Am I breaking my promise not to look at pornography?

Last updated on October 11, 2020



I have a question to ask about something that scares me. A few months ago, I used to watch pornography without really knowing how serious the consequences were. When I did figure out the consequences, I was in absolute fear and sadness. In fact, I think this is where I developed some sort of anxiety. I thought that making an oath about never watching pornography again was the only option out of being condemned besides confessing, so I did. (This was before I realized the verse that Jesus said to swear not.)

I am going to ask you a series of questions regarding this.

  1. I’m a guy who likes to draw. I like to draw stuff relating to anime and stuff like that. I research poses for inspiration for my stuff, but the poses are these naked mannequins that look like people before they are given hair, pants, shirts, etc. (They don’t include sexual genitals, by the way.) Could looking at these things still be counted as breaking my promise?
  2. Sometimes I will accidentally look at an obscene image that I didn’t know would pop up. Could I still be breaking my promise, even if I look at it unintentionally?
  3. I’ve always thought of taking back my promise because I don’t see the point of increasing the graveness of a sin. It doesn’t mean I’m going to commit it intentionally. Is it possible to ask God to cancel an oath?
  4. In my science class, we’re learning about sexual reproduction. Will looking at private parts that are drawn count as breaking my promise?
  5. In my mind, I think about a romance between two characters — not involving sex but confessions and stuff like that. I sometimes get an erection when I do it. Are they considered to be a sign that I’m lusting?
  6. I have a certain crush at my school. I don’t intentionally think sexual thoughts of her, but the thoughts just invade my mind anyway. I usually shake my head and replace them with thoughts not related to anything obscene. Are having crushes considered lusting? Am I committing a sin when thinking these intrusive thoughts, even if I shake them off?


First, promising God something that you are already supposed to do is an empty promise. God says that lusting after sex, which is what pornography is, is a sin. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (I Thessalonian 4:3-5). You promising God not to sin doesn’t make the sin more real or more important. In fact, when you do things like this, you are telling God that you only see the commands you agree with as important. That is not submission to God’s will. We obey God because God told us what to do. Whether I agree or see the importance of God’s command is not important.

Therefore, rather than talk about whether you are breaking your empty promise, let’s talk about whether it breaks God’s command not to lust after having sex when you are not married.

Using mannequins that lack genitalia for drawing models is not a sin — unless you are putting the models into sexually suggestive poses.

Given the nature of the world and the Internet, in particular, inappropriate images will sometimes come up. The proper response is to look elsewhere and get rid of the image as quickly as you can.

This would be a good time to revisit the definition of lust. Lust is having a strong desire for something that is unlawful. Even though you know it is wrong, in your mind you accept the sin. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Looking at a pretty woman is not a sin, but imagining yourself having sex with such a woman is sinful. This is what lust is. Therefore, seeing an inappropriate image and immediately deleting it is not lust. However, staging “accidents” to see such images and staring at them because they are there is wrong.

Making a foolish promise is sinful, so like any other sin, apologize to God and move on with your life.

While learning about reproduction is titillating because the subject is new to you and the ideas of sex are exciting, it is still something that you need to understand. Knowing what the body parts look like is not wrong.

When you are young, erections come often and many times they come for no apparent reason. An erection, by itself, does not indicate you are lusting. It merely means your heart rate and blood pressure are up. It might also indicate that you see the situation as potentially sexy in some way. You have to be careful in such a state because your mind doesn’t think clearly when you are aroused. It is easy to make bad choices when you are sexually aroused.

The thoughts about your girlfriend mean you are being tempted, but you are responding appropriately to temptation by rejecting the ideas. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).