"May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers" (Song 1:1-4).

"Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle Which feed among the lilies. Until the cool of the day" (Song 4:5).

Pornography: sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal. Why is Song of Songs not considered pornography?


2 Answers 2


No, the purpose of this beautiful poem is not to promote pornographic passions or to incite to lust and immorality. Here is part of a comment in the introduction to The Song of Songs in my 2000 edition of the New International Version Study Bible:

To find the key for unlocking the Song, interpreters have looked to prophetic, wisdom and apocalyptic passages of Scripture, as well as to ancient Egyptian and Babylonian love songs, traditional Semitic wedding songs... the Song belongs to biblical wisdom literature and that it is wisdom’s description of an amorous relationship. The Bible speaks of both wisdom and love as gifts of God, to be received with gratitude and celebration ... Rather, it views the Song as a linked chain of lyrics depicting love in all its spontaneity, beauty, power and exclusiveness – experienced in its varied moments of separation and intimacy, anguish and ecstasy, tension and contentment.

The Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) extols the virtues of love between a husband and his wife. The poem is a dialogue between a husband (the king) and his wife (the Shulamite). It starts with the courtship, goes on to the wedding and then concludes with the relationship between husband and wife with the passing of time.

I found an article that explores the meaning and symbolism within this beautiful love story, which concludes thus:

As the song ends, both the husband and wife are confident and secure in their love, they sing of the lasting nature of true love, and they yearn to be in each other’s presence. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Song-of-Solomon.html

EDIT: Some scholars have suggested that the Shulammite is Abishag: “Return, return, O Shulammite, that we may look upon you” (Song of Solomon 6:13). This is because of a similarity between the words Shulammite and Shunammite: “So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king” (1 Kings 1:3). My NIV Study Bible notes that in ancient Semitic languages the letters ‘l’ and ‘n’ were sometimes interchanged. https://www.gotquestions.org/Solomon-Adonijah-Abishag.html


Pornography is the depiction of prostitutes. Πόρνη = prostitute. The Song of Songs does not depict prostitutes. Also, its purpose cannot be to incite lust ("elicit sexual arousal"), because the inspired word of God interpreted according to the Church cannot lead us to sin.

The Song of Songs is the sublimest of the Wisdom literature, where the relationship of the soul (personified as a bride) with Christ (the bridegroom) is understood in analogy to the relationship between a wife and husband (cf. Eph. 5:32: "This [i.e., marriage] is a great sacrament [in Greek: mysterion or "mystery"]; but I speak in Christ and in the church.").

St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his Commentary on the Song of Songs, uses the word ἔρως (eros, from where we get the word "erotic") to refer to ἀγάπη (agapē or self-sacrificial love) in its more acute form (cf. ibid.'s translator's fn. 19, p. 403). St. Gregory's preface (ibid. pp. 3-14) is worth reading to understand how King Solomon uses some of the most mysterious realities of the natural order to understand those of the supernatural order.

(source of last 2 ¶¶: this answer to "How does a Roman Catholic reconcile a preference for purely procreative sex with the Song of Solomon?")

  • 1
    "Pornography is the depiction of prostitutes". Not in any dictionary I have read. Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 17:54
  • 1
    @DJClayworth Anyone who willingly incites another to lust has prostituted herself. There is no way Holy Scripture interpreted according to the Church can lead one into sin.
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 18:08
  • "because the inspired word of God interpreted according to the Church cannot lead us to sin" - you're assuming your conclusion is true so it's a poor argument. Of course, if you start with the fundamental belief "everything in the bible is Gods word and cannot be written for sinful purposes" then you'll conclude that also. But the question is how do we show that Song of Songs cannot be classified as pornography. Thanks for the ref to St. Gregory, I'll look into it
    – Calicoder
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 19:48
  • 1
    @Calicoder Holy Scriptures are inerrant. They cannot deceive nor cause active scandal.
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 0:44
  • Using the word "prostitute" in a way that you yourself define that is not generally accepted does not help communication. Why not just say "pornography is imagery intended to incite to lust", which would be a much more acceptable definition. Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 16:38

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