STATISTICS from the US-based Kinsey Institute for research in sex, gender and reproduction has shown that 70 per cent of American men ages 18-34 view Internet pornography at least once per month. While no study has been published in Jamaica, it is locally acknowledged that many Jamaican men are guilty of this practice. However, this is not unique to men, as some women have admitted to viewing pornography many times with their partners.
Christian couples are no different — and many see this as an innocent way of spicing up their sex lives. But while many Christians have admitted to indulging under the "marriage bed is undefiled" rule, heads of churches say they can in no way support the practice.
"It is not something that I would encourage," Monsignor Michael Lewis, Roman Catholic priest, said. "Because it is not just the watching of it, it is something that is produced and what is produced is questionable. You are talking about questionable behaviour. You are talking about an industry where people are abused; you are talking about an industry where Christian morals and values are out the window. The church would be very wrong in saying to a couple or saying to a person 'it is OK to simply watch the thing' when the thing itself is problematic."
While he strongly believes that couples should add excitement to their sex lives, this has to be done, he said, with respect and dignity for each other.
"There is nothing wrong with a couple putting excitement and thing into their love life in their marriage; the church would have no problem with that as long as what the couple is doing is respectful of their own dignity as human beings and respectful of the dignity of other people. Once you hold on to those principles then you're fine."
He said because pornography goes against these principles, the Catholic church says no to Christians viewing it.
But Church of God Christian Joan Lewis (name changed), who has been married for 28 years, said this is her way of spicing up her marriage.
"Of course I do it (watch porn)," Lewis told All Woman. "If you're married and you and your husband watch it to spice things up, I don't see anything wrong with that! It's sin if you're not married but from you're married it can't be a sin. It should be between you, your husband and the four corners of the bedroom."
She said in accordance with the Bible (Heb 13:4) that the marriage bed in undefiled, as long as whatever is done in the bedroom stays in the bedroom then nothing should be wrong.
Lewis admitted that watching porn adds more excitement, enhances their sex lives and gives herself and especially her husband a boost.
Sharna N, an Adventist who has been married for 12 years, said risqué photos on the Internet and the occasional 'blues' have benefitted her marriage.
"We've been 'porn again'," she laughed. "We have no problems experimenting."
While agreeing with Lewis that what a couple does in the confines of their bedroom is indeed undefiled, Monsignor Lewis says this only applies to what is done with the couple and not involving a third party.
"As long as they are not hurting one another, as long as they are respecting each other's dignity -- that's fine. What they do with each other themselves (is undefiled). Watching pornography is not just with themselves but with others."
For his part, sex therapist Dr Sidney McGill said watching porn for religious or non-religious persons can become addictive, depending on the person's personality traits and unfulfilled emotional needs where the porn watching can become a necessary part of the sexual experience and may become necessary to stimulate sexual desire, increase arousal and achieve an orgasm.
"Sexual intercourse for the Christian couple is supposed to grow beyond the physical level into the emotional and spiritual planes. Porn is the sex act displayed on a physical plane," he said.
He said though that many Christian couples are guilty of indulging. "This occurs when the Christian couple's sexual experience is unaffected by the teachings of Christ or both partners have chronic relational difficulties and are seeking ways of keeping their sexual relations from dying," McGill said.
Anglican couple Andre and Marie, married for 13 years, said watching pornography is something that they do from time to time, and will continue to do, especially if they see where their sex life is becoming boring and monotonous.
"When I got married I never knew anything at all 'bout sex, Marie said. "But my husband was more experienced and he suggested that we buy some 'blue' movies to watch together. Now I feel that a lot of what I have been able to do is as a result of what I have seen," she laughed. "Now we really don't have any boundaries. And I don't agree that what we do is sinful because is just between us."
Reverend Alvin Bailey, Pastor of the Holiness Christian Church, said he in no way supports couples, especially Christian couples, watching pornographic movies, as he believes what drives the actions of those filming and acting in pornography are contrary to God's will.
"I am in no way in support of it," he said. "I believe porn is lewd, immoral, sinful and even demonic. Their motivation is different from ours (Christians)."
He said not only is it immoral but what is viewed gives Christians an unrealistic view of what should take place in the bedroom.
"Remember the Bible tells you whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report... think on these things," he added. "We are not at liberty to extend our minds to that level. It would be a violation on many parts -- of value, moral, thoughts, etc."
He said while couples will argue that they use porn watching as a means of solving sexual problems, it could create even more complications, such as that of unrealistic expectations and when that partner is not able to live up to it, more problems develop.
"I would say go to a professional. There are persons who are trained in sex therapy who can help," he advised. "Because this (turning to porn) will create complications — no doubt about it. I think a Christian can blow the mind (in the bedroom) without having to depend on Hollywood."
Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, said pornography of itself is dehumanising and there are other ways in which couples can add excitement to their sex lives.
"I know the argument is that these are two consenting adults, but from a Christian perspective, consent is not the only thing that should be taken into consideration," Johnson said. "But how does it affirm life and the work of a life?"
He said while he will not encourage the watching of porn, he would endorse other movies and the reading of literature.
"It's not that I don't believe that couples shouldn't be imaginative and creative in spicing up and sprucing up their lives," Johnson said. "But there a many ways in which you can do that. There is literature and many shows that they can watch. But pornography is based on an extremely low view of the sexual act and pornography is based on exploitation and therefore it is not that the Christians must not be enterprising and go out a little more than the missionary style, and it's not that what they see can't make their minds run wild, but I am going back to pornography as an industry — as an enterprise."
He said, however, while he is not endorsing pornography, he supports and endorses anything that will excite and tantalise the sex drive for couples.
"But I am saying that porn is not the only way — and porn is not my way," he added.