Is Watching Pornography a Sin? – Hidden Realities About the Porn Industry

by Pulkit Mathur, The Spiritual Bee

“Read the history of the crimes—robbery, rapes, kidnapping, assaults, murders—that come up for trial before the Sessions Courts. Lust is at the root of all this. It may be lust for money or lust for carnal pleasure. Lust ruins life, luster, strength, vitality, memory, wealth, fame, holiness, peace, wisdom and devotion.” – A quote by Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society.

Excessive watching of pornography fuels lust. This lust has the potential to grow so uncontrollable that it becomes the genesis of crime.

Is watching pornography a sin?

A young man recently sent me an email with this question, and his question is so pertinent for our times, that I thought I’d expand the answer into a post.

So…Is Watching Pornography a Sin?

Yes it most certainly is, because this action produces enormous karmic debts. Here’s how.

When people regularly watch porn from the comforts of their computers or TV terminals, they cannot in all honesty, delude themselves into thinking that they are mere idle spectators, engaged in a harmless activity for which there are no significant consequences.

As we will see below, society’s addiction to pornography is the cause of monumental human sufferings, sometimes on the scale of those that result from war.


Viewers/consumers of porn cannot disavow moral responsibility and distance themselves from these sufferings, because they alone are the real cause and genesis of this misery.

It is only on account of their willingness to watch pornography that an entire industry has arisen, which devotes the time and money to make such films. If people did not watch pornography, such films would have no economic reason to exist.

Thus a viewer of pornography shoulders just as much karmic and moral responsibility as those who make the films and profit from them.

So what specific kinds of harm are caused by society’s addiction to porn? Unbeknownst to many the ramifications of watching pornography are extremely grave.

3 Hidden Realities About The Porn Industry – What People Don’t Normally Know

What a majority of people who watch pornographic films do not realize, is the intense abuse and cruelty that large numbers of women in the industry have to suffer. On the screen the lady is shown putting on a show of satisfaction and pleasure, but behind it her heart, body and mind are literally being ripped to shreds.

In his deeply thought-provoking book: Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Chris Hedges has captured in graphic detail, the horrendous mental and physical trauma suffered by women and (and also men) who participate in the porn industry. Here is a short list:

“We have become so unhinged and unnatural that nothing natural will satisfy us.

We are always grasping after morbid things, must have unnatural excitement — unnatural food, drink, surroundings, and life.”
– Swami Vivekananda

  1. Hedges writes that these days porn is becomingly increasingly violent and perverse. As a result of this, there are growing numbers of porn actresses who are suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This is the same debilitating illness that soldiers who have fought multiple rounds of war in Iraq often suffer from.

    Just think of it. Participating in a porn film produces the same horrific consequences on the lady’s mind as being in a war zone and watching people get killed in front of one’s eyes. Why? Because the woman is literally being gang-raped, beaten and assaulted in porn films. The acts are real and not staged.

  2. The hideously violent nature of porn films leaves many women with ruptured, torn genitals. Often their uterus hemorrhages. As a result, many girls down multiple painkillers before they come to work on the sets. Still others try to numb the pain of constant verbal and physical abuse by slowly killing themselves with alcohol and drugs like heroin and cocaine.

  3. Porn workers routinely get infected with terminal diseases like cervical cancer and AIDS (men and women).

These are the consequences that arise out of society’s depraved desire and addiction to consume pornography. So the question to ask oneself is…would I like to be karmically responsible for the above atrocities?

If the answer is no then stop watching porn films immediately. Do not let your desires become the cause of destruction of someone else’s life.

But…Don’t Women Get Paid to Work in Porn and Aren’t Many Willing Participants


Many times people think…”Oh she is getting paid to work in such films, therefore its ok for me to watch”. But such thinking is deeply flawed.

Just because a person is being paid to perform, does not automatically confer moral sanctity. If this were true then child-labor and industrial sweat-shops would be equally justifiable.

Also it is true that several women join the industry willing, either because they are naively uninformed of the above listed repercussions, or, they are drawn in by the quick-money and “fame”. Porn is often marketed to girls as a glamorous legal “profession”, especially in the West. Once women join the industry, they are trapped and seldom find other decent avenues/jobs to escape to.

Now even if women choose to work in the porn industry willingly, viewers still cannot disavow their own personal responsibility. Think of it this way. If a person is walking down a path strewn with landmines and we have the power to stop them will we not exercise it?

We have this power in our hands. By refusing to watch videos/photos that degrade women and reduce them to objects of sensual gratification stripped of all dignity, we can exercise this power and greatly damage the economic motive that drives the production of porn.

When You Stop Watching Hardcore Pornography, Be Careful and Avoid Softcore Too…

By softcore pornography, I am referring to all those headlines and internet links that draw us to seek a perverse pleasure and enjoyment in the troubles of others, such as:

  • Wardrobe malfunctions of actresses
  • Celebrity sex tapes
  • Divorce or heart-break of couples
  • Graphic pictures of death – people killed in road and other accidents.

These types of stories are increasingly becoming a part of the mainstream media, because today money trumps all values of decency, ethics and morality. People driven by curiosity, click on such topics the most and as a result this type of content usually goes viral on the internet. Viral content always draws more advertisers and this translates into more money for the media organizations that post such content.

“The weakest person in the world is one who has no self-control.”
– Shriram Sharma

So by our indiscriminate clicks we greatly contribute towards stripping an individual of his/her dignity and privacy, especially at a time when he/she is vulnerable and needs it the most.

Therefore the ethical thing to do is to exercise strict self-control and police our own clicking behaviour. When we stop consuming junk stories, we halt the engine that pulls the money train for those engaged in wealth accumulation at the expense of someone else’s moments of grief or shame.

Many times we watch events happening in the world and feel utterly powerless to help. But here is one worthwhile cause for which we can all become powerful agents of change. By modulating out own behaviour we preserve the dignity of others and at the same time elevate ourselves morally and spiritually by keeping our own karma clean for our future births.

“There is no peace in the heart of a carnal man, nor in him that is addicted to outward things, but in the spiritual and devout man.”
– The Imitation of Christ, a Catholic devotional book by Thomas à Kempis, which was one of Swami Vivekananda’s favourite books. He translated a selection of its verses into Bengali.

Power of Brahmacharya | Is Sexual Abstinence Old-Fashioned or the Sensible Thing to Do? – Why the ancient Rishis of India emphasized sexual abstinence as being the key to cultivating a strong mind…

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Join the Discussion | Share Your Thoughts

  • Walker Boy Ankit

    After reading the article I got a question what should be the appropriate age for sexual relationship.

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