What Christian Men Wish Their Wives Knew About Porn PDF Print E-mail
Husbandry: For Husbands
Written by Douglas Wilson   

20-1_porn01Whenever porn comes up in a serious discussion between a husband and wife, it is usually because the husband is in the doghouse for looking at some. Because of this, the wife is not usually looking to him for any kind of insight on the nature of his problem—the only thing she wants is a cred­ible apology, one that will enable them to begin rebuilding trust. And this all makes perfect sense.

But they need to talk about the nature of porn sometime—when he can explain the temptation without sounding like a skunk, and she can ask questions without sounding like a naïf, and without taking offense at the answers. The reason for this is that in the midst of “a situa­tion” men will frequently confess to sins that they were not actually committing because any attempt to explain the real sin looks like evasion. And looking evasive is a good way to stay in the doghouse, which he doesn’t want to do. And once things are better, the last thing he wants to do is bring the subject back up.

Porn users can be divided into two main categories. The first is what our society calls an addict, or Scripture calls a slave. The problem is not intermittent or occasional; it is daily and on going. Because the man is a slave to these desires, he has extremely low sales-resistance, and is prob­ably spending a ton of money on his habit. In addition, because he has no self-control, Scripture says that he is like a city without walls (Prov. 25:28). All kinds of pornography are going to carry him off into captivity, and in the end, he’ll be up to his neck in the worst kind of stuff—hard-core, triple-X porn, the whole point of which is the degradation of the image of God in man and woman. This is where his problem dead-ends, and, not surprisingly, it is probably where it started. A man in the grip of this kind of sin likely has a real contempt for women, not an attrac­tion to women. And so a normal sexual relationship within marriage does not provide the help it provides most men. The problem is not sexual desire but rather a pathological attitude toward women—and if a man has this problem, getting married doesn’t fix it. A man like this needs on go­ing pastoral care and real accountability that addresses the underlying problem. A woman married to a man like this could have grounds for divorce (Matt. 19:9), depending on the severity of the problem and his willingness to seek out real help.

The second kind of porn use is a different kind of sin. It is important to note that nothing written here is intended to justify that sin, but rather to explain and contextualize it. Given the widespread availability of porn, and the com­mitment that young Christian men have to refrain from sex until they are married, it is not surprising that many have a recurring problem. Most believe that sanctification in the Christian walk consists of getting mastery over this area of their lives. Later on, after they have married, they are aston­ished to discover that there are other sins too. The solution that God offers to this kind of distracted sexual desire outside of marriage is sex within marriage. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). This is one of the purposes of marriage. To romantics, this might seem a bit callused, but the Bible is clear that within the con­text of love and respect, men and women are supposed to use each other. Paul speaks plainly about the “natural use” of a woman for a man and a man for a woman (Rom. 1:26-27). The temptation to look at forbidden images arises in the same way that a man on a diet is tempted by cookies.

In order to figure out how to resist temptation ef­fectively, a husband and wife need to talk with each other about it, and the kind of conversation I have in mind is not the kind that ordinarily occurs after “an incident.” To the extent that they learn how to talk about it, such incidents will become increasingly unlikely. The point is not to talk about porn until everybody is okay with the milder forms of it, but rather for a husband and wife to learn the real nature of the temptation. Assuming that the husband does not have the problem with misogyny addressed above, and that the couple has a reasonable sexual life together, what’s to talk about? Fruitful topics could include curiosity as distinct from lust, the forbidden fruit catch-22, episodic sexual discontent, laziness, and our members which are on the earth. But each of these requires a column of its own.



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