read

What the Bible Says About Pornography Without Even Saying the Word

Last Updated: August 16, 2021

Moriah Bowman
Moriah Bowman

Moriah Bowman has been using Covenant Eyes since childhood. As a member of the Covenant Eyes team, she is passionate about writing and fighting pornography in the millennial generation. Moriah has a BA in political communications and plays an active role in fostering children of all ages who need a temporary safe home.

When I was younger (we’re talking pre-teen years), my favorite thing to do during church on Sundays was to flip to the back of my Bible and scour the concordance for keywords. I looked up words like “gospel,” “faith,” and “righteousness.” I hastily flipped between the thin pages of my Bible, making notes that I still read today. I wanted to know every single verse that helped solidify my faith and help me to be able to share it with unbelievers.

There was one word, however, that I could never find in my Bible.

Pornography.

Of the hundreds of thousands of words written in God’s Word, the word pornography does not appear once. Of course, there is an obvious reason for this. The term itself wasn’t even used until the 19th century. Technology didn’t exist during “Bible times,” and there was no such thing as the porn industry (nor was there billions of dollars to spend on it).

This of course does not mean that pornography didn’t exist in some form, whether it be prostitution or artistic sculptures. In fact, the Greek translation of the Bible contains the word “porneia” many times, usually pointing to adultery or premarital sex. But, what I want to focus on is the idea that the Bible has very clear things to say about “modern-day” pornography, without even saying the word.

On that note, let’s dive in.

1. Simply defined, intentionally watching pornography is adultery.

Matthew 5:28 says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

I would be perfectly content to end the article here. The words of Jesus in Matthew are pretty clear. If you’re lusting towards a woman (AKA the main goal of watching pornography), you’re committing adultery. The Seventh Commandment in Exodus 20 says that “thou shalt not commit adultery.”

However, I won’t end my article now. I don’t want to just throw a verse at you and expect that you fully understand just what the Bible has to say about pornography. Even though the Bible is very clear about purity and the weight of sexual sin, I believe that there are also some very clear things God has to say about pornography and the effect it has on our lives.

See, when a man or woman views pornography, they are usually looking to achieve sexual satisfaction. Lust can help a person reach this satisfaction. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you cannot achieve satisfaction through pornography without lusting.

Lust is biblically defined as adultery, and adultery is sin. So, I think it would be accurate to say that intentionally watching pornography for lustful reasons is adultery.

Related: Is watching porn a sin?

Author’s note: Please keep in mind that there are instances when pornography is not viewed intentionally. I would not classify this as adultery. For example, a child sees porn on another child’s device. Or, a random pop-up ad shows up on a device without permission. When I classify pornography as adultery, I am referring to those who are very purposefully watching it for sexual intentions.

2. Pornography steals attention from God.

2 Peter 2:10 says, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”

Pornography has the capacity to take over a person’s life. It often becomes all that they think about and act upon; it motivates and enslaves them.

Our lives are to be fully devoted to Christ. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). How can we glorify and enjoy God when we are enjoying porn? Porn takes away from our time in the Word, prayer, fellowshipping with others, and so many other holy pursuits.

Side note: I’m not trying to disregard other addictions. I consider myself a “foodie,” and there have been many times in my life when my obsession with food has overcome my love and devotion for God. Yes, I know what you’re thinking—food…really? But what I’m trying to help you understand here is that there are many things in life that can separate us from God, besides porn.

There are SO many wise words in Scripture that point to our call to devote our lives to God. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I can assure you that it is impossible to give your entire heart to God while shackled to porn. Until you can give up porn for good, it will continue to hold onto a part of your life designated for Christ.

The Bible might not directly speak of how porn addiction can enslave our hearts and separate us from God, but it does speak strongly of our calling as Christians and the devotion that God desires from us as believers.

3. Pornography thrives in darkness.

I read countless stories of men, women, and even children who are completely miserable because they are hiding their struggles with porn. When you do something wrong and nobody knows, do you feel that twinge of guilt? Part of our human nature is that we know what is morally right and wrong. We feel the heavy weight of our conscience when we hide our sin, and the secret of pornography is no different.

David’s cries to the Lord in Psalm 32:3-5 stood out to me as I searched God’s Word for verses that address secret sin:

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

David was deeply weighed down by the heaviness of his sin. He compares it to one whose body is wasting away—weakening day and night. But—BUT! When he brought his sins into the light and confessed them before the Lord, there was forgiveness. Praise be to God!

There will be a day when we will stand before the throne of God and be held accountable for our sins. Even the sins that we have kept hidden will come to light. Paul assures us of this in Romans 14:12, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” There will be no good that comes from hiding your sin in darkness. For while pornography thrives in darkness, the beauty of God’s forgiveness shines as a bright light, removing this darkness.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

4. Porn does not truly satisfy.

Like I mentioned before, I would consider myself to be a major “foodie,” and sushi tops the list as one of my all-time favorite foods. I could eat it every single day, and sometimes, well, I do. When I start craving sushi, I call up my favorite restaurant, place an order, and feast. I feel satisfied and content-my stomach is at peace with the world. Until…the next day, when I am hungry again and craving MORE sushi. The satisfaction was fleeting, leaving me displeased and needing to indulge once again.

I may be comparing apples to oranges, but pornography can leave us in a similar situation. We indulge in “just one video,” which leaves us feeling gratified, but like all fleeting pleasures, we are not satisfied for long. We’re going to keep going back for more.

How different is this compared to the everlasting pleasure of enjoying Christ! His love extends into eternity and provides us with a never ending source of happiness and joy.

In Hebrews 11:24-25, Paul writes, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Moses knew that it would make his life so much easier to identify himself as family to Pharaoh and receive the lavish lifestyle that accompanied this. He also knew that distinguish himself with the people of God would bring a long-lasting pleasure that no amount of Pharaoh’s riches could every bring.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

If there is anything that can consume the desires of the flesh and the eyes, it is pornography. And the Bible reminds us that things of the world like this or not from God. The world will someday fade away, for our lives are short; but God is eternal! Life with him is eternal and beautiful, so let us pine after God for satisfaction that is literally never-ending!

Matthew 5:6 affirms the verses in 1 John by saying, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Once again, we are reminded that pursuing righteousness will both bless and satisfy us. How can we pursue righteousness when we are seeking our satisfaction in porn?

5. You can be free from porn!

One of my favorite things about the Bible is the hope that it offers. The Bible mentions a lot about sin and the rightful consequences that accompany it, but even more prominent are the words of salvation. While terrible and sad to God, our sin can be forgiven—freely! I love the words of John in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all righteousness.”

What a message of hope this is! By turning to God in repentance, we can be freed from the shame and guilt of pornography.

Related: How to Quit Porn: 6 Essential Steps

To make things even better, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

For those struggling to overcome an addiction to pornography, the temptations can be unbearable at times. How amazing is it that God will never give us more temptation than we can handle? If you are struggling with addiction, be at peace knowing that God’s faithfulness is greater than your weakness. And, in that weakness, HE will make you strong. Turn to him today in prayer and ask for the strength to overcome!

  • Comments on: What the Bible Says About Pornography Without Even Saying the Word
    1. Peter Fitzgerald Riemersma on

      Lord willing I will be going on a speaking tour promoting my Proverbs 27:17 presentation. Would Covenant Eyes be interested in being one of my partners?

      More information available upon request.

      Thanks,
      Peter

      Reply
      • Moriah Dufrin on

        Hi Peter!

        Have you heard of our affiliate program? You can actually earn money through Covenant Eyes by promoting our software on your speaking tour. This is a common way that we partner with speakers, and I’d encourage you to check it out!

        Blessings,
        Moriah

    2. Steven Terrell on

      Pray for My deliverance please

      Reply
      • JNathan on

        I’ll pray for you Steven, one struggling sinner to another.

    3. Hunter on

      It would be helpful for these articles to keep in mind the various audiences that may be reading the blog for encouragement and guidance – “lusting towards a woman” is not the goal of using pornography for all porn users. Think of straight women and same-sex attracted men.

      I’d also add to this post that Scripture does speak about slavery and injustice, and that addresses another key issue in pornography – its nefarious connection to spiritual slavery (on the part of actors, producers, and users), as well as physical/sexual slavery of many people involved in the production of pornographic content.

      Reply
      • John Shaffer on

        There is actually two articles on this subject that should be addressed. This article focuses on “pornographic” which is different from “pornography”

        Pornography is the physical act.
        Pornographic is the visual aspect. This is what this article is about. However, I ask is a sin to watch or a sin to participate in the act of pornography? People who watch pornographic videos or literature do so for different reasons and not always for lust or the desire for the person performing it.
        Very early in creation in Genesis Mose records God’s hatred for willfully participation in immorality (pornography) and all throughout the rest of the Bible this is what is taught. But, Jesus takes it up a knock by saying whoever looks at a woman/man and lust after them has committed adultery in their heart.

    4. Davanna Feyrer on

      I was led into pornography when I was in a relationship. Now I look back on it and realize that I have been scarred by it. I can’t get the images of it and thoughts of this boy out of my mind. Is the cure as simple as reading God’s word? Is there anything specific that I should read?

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Davanna,

        Reading God’s word is an excellent first step to healing. I would also encourage you to pray fervently and reach out to a close friend or mentor who can walk alongside you during this time of recovery. Those images won’t disappear from your mind immediately, but our God is mighty, and you can heal!

        I am praying for you!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    5. Chris Spinolo on

      The Bible clearly teaches that we are NOT created to have any knowledge of evil. God is perfect and perfectly good. He would not create evil. It is not “Part of our human nature is that we know what is morally right and wrong”. Where is that in the Bible, except when the serpent (“the father of lies”) said it to deceive Eve. Discernment of good and evil has no bearing on faith, but rather simply believing what our loving God says, and rejecting what the hateful serpent says. We believe the lie and think we are wise, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Not human nature.

      Reply
    6. Jalen on

      THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH MAY GOD BLESS YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS

      Reply
    7. Stephen lyles on

      Is it sinful to watch porno

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Stephen!

        According to Scripture, I would say that yes, it is sinful. Of course, the Bible doesn’t explicitly say “watching porn is a sin,” but it does talk frequently about lust and sexual immorality, both of which I believe are at the heart of porn consumption.

        I hope this answers your question!
        Blessings,
        Moriah

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *