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 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 of 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. Understanding what pornography really is and why it is a problem can help you begin to find healing. Intimacy and trust in your marriage can be restored. Freedom is possible.
What is Pornography?
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 takes, pornography is not just a “men’s issue.” Pornography affects both men and women of all ages.
First and foremost, pornography is always sinful. No one should view it for any reason (including couples viewing it together).
Much has been written about the dangerous and damaging effects of pornography. Many people are willing to say they hate porn, but many also love it. People can grow to love porn more than their spouse, friends, family, and possesions-even more than God. Pornography addiction can consume every waking thought and drive people to increasing sin and hurt. What gives it such a powerful hold over the human mind?
Why Do People Love Porn?
- Porn is escapism – Pornography is a door out of life's monotony. It's a distraction from 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 – Pornography is easier to find or stumble upon than ever before. Makers of pornography are continuously looking for new ways to get porn in front of you and draw you in.
- 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 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 consequence-free sex with a stranger. It feels like there are no victims and no fear of pregnancy or STDs. Porn allows you to experience the lustful gratification of an extramarital affair with no apparent consequences. 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 your problems; it just adds to them. Whatever you were running from is still there, undealt with. Porn isn't a way out; it's like a revolving door that keeps putting you back in the room with your problems and every time, they seem bigger.
- Porn is accessible but expensive – It costs you your dignity, confidence, joy, your marital unity, 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. It 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 all you want, porn will do the trick (as will alcohol, drugs, and many other vices). But a life of oneness free from shame satisfies in a way than five minutes of erotic pleasure never can. Abstaining from porn and working towards oneness in your marriage leads to life. It requires determination, hard work, and commitment.
- Porn and masturbation are selfish – God calls us to be selfless and self-sacrificial in marriage, but porn use is just the opposite. Porn communicates that your spouse isn’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 the 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 sin. Does pornography have a grasp on your mind and heart? What gaps and holes in your life have you tried to fill with pornography? 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 sins condemn you, Jesus does not. He died for your sin and rose again so that you could be saved (Romans 4:25). Because of Jesus, you can find freedom from pornography. Pornography doesn’t have to hold you in bondage and it doesn’t have to damage your marriage.
Check out the next article for practical ways to begin healing from an addiction to pornography.