Tag Archives: pornography

Is It Right for a Husband and Wife to View Pornographic Videos?

We live in a sexually charged culture where some would have us believe that it is acceptable and appropriate for a husband and wife to view pornographic videos. Most in this camp contend that couples watching tapes of other couples having sex can re-ignite dwindling passion and “spice up” a dull sex life.

Although some “training videos” may contain some practical information about the physical realities of sex, they cross a moral line by communicating that information with demonstrations of couples engaged in sexual activities. The strong sexual imagery in the Bible’s Song of Solomon illustrates God’s intention for a husband and wife to take great pleasure in viewing and touching each other’s bodies. Outside of marriage, however, such behavior is wrong. And it is wrong to view such an intimate act under the pretense of “sex education.”

Watching others (regardless of whether or not they are married) demonstrate various elements of the sexual act defiles and contaminates “the marriage bed” ( Hebrews 13:4 ). It’s one thing to read educational literature that objectively describes the various factors involved in the sex act. Thousands of engaged and married couples have benefited from reading books like Intended For Pleasure by Ed and Joy Wheat. But it’s another thing to view taped episodes of couples engaged in various forms of sexual activity. Common sense itself tells us that there is little, if any, objectivity in such “educational” voyeurism.

Whether it be one of the thousands of X-rated videos made each year, or one marketed as a “sex training” video, watching a tape of another man and woman having sexual intercourse ruins a married couple’s sex life. It is a prime example of something that may seem good, but is actually “deadly” ( Proverbs 14:12 ). Watching a videotape of another couple having sexual intercourse may initially inflame the interests and passions of the viewing couple. But in the end it leaves them with many misconceptions about sex that lead to false expectations, disappointment, self-doubt, and resentment.

Pornographic videos create unrealistic expectations about the frequency of sex, the pleasure of specific sexual acts, and the nature of a man’s and a woman’s sexual arousal and need for physical intimacy. Generally, they portray a woman as a sexual object that a man can quickly and easily “turn on” at his discretion. Furthermore, the participants are often digitally, cosmetically, or surgically enhanced, giving a false impression of what a man’s or a woman’s body should look like.

A husband and wife can’t possibly begin to measure up to the bedroom athletes (performers) they see on the screen, but there is an inherent pressure to do just that. Whether it’s acknowledged or not, a husband and wife who view sexually graphic scenes feel a strong pull to look like the actors and to imitate what they do. And when they can’t, many feel inadequate. Some feel resentful. A husband can ruin his relationship with his wife by coercing her into doing things that make her feel uncomfortable and cheap. If she refuses, she tends to feel guilty. If she concedes, she feels used, angry, and dirty.

Couples who have allowed pornography into the bedroom have learned that it keeps them constantly “charged up” looking for a sexual outlet. Sex is proper and normal in marriage, but it is not the dominant need. It is legitimately pleasurable, but people have a tendency to abuse everything pleasurable through inordinate indulgence ( Ephesians 4:19 ). Inordinate demands for physical intimacy and sexual stimuli are without doubt one of the most common killers of the emotional and spiritual intimacy that are the core of every good marriage. G. K. Chesterton wisely saw the end of such behavior: “Pride makes a man a devil; but lust makes him a machine.” Machines do not have good marriages.

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How Can I Overcome My Urge to View Pornography?

Each of us is vulnerable to the temptation of sexual fantasy. When our faith is weak and we feel that real fulfillment and joy are out of our reach, it’s difficult to resist the powerful illusion of fulfillment that sexual fantasy offers. We shouldn’t be surprised when we are tempted, nor should we be surprised when we don’t quickly “outgrow” this temptation. Writing specifically about sexual temptation, the apostle Paul said, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” ( 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ).

It may be that pornographic fantasy and sexual addiction draw their strength from a natural desire to return to the world of intimacy and security that we may once have enjoyed as infants. In adult relationships, it takes a long time to develop real interpersonal intimacy and trust. We often feel lonely, powerless, and rejected. By contrast, wrongful sexual fantasy offers the illusion of instant intimacy, respect, and acceptance with anyone we want. The powerful illusion of sexual fantasy makes sexual addiction much more enslaving than it would be if it were the mere expression of a biological appetite.

The first step toward freedom is acknowledging that your sexual obsession has taken on a life of its own. A great deal of time and energy can be wasted trying to rationalize and conceal our secret sins.

The next step is facing the fact that there will be no quick cure. No matter how resolutely we pray for deliverance, sexual obsession never disappears in an hour, a month, or even a year. No miraculous spiritual gift will instantly free you from a habit that has had years to develop. You have much work to do.

Withdrawal from any addiction is painful. Withdrawal from sexual addiction involves agony that can’t be avoided. Heroin addicts sometimes take methadone in hopes of avoiding the pains of withdrawal. They soon discover, however, that their heroin addiction has been replaced with addiction to methadone. There can be no real cure without pain.

To jaded senses and underdeveloped emotions, the first experiences of real intimacy are too subtle and uncompelling to offer much comfort. Initially, no relationship or activity will provide the intense, short-term pleasure of sexual fantasy. Like the rush from a line of cocaine or the quick euphoria of an alcoholic when he “falls off the wagon,” sin offers pleasure for a season ( Hebrews 11:25 ).

Intimacy in relationships is a living thing that must be nourished and given time to grow. Like a beautiful flower that blooms at the end of summer and wafts fragrance to every corner of the garden, intimacy is the product of discipline and commitment. Soil must be tilled, seed planted, water carried, weeds removed, and plants protected. These activities offer little immediate encouragement to a person whose will and emotions have for a lifetime been responding only to immediate pleasures. But genuine love is the gateway to joy and fulfillment, and addiction to sexual fantasy directly obstructs real relationships with real people.

In the long term, effort expended in resisting sexual addiction will be rewarded many times over. But movement toward freedom from addiction requires obedience, and obedience requires faith. You have used sexual addiction as a means of avoiding the legitimate growing pains of life. Now it’s time to learn to embrace the legitimate pain you’ve been trying to avoid.

Trusting God in spite of emotional pain, loneliness, and frustration produces sensitivity to the depth and richness of life. To a child, the sun-dappled beauty of a woodland meadow in springtime is less appealing than the garish lights and glitter of a traveling carnival. But it’s time to move on to better things ( 1 Corinthians 13:11 ). Resist wrongful sexual fantasy over a period of time and you will begin to notice changes in your perceptions as the Holy Spirit gains greater influence in your life. Paul wrote:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Be grateful for the feelings of guilt, hypocrisy, and contamination that you experience when you fail to resist sexual temptation. These feelings don’t mean you are worthless or condemned in the eyes of God. His grace is still available to you ( Hebrews 13:20-21 ). These feelings are signs of spiritual life flowing within, the conviction of the Holy Spirit as He grants growing awareness of the repulsiveness and sterility of sin.

Don’t be ashamed to take steps to avoid circumstances and behavior that nourish your obsession. Satan, the “accuser of the brethren” ( Revelation 12:10 ) delights in making you feel as though you are inauthentic, a hypocrite, or a prude because you are resisting sinful thoughts and desires that are still part of you. Every Christian struggles with the same sense of dividedness ( Romans 7:21-23 ; Galatians 5:17 ), but don’t forget that you are fleeing from an addiction that leaves you empty and unsatisfied and are climbing toward the source of all pleasures ( John 4:14 ). Don’t forget too that the Bible promises that you will be given the strength to succeed ( 1 Corinthians 10:13 ).

One of the first steps you should take is to remove the source of temptation from your home. Then, instead of planning how you can do the things that have kept you in bondage, consciously avoid situations that expose you to temptation. Don’t lose sight of the fact that with time your healthy sensitivities and wholesome desires will grow, and the power of your addiction will fade into insignificance. Also, remember that God doesn’t judge you solely on the basis of your failures but on the basis of what you can become through Christ. Although your sin is an offense to God, He always loves you.

A book you may find helpful is False Intimacy by Dr. Harry Schaumberg (Navpress).

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Isn’t It Unjust to Deny the Fulfillment of Sexual Experiences to Single People? 

It isn’t the “Christian ethic” that “denies the sexual experiences and fulfillment to single people that married people enjoy.” It is reality. The Bible and the Christian ethic are based on physiological and psychological fact. Single people engaging in sex can’t possibly experience the same things that married people are capable of experiencing, either in terms of personal pleasure or fulfillment. What they experience is different and destructive, and the Bible rightfully warns of its destructiveness.

The Scriptures make it clear that sexual intimacy is not something to be entered into lightly. (See the ATQ article Why Shouldn’t Sex Be Casual?) Because the natural design of sexual intimacy is to mold two individual people in their physical, emotional, and spiritual entirety into “one flesh,” the uncommitted sexual intimacy of two single people can never be like the sexual experience and fulfillment married people are capable of enjoying. Seeking sexual intimacy outside of its appropriate context of a long-term, committed relationship is like an unscrupulous athlete trying to substitute performance-enhancing drugs for discipline and training. Uncommitted sexual experiences only distort the real meaning of sexual fulfillment. One-bodiedness (genuine sexual intimacy—see Genesis 2:24 ) can only occur in the context of lifelong love.

Contemporary cultural circumstances have confused the purpose of sex. Contraception has separated sex from its natural purpose in conception, childbearing, parenting, and family bonding. The identification of sexual “liberation” with pornography and promiscuity along with a cultural relativism that assumes the equality of all sexual behavior have contributed to unprecedented rates of divorce, family instability, and social problems.

Regardless of the cultural circumstances, Scripture declares that sexual love symbolizes God’s love for us (Ephesians 5:25-33 ). Our fallen nature has resulted in our misusing sex for selfish purposes (lust, power, etc.). Sexuality is linked to a long-term—even eternal—purpose, and requires commitment to that purpose.

It does not matter what the two people . . . have in mind. . . . The reality of the act, unfelt and unnoticed by them, is this: It unites them—body and soul—to each other. It unites them in that strange, impossible to pinpoint sense of “one flesh.” There is no such thing as casual sex, no matter how casual people are about it. The Christian assaults reality in his night out at the brothel. He uses a woman and puts her back in a closet where she can be forgotten; but the reality is that he has put away a person with whom he has done something that was meant to inseparably join them. This is what is at stake for Paul in the question of sexual intercourse between unmarried people.

And now we can see clearly why Paul thought sexual intercourse by unmarried people was wrong. It is wrong because it violates the inner reality of the act; it is wrong because unmarried people thereby engage in a life-uniting act without a life-uniting intent. Whenever two people copulate without a commitment to life-union, they commit fornication.* (Lewis Smedes, Sex for Christians, rev. ed. [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994], pp. 109-10.)

*Fornication is a strong, scriptural word. But the intent of the word is not merely to condemn, but to warn. (Back To Article)

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Does a Wife Whose Husband Views Pornography Have Grounds for Divorce?

Does Matthew 5:27-28 give a wife who finds that her husband views pornography grounds to seek a divorce?

Only God understands the pain that many women feel when they discover that their husbands are looking at pornography. Many wives are hurt by this discovery. They become angry and filled with personal doubts.

Women in this situation often find themselves on a difficult road, especially if there has been a pattern and history to their husband’s involvement. Betrayal of the marital trust cuts deep into a woman’s soul, and many have found that it takes time to learn to trust again.

Some have had husbands who slowly re-earned trust by doing whatever it takes to bring an end to the practice, by not blaming their wives for their own wrongs, and by patiently accepting responsibility for the emotional pain and struggles with trust they’ve created for their wives.

It’s never easy for a wife to walk this road. While some are committed to stay married and work through the pain and mistrust, others take a different course by appealing to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 , citing them as grounds to seek a divorce. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Their contention is understandable. Since their husbands sexually lusted over women while looking at pornography, then they are guilty of the sin of adultery. And because adultery is grounds for divorce ( Matthew 19:9 ), they believe they have grounds to seek a divorce.

They may have a case — depending on the severity and extent of their husband’s problem. A husband who is into severe forms of pornography such as pedophilia or sadomasochism has likely sunken into such a deep level of perversion that it causes just as much devastation as physical adultery. Of course, a husband who refuses to give up his affair with any form of pornography is blatantly betraying his covenant with his wife. Generally speaking, it is only a matter of time before he seeks to act out on the lust he’s been cultivating in his heart through pornography. In such cases, a wife has a basis to appeal to the words of Jesus as grounds for divorce too.

Realistically, however, if Jesus meant to imply that sexually lustful thoughts were grounds for divorce in every case, then every husband could be divorced on that basis. What husband can say that his mind has never wandered into sexual lust of some kind. As we try to understand the implications of Jesus’ words, we must remember the context in which Jesus spoke about sexual lust and adultery. Jesus’ main point wasn’t to give a wife wholesale grounds for divorce. He made the link between lust and adultery primarily to make the point that sin is more than mere behavior: it is also a matter of the heart.

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