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What's Wrong With Using
Sex To Advertise Things?


This article is a Christian and biblical perspective on the use of sex in advertising. Its aims are: 1) To make Christians uneasy about accepting this as "normal" and OK. 2) To perhaps induce some to write to companies that use inappropriate advertising techniques and to media outlets that offend. 3) To stop Christians in the advertising industry unthinkingly using sexual imagery to promote their products. The central authority appealed to in this article will be the Bible.

I have found 12 good biblical reasons why the use of sex in advertising is wrong, they are:

1. Sex in advertising treats the human body as just another commodity and thus reinforces the dictum that the material world is 'all there is'. People, in this view, are merely objects, participators in the marketing scheme. They are valued not for their kindness, integrity, competence or character but for how they look through a camera lens alone. This is demeaning in the extreme and a profanation of the dignity of the human person and of all universally held spiritual values. The body of a Christian is not valuable because of its photographic value but because Jesus indwells it. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? {20} For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

2. Man and woman are made in the image of God which includes their physical being in some way (Genesis 2:7). This image is to be treated with respect and it is clearly a sin to behold another's nakedness. (Genesis 9:22,23)

3. Even though Adam and Eve were originally both naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:25)in a fallen world with corrupt desires the display of nakedness is shameful. (Genesis 3:7-10, Isaiah 47:3) Hence God gave Adam and Eve adequate and strong clothes. (Genesis 3:21) Sex in advertising - particularly the use of semi or full nudity is thus shameful and unbiblical.

4. To look lustfully on a woman is adultery of the heart. (Matthew 5:27-29 NKJV) "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' {28} "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. {29} "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

5. While some may argue that "there is nothing wrong with it" and "to the pure all things are pure" Jesus does not treat adultery of the heart so lightly but condemns it as a practice that will cause "your whole body to be cast into Hell..". The advertiser is causing others to seriously stumble in their Christian walk. Of this Jesus says (Mark 9:42 NKJV) "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

6. Sex in advertising is a form of unconsummated prostitution. The premise is "If you pay the money (buy the product) you get the girl". Prostitution is always condemned in Scripture. (Leviticus 19:29 NKJV) 'Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness." Observe Western society - cannot some of the abundance of wickedness be traced to the unleashing of vast amounts of sexual temptation through the media? Have we "prostituted our daughters" for the sake of trade?

7.Our thinking is of paramount importance since that is primarily where the Spirit of God touches us. The unrighteous man is asked to forsake his thoughts (Isaiah 55:7 NKJV) "Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." And the Christian is exhorted to fix their minds on things above. (Colossians 3:2-3 NKJV)"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." The law of "you reap what you sow" or "garbage in, garbage out" applies to the mind as well. The use of sex in advertising is an invitation for us to fix our minds on fleshly, carnal and greedy things. It is designed to induce us to think unrighteously. This would not be so bad if it could be easily avoided by the Christian. However our culture's visual environment is saturated with it - particularly here in Australia.

8. The ubiquity of sex in advertising is an assault on religious freedom of choice. Christians, Muslims, Jews and Bahai's are amongst many religions that find the use of sex in advertising morally offensive and a violation of their principles. Those religions that emphasize having a pure thought life free from unwanted intrusions do not appreciate being bombarded by semi-erotic pictures through every available medium.

9. Psychologists have found that the human mind cannot distinguish between a sufficiently vivid fantasy and reality. This discovery has been used for constructive purposes in the visualization and "rehearsal" techniques developed for sportsmen. However it has also been used for evil and nearly every major serial killer fed their mind on large doses of pornography and violence, mentally fantasizing and rehearsing their actions, before they committed their crimes. Given the great power of human visualization we must use it wisely and control the images we create in our minds. Jesus said (Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV) "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. {23} "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Sex in advertising puts false and destructive images before the eyes of men and women. Women who "see" the impossibly thin models of the magazines as "standard" are often tormented by deep feelings of physical inferiority and drive themselves with unrealistic expectations. Many become bulimic or even anorexic as a result. Some die.

10. Sex in advertising aims to produce a covetous consumer. Arousing a fundamental and hence powerful appetite and associating it strongly with a material product produces a strongly reinforced desire to obtain that product. This desire operates not only at the rational level of intelligent purchasing but at the covetous "gut level" of greedy desire. Thus sex in advertising aims to subvert the operation of intelligent disciplined purchasing and replace it with instinctual level impulse buying and coveting. For the Christian, or even for the person of wisdom, this is clearly wrong. (Exodus 20:17 NKJV) "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's." OR (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; {20} "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." OR (Colossians 3:5-6 NKJV) Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. {6} Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

11. Sex in advertising generally involves lying about the nature of the product. Beautiful women do NOT accompany the purchase of a car or computer or a bar of soap. These products often do little or nothing to increase one's attractiveness. The implied increase in sex appeal is false. To associate erotic value with a product that has none is similar to saying that the product has a certain feature when it patently does not. The Scriptures are quite clear about condemning the use of deception at any level. (Proverbs 12:22 NKJV) Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight.

12. The process of producing sexually oriented advertisements often involves values and actions that are morally repulsive to the Christian. The photographing of nude models, not even for art, but for commercial gain should repel the conscience of any Spirit-filled Christian photographer. The auditioning process also has a marked reputation for sleaziness. The making of an advertisement involves a desensitizing of the conscience of the photographer, the model/s, the advertising agency and the media as well as the company that the ads are for. There must be hundreds of minor and major moral compromises behind every such advertisement. (Proverbs 28:6 NKJV) Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich. (Proverbs 10:9 NKJV) He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.

Summary

The use of sex in advertising is not innocent marketing. It is a major and widespread defilement of the human person. It is "trade in souls". Fellow Christians, it is time we spoke out. We need to write to manufacturers, particularly those who are believers, and ask them to refrain from using sex in advertising. We need to form high quality, ethical, Christian advertising agencies that market products skillfully but decently. Write to your media standards association, your newspapers and your TV stations and let them know your views. Where possible use your power as a consumer to avoid buying products that use sex in advertising. We can roll back the tide for God is with us. Pray, unite and ACT.

Here is a suggested letter you can use.

Dear Manufacturer,

I have noticed that your product "No. 1 Widget " is advertised using human nudity as a major selling point. I believe this is untruthful regarding the nature of the product and a defilement of the women involved in making that advertisement. As a Christian I find my religious beliefs affronted by your advertisement. I will not buy your product as long as this ad is used to sell it.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Bloggs.

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.