Is Erotic or Porn Fantasy a Sin?
Most people would likely assume that the answer to this question would be very simple: God is against erotic fantasy. However, what I have learned over the last 20 years, is that what is commonly taught as biblical could potentially be revealed incorrect once you research the scriptures.
|"Matthew 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
First thing I would like to point out is that there are some terms that are within scripture that are often defined poorly. For instance, the term adultery. Webster's dictionary says adultery is: "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse." Now, that is the secular definition of the term "adultery". What is the Bible's definition of adultery? Well, according to the original Strong's Concordance (along with virtually all others), it means: "to have unlawful intercourse with another's wife."
Since adultery was first defined in the Old Testament and seeing there were times and situations, where men in the Old Testament had more than one wife, it makes sense that the original hebrew word for adultery is defined in this way. Although women are equal to men, they are created differently and have a different role in the marriage family structure. It is clear in scripture that man is to be the head of the family (refer to the 10th of the 10 Commandments). So, since man was head, it would make sense that the definition would flow with the family structure, that a man can not steal another man's wife.
Back to the term "adultery". It is clear, there is a difference between the common legal understanding of adultery today and the Bible's definition of adultery. If we take the Bible's definition of the term adultery and apply it to Jesus' quote, we find that it says:
|"Matthew 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man's wife): 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man's wife) with her already in his heart."
One day, about five years ago, I realized, that it is very possible to change the whole meaning of scripture simply by defining the words incorrectly. So, from this realization, I noticed, that many Christians, often unwittingly, understand some scriptures incorrectly, due to the fact they are using society's definition of certain words, rather than the Bible's definition. And, I believe some, over the decades, have intentionally or unintentially, imposed doctrine onto scripture by putting their theological spin on certain english words.
What's interesting is that most of the printed Bibles before the King James Bible had the term "woman" translated as "wife". The very first English Bible (Tyndale Version), along with the Matthew Bible and Great Bible all have it translated "whosoever looketh on a wife to lust after her"
The term as understood in greek, applies as either "young wife", "woman" or "wife" as you can see within Strong's Concordance again: King James Word Usage - Total: 221 women 129, wife 92. So, it is saying that almost 50% of the time, the greek term is denoted as "wife" instead of "woman".
I am hoping this logical progression is starting to make some sense. Well, believe it or not, we are just starting, and there is more.
Interestingly, I have discovered through my studies, that I am not the only one who has understood this passage of the Bible to say this. Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 180) has the very same understanding of Matthew 5:27-28:
|"And concerning chastity, the holy word teaches us not only not to sin in act, but not even in thought, not even in the heart to think of any evil, nor look on another man’s wife with our eyes to lust after her. Solomon, accordingly, who was a king and a prophet, said: “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee: make straight paths for your feet.” - Prov. iv. 25.
And the voice of the Gospel teaches still more urgently concerning chastity, saying: “Whosoever looketh on a woman who is not his own wife, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” - Matt. v. 28." - Theophilus to Autolycus, B III, Ch 3, on Chastity
Ok, again, lets do some textual analysis, as this was written in greek originally. He cites Solomon regarding "lust of the eyes". Is it just me, or would that be a terrible example of a person to cite, if he was implying you can not lust after any woman? King Solomon had 200 wives & 800 concubines total. To say he never lusted after any woman other than his first wife is quite a rediculous statement. So, it is clear, within this logic, that he is refering to the sin of King David, of seeing a married woman and then desiring to take her (not women in general). Second, notice how his quote of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 was translated into English differently than how we read in our Bible. The translator adds this additional wording, "woman who is not his own wife". Well, I just checked the greek version of this passage of Theophilus to Autolycus, Book III, Chapter 3, and it appears that Theophilus did indeed word it slightly different than Jesus' words. However, I think I will have to disagree with the transcribers translation, as I just did a bit of study on these greek words here and it should actually read this way, "Whosoever looketh on a woman who belongs to another, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Here is the quote from Matthew 5:28 in greek, and the quote from Theophilus to Autolycus, Book III, Chapter 3, quoting Jesus, in greek:
|"5:28 εγω δε λεγω υμιν οτι πας ο βλεπων γυναικα προς το επιθυμησαι αυτης ηδη εμοιχευσεν αυτην εν τη καρδια αυτου " - Matthew 5:27-28
|ἡ δὲ εὐαγγέλιος φωνὴ ἐπιτατικώτερον διδάσκει περὶ ἁγνείας λέγουσα· “Πᾶς ὁ ἰδὼν γυναῖκα ἀλλοτρίαν πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ. καὶ ὁ γαμῶν” - Theophilus to Autolycus, B III, Ch 3, quoting Mt 5:28
The term, "ἀλλοτρίαν" means, "belongeth to another", not "who is not yours". You can see I am correct here: G245, thus proving that one of the earliest Christian apologists agrees with me on the interpretation of Matthew 5:27-28.
What does it also demonstrate? That the transcriber had to impress his viewpoint on the verse into the translation. It is almost as if, he could not accept what it actually said, and had to correct Theophilus.
OK, I have something else for you to ponder.
What is "lusting"? Most of you have this definition coming to mind "any sexual thought for the opposite sex". And yes, I used to have the same definition, until, again, I actually studied scripture and greek to decipher what the term actually meant fully.
The term means to "covet" or "desire with intent to steal" plain and simple. This greek word (1937) has no "sexual" connotation to it, as the very same word is used as "desire" in other passages, such as "desire the Office of Bishop.. desireth a good work" - 1 Timothy 3:1. Now, do you remember which of the Ten Commandments mentions this type of desire or coveting? Yes, it is the 10th commandment. So, Jesus was quoting the "thou shalt not covet .. thy neighbor's wife". Why haven't you ever heard that before? Doesn't that make a lot of sense, seeing God is the same, yesterday, today and forever? So, quite literally, Jesus first stated the 7th commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery", then he explained the theology behind the 7th commandment with the 10th commandment, "Thou shalt not covet .. thy neighbor's wife". He was showing how the people of the day were not looking at the intent behind the 7th commandment.
Here is further proof that Jesus was quoting the 10th of the 10 Commandments:
Greek Textus Receptus
"γυναικα 1135 προς 4314 το 3588 επιθυμησαι 1937 5658" - Matthew 5:28
Note the same key terms for "woman" and "lust" are present within both passages, showing Christ was paraphrasing the 10th Commandment. The IVP Bible Background Commentary explains:
|"The Greek word here is the same as in the opening line of the tenth commandment in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament): 'You shall not desire your neighbor's wife' (Exodus 20:17)" - The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Matthew 5:27-30
How do we know that the common viewpoint on Matthew 5:27-28 is irreparably in error? Well, if the greek term "gunh" meant "any woman" and we take the greek meaning of the term "lust" (which means any desire in general), we discover the passage to be saying literally, "whosoever looks at a woman and desires her has committed adultery in her heart". Which means you literally can not desire any woman in general and would have to conclude that all men have sinned being in any relationship with a woman, even if they had the most innocent of "desires".
So, revisiting Jesus' statement, we see that woman is "wife", lust is "covet" and adultery is "unlawful intercourse with another man's wife". It makes it very clear, he is quoting the 7th and 10th commandment and if you think about it, this makes sense. Jesus did not just make up commandments randomly. He quoted the only scripture of his time, namely, the Old Testament. We seem to forget such things:
|"Matthew 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man's wife): 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh(sets mind upon) on a woman(wife) to lust(desire to take or covet) after her hath committed adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man's wife) with her already in his heart."
Now, this will probably shock you, but I am going to prove right now that "coveting" is not a sin, unless there is an decision component to it. I will prove it without a shadow of a doubt.
According to James 1:15 in the New Testament, "1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." As you can see here, it is clear that lust has to "conceive" to bring forth sin. If it was "lust" alone that was the sin, the scripture would have likely said this instead: Lust bringeth forth sin and when it is finished, brings forth death. But, it doesn't say that, does it?
If you look at the greek term in Matthew 5:27-28 for "lust" you will discover that the term requires a "decision" to be a component of it, as seen in James 1:15. And, I am guessing you have heard this definition, but really have not considered its true meaning. Lust most properly translated in the verse means to "earnestly desire". Now, here's something you might not have thought about. What does "earnestly" mean? Well, if you look it up in the dictionary, you will discover it means: 1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker. 4 full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest." Now, ask yourself, are you being serious in intention to desire a woman when you look at her walking down the road? The answer to that is no. When are you serious in your desire? It would be when you are wanting to act on that desire and take her for yourself. So, to sum it up, Jesus is saying, if you are thinking about stealing someones wife, you have already sinned. Meaning, you literally make a decision in your heart to be in her life in some way, shape, or form. That leaves a wide gap doesn't it? Now, you don't feel like you are a slave to your "nature" anymore. Isn't it interesting, as Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And if you are guy, you know it is not exactly easy not to notice beautiful women.
Now, lets square our understanding of desire with other things in life. We treat desire or "lust" for a woman differently than we do than something like "loving a car" or "wanting a new video game", etc. If I had a neighbor with an awesome car (maybe a red Corvette) and I looked at it and said, "Wow, that is a cool car". And if I had a photo of a similar car on my wall at work, people would think nothing of it. I could even go over to my neighbor's house and say, "Hey can I take a ride with you in the car?" It would all seem normal. However, when it comes to women, Christians think you are sinning by merely admiring a woman's beauty. And if a Christian saw a poster of some nude girl, they would think it was a sin to look at it. But, what is the difference between the car example and a woman? If I like how a car looks, no one cares. But if I like how a woman looks, all of a sudden its a sin? This makes no sense. No one cares if you watch car races, motor bike rallys, etc. Shoot, you could watch Rambo kill 100 guys and no one would care. But if you watched a movie with some women naked, you sinned. Why do Christians think this? Its because of this ONE verse above, which I have now proven is mistranslated.
In the Old Testament, it is made clear that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Hebrews 9:22 & Leviticus 17:11. So, obviously, if something is a sin, God will require shedding of blood within the Old Testament to cleanse the person of their sin. And likewise, if no shedding of blood is required, it is not a sin. Of ALL the Ten Commandments, only one of them does not require shedding of blood. The Tenth Commandment (Thou shalt not covet/desire/lust...). All the other commandments have examples in scripture where the person was either stoned to death or had to have some sort of sacrifice to pay for his sin. If you think you know of a place in the Old Testament where someone was stoned or had to make an offering to the Lord for coveting, please write me and show me where. You will find I am correct.
Back to the topic of "lust", or better translated "covet". I want to give you a few examples to show you how distorted the church's understanding of "lust" is. These will show you through internal inspection a contradiction within the common understanding of the term lust. Look at Exodus 20 again. Now, notice the 10th Commandment again. Remember, God is the same yesterday, today and forever, yes? Also, remember that Jesus is paraphrasing this commandment in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:27-28. OK, notice in the 10th Commandment all the other items mentioned other than another man's wife. The total list includes: house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox and ass. What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of all of these things? Materialism? Keeping up with the Joneses?
Isn't it interesting when you look at that, you do not think that it is talking about sex, do you? You think, rather, of people being selfish, being jealous and wanting more and taking what belongs to others. Atleast, that is the first thing that comes to my mind. Yet, those things are often OK in our society.
Now, lets take the common idea of "lust" and apply it to all the OTHER things on this list. Lets see if this definition changes when it comes to your neighbor's house, property, etc. Now, ask yourself, do you consider it a sin to "look" at your neighbor's house and think it looks nice? Is it a sin to go over to his house and watch the ball game? They sound like pretty silly questions, wouldn't you say? Yes, but that is how you view the term covet when it comes to another man's wife, isn't it? So the moral is it is not the look, it is the look with intent to take.
Believe it or not, there is only three "lists" of sexual sins in the Bible and two of them basically say the same thing (Leviticus 18 & 20) and all three are in the Old Testament. The third one is a very small list and has only like 4 things listed, so the best one to look at would be the most comprehensive one (Leviticus 18 - below).
Now, believe it or not, many things are NOT on this list. For One, sex between two women is nowhere to be found on the list. My theory why is due to the fact that polygamy was not a sin in the Old Testament. Of course, a lot of Christians "claim" that polygamy is a sin, but in reality, God even says its OK directly through one of his prophets to King David, "And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom..... and if these things be little, I shall add far greater things unto thee." This is just one of probably about 40 ways I could prove God was OK with polygamy in the Old Testament. And also, I believe I can easily prove that God is OK with polygamy today as well (if you look at the New Testament in the original languages). If you check out my article on "Polygamy", I explain it all there.
Further, with this list above, not even all forms of incest are listed. For example, check out this chart on Wikipedia here which shows the various incest that was allowed. And further yet, Moses' own parents would have been condemned by these laws written in Leviticus 18! Moses wrote these laws, but his own parents were in violation, as they were an Aunt and nephew married together! There are some who claim that "Leviticus 18" was added in later to the text, because of this fact about Moses' parents.
Last, I want to point out that this list was for Israel. Many of these laws did not exist before Israel. We have many stories from the Old Testament prior to Israel where these things happened among "God's people". For example, Lot having sex with his daughters or Jacob married to Leah and Sarah (two sisters). So, one could easily argue that these laws may not even be in effect today, as many other laws in the Levitical Code do not apply today (mixing fabric in clothing, eating shell fish, etc). Most people could care less about these ancient laws in Israel about mixed fabric clothing or not eating certain meats, but for some reason they are obsessed with your sex life or what you watch on TV.
Now, in the New Testament, there is no list of sexual sins listed. However, this does not stop people from creating large lists. They do so by taking english words such as "fornication" and then opening up a Webster's dictionary and then guessing what God meant by the term. But in reality, the term "fornication" is "porneia" in Greek and you can find this term in the Greek Old Testament Septuagint and generally speaking, 50% of the time it referred to idolatry and the other half the time it referred to "sexual immorality". But again, where do we discover what is sexually immoral? In places in the Bible where it explicitly tells us. So we have the 10 Commandments that tells us "adultery" is a sin. We have numerous places telling us temple harlotry is a sin in the Old Testament. But, when it comes to "sex before marriage", we don't actually have any examples in the Old Testament. In reality, if you look through the whole code, you realize no blood sacrifice is ever required for someone having "sex before marriage". In the Old Testament, it is made clear that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Hebrews 9:22 & Leviticus 17:11.
There are only a few passages, which I have found, which discuss sex before marriage directly:
|"22:16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 22:17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins." - Exodus 22:16-17
Notice, no blood sacrifice is required for the sex act before marriage. Also, notice, no one is "stoned to death", unlike adultery. Rather, in this instance, God instructs the man to marry the woman. Now, lets analyze this a little. Could it be, God understands men and women's desires and wants to salvage situations? So, instead of putting them to death, he instructs them to marry. Does that not make sense, considering the father's desire for his virgin daughter to have an honorable marriage? But, there is more. Again, this is the only scripture that discusses young virgins specifically having sex before marriage. The only other passage in the Bible that directly discusses sex before marriage is this one below:
|"21:10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 21:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 21:12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 21:13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. 21:14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her." - Deuteronomy 21:10-14
Notice here, there is literally no penalty for this man to have had sex with this woman. How do we know for sure he had sex with her? Because it says he "humbled" her before he sent her out (assuming he has no delight in her). Further, if in a month, he is not happy, he can send her away. Of course, this is a special situation, where you have a woman, who's relatives potentially died in combat when fighting Israel. So, this situation is not exactly the norm. However, we can see, though, that sex before marriage is not a sin, otherwise, God would not have given the instructions seen in the passage above. It is not God's ideal, as we can see, but that does not mean it is a sin.
Regarding things like lesbianism and threesomes in erotic movies, most Christians would assume this is an obvious sin. But, in reality, there is actually no commandment in the entire Bible against women having sexual relations together. Leviticus 18 is silent on this and the only verse people claim says something about it is in Romans 1. The problem with the Romans 1 example is most of the early Christian teachers thought it was referring to either anal sex and/or idolatry. Seeing that Romans 1 is the only passage that may relate out of 33,000+ verses within the Bible and seeing it is not direct or clear as to what is meant by "against nature", we can not easily conclude it is talking about two women having sexual relations (as the two Leviticus passages never mention it being a sin, or any other passages: 1, 2 ). Since lesbianism is not explicitly condemned (likely for polygamy) it then follows that something like a threesome (two women with a man) would not be condemned either. Matter of fact, King Solomon had 200 wives and 800 concubines and likely he had many threesomes.
Now, regarding step fantasy in erotic movies, the question is whether or not the Levitical Code is still in effect. Personally, I don't believe so. The fact is, before Israel, many "Godly men" married relatives. Even Adam and Eve's own children married each other. Moses' own parents were Aunt and nephew and would have been in violation of Moses Levitical code. So, clearly, this was meant for "Israel" and were not universal laws that were required for all time. I believe I know the reason as to why these laws were required in Israel. It is because Israel was to bring forth the Messiah, and they wanted to have strict geneology that also made sure not to have DNA corruption (incest often can cause the offspring to have deformities, etc). So, to make sure the DNA was pure, they had strict rules of sexual conduct for Israel. However, the Messiah was already brought forth and now there are likely no more incest rules applying today. Though, I think it is very unwise to marry your sister, etc, there is something to be said about marrying cousins. Some make arguments for this, and you can even see wealthy Kings and such of our ancient history doing this to retain their wealth, customs and culture.
Seeing so much porn these days is step fantasy, I had asked God myself about this topic and this is when he led me to some rather curious advanced studies from scholars. One scholar from Yale showed a connection between sort of bad situations that happened to men of God early in the Bible that led to the logic of the Levitical 18 laws. For, example, Jacob and his two sister wives, Rachel and Leah. He deduced that the law in Leviticus saying not to marry two sisters "as rivals" was a result of "lesson learned" looking back on their own history prior to Israel. So some of these laws were to address things that went wrong earlier in the biblical record as well.
Note, watching a "movie" with people pretending to be siblings or "step" siblings is clearly "fantasy" and not reality. But, even with reality, we see a plethora of stories in the Old Testament of real incest for which God apparently did not have a problem with. Even Lot's daughters, the reason they laid with their father was due to the Levirate Marriage Code. They believed all the men of the world were dead, including the two men these daughters were betrothed to who died in Sodom. So, according to the Levirate code, the "next of kin" is to raise children in place of the dead husband. So, these two girls thought literally their father was the only man still alive and the only one who could give them children, hence their actions.
You may ask yourself, "What if the performer is married?" This would mean potentially the performer is committing adultery and wouldn't it be a sin to watch?" My opinion, based on prayer, is that if the movie's theme is not bad (In the movie's storyline, she is not committing adultery even though in real life she could be) then I would say that it is "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer" as 1 Timothy 4 states. As the movie itself is representing something not bad as a storyline. Same also with a normal Hollywood movie. If the story of a Hollywood movie is OK, even if the actor himself is somehow sinning while doing the movie (behind the scenes), the movie itself is not bad.
Pornography is fantasy and not the sin of "coveting". Matthew 5:28 is built on the idea of NOT coveting your neighbor's wife. Coveting is not sexual thoughts or fantasy, but rather desiring to take another man's wife (literally). The sin of coveting occurs when the person truly desides in his heart, he is going to go after a married woman. Therefore, when watching pornography, realize, some of these women are likely married and the simplest way to avoid sin is to leave it as fantasy. If you start to become a "fan" of a certain woman and start to try to meet her to get to know her, etc, not exactly a good idea. As then, there is real potential for temptation and sin, as she could be married and you could start to truly desire to steal her, which would be committing adultery in your heart.
In Song of Solomon, we see an erotic tale where people are watching within the story. There are bystanders watching this love romance between the Shulamite girl and King Solomon. Keep in mind, this was King Solomon's 141st wife and that King Solomon had written 1005 songs according to Psalms. How many of these "songs" were erotic poetry? Wouldn't this essentially be literally erotica and does not this "constitute" fantasy and there being bystanders within the story watching and talking about even body parts "she has no breasts yet" being on paraphrase of a statement of a bystander in the book, one could easily see God does not have a problem with fantasy or bystanders watching something erotic play out.