Lust of the flesh, porn, erotica........

DaisyJane

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In the Mary thread the idea of porn=lust of the flesh=sin was proposed by blackbelt. I disagreed with the notion that porn=lust of the flesh. I would probably also have some issues with the notion of porn=sin, though I need a bit of time to unpack that. For me, the issue would be consent, and most particularly the consent of the people in the pornographic images. If the porn was produced without exploitation, and mutually consenting adults enjoy consuming porn, I fail to see sin.

In terms of the porn=lust of flesh, I understand that for many porn may trigger lust however I believe it is inappropriate to declare porn=lust a universal definition. Is the conflation of porn=lust the fact that it depicts images of lust? Or triggers lust (for some)? I see an argument for the former, but not for the latter.

I, personally, find most pornographic images I have seen to be troubling. When I view porn I see exploited women and embodied images of male sexual fantasies. I do not found porn arousing, or inciting of lust at all. Generally, it leaves me feeling icky. I have no desire to view it. The notion of porn=lust of the flesh does not speak to my lived experience and I do not identify with blackbelt's definition. Granted, my exposure to porn has been limited.

My exposure to erotica has been even more limited. Though, since I can control the images in my head and be more selective about the narrative (ie: it could be loving and consensual), I could see the potential for erotica to be more arousing (at least for me).

What I do found potentially arousing, and most certainly attractive, is an image of a middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair in the L L Bean catalogue. Is this my porn? Do I need to toss the catalogues? Does LL Bean = porn = sin?
 
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Mendalla

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Okay, here is how I tend to see things. Keep in mind that "Pornography" simply means "writing of or about prostitutes" ("pornoi" in Greek), so writing about sex..

"Good" porn, or erotica as it tends to be called to distinguish it more clearly from the bad stuff, is sex-positive, emphasizes mutual consent and pleasure, and deals with the exploration and stimulation of healthy sexuality and desire.

"Bad" porn, what is conventionally known as pornography in this day and age, is about "exploited women and embodied images of male sexual fantasies" (thanks to @DaisyJane for providing a better wording than I could come up with). It deal with fantasies of power and control over another (normally a man over a woman) through or for sexual acts. Rape is an explicit or implicit part of it.

I have no issue with the first and, in fact, support and encourage it. The latter is definitely unhealthy in our society. I am not anti-sex or even anti-porn, but I am against portrayals of sexuality that involve non-consensual acts, degradation, or abuse.

BDSM erotica is probably the difficult grey zone here, since by definition it is about "fantasies of power and control". But going back to my first definition, in BDSM done right, there is mutual consent and pleasure. The submissive also has control since they provide what the dom needs and can put a stop to things through safe words and other mechanisms for communication (providing the consent part). Also, the sub wants to be controlled, rather than having it forced on them. Consent again, in other words.
 

BetteTheRed

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Does it matter by which 'sense' the porn enters? I don't find visual images very erotic at all. I like nudes, males and females. By my part-time lover's preference, the male nude art in my house hangs out in my den, rather than in my bedroom, and most of the ladies, including the sculptures, are in the bedroom, although one litho snuck into the dining room. The naked human body is a beautiful and fascinating thing to me.

I like erotica a great deal (well, I did from ages 15-55, less now, lol), but most of my preferences tend to lie in the lesbian erotica category. I also have a slight fondness for a level of BDSM in erotica, which I don't find quite as psychically disturbing to my conscious brain if gender is sort of disassociated with even pseudo-violence.
 

DaisyJane

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That's interesting Mendalla. Thanks for sharing.

I would land on the same page (haha, that just happened and wasn't an intentional pun knowing you write erotica) in terms of my comfort with "good" porn and discomfort with "bad" porn. I suppose part of the problem is that I have never viewed "good" porn.

Interestingly we discussed BDSM at theological school during my doctoral work. It was explored via a course on the Christian body. The general consensus was exactly what you proposed, Mendalla. That consensual BDSM was fine
 

DaisyJane

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So the question I thought of while walking the dog is the question of the relationship between sin and porn. It has been argued that porn, because of its relationship to lust, is sinful.

I can agree that porn, when it degrades women and/or consensual, healthy sexuality of any kind (straight, gay, etc), could be linked to sin. But not because it is a sin of the flesh/lust, but because it is inherently destructive and demeans the sacredness of the body and loving relationships.

However I wouldn't agree that "good" porn that portrays healthy, consensual sex is in any way sinful?

So I would ask those who contend that porn is sinful to share their rationale.
 
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Mendalla

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Does it matter by which 'sense' the porn enters?
I think the medium affects our experience of any genre to some degree. For instance, a video can really only show a couple having intercourse and can only convey their feelings through acting (which, let's face it, is not a strong suit in that segment of the film industry). A story can actually open up the thoughts and feelings of both (or all depending on the scene in question) involved parties. For some people, that adds to the eroticism. For others it detracts. However, I would say that any medium can be exploitative given a chance. It's just that the instant hit of visual makes it more attractive to those seeking "bad porn".

not because it is a sin of the flesh, but because it is inherently destructive and demeans the sacredness of the body.
This exactly. I bring it back to the UU first principle: the inherent worth and dignity of each person. If the sex act is mutually consensual and pleasurable, then that principle is upheld even if the sex act is some kind of weird kink. Violating that principle is more or less my definition of "sin", as much as I even relate to that concept any more.
 

Jae

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I believe that sex is for within marriage - for between a wife and her husband and shared with no one else. I see anything other than that to be against God's design for intimacy and hence to be sinful.
 

Northwind

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How did sex become something that is seen as sinful and shame based? It's sad when you think of it, isn't it?
 

Mendalla

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I believe that sex is for within marriage - for between a wife and her husband and shared with no one else. I see anything other than that to be against God's design for intimacy and hence to be sinful.
So the three stories I have written featuring hot XXX action between married heterosexual partners are good with you then?:cool:

One even involves reuniting an estranged couple and saving their marriage with an unexpected couple days of steamy make-up sex.:angel:
 

DaisyJane

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I believe that sex is for within marriage - for between a wife and her husband and shared with no one else. I see anything other than that to be against God's design for intimacy and hence to be sinful.
While I don't share your views in terms of confining sex to heterosexual marriage, I am curious about how you see consent. Is it implied? Expected? Established every time?
 

Mendalla

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How did sex become something that is seen as sinful and shame based? It's sad when you think of it, isn't it?
A lot of it is the nonsense, which predates Christianity to be fair, about "soul" being superior to the body so that physical needs like food and sex are "lesser" desires that are somehow dirty or debasing. I reject this view myself, but it is still surprisingly common in Western culture.
 

DaisyJane

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So the three stories I have written featuring hot XXX action between married heterosexual partners are good with you then?:cool:

One even involves reuniting an estranged couple and saving their marriage with an unexpected couple days of steamy make-up sex.:angel:
I want to know what this hot XXX sex looks like.
 

Mendalla

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I want to know what this hot XXX sex.
They are actually relatively tame by the standards of the site I publish on, but that tends to be the case with me anyhow. Basically graphic descriptions of foreplay and fairly vanilla sex, IOW.
 

Jae

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So the three stories I have written featuring hot XXX action between married heterosexual partners are good with you then?:cool:

One even involves reuniting an estranged couple and saving their marriage with an unexpected couple days of steamy make-up sex.:angel:
They aren't my taste in literature.
 

Northwind

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I've been thinking of this topic a little more. Probably my biggest exposure to erotica is in the writings of Diana Gabaldon. She has some steamy scenes in her novels. That might be a little sad.
 

Jae

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How did sex become something that is seen as sinful and shame based? It's sad when you think of it, isn't it?
I don't think it's become widely accepted that all sex is sinful and shameful. I don't know anyone who holds to such a view. These days it seems, more and more, society holds that almost anything goes.
 

Mendalla

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I've been thinking of this topic a little more. Probably my biggest exposure to erotica is in the writings of Diana Gabaldon. She has some steamy scenes in her novels. That might be a little sad.
Literature and television have gotten a lot steamier. Some of my stuff could probably play on HBO or streaming with minimal changes. Just tone down on the details a bit.
 

Northwind

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I don't think it's become widely accepted that all sex is sinful and shameful. I don't know anyone who holds to such a view. These days it seems, more and more, society holds that almost anything goes.
It may seem that way. There is still a lot of shame around sex. Perhaps your experience as a white male is different than the average white female......

Thankfully things are changing and are becoming more relaxed. A lot of abuse has happened under the shame.
 

Ritafee

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The Catechism defines pornography as "removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties"
I would say that any medium can be exploitative given a chance. It's just that the instant hit of visual makes it more attractive to those seeking "bad porn".
It can be an instant hit of unconsentual assault when one is not intentionally seeking it - as I experienced when I typed Mother Mary and one more word into my search engine. Pornography is all pervasive on the www. It is all well and good to talk about consent ... technology has virtually done away with it.
 
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