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Reading novels with sexually explicit scenes

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  • Reading novels with sexually explicit scenes

    As some of you know, I read pretty widely, and that includes books which are not necessarily pro-Christian and may not have Christian themes. I believe this is perfectly ethical and even important if one is well-formed in the faith, but some novels in my collection, while not being overt works of pornography, have sexually explicit scenes, and I am unsure of the ethics of reading them from a Christian standpoint. I have browsed around on other Christian sites and have basically seen 4 positions, but none of them I have seen really strongly argued for, at least among the other positions. They are:

    1) It's fine to read the entire novel as long as you don't lust after it
    2) It's fine to read the entire novel as long as you don't lust after it and it wasn't made with the intention of provoking lust
    3) It's fine to read non-explicit parts of the novel, but skip the sex scenes
    4) Skip the entire novel

    I feel like my own position is somewhere on the spectrum of 2-3, but I am very unsure. Does anybody have some clarification on this? Note that due to my own denominational affiliation, I would especially appreciate Catholic input on this, but anybody can comment if they have something to say.

  • #2
    It would depend largely on what is being promoted as an acceptable behaviour. Song of songs is quite explicit (though couched in metaphor and simile), and promotes sexuality as a good thing between the protagonists, who are committed to each other.
    I don't see any cause to avoid reading the book.
    Last edited by tabibito; 08-04-2014, 11:29 AM.
    sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

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    • #3
      I'm somewhere between 3 and 4. I tend to skip over the bed scenes even if they aren't very explicit. If that's more than a minor portion of the plotline, I quit reading. I have a low tolerance for vulgar language in general.
      Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

      Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
      sigpic
      I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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      • #4
        Originally posted by tabibito View Post
        It would depend largely on what is being promoted as an acceptable behaviour. Song of songs is quite explicit (though couched in metaphor and simile), and promotes sexuality as a good thing between the protagonists, who are committed to each other.
        I don't see any cause to avoid reading the book.
        This is a good point, however, I see the degree to which it is explicit as at least as important as the type of behavior depicted. There are stories about affairs where the sex is only alluded to and there are explicit descriptions of coitus between married couples. Furthermore, depicting a certain type or context of sex is not always equivalent to condoning it, while depicting it explicitly can be just as bad regardless of type or context.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
          I'm somewhere between 3 and 4. I tend to skip over the bed scenes even if they aren't very explicit. If that's more than a minor portion of the plotline, I quit reading. I have a low tolerance for vulgar language in general.
          I see. Would you say this is out of personal taste or do you think all Christians should treat novels like this?

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          • #6
            I would question the author's intent -- how important is the "bedroom scene" to the story line? And if it's REAL important to the story line, I think there's a problem.

            Personally, I would encourage Christians to abstain. There is PLENTY of reading material out there that doesn't dabble in sensuality for sensuality's sake.
            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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            • #7
              I think it's largely up to you. If you can't consume media like that without stumbling, you should avoid it.

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              • #8
                Why avoid the best parts?
                "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Manwë Súlimo View Post
                  I think it's largely up to you. If you can't consume media like that without stumbling, you should avoid it.
                  Manwe has scrapbooks full of clippings of these scenes. They call him The Shredder at the local library because all the art books come back like they served a tour of duty in 'nam.
                  "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                  There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Manwë Súlimo View Post
                    I think it's largely up to you. If you can't consume media like that without stumbling, you should avoid it.
                    Yeah. I'm starting to wonder how much individual taste and disposition plays a role in what your view on the ethics of this is and if, in the end, it's simply different for each person what a wise course of action with books like these is. If nothing else that would explain the diversity of responses I've seen. Perhaps I will play it safe and skip the scenes or wait on the novels until I'm older, but not straight-up give up on them quite yet.

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                    • #11
                      Just because it's okay to do something doesn't make it good for you.

                      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                      "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

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                      • #12
                        I fall under label 3, but if I find that an author I like routinely likes to go into such detail I will simply drop that author.
                        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GioD View Post
                          I see. Would you say this is out of personal taste or do you think all Christians should treat novels like this?
                          IMO the sexual drive is too strong to play around with (the warning in James 1:14-15 is not inappropriate here); why put yourself at risk of temptation?
                          Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                          Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                          sigpic
                          I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                            IMO the sexual drive is too strong to play around with (the warning in James 1:14-15 is not inappropriate here); why put yourself at risk of temptation?
                            Agreed totally.
                            "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                              IMO the sexual drive is too strong to play around with (the warning in James 1:14-15 is not inappropriate here); why put yourself at risk of temptation?
                              Definitely true. I'll keep that in mind too - at least with regards to what parts I decide to read, or even texts as a whole.

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