Bible Question:

What does the Bible say about pornography? How can a person have victory over the habit of pornography?

Bible Answer:

The word pornography does not appear in the Bible, but evidence of pornographic behavior does exist. The purpose of this article is to show that pornographic behavior did exist in the Bible and to reveal how God responded. So, does pornography exist in the Bible?

Pornography — What does the Bible say about pornography?

First, the word pornography as defined in 2023 in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. It defines it as:

The explicit description or exhibition of sexual subjects or activity in literature, painting, films, etc., in a manner intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic feelings . . .[1]

But the literal meaning of the word pornography comes from the two Greek words prone and grapho. Prone is defined as prostitutes, and grapho is defined as writings. So, the literal meaning of pornography is the writing, drawing, or depicting of prostitutes. That is, the historic meaning of pornography reveals that the modern definition has been altered to please the modern culture which wants approval for being involved in the sin of pornography. The modern definition now claims to see naked people or watch sexual acts is only pornographic if the original intent was to stimulate. That reveals that our world today is behaving like the ancient world and the ancient nation of Israel,

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 (NASB)

So, the literal meaning of pornography reveals that our modern world wants to see naked people and watch prostitutes have sex.

Second, pornographic behavior did exist in the Old Testament. For example, the Bible refers to the goddess Ashtaroth (1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13). Ashtaroth is the singular form of Ashtoreth. She was also named Astarte by the Greeks. Archaeology has discovered that the statues of this goddess were rarely clothed. Also, the Israelites worshipped another goddess called Ishtar, known as the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18). Archaeology has discovered that she was frequently naked.

In addition, Ezekiel 16:17 refers to male images.

You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them.  Ezekiel 16:17 (NASB)

The Hebrew word for “male” is zakar. The word can refer to a male or to the male genitals. The phrase “male images” occurs only here in the Old Testament.  Consequently, the phrase seems to imply something more than just a male idol. So, it is possible the phrase refers to male genitals. But we must not miss the real message of Ezekiel 16:17. It is an obvious rebuke to Israel for worshiping a male image or male genitals.

Archaeology has discovered many pornographic clay tablets of sexual acts between males and females and even animals. The Old Testament reveals that such pornographic images and depictions were evil, and consequently, God would punish them.

In Leviticus 20:15 we read that men and women are not to engage in sex with animals.

If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal. Leviticus 20:15 (NASB)

Deuteronomy 27:21 adds that the man who lies with an animal is cursed. This means that watching this evil behavior is also evil.

So, seeing females and males naked is evil. Watching sexual activity between males and females and watching beastiality is wicked.

Third, Scripture also teaches that if we allow someone to see us naked, other than your spouse, we have shamed ourselves (Isaiah 47:3; Jeremiah 13:26; Revelation 16:15). Isaiah 47:3 gives us the principle,

Your nakedness will be uncovered,
Your shame also will be exposed.
Isaiah 47:3 (NASB)

The Hebrew word for shame in the verse is herpa. It has the idea of shame, disgrace, and scorn. So, if someone makes themselves naked so that others can see their genitals, they have brought disgrace upon themselves. Their moral conscience is damaged (Jeremiah 6:15).

Isaiah 57:8 is a figurative expression of rebuke about idol worship. But notice that the rebuke reveals that God condemns anyone who looks at a man’s genitals. God considers seeing a man naked as being evil. Here is the last part of the verse.

. . . You have loved their bed,
You have looked on their manhood.
Isaiah 57:8b (NASB)

The entire verse is a rebuke to anyone who does this. But it is not evil for a wife to see her husband naked or a husband to see his wife naked. It is also not evil in a medical situation.

This means that art schools and art classes can be very sinful places when nakedness occurs. Drawing naked men and women is inherently evil if the artist and a model are not married.

It is also sinful for women and men to be scantily dressed in public. It is evil for women and men to model sheer clothing and revealing bathing suits. God says they have shamed themselves, and 1 Timothy 2:9 commands that women dress modestly.

So, it is shameful for men and women to remove their clothes for artists, for the creation of a photograph, a movie, a video, for your neighbor, for your girlfriend, for boyfriend, or for a future spouse. Pornography is shameful and disgraceful,  both for the one watching and the one unclothed.


We have discovered that the Bible provides evidence that pornographic idols and images did exist in ancient Israel. God judged the nation of Israel for worshiping these idols and images, just as He did for worshiping other non-pornographic idols and images. We have also discovered that it is shameful for people to look at naked people, and for people to be naked before anyone who is not their spouse. We have also discovered that beastiality is sin. 2 Timothy 2:22 warns us,

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 (NASB)

We should follow Job’s high standard of godly behavior. He committed himself to not look lustfully at a woman to whom he was not married. He said,

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step? – Job 31:1-4

The principle teaches us that both men and women should not look lustfully at a man or a woman to whom they are not married.


1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Application on Apple iPhone.

Suggested Links:

Can I be forgiven for watching porn?
How can I stop being addicted to the sin of pornography?
Biblical Modesty for Women
Did porn or pornography come from the Greek word porneia?