marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reader Question: Sexting Your Spouse

 So, I have a question for you. Would you consider a wife sending sexy pictures of herself to her husband's cell phone porn? Why or why not?

Dear Anon July 19th,

For a deeper answer to your question, you may want to refer to my article series "My Porn is Okay, Your Porn Is not Okay, Avoiding The Double Standard I, II, & III." [i]

According to Dr. Simon Goldhill of Cambridge University, pornography is an invention of the 19th century Victorian culture. It began as a collection of archaeological artifacts that are sexual in nature. They contain clay and stone models of sex organs and images of sexual acts, many of which were religious in nature and sacred to the people who created them. Much of the collection were not considered sexually arousing to the ancient culture, but were instead a form of symbolic communication used to keep the peace.

The collection of the artifacts evolved into an effort by the "gentlemen" of that era to label, name and control their world. Their efforts to control who was allowed to view them was partially so that the images would not be abused and made a mockery of, or unintentionally offend those who would interpret them out of context.[ii]

Before the Victorians, no other culture in the world even had a concept of anything being “pornographic” - including the people in the scriptures. Even the Victorian culture couldn't nail down an agreed definition of the term – nor can we today. Since the 19th century, the term pornography has gone through several changes in definition.

Each subculture in today's world has its own definition of pornography. Our Mormon subculture has even established its own definition. Dallin H. Oaks gave us that definition when he described it as "images and words intended to arouse sexual desires.”  However, he followed this statement by quoting the Savior, who said,

“Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” [iii]

Committing adultery with our spouse, to whom we are already legally and lawfully married, is to me a contradiction in terms. It would also contradict everything that is taught in the gospel about the boundaries established by the Lord in regard to sex and sexuality. All things sexual are to be kept (and expressed) within the bonds of marriage.[iv]

Looking at the sacred, naked body parts of our wives or husbands (by whatever medium we may choose) is completely within the bounds the Lord has set and therefore cannot be defined as pornography  - as the leaders of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have defined it.

Someone other viewing images of our spouse’s nakedness would be viewing them in a pornographic context. If ‘sexting’ is a practice you choose to do between each other as husband and wife, I would recommend immediate deletion of those images after they’ve been viewed by the intended spouse.

If a spouse desires to express their intimate feelings in this visual manner, and put themselves in a vulnerable position for your benefit, you should respect that vulnerability and do all that can be done to protect them from exposure and humiliation.

If such an image were someone else’s wife or the scantily-clad or nude image of a single daughter of God’s body, that image would be pornography to us.

We can think of pornography in terms of what is licensed and unlicensed. To become a lawyer, you must pass a bar exam to be licensed to practice law. An unlicensed person can hang a shingle as a lawyer, but he would be in violation of the law.

I prefer to not use the term "pornography" at all, because of it's fluid state of definition. I prefer to use the terms sacred erotica and profane erotica. Profane being taking something holy and treating as though it had no value and making it unholy. Sacred erotica would be those things that sexually arouse you within the bounds the Lord has set. 

You are licensed through marriage to view images of your spouse, and such an image therefore is not a violation of God’s law and therefore is sacred erotica to you. A person who is not licensed through marriage to view your spouse’s nudity would be in violation of God’s law, and the very same images would be profane erotica to them.
I’m not a lawyer, but it’s my understanding that if minors (such as children or children’s friends) accidently come upon those images, it could be considered a felony and prosecuted as such. Were another adult to view those images, it would be a sin in allowing another to ‘uncover the nakedness of your spouse’[v], not to mention the considerable embarrassment involved for all parties.

If the wrong button were pressed, and that image were broadcast on the Internet (it does happen), the problem would only be compounded, with far-reaching consequences in many directions that could involve damage to careers and reputations, as well as other sorts of repercussions.

Bottom line, I would recommend the exercise of basic caution and consideration for each other. I believe this is true in whatever sexual practice we choose as couples.

[ii] Simon Goldhill is Professor in Greek Literature and Culture and fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at King's College, Cambridge. See Wikipedia for a list of his writings.
[iii] Dallin H. Oaks, Pornography, Apr. 2005 Gen. Conference
[iv] Eternal Marriage Handbook, pg. 139-146
[v] A significant part of Leviticus 18 deals with laws concerning different forms of sexual immorality, which refer to immorality as ‘uncovering the nakedness’ of someone in an inappropriate way.