What is the difference between erotica and pornography?

The greek word “pornio” is interpreted as fornication and can be more loosely translated as simply “sinful sex”. The greek word “eros” refers to sexual arousal. “-graphy” is, simply, writing or printing. So, technically, the difference between erotica is anything that increases sexual desire and pornography is the writing or printing of representations of sinful sex. Pornography, then, is erotica that is about sinful sex. So, by a strict Bible interpretation, pornography would include any depiction of a sex act with 2 or more people that were not married, but any act between married persons would NOT be pornography and would simply be erotica. Meanwhile, depictions of masturbation (which everyone agrees – I hope – is not sinful and does not cause hairy palms or blindness) would also not be porn.

This, of course, is not the definition that anyone in the rest of the world would agree with. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously proclaimed that he didn’t know what porn as opposed to erotica was but, “I know it when I see it.” In popular use, erotica is considered sexual depictions that can proclaim to be art, while porn is low-budget erotica. So, Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” is erotica, but Playboy TV’s “Adult Film School” in which (most often) married couples make a sex tape is considered porn.

The false dichotomy is silly. The artsy world of elitist high art is not known for being particularly less sinful than Hugh Hefner. Therefore, for the purposes of this facebook group, I will use the words interchangeably. We will probably want to have a discussion about whether depictions of sex between unmarried persons is sinful while depictions sex between married couples is allowed. In that case I will simply use the term married couple porn and porn with unmarried people.

Leave a Reply