We often think that by the sexual nature of pornography that it would fall under violations of the Seventh Commandment against adultery rather than the Second. However, I think there are too many missing steps in the proof from the practice of pornography to the sin of adultery which is specifically about violating the marriage estate.
However, I think there is an argument to be made that the consumption of pornography would better fall under the Second Commandment violation rather than the Seventh. Let’s review the text for the Second Commandment:
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.Exodus 20:4-6
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness, etc, and shall not worship them or serve them. How does this apply to pornography? The connection came to me as I was thinking about A.I. Generated art and it struck me that all videos and film pictures essentially are creations which capture the likeness of creaturely things. The fact that a video or picture captures the likeness thereof so exactly and accurately shouldn’t obscure the fact that it is still a created image.
When you execute a program to *play* the porn video file on your monitor, you are creating the image for yourself, even if it is an “automatic” process by a computer program, it is still being created every time you run the file, exactly parallel to creating art using an A.I. program. The fact that the process today is so effortless and frictionless doesn’t obscure the reality that the image is still being created by you, even if it is “destroyed” the moment you close your video program.
With this in mind, then unlike nude art in galleries, the purpose of these videos isn’t for disinterested aesthetic appreciation but for literally private worship with one most intimate parts and emotions. As it is written in Deuteronomy 27:15 ‘Cursed is the man who makes a graven image or a molten image, an abomination to Yahweh, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ In our case, cursed is the man who makes a digital image, the work of the hands of porn artists and programmers, and plays it in secret behind closed doors. We also tend to forget that a lot of ancient and classical religions were essentially sex cults, and the idols were actually meant to be sensual and to sexually excite. I had a friend who was doing post-grad church history and attended a lecture where they were discussing records of medieval churchman experiencing religious ecstasy by masturbating to images of the Virgin Mary. We still have pictures of saints drinking from the breasts of the Virgin Mary, a rather weird fetish.
My main point is that worship of and with aesthetic images as idolatry is nothing new, the medieval were masturbating to woman’s pictures before the internet made it cool. However, the true and proper context for such an act isn’t as violations of the Seventh Commandment or adultery, which is essentially a social dimension, but as violations of the Second Commandment: making images and idols for secret worship.
The advent of internet pornography, the lack of a “human agent” in the creation of these images, the frictionless way they are created, and the “realness” of these images, only obscures but does not destroy, their essence as *created* images where demons can still hide, even if they look realistic, and they can bind our loyalties and affections and draw our concentration and devotion as any idol of old.