In the case of Roth v. United States (decided June 24, 1957), the Supreme Court defined obscenity (pornography) as material, "utterly without redeeming social importance," or in other words, "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest."
The problem with this ruling, and the definition in general, is that it is an argument from the negative. A much, much better definition of pornography can be found in Psalm 101. The psalmist begins with three great positives before ever addressing the negative:
I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will sing. I will ponder. I will walk. The heart. The mind. The body.
Our whole understanding of pornography has to be comprehensive. “prurient interest” begins in the heart, moves to the mind, and then finally is acted upon in the body. So the antidote to pornography is not just to stop doing something bad. We must begin with our heart focused on what is supremely good: love and justice, which the psalm reminds us, leads to the making of music!
Next our mind must ponder. Anyone who has ever spent even an hour with pornographic material gets that this is not an activity that leads to deep thought. If you did engage in deep thought upon viewing a pornograhic image or watching a movie or investing in a pornographic relationship (we’ll get to what that is in a minute), you would immediately turn away from it because of how degrading it is to the individuals involved.
Finally, we walk. This is not a walking away from. It is a walking toward: integrity. It is a walking toward home as well. Again, home and pornography stand in such opposition to one another. If you are walking toward home, you are walking toward what is good.
Now, only when we have done all these positives, are we in a place within where we can begin to say:
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.
These things are almost an afterthought! It simply follows that if you make integrity, home, blamelessness, music, love and justice the stuff of your life, these other things will be of no interest to you! It is like having the choice between really great dining with intimate conversation and fast food while driving alone.