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While pornography has been around for thousands of years, the definition of pornography has been the subject of heated debates for just as long. Governments, churches, Hollywood all have different ideas of what makes something pornographic and this page will be a collection of definitions from governments, therapists and church leaders. Feel free to send us any new definitions you find from leaders in the anti-pornography field.


What the Government Thinks it is:

“I shall not today attempt further to define [obscenity]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it….”

This is the ruling Chief Justice Potter Stewart decreed in a landmark obscenity case in 1973. The Supreme Court knew that it couldn’t give a blanket definition of pornography because they would spend a lifetime ruling over cases over this issue. Even though they didn’t give a concrete definition of what pornography, is they did give four categories where/what it is illegal to publish pornography.

A) Indecent material includes messages or pictures on telephone, radio, or broadcast TV that are patently offensive descriptions or depictions of sexual or excretory organs or activities. It is often referred to as “sexual nudity” and “dirty words.”

B) Material harmful to minors (HTM) represents nudity or sex that has prurient appeal for minors, is offensive and unsuitable for minors, and lacks serious value for minors. There are “harmful to minors” laws in every state. 

C) Obscenity (“hard-core pornography”) is graphic material that focuses on sex and/or sexual violence. It includes close-ups of graphic sex acts, lewd exhibition of the genitals, and deviant activities such as group sex, bestiality, torture, incest, and excretory functions.

D) Child pornography is material that visually depicts children under the age of 18 engaged in actual or simulated sexual activity, including lewd exhibition of the genitals.

Pornography Definitions from Different Internet Sites

We found this definition on’s website and it does a great job of explaining what makes an image pornographic.

“Pornography is the ‘explicit representation of sexual activity in print or on film to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.’  The following advice and help refers only to heterosexual pornography – that is men looking at women and, more rarely, women looking at men.

It is helpful to remember that pornography:

• Shows women as mere physical objects and focuses on their breasts and sex organs

• Does not even try to show other ways in which a woman can be attractive, e.g. character, intelligence, humor

• Shows sex as the only important thing in a relationship between a man and a woman;

• Cannot substitute for long-term love and commitment. It produces short-lived thrills and does nothing to develop a loving sexual relationship.”

However it is important to remember that just because something has sexually explicit material, that doesn’t make it pornographic. There are many medical journals and sexual health manuals that are used for education. Pornography isn’t about education; it’s about titillation and fantasy.

Wikipedia is becoming people’s go to place for information so we thought we would include what they had to say on the subject.

“Pornography may use a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. A pornographic model poses for still photographs. A pornographic actor or porn star performs in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in porn films may be also be called a model.”

What Churches Have To Say about Pornography

A word of caution for all those reading this section, Desert Solace is a non-denominational treatment center. However we do recognize that many of the men we help come from religious backgrounds so we wanted to highlight what some of the major religions have to say about the definition of pornography.

If miss anyone or need to change anything feel free to let us know!”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings.”

The Catholic Church: This definition is taken from Article 6: The Sixth Commandment from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, and the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials”

Judaism: For people of the Jewish faith sex between a man and wife can be one of the most rewarding and loving acts we can experience in this life. The Jewish scholar Nachmanides said this about intimacy in marriage, “The act of sexual union is holy and pure,” When a man is in union with his wife in a spirit of holiness and purity, the Divine presence is with them. Sex is given to us in order to promote “a spirit of holiness and purity.” The Torah also states that sex between man and woman is private and the Torah explicitly states that it should remain in private. This means viewing pornography is discouraged.

Even though pornography has many definitions, the effects it has on people and families can be felt in every social class and continent. Make sure you protect your family and if you do need help get it!