Reader Question: Do TV Shows with Nudity Count as Porn?Do TV shows with nudity count as porn?

On Mondays I like to grab a reader question and try to answer it, and this week we’re going to be looking at our fantasy life–how to make it work FOR intimacy, rather than against it. A reader sent in this question about her husband’s TV habits, and I thought it was a good one to start the week with.

She asks:

When I married my husband, I knew he was an unbeliever. Over the last few years, as my faith has grown, I’m becoming more and more aware of the sin in my life and the sin in his. I still love my husband like crazy, but one thing I’m having trouble dealing with is that my husband likes to watch movies/TV that are either cop shows, or investigative-type movies with lots of action and nudity. So they show scenes where the cops enter strip clubs that show topless women, or they bust into rooms where people are having sex and the woman is shown naked. While my husband and I agree that pornography is wrong, he sees this as different. In my mind, any kind of nudity is a type of porn. But in his mind, because it’s not labeled as porn, this isn’t it.  He knows it bothers me, but he says he can’t know there’s nudity until it happens. And half the time I don’t know if it registers to him.  I know since he is not a believer, I can’t hold him to the same standards I would someone who is. Also, my husband isn’t pulling away from me or anything. He still has a huge sex drive and desires intimacy with me. So I know a lot of this is on me and in my mind when I don’t want to be intimate after. So is nudity/sex in movies or TV porn, or am I overreacting?

Oh, yikes. I always find these sorts of questions really thorny. Personally, I wish they would put far less nudity and even graphic violence in both movies and TV. I find it tends to diminish them considerably, and it makes me very uncomfortable that actors had to film like that. I really don’t think it adds to the story, and seeing graphic violence, like naked dead bodies, is really creepy.

But how would I approach this?

Is Nudity in TV Shows the Same as Porn?

Figure out his motivations for watching the shows

There’s a huge difference between a guy who wants to watch Game of Thrones to see naked women, and who wants to have sex immediately afterwards when he’s aroused, and a guy who watches crime shows with little effect on him because he’s honestly just interested in the stories.

There are some shows that I think really are porn, because the sex scenes are long, drawn out, the main part of the show, and designed to titillate. Then there are shows where there’s a strip tease going on in the background while two characters are talking, but it isn’t the real focus of the show. I’m not saying the latter isn’t bad; it’s just that it’s much more of a grey area, and I do believe that someone could watch that and it wouldn’t have much of an impact on their sex drive or fantasy life.

She’s admitted that this isn’t interfering with their sex life, and that she doesn’t feel like he’s leering at the women in the nude scenes or anything, nor is nudity the main focus of the shows. So I think, in this case, she knows the answer.

I have also known many couples, though, where he watches an HBO show (they always seem to be HBO shows!) and then immediately wants sex because he’s aroused, and she feels really used. That’s definitely an intimacy and marriage killer; I don’t think graphic crime shows necessarily are.

Remember that you can’t be someone’s conscience

As she’s growing in Christ, she’s finding that more and more things are bothering her. She’s getting more sensitive to the Spirit.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

That’s a good prescription for our general mood, not just our spiritual well-being. There’s great research that shows that watching TV tends to depress the mood, while reading or playing a board game or taking a walk tends to elevate the mood. Staying away from these types of entertainment, then, is actually wise.

But–and here’s the big but–you really can’t be someone else’s conscience. He isn’t a Christian and so, like she said, she can’t expect him to make decisions that would honour Christ. She can, however, pray that his own spirit becomes more sensitive to God.

There’s an impulse when you love an unbeliever to want them so badly to come to know Christ: we tend to look for all the “fruits” or “signs” that they may be becoming more Christian. We think somehow that if we can convince them to act like a Christian, then maybe they’ll become one. I don’t think that’s a conscious thought necessarily, but that’s the aim we seem to have. We want our husbands to stop swearing, to stop playing poker, to make better TV choices, etc. But none of that ultimately matters. What matters is knowing Jesus, and expressing to your husband that you think he’s not good enough isn’t going to help him meet Jesus. So she’s right on here: she can’t be his conscience, and she needs to let him choose.

Is Nudity in TV Shows the Same as Porn? What do you do if your spouse watches shows with lots of nudity--and you feel like that's porn?Click To Tweet

You can decide what shows you want to watch, and find ones to see together

Just as he can choose what he does, though, so can you. So if you are uncomfortable watching the shows, then don’t watch them.

If you want to spend some time together in the evenings, then why not find a compromise? Suggest something like, “you do your thing until 9:30, and I’ll do my thing, and then we’ll watch an episode of a comedy together.” Watch something short but funny, like Brooklyn 99 or The Office or Kim’s Convenience (I don’t know if you Americans get that on Netflix, but it is seriously amazingly funny. It’s Canadian, but Best. Show. Ever.)

Or if you want to watch a crime show together, choose one without all the nudity and gross stuff. I love many of the British crime shows–Broadchurch was really good (if awfully sad), and it wasn’t graphic I don’t think. X Company (another Canadian show) is amazing, too. There are choices out there that don’t have nudity, and if you look, you can find them.

So if he wants to watch the shows, he can. But you can also say, “I have trouble making love to you after seeing that kind of violence and nudity, and so I’d prefer not watching it, and that we watch something else together before bed, or that we do something together.” I think that’s a far healthier approach than trying to convince him that his viewing choices are morally wrong, or withdrawing from him because you’re weirded out after watching his shows.

I wish I could take a more definitive answer, but I do know this is really thorny, especially when your spouse isn’t a Christian. So let’s open this up: What do the rest of you think? How do you decide what shows are good to watch? What do you think of nudity? Let’s talk in the comments!

Covenant Eyes 720 Not Enough - Reader Question: Do TV Shows with Nudity Count as Porn?

 

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