On Monday we looked at what pornography is and why people look at it and get addicted to it. And I said that it’s destructive and is one manifestation of sexual immorality. Today we’ll look at how pornography affects the marriage relationship and because men view pornography more so than women I will be writing from that perspective.
According to the Internet Filter Review, “The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.” So because men are exposed to pornography so young, by the time they get married they have spent the majority of their life struggling with this issue. And sadly the issue doesn’t go away when they wed. Instead it only becomes more of a problem because it now affects their relationship with their spouse. It can affect the wife’s view of herself and her husband and it can affect the way the husband views sex. We are going to look at these closer and see just how harmful pornography can be.
THE HUSBAND & SEX
Pornography is explicit and obscene. It creates unrealistic scenarios and it takes the emotional and intimate aspects of marital sexual experience out of sex. God created sex to be used as a way of showing covenantal love, expressing the deepest sense of physical, emotional, and intimate connection that only a husband and wife can share. Porn cheapens sex and makes it dirty and unnatural. It’s disgusting. And when a man views porn it begins to shape his view of women and sex. He begins to see women as sexual objects and he sees sex as a means to an end. He becomes obsessed with sexual gratification so that when he has sex with his wife he isn’t making love with her, he’s simply seeking a release. Or instead of sleeping with his wife he chooses to masturbate. Lust blinds men and it perverts their hearts and minds. It is a dangerous sin that, once many men fall into, it is very hard for them to find their way out.
When a wife finds out that her husband has a porn problem it completely devastates her. The way she reacts is much the same as if he had cheated on her with an affair. She will feel that he is unfaithful (which in a way, he is) and question her part in the problem. She’ll wonder if it’s her fault because she’s not pretty enough, isn’t adventurous enough, or isn’t satisfying to him. She’ll wonder what she is lacking that causes him to seek sexual satisfaction from anything other than herself. She will be deeply hurt and insecure.
When a husband has a porn issue it brings him shame and guilt. He may try to stop but he can’t do it on his own. And when a husband’s porn issue comes to light it hurts the trust, intimacy, and oneness in a marriage. And if it’s not dealt with, it will destroy a marriage. God didn’t create sex to be pornographic and when we make it so we do it outside of His design and that brings repercussions.
I have heard a lot of people say that porn is okay. I’ve had women tell me that all men look at porn and it shouldn’t bother me if my husband does too. I should just accept it. What lies! It is sad to me that these people have been so blinded that the truth seems foolish to them and that they don’t demand respect and honor. Wives, your husband should not be looking at porn. It is not okay. YOU are the only woman he should be looking at and YOU are the only woman he should go to seeking pleasure and intimacy. He made a covenant with you and he should honor that. He should not be robbing you of intimacy by choosing to participate in masturbation or pornography. Above all else, you should expect your husband to honor God. Your husband’s sin doesn’t just separate him from you but it separates him from God. He cannot be your spiritual leader while drowning in unrepentant sin.
And know this, in no way is his issue with porn your fault. Lust is powerful and in the moment it is not about how pretty you are but about his sin. It is not your fault that he can’t say no to temptation. However, there are ways you can help.
1. Talk to him. Talk to him about how this makes you feel and what you expect from him. Remind him of God’s standards. Tell him that this isn’t acceptable and that he needs to get help. Ask him what he plans to do and be clear on what the next steps will be.
2. Encourage him to talk to someone. A pastor, counselor, or trusted friend. And if he won’t, then do it for him. The thing about sin is that when it is kept secret it is easy to ignore but when it is brought into the light it becomes hard not to face. Someone needs to be talking to him and keeping him accountable. And it needs to be someone who doesn’t also have the same struggle. Even if they have good intentions to help each other I think it becomes easy to dismiss the sin and not provide real accountability and discipleship.
3. Love him anyway. I know this is hard and sounds unreasonable but loving him through this period of revealing his problem and getting help speaks more volumes than becoming harsh and hurtful. Allow yourself to deal with your emotions and feel the hurt but don’t stay there.
4. When you are ready, forgive him. Don’t hold this over him forever and don’t bring it up in arguments. You both need to heal but you can’t do that if you bring it up with angry and hurtful intentions.
And husbands, if you have a sin issue with pornography, then please do this:
1. Repent to the Lord. You have defiled His gift of sex, you have been unfaithful to the bride He has given you, and you have dishonored Him. There is forgiveness and reconciliation for you but you must repent.
2. Confess to your wife. This will probably be harder than confessing to the Lord since He already knows but it is something you must do. It will hurt your wife, yes, but you can’t keep this secret from her. It only dishonors her even more. You must tell her and begin the journey to healing and rebuilding the trust you have broken.
3. Get help and accountability. You know you can’t overcome this on your own. It’s not possible. You must find someone who is able and willing to regularly check in on you and keep you accountable.
Losing yourself to a sin you can’t get out of on your own and hurting your spouse is not worth easy and immediate sexual gratification. God has something so much more and better in store for you and your marriage. Undefiled and totally devoted marital sex between two covenant keepers is better than any amount of pornography. In the end, porn will leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied. Following and keeping to God’s design will satisfy you to your very soul and you won’t look for anything else.
*Please check out this article from The Gospel Coalition.
Study: Watching Pornography Increases Support for Adultery and Same-Sex Marriage
“When a person has been exposed to thousands of images of an particular human behavior it becomes impossible to consider such activity as ‘unthinkable.’ It becomes accepted on the individual level and later, when people recognize that other people are okay with it too, accepted on a societal level.”