What defines an image as pornographic?

In this day and age, temptations against purity and chastity are as plentiful as the day is long. But what kinds of images constitute a mortal sin? According to the catechism pornography “consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties” and is an offense against chastity because it “perverts the conjugal act.” What if an image does not portray the conjugal act, nor even something immodest such as modeling photos that do not display nudity? If such an image is pleasurable to behold, even mildly arousing for someone, is viewing such an image a mortal sin?

Well I think that is great question. I would put myself in the company of Potter Stewart (U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1959 -1981), who in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio , said with regard to pornography: that “pornography” was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it”.

Seems trite I know but I think it actually fairly profound.

How so? Well, if viewing the image, (even if it lacks as the catechism says portrayals of the sexual act) makes you uncomfortable, feel “guilty”, or question whether you are sinning, you probably are. I think it is a subjective standard, as is all mortal sin.

Of course I would prefer to just not “see it”.

Honestly, I think the healthier way to look at it is what is it to YOU. There are plenty of raunchy images and videos on the internet that pass by the legal definition of pornography but still can be used in a pornographic way.

Bottom line: if it causes you to lust, don’t look at it.

I had often wondered about some ancient statues such as the sculpture of King David which shows him “au-naturel”. Yet it is considered art rather than pornography!:confused:

Images for statue of king david - Report images

Potter Stewart offered a cop-out, not an explanation. And let’s just keep bringing up those ancient statues :rolleyes: as opposed to dealing with what is commonly available today. No one has to be a law scholar or Supreme Court Justice to know what he’s viewing is porn or not. And let’s stop the “it’s so vague” nonsense, or the “I’ve got an exception from the 12th Century.”

Porn is images of two or more people engaged in graphic sex acts. And nudity? Some knuckle-head at a web site I won’t name was selling a bunch of nude and semi-nude photos of women from the 1950s. For each photo, he wrote: “ART not Porn!” Let’s see. Photos made to sexually arouse men in the 1950s will not sexually arouse men in the 2000s? Really? Art? No. Photos made for the sole purpose of sexual arousal. That’s porn.


I agree with this, as I have two definitions of pornography, formal and informal.

Formal pornography is any media that is published with the intent to bring about sexual arousal. An example would be any explicit pornographic material, such as rated X movies and playboy magazines.

Informal pornography is any media published without the intent to bring sexual arousal, but is used by a person for sexual arousal. An example would be a naked person in a biology book that is not meant to be pornographic, but is used by a student to get aroused before pleasuring themselves.

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