The Pain of Pornography in Marriage

They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. . . 2 Peter 2:13a—15a

One of the reasons I wrote my book, Living Beyond the Heart of Betrayal: Biblically Addressing the Pain of Sexual Sin is the overwhelming number of counselee’s coming into our center with presenting problems of some form of sexual immorality. There are all sorts of material out there aimed at the one who is hooked on pornography, but very little for the broken-hearted spouse.

In the book I have addressed multiple aspects of sexual sin; its causes, effects, and what to do when you learn the painful truth.  The area I will bring out today in the blog is pornography.  

As in all other forms of sinfulness, people who view pornography have their thoughts, beliefs, and desires set on fulfilling the lust of the flesh and feeding the desires of the heart.  As the 2 Peter verse cited above notes, a heart that is trained in greed is a heart that is focused on self

Idolatry, pride, greed, selfishness, and rebellion are just a few of the major issues of the heart that one who views pornography must recognize and admit in order to break free.

The focus when viewing pornography is on meeting the felt needs of the moment. The thoughts are focused on “self” and viewers truly believe they have to fulfill the desires that they have in the moments of temptation. This is why viewing porn is idolatrous! Their heart is filled with pride as they think that meeting their perceived needs and feelings are all that matters.

The feelings and desires a person has from the sexual stimulation from pornography begin to demand allegiance and come to rule the user. Regardless of how little a person intends to view it, in relatively short order pornography reveals itself as something that cannot be set aside. The pleasurable feelings and physical release a person derives from it become a ruling force in life. Additionally, the original stimulating features of basic pornography become mundane and the lusty desires head toward harder and harder pornographic features. This is why greed is closely related to idolatry! What satisfied a man or woman last week will not be enough in a month. The flesh is never satisfied.

Lust-driven individuals are rarely rational thinkers in the moment. All that can be thought about is sating those desires without discovery. There are no thoughts of others, marriage vows, or spiritual consequences while watching XXX porn. Frequently, the only thoughts of their spouse are often about how they don’t ever want them to find out and potentially take this avenue of self-gratification away.

The thoughts of entitlement come from the heart. The porn user believes that they have a “right” to feel good sexually and to gratify sexual “needs.” It quickly becomes a major stronghold of idolatry in a person’s life and because the pleasure senses are deeply affected by pornography, telling someone to “stop it” will fall far short of accomplishing the goal. This is the reason that commanding a spouse to cease their pornography habit is rarely effectual.

Pornography users are prideful people because they become their own god, determining biblical standards don’t apply to them, and that they can make their own rules. Often the rules are centered on their belief that as long as no one knows they view pornography, no one gets hurt. It is perceived as a victimless habit which is untrue.

Because pornography is at its base a heart issue, the person who views it must seek treatment at that level. There are many wonderful books and programs to help someone who is hooked on porn get free from its domination. Any help a person receives on sexual sin must be more than “stop that.” The counseling must be primarily about repentance and change to glorify God.

You must remember that you cannot stop your husband from sinning. You can set up every safeguard and system known to mankind but if he wants to return to that cesspool, he will. That is the first thing you must accept.

Acceptance of sexual sin is hard, hurtful, and might seem impossible. Typically, the wife who learns her husband is involved with pornography has many questions. She wants to know why he had to look at that stuff.  She wants to know why she is not enough to sexually satisfy him, how he could be so perverted, and there is the question that is asked in the deepest part of the heart of the wounded spouse: what is wrong with me?

The wounded wife is left confused and insecure. What women have told me time and time again is they are devastated by this revelation. There is no way to compete with the surgically altered and silicone injected bodies in those movies and magazines, and there is no way most Christian women would consent to some of the activities in the movies either.

They discover their husband has an appetite for things they are unwilling or unable to provide. Women have told me they are humiliated by the knowledge that their husband has sought out pornography. The revelation adds insecurity, fear and shame to what most women already see as lacking in themselves physically and sexually.

What I want you to know is that if your husband is viewing pornography, it is not your fault. You did not do or say anything that would “make” him view or read it. As I said previously, this is a desire of the flesh that he is choosing to gratify. 

I know I cannot address every need here in this limited space, but my hope today was to help you realize you are not “crazy,” you are not alone, and despite how it looks right now, there is always hope.  Men who view pornography don’t have an illness, they have a sin problem.  Remember, Jesus came to set the captives free!