Is erotica sinful?

Alright, a troublesome philosophical question? Are all works involving explicit sexuality inherently sinful? I think most people would answer no. Most.

But where do we draw the line between artistic sexually explicit works (erotica) and outright pornography? I have found the following essay most helpful in my characterisation: agreeley.com/articles/eros_art.html.

Personally, as long as the sexual content is primarily for a purpose other than sexual gratification (be it plot direction, characterisation, thematic development, etc.), it is not sinful. But of course, by definition, these works should focus on the emotional aspect of the act, otherwise it treads on the territory of pornography. And with the weaker reasons (express love, characterisation) ideally, it should also portray a deed which is considered as non-sinful by the church.

What is your opinion?

If it would tempt you to sin, I’d advise against it. If the sexual content is plot driven and focuses on the emotional aspects more than the physical ones, and your faith and character are strong enough not to be tempted (I wouldn’t recommend this stuff to someone struggling with a porn addiction for example), then I would not consider it to be sinful.

My opinion is that things which actually have a place in the plot are different from gratuitous content but this still doesn’t make them right. For example, a writer could use the equivalent of a screen blackout to denote that somebody had sex, especially cheated or fornicated. There is no need to offer an artistic depiction of the encounter. As in it’s okay to write that somebody is lying in bed with his spouse, holding hands and talking or describe some initial advances as a hint, then move on to next chapter. But we don’t need the stimuli we receive.

Mild pornography is still wrong and “erotica” that escapes the definition of pornography, if watched basically for awakening or quenching the sex drive, is also wrong. This does not mean that having a collection of nude art is necessarily sinful but if one isn’t beholding the form but rather the sort of adrenaline or thrill or excitation or whatever that’s associated with it, then I’d be worried.

For the record, a lustful look does not require nudity or a sexual or sensual pose in the person looked at. It requires an intention in the looker.

Anything that made you think about doing something that is against Gods will is sinful. Erotica,yes. But one thing I can’t understand is why women do all they can to look good/sexy,and then get angry when you look at them.

That’s basically my point of view also.

Having sex is not against God’s will. :stuck_out_tongue:

Because the whole of society tells us that is how you must dress to look nice but fail to point out that you are then objectified because of it.

This doesn’t seem entirely relevant. But as to the first point, the same piece of work makes people think about different things. Humans are difficult that way. A story that may make one person think about fornicating or committing adultery may make another think about reuniting with a separated spouse, or proposing to his girlfriend. A game may make one person think about joining the police to protect people from terrorists may make another think about going on a killing spree. And sometimes, through extremely random chains of thought which are loosely connected but still sound like rubbish (and make the Game so hard to play…), even the most innocuous of works may make someone think of commiting a sexual sin. So this point is really not so good…

Your last point can be used to nullify the first. I wasn’t really thinking along the lines of cheating or fornicating, although the sentiments expressed during said act can be crucial for plot, thematic and character development. If someone reads/writes the sex scenes to portray sentiments such as shame, regret, guilty pleasure, hatred, etc., or, on the lighter side, for example an explicit description of a couple’s first night, portray the passion and love both parties share for each other, and, as the essay linked above stated, explore erotic desire in their relationship, I strongly doubt that could be considered sinful.

Hmm. Just realised something.

The Song of Songs.

Yes, you could do the literary equivalent of a fade-to-black, but I can think of at least one series of books where you can’t do that without ruining the story. Basically, a married couple bonds / unites / resolves something / throughout / during sex (you know, not unlike real life sometimes). You can’t really leave out the blocking and tackling of the act without mutilating the story.

The way I see it, it is sinful in four cases:

  • when it’s meant for sexual stimulation of the audience;
  • when it’s not directly meant for that but causes it through reckless exposition;
  • when it deprives the marital act of its privacy, its dignity;
  • when it deprives the actor (a willing one, obviously) of his dignity (with or without consent, no matter).

One can’t really justify mild titillation on the mere grounds that it’s lighter (in degree, not kind) than some more powerful stimuli. I guess people are capable of looking at that material with the appreciation of aesthetical form but I doubt that’s usually the case, let alone always.

That would be no justification to go into details of the act. In most cases I am sensing an excuse to explore sexuality rather than an innocent artistic motivation. Sexual temptations can disguise themselves in very subtle trappings, it isn’t always hot and steamy or overt fornication or adultery.

Attention game. Or paying tribute to fashion (e.g. peer pressure, need to conform, need to belong) while expecting the audience to ignore it. Or just lack of reflection at the point of choosing the appearance followed by sudden self-consciousness when one does get looked at.

I have some special respect and appreciation for women who both dress tastefully (no TMI) AND can take a compliment kept in proportion.

I disagree. You can “sense” whatever you want, but read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and then tell me what you “sense.”

Sorry, I’m not going to go read an entire novel I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in for the sake of a forum discussion. I have boatloads of work right now and no time for even my normal hobbies, I can’t really just mail-order a book from across the ocean and spend 1-2 days with it.

And what exactly do you disagree with me about? Surely you can’t disagree that sexual pleasure is reserved for marital intercourse by those who are married to each other. Due to this, any vicarious experience sought or delivered intentionally is problematic.

Ugh yes it’s porn. Nobody picks up an erotica book for the character development or the plot, the same way a man doesn’t buy a porno vid for the CGI effects and storyline. They buy it because of the pornographic sections.

**Jesus Says:

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

Would this “erotica” lead one into temptation? If so it is wrong and it is sinful, this thread subject seems to be more along the lines of how far the envelope can be pushed before it is wrong and sinful. If there is any doubt, there is no doubt. Check my sig line as well.

Right. Because that’s actually what I expected you to do. :rolleyes:

And what exactly do you disagree with me about? Surely you can’t disagree that sexual pleasure is reserved for marital intercourse by those who are married to each other. Due to this, any vicarious experience sought or delivered intentionally is problematic.

What I disagree with is your position that in all cases, explicit sex in literature is wrong. I stated that this is not so, I further explained the general context in which removing explicit sex from the book would harm the artistic quality of the book, and I further specifically referenced what I was talking about.

You continued to state that not only were you correct, but you “sensed” motives in my position other than that which I explicitly stated. That is insulting and intellectually dishonest.

OK, maybe the word ‘erotica’ was a bad choice.

What I meant to say is, is it OK to be sexually graphic/explicit (as it is in the Song of Songs) in literature? The case that it can lead one to sin is hardly valid; arguably the dirty passages in the Bible can be used for carnal pleasures, just like arguably the Eucharist could choke someone. But that does not make it inherently bad.

Honestly, I don’t think literature can deprive anyone of his or her dignity, since it’s, you know, just a story on paper.

I think a more general issue would be whether immoral sexual acts can be depicted. In all honesty I think there’s nothing wrong with immorality as long as it is shown for what it is. For example, I can write a graphic scene involving brutal, mechanistic, hedonistic sodomy, and contrast it with the loving tenderness of the procreative act within the sacred institution of marriage. I do not think this is a sin, on the contrary, it illuminates the vileness of the homosexual act and discourages sin.

Immorality in general, I believe, can be penned down without sin being committed. Take, for example, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The ending is a tragic one; both characters take their own lives, thereby committing mortal sin. But I wouldn’t say that Shakespeare was immoral in doing this.

I’m sorry. I apparently do not support the mode you wanted me to run in. Chances are irony and subtle jabs are lost on me.

What I disagree with is your position that in all cases, explicit sex in literature is wrong. I stated that this is not so, I further explained the general context in which removing explicit sex from the book would harm the artistic quality of the book, and I further specifically referenced what I was talking about.

And I am telling you that supposed or desired artistic quality of a book is not more important than the 6th commandment.

You continued to state that not only were you correct, but you “sensed” motives in my position other than that which I explicitly stated. That is insulting and intellectually dishonest.

Oh please. And no, it is not in any way dishonest.

Song of Songs is by definition okay because it is a book of the Bible.

That’s above my paygrade. However, an artist does need to consider the effect his passages may have on the reader.

For the record, 1) the suicide in Romeo and Juliet was a youthful overreaction to the departure of each of the objects of an obsessive mutual fascination; and 2) grave matter rather than a mortal sin since culpability in such a situation could perhaps be mitigated on the grounds of how limited the ability to form full informed consent was in the situation.

“Just a story on paper,” does not mean harm may not be done to human dignity. Just because no actual act is physically taking place does not remove the “problem” of Matt 5:28 that a poster referenced above.

I think a more general issue would be whether immoral sexual acts can be depicted. In all honesty I think there’s nothing wrong with immorality as long as it is shown for what it is. For example, I can write a graphic scene involving brutal, mechanistic, hedonistic sodomy, and contrast it with the loving tenderness of the procreative act within the sacred institution of marriage. I do not think this is a sin, on the contrary, it illuminates the vileness of the homosexual act and discourages sin.

Explicit passages about sex encourage curiosity, potentially both in the readers and in the writers. There would be no mortal sin in indulging that curiosity for a motive different from seeking the same pleasure as is normally derived from the sexual act. For a good purpose, there’d be no sin at all. For a poor purpose or no purpose but simply idleness there might be venial sin in it.

I think a more general issue would be whether immoral sexual acts can be depicted. In all honesty I think there’s nothing wrong with immorality as long as it is shown for what it is. For example, I can write a graphic scene involving brutal, mechanistic, hedonistic sodomy, and contrast it with the loving tenderness of the procreative act within the sacred institution of marriage. I do not think this is a sin, on the contrary, it illuminates the vileness of the homosexual act and discourages sin.

I suppose much depends on what the publisher does and what the sellers do on their side, to make sure that access to that literature is not free for all.

In most cases, I would be inclined to question the necessity for sexual passages in book (the obligatory sex scene in every novel right now, including historical ones).

It’s very easy to come up with excuses and then blur the differences, move on a slippery slope and eventually basically engage in pornography.

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