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Defeat Lust & Pornography 8 minute read

What the Bible Says About Pornography: 6 Important Teachings

Last Updated: June 21, 2024

What does the Bible say about watching pornography? I’ve searched my concordance and it’s nowhere to be found. But the Bible still has plenty to say about it.

The word “pornography” is actually a combination of two Greek words that frequently appear in the original text of the Bible: “porneia” and “graphe.” “Graphe” means “writings,” and “porneia” refers to sexual immorality. The English word “pornography” originally meant erotic books. As erotic photography and eventually video gained popularity, the meaning shifted so now it more commonly refers to images.

Bible Verses About Porneia

Here are just a few of the places where the Bible talks about “porneia,” or “sexual immorality”:

Ephesians 5:3

“But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints”

1 Corinthians 6:13b

“However, the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body”

Matthew 5:32

“But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery.”

These Bible verses about “porneia” are about pornography! But there’s a lot more.

Verses Related to Pornography

Here are some other verses in the Bible that talk less directly about porn, but are still related to this topic.

Exodus 20:14

“Do not commit adultery.”

Job 31:1

“I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I look at a young woman?”

Proverbs 6:25

“Don’t lust in your heart for her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyelashes”

Matthew 5:28

“But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

James 1:14

“But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.”

See related: What is lust in the Bible?

6 Biblical Teachings About Pornography

We can see lots of references to pornography throughout the Bible. Here are some important implications of these passages.

1. Christians shouldn’t watch pornography.

We saw that Ephesians 5:3 says porneia shouldn’t even be named among Christians. That means Christians should live without sexual immorality, including porn.

Unfortunately, many Christians do watch pornography—and lots of it:

  • 41% of Christian males aged 13-24 watch porn.
  • 23% of Christians 25 years and older watch porn.
  • Of Christian females ages 13-24, 13% watch porn.
  • 5% of Christian females 25 and up watch porn.  
  • 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors say that pornography is a current struggle.

Other studies have found that upwards of two-thirds of Christian men and a third of Christian women have struggled with porn. When a Christian watches porn, it goes against who they are. It is a sad reality that many Christians live trapped by this unwanted behavior. You can read a more detailed explanation about this in “Is Watching Porn a Sin?

2. Our bodies were not created for pornography.

The Bible gives a further reason to avoid pornography: it goes against our created purpose. 1 Corinthians 6:13 says our bodies aren’t intended for porneia but for the Lord. The world teaches us to find as much pleasure for our bodies as we can. But the Bible says we have a greater purpose: bringing glory to God.

1 Corinthians 6 goes on to say that when you commit a sexual sin, like watching pornography, you’re sinning against your body (6:18). Science actually agrees with the Bible that our bodies weren’t made for porn!

As we explain in our post, “How Porn Affects the Brain“:

“Porn activates the same pleasurable chemicals in your brain that make sex so enjoyable and meaningful. But porn isn’t real sex, and it actually short-circuits the system with disturbing side effects.”

At Covenant Eyes, our mission is to help people who have realized the disturbing side effects of porn and help them break free.

3. Watching pornography is “adultery.”

When God gave laws to the Israelites, he put the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. This indicates these are special laws with lasting importance. The Seventh Commandment says “Do not commit adultery.” At its heart, this simple command teaches about the sacredness of marriage and God’s design for sexual activity.

Lots of people say, “Sure, I look at porn, but it’s not like I’m actually doing anything.” But in Matthew 5, Jesus teaches that the Seventh Commandment is about more than just avoiding an affair. God’s standard of sexual purity is about our hearts and desires, not just the physical acts we do or don’t do. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

4. Pornography hurts your relationship with God.

The Bible reminds us that things of the world like pornography are not from God. All the world’s porn will someday fade away. Our lives are short but God is eternal! Life with him is eternal and beautiful, so let’s pine after God for satisfaction that never ends!

1 John 2:17

“The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

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.

2 Peter 2:10b

Peter tells us, “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. When that happens, it pulls a person further away from God.

The number one reason people come to Covenant Eyes is to help their relationship with God! That’s because they understand that God doesn’t intend for any of his children to be enslaved by pornography.

I would be perfectly content to end the article here, but I don’t want to leave you without hope. The Bible has more to say about pornography—and how to find freedom from it. Check out Why Porn Makes You Feel Far From God.

5. 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.

Psalm 32:3-5

“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!

Romans 14:12

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.

Proverbs 28:13

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy”

6. 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 sins can be forgiven—freely!

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 unrighteousness.”

What a message of hope this is! By turning to God in repentance, we can be freed from the shame and guilt of pornography. If you’re not sure what to do next, you can get started with our post, How to Quit Porn: 6 Essential Steps

1 Corinthians 10:13

“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!

  1. Stephen lyles

    Is it sinful to watch porno

    • Moriah Bowman

      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

  2. Jalen

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

  3. Chris Spinolo

    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.

  4. Davanna Feyrer

    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?

    • Moriah Bowman

      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. Hunter

    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.

    • John Shaffer

      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.

  6. Steven Terrell

    Pray for My deliverance please

    • JNathan

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

  7. Peter Fitzgerald Riemersma

    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

    • Moriah Dufrin

      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

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