Yes, that actually was my point. One way I try to discover spiritual truths is to consider them taken to the extreme. Most would say they could discern “tasteful” from “provocative” but the distinction is subjective and therefore I claim cannot be accurately judged. What is lewd? Is it a low neck line? A really, really low neckline?
This kid of talk is often attacked as being relativist, but I don’t buy it because if somebody thinks there is an absolute distinction between a studio portrait and pornography, then they are wrong because there isn’t. To attempt to define it in words is an extension of the law of sin and death. That doesn’t mean we can’t follow societal norms and practices, and for those we generally have a feel for what goes where. It does mean, though, that we cannot “blame” one measurement of the photo as to its “pornicity” or something, on whether or not it causes sin in our hearts.
Personally, if I see a photo of my wife and perhaps become aroused, it is not maybe because I wish to have a strange relationship to the photo, but because the photo has pointed to a truth greater than itself, which is the wife that I love and who can legitimately have that effect on me. In the case of pornography, I don’t know whether men desire the photo itself or the women they represent – but I do have one friend with a porn “problem” so maybe this gives me an excuse to open another discussion with him about it.
As a totally opposite example, in the Real Presence of the Eucharist we have the actual body of Christ right there, whom we love, although the bread does not show a physical image of Christ to the Communicant – except for a lucky few who have such visions. Here we have a wholesome love object, but visually the bread is completley abstract.
What I think is important is what goes on in the heart. Within the context of a marriage, I cannot see that taking photos in itself would be a sin, although it certainly could be problematic for any number of reasons we discussed.
No matter what it is, studio shot or nude, we might do well to remind ourselves what St. Paul said about being dominated by things: