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Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

What Is Porn?

What is Porn-blogpostMy wife is a HUGE fan of the show Friends. She owns the DVDs, watches the reruns on TV when there’s nothing else to watch, and jumped up and down when the show recently became available to stream on Netflix. Admittedly, over the years I’ve even developed an appreciation for the show myself. I think it’s the rampant sarcasm that gets me.

Anyway, one of my favorite episodes is one where Monica catches Chandler (her husband) watching what she calls “shark porn.” In case you’ve never seen that episode, here’s a quick breakdown:

Chandler is away from home travelling, so to “unwind” he rents some hotel porn. Meanwhile, Monica decides to surprise him at the hotel, getting to Chandler’s room and opening the door at the very moment when Chandler is wrist-deep into his pants. Chandler hears the door start to open and quickly changes the channel to some nature show about sharks, but he unfortunately can’t extricate himself from his pants quickly enough. Monica surveys the scene and determines her husband is masturbating to “shark porn.” The rest of this very funny episode centers on Monica’s intervention with Chandler about his “shark porn” problem.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it’s not to get you watching Friends or even because the idea of shark porn is so funny (although it is). I think this episode actually brings up a good question:

What exactly is porn? (Tweet This!)

After all, we have hardcore porn, softcore porn, racial porn, gay porn, straight porn, even food porn. There are practically more categories for porn than there are episodes of Friends. So what is it?

I can’t tell you how many times we at XXXchurch have heard this question. It often comes up in our X3groups:

Is [X] porn?
What about [Y]? Is that porn?
If it’s not porn, then is it okay to watch?
And on and on.

We love to put labels on things and classify everything by a type or genre. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple with porn.

Porn isn’t so easily defined.
There is no checklist.

So, here is what I would offer as a practical definition for porn.

Porn is anything you use (watch, read, hear, or imagine) that’s used to illicit sexual arousal outside of your spouse.

In other words, if something gets you excited, then that thing is porn for you. (Tweet This!)

So, movies can be porn even if they aren’t rated XXX.

TV shows can be porn even if they are on regular cable channels.

Magazines can be porn even if you don’t have to unwrap them or stand on your tippy-toes to get them off the top rack.

Books can be porn, even if they are called “romance novels.” (Does that ring a bell, ladies?)

Talk radio can be porn even if it’s not on the Playboy channel.

Social media can serve as porn for many.

Your imagination can even be porn.

Now, I don’t say this because I’m trying to label everything as porn or because I want you to go out and sanitize your life of all “worldly influences.” I don’t want you to cancel your cable, delete your Facebook account (although that might not hurt for some people), and throw out your satellite radios. That’s not my point.

I bring this up because there is a better question than “What is porn?” That question is: “What is porn for me?” (Tweet This!)

This is the question we need to be asking ourselves.

If you struggle with porn, sex, masturbation, or whatever – take your pick – and you need to ask yourself whether something is porn or not, then there’s a good chance it’s porn for you.

I struggled with porn for many years, and in those days there was a lot that served as “porn” for me that wouldn’t be porn for other people. There were many things that could trigger my desire to go, well, you know.

Thankfully, my boundaries don’t need to be as strict these days. I can watch a movie and not be triggered to act out by a sexy scene. That doesn’t mean I might not look away (and I often do), but that’s a choice, not a necessity.

Stop trying to classify everything.
Stop labeling in an attempt to have super-defined boundaries.

Life isn’t like that. More often than not, we live in the gray, not the black and white, and our struggles are not all the same.

So next time you stumble upon something that stirs those lower regions ask yourself, “Is this porn for me?” Examine your heart, your mind, and your motives, and if the answer is “yes” then shut it off. Even if it’s shark porn.


Here are some other common questions we get at XXXchurch, enjoy.

Creative Commons License
What Is Porn? by Carl Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://XXXchurch.com.

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