What, precisely, constitutes porn?


#1

I struggle with porn and masturbation addiction as well as scrupulosity. Unfortunately, I recently fell back into my sinful habits many times over the past week. I am ashamed and want to go to Confession soon. I know it is important to confess how many times you commit a sin, but I am unsure as to how many times I actually watched porn. You see, I used to go by an “I know it when I see it” approach, but the actual definition in the Catechism of the Catholic Church seems rather narrow - it seems to only include what we call “hardcore porn” and maybe some erotica. I am not sure when I crossed the line from lusting after something that is not porn to watching porn, and therefore do not know the precise number of times I watched porn. Where is that line? Is it as strict as I see the Catechism as making it or not? Also, is it acceptable to highball the number of sins when you confess them? Or is that equivalent to lying in Confession?


#2

I think porn is anything that is 1) intended to arouse sexually, or 2) something you view, read, etc. to become sexually aroused.

In other words, what Ron Jeremy does is obviously porn even if it doesn’t do anything for you. But the nudes at the art museum could be porn for you if you go there to become aroused by them, or even if you are incidentally aroused and you continue looking at them to further your arousal.


#3

If what you’re watching is causing you to masturbate, it is not to be watched, whether it’s called porn or not. The exact number of times you commit a sin is not that important to confess as long as you don’t say once or twice when it was 10 or 15.
The priest wants to hear that a person is truly sorry & will try to change their ways.


#4

Beware the near occasions of sin, or sorts of venial sin, which act as a gateway into those greater sins you are trying to avoid.
Clicking on a story with a slideshow of NFL cheerleaders, for example, which will trigger your lust - that starting point which causes those domino’s to begin falling towards that then seemingly inevitable cave-in to more serious sins.
Pray every morning for the strength and discipline to keep your eyes away from what is base.

If you’ve lost count then say in confession something like “I looked at pornography probably about 10-12 times I suppose”. (or however many times you think you may have done it)
Doing your examination of conscience, in humility, then you can surely think of an honest general number. This is not lying, and the priest is not going to call you out (so to speak) about that.

God bless you.
St. Michael, defend us in the battle!


#5

The CCC definition is narrow.

It’s in the eye of the beholder. When I was a teenager with raging hormones, the lingerie section of the Sears catalogue was porn.

At my age, I can look at a picture or painting of a beautiful naked woman and appreciate the beauty without any sexual interest in her whatsoever.

And I can look at “porn” as defined by the CCC and be thoroughly revolted. Some friends still stuck in their juvenile phase would often e-mail some to me. I’ve asked them not to. Fortunately they’re good enough friends to respect that.

In your fifties, the phrase “the mind is willing but the flesh is weak” takes on a whole new meaning :stuck_out_tongue:


#6

The question of porn is an abstract one. It is useful at the generic level (most people will agree that they will recognize it when they see it) for condemnation, but it is usually not useful for a precise inquiry into the existence of a sinful act. This is because sin consists of the motivations of the human heart, completely apart from the object. A blind man can lust, but any nearby pornography he possesses will not help him do so. Similarly, a police officer with a pure heart may have to view porn as part of a job yet no sin occurs.

Pornography is largely a subjective term based on the standards of the community. What it has in common everywhere is that it appeals to the prurient interest, but cultural anthropologists will be quick to point out that what is sexualized in one culture is not necessarily deemed to be sexual by the next.

So for making moral judgments (if necessary), ask whether the person is treating God’s creature as a subject (good) or as an object (bad) and to what degree. For analyzing moral consequences, defining pornography is probably more useful, as it can help develop a sense of what is within levels of prudence (maybe a movie with bikinis is ok?) and what is too risky (maybe a movie with nudity is not?). But for that, check with your local community’s standards.


#7

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