This article is Part 1 in a 3-Part series on Pornography and Marriage. For more on how to heal from pornography and how to love a spouse addicted to pornography, check out Part 2 and Part 3.
Pornography wreaks havoc on marriages and families. It weakens relationships, destroys intimacy and trust, and puts people in bondage to sin. Porn is a serious problem and one we cannot ignore.
Chances are, you or a loved one struggle profoundly with pornography. This isn’t a niche issue or only a problem outside the church. A massive percentage of believers, both men and women, are addicted to pornography and masturbation. It affects nearly every marriage in some way.
If you feel the weight of this and know that pornography is an issue in your marriage, then there is hope for you. But understanding what pornography really is and why it is a problem can help you begin to find freedom and healing. Intimacy and trust in your marriage can be restored. Restoration is possible.
What is Pornography exactly?
Pornography is any media or material used to fantasize about sexual activity. It can include everything from romance novels, lingerie ads, and R-rated movies to chat rooms and explicitly pornographic films. Regardless of what form it is taking, it is important to remember that pornography is not just a “men’s issue.” Pornography affects both men and women of all ages.
Right from the start, we must know that pornography is sin in any and every situation and should not be viewed for any reason by anyone (including couples viewing it together).
Much has been written about the dangerous and damaging effects of pornography. And though, while most people are willing to say they hate porn, many also love it. People grow to love porn more than their spouse, more than their friends, more than their family, more than anything they own and more than God. Pornography addiction can consume every waking thought and drive people to increasing sin and hurt. We need to stop and ask ourselves why.
Why Do People Love Porn?
- Porn is escapism – Pornography is a door that leads out of life's monotonous routine. Porn is a distraction from the hard work, screaming kids, tedious chores, difficult conversations, and the diligent pursuit necessary to make a marriage work. When you are looking for an easy escape from life's difficulties, porn says, "This is the way."
- Porn is accessible – More so than ever before, pornography is easy to find or stumble upon. It is a false intimacy readily available. Porn doesn't require you to do the dishes, take out the trash, drive the kids to school, or be emotionally vulnerable. Porn declares, "I'm here for you to do with me as you please." It always offers something crazier, more dangerous, and more scandalous for you to enjoy.
- Porn feels good – Porn is designed to prompt a reaction in you. When you view pornography, your heart races, your pupils dilate, and your body responds as though you're afraid or doing something wrong. The same endorphins released in sex are released when watching pornography. It grants all the “pleasure” of an extramarital affair, because that's what it is. You are committing adultery by lusting after someone who isn’t your spouse.
- Porn is anonymous – Pornography gives the illusion of sex with a stranger. It feels as though there are no strings attached and no victims. No fear of pregnancy or STDs. It seems that porn allows a spouse to escape the consequences of an extramarital affair. You can objectify and sexualize someone for your enjoyment at seemingly no cost and no one has to know.
What is the Problem with Pornography?
- Porn is escapism, but everything is still waiting on you – Porn doesn’t actually let you escape anything. It simply complicates life's problems. Your family and marriage still need you. Had you doubled down, prayed, leaned on community, and worked through the challenges facing you, life would have been easier without porn. Porn isn't a way out; it's like a revolving door that keeps putting you back in the room with your problems. Only every time they seem bigger.
- Porn is accessible, but it is also expensive – It costs you your dignity, your confidence, your joy, your oneness with your spouse, and, most importantly, your intimacy with Jesus. Every time you look at porn, you pay this price. You do not leave pornography kinder, more confident, more joyful, closer to Jesus, or more in love with your spouse. You've taken a very intentional step away from all of these things. Porn is never worth what it costs. Remember that porn takes more from you than it will ever give.
- Porn feels good, but it is not as good as what God has for you – If a momentary feeling of pleasure is most important to you, porn will do the trick. But so will alcohol, drugs, and many other vices. However, a life of oneness free from shame is much better than five minutes of erotic pleasure. Abstaining from porn and working towards oneness in your marriage can give you life. It’s going to require determination, hard work, and commitment.
- Porn and masturbation are selfish – While marriage calls us to be selfless and self-sacrificial, porn is just the opposite. Porn tells your spouse they aren't good enough. Porn tells your wife her body isn't right. Porn tells your husband he's not man enough for you. Porn leads to guilt and shame for the viewer and insecurity for their spouse. Insecurity and shame are enemies to intimacy.
Knowing why porn is wrong and destructive is crucial to finding freedom. It is by knowing the law that we are made aware of our sin (Romans 7:7-25). So, as you take an honest look at your life and marriage, assess the ways you’ve loved your sin. Does pornography have a grasp on your mind and heart? What gaps and holes in your life have you looked to pornography to fill or fix? Do you truly love your marriage more than you love your sin?
Thankfully, there is hope. The good news of the gospel is that even when sin stands to condemn you, Jesus presents a different way. Jesus died for your trespasses and rose again so that we might be saved (Romans 4:25). It is because of Jesus that you can find freedom from pornography. Pornography doesn’t have to hold you in bondage and it doesn’t have to damage your marriage.
In the next article, we provide you with practical steps for healing from an addiction to pornography.