Tag Archives: sexual compulsion

Is a Man Harmed by Looking at Pornography?

There are many today who would suggest that viewing pornography is a harmless recreational activity. Many men, including many Christian men, openly and secretly try to justify looking at the smorgasbord of pornography available on the Internet and video tape. The actual truth, however, is that viewing pornography harms a man in several significant ways.

First, looking at pornography affects how a man views women. Nude pictures and videos of women are degrading and dehumanizing. It portrays women as little more than sex objects to be used and discarded. Any man hooked by pornography is likely to develop disrespectful attitudes towards women.

Second, viewing pornography can turn into a sexual addiction. While it’s true that almost anything can turn into an addiction, the lure of pornography pulls a man in like little else does. Not every man who looks at pornography becomes addicted, but everyone who looks runs the risk. And the cost of a sexual addiction is high. As the addiction grows more and more out of control, it can wipe out a man’s job, his financial assets, his testimony, his peace, his family, his health, and even his freedom (James 1:14-15).

If a man is married, there are at least two additional implications to consider. First, looking at pornography violates the marriage covenant. Jesus said that a man who lusts after a woman commits adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Second, looking at pornography leads to an increasing distance between him and his wife. Lusting over sexually graphic images does not cause a married man to desire his wife more. It causes him to desire her less. He may not be drawn into an extramarital physical affair, but every time he fantasizes about having sex with other women, he creates distance from his wife in some way. His wife will sense the growing distance, which will cause problems. She may become angry or blame herself for the distance.

Rather than “spicing up” a married couple’s sex life and building intimacy, looking at pornography compromises the relationship and destroys intimacy. Viewing pornography will cause a man to crave more and more unrealistic sexual stimuli, which his wife won’t be willing or able to provide. Consequently, he will feel cheated and angry; she will feel used and inadequate, and they will grow further apart.

A single man is making a big mistake if he thinks that looking at pornography today will have no negative effect on his marriage in the future. Some single men even believe that getting married will end an affair with pornography, but it won’t. A man that is used to being sexually aroused by pornographic images often begins to crave it again once the novelty of marriage wears off. And the man who gives in to that craving not only violates the marital covenant, but also puts the marriage itself into serious jeopardy. To state it frankly, there are no redeeming attributes to pornography.

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How Can I Know If I’m Addicted to Pornography?

Pornography is a serious problem that is only getting worse. We live in a world of technology that some are taking full advantage of to make pornography more readily available than ever before. And as the pornographic industry continues to expand, more and more people are becoming enslaved to looking at sexually graphic images.

How can a person know if they’ve become trapped in an addiction to pornography? One of the surest signs is that you keep returning to something you know is wrong. If you have promised yourself over and over again that last time would be the last time — and it never is — then it’s likely that you’ve given yourself over to an activity that you believe you can’t live without.

A person who has become addicted to pornography will also identify with a number of the following statements:

  • I regularly seek out pornography.
  • I have an increasing need to view more pornography.
  • I have a pattern of spending large amounts of time looking forward to viewing pornography.
  • I shift between the extremes of feeling that my problem is either out-of-control or under control.
  • I’ve noticed a pattern of neglecting work, social, family responsibilities in order to view pornography.
  • I have a pattern of lying to conceal my struggle.
  • I have a pattern of breaking my promises to stop.
  • I have a pattern of minimizing the extent of my struggle.
  • I have suffered serious consequences as a result of looking at pornography such as financial debt or the loss of my marriage or job.

An addiction to pornography is a serious matter. The more you minimize it the more it will master you. If you suspect that you are addicted, stop kidding yourself. You can’t deal with this alone. You need to seek help. Let your secret out. At the very least, tell a “trusted” friend or wise pastor that you have a problem with pornography that feels out of control. Confiding in someone is scary for sure, but you have the assurance that “he conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

If you don’t consider yourself addicted to pornography, you should not assume that you can occasionally dabble in sexually graphic images. First, any watching of pornography, whether it occurs once or a thousand times, is wrong and harmful (See the ATQ article Is a Man Harmed by Looking at Pornography?). Second, anyone who lustfully looks at pornography is in danger of getting hooked.

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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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