One of the common factors in men who are abusive toward their wives is pornography addiction. Pornography has become a problem of pandemic proportions in our society. But we must be clear: porn has no place in the life of a Christian and has no place in a loving, godly, and healthy marriage.
Pornography is a perversion of God’s design for sex that leads to destructive perspectives and abusive behaviors. It goes hand-in-hand with abuse because it fuels an abusive mindset. Pornography has nothing to do with love–it is all about lust. It is about taking from someone else in order to gratify self.
Getting Real About Pornography
Some men will seek to justify or minimize their porn problem. They will claim that “everybody does it” or blame it on their wife for not giving him what “he needs.” Wives feel forced to cope with the problem and may sometimes minimize it, protecting their hearts from the pain, betrayal, and devastation that pornography brings to a marriage. But we must get real about porn addiction, the mindsets that it fuels, and the damage that it does.
The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote called It’s Time to Get Real about the Problem of Pornography:
My heart is not to condemn, but it’s time to get real. We must remove the lies, deception, and rationalization that so often surrounds the problem of pornography. We need a wake-up call and an encounter with truth. It is a revelation of truth that sets us free (see John 8:32). As long as we embrace lies, we will not walk in freedom. We must go deeper and get to the heart of the matter.
A pornography problem is often called a “sex addiction.” But we must be a little more honest. Men who indulge in pornography do not have a sex addiction; they have a sin addiction.
Instead of glossing over things, let’s get to some roots of what a porn addiction is really about. When you give yourself to pornography, you’re not addicted to sex, you’re addicted to sin:
- You’re addicted to selfishness, where your wants are the center of the universe.
- You’re addicted to perversion, a deviation from God’s design.
- You’re addicted to adultery, in a more “acceptable” form (husbands, if you are viewing pornography, you are committing adultery).
- You’re addicted to lust, where you can take what you aren’t supposed to have.
- You’re addicted to a fantasy world, where you get to have what you want, when you want it.
- You’re addicted to the illusion of intimacy without the commitment of covenant, a total sham and mockery of God’s plan for sex.
- You’re addicted to objectifying and degrading women, and using a woman’s body with no thought to caring for her heart or loving her as a person.
- You’re addicted to entitlement and feeling powerful and in control (though in reality porn strips you of true masculinity and makes you a powerless slave).
Let’s stop sugarcoating it; let’s stop normalizing it; let’s stop minimizing it!
Porn and Abusive Mindsets and Behaviors
Can you see how pornography feeds into an abusive mindset? It is rooted in selfishness, entitlement, and lust. It breeds a false reality and fantasy world, an illusion that causes unrealistic expectations. It distorts the thinking and promotes a view that women are objects to be used. It perverts and defiles–it is dark, demonic, and degrading.
A husband who is feeding on pornography is doing great damage to his own life, his marriage, and his family. While not all porn users are necessarily abusers, abusers are most often porn users. They may abuse psychologically and emotionally, verbally, physically, and more. And they often abuse sexually as well:
- Coercing or manipulating their wife to have sex or do sex acts outside of her will
- Demanding sex or forcing their wife to have sex any time he wants
- Degrading and demeaning their wife sexually
- Pushing their wife to do sexual acts that violate her conscience
- Harming their wife during sex
- Raping their wife
The sad reality is that all of these things are happening inside of marriages in the church. Professing Christian men actually engage in these types of abusive behaviors and often even use Scripture to enforce them. This is a travesty that no woman should ever have to live with. Far from endorsing this behavior, God hates it. It does horrible damage to a woman’s body and soul and many women are suffering in silence, being degraded and abused behind closed doors.
A Word to Wives
If you are a woman whose husband is addicted to pornography, I want to share a few truths that I hope will bring freedom and healing to you.
1. Please know that it is not OK for your husband to indulge in pornography. Don’t believe the lie that all men view porn or that it is just the way guys are. Don’t believe the lie that porn is normal or harmless. Don’t minimize what is happening. According to Jesus’ standard, a husband who views pornography is committing adultery (see Matthew 5:27-30). This is serious stuff!
2. Please know that your husband’s porn problem is not your fault. You are not responsible for your husband’s sin. It is not because you are not good enough, sexy enough, or willing to give him what “he needs.” Your husband’s sin belongs to him, not you. Don’t carry that burden any longer!
3. You have options and can enforce boundaries. You do not have to continually put up with abuse and sexual betrayal. If your husband will not repent and truly deal with his pornography problem, you can set and enforce boundaries. You can decide that you will not give yourself to a man who is continually cheating on you, until he is willing to take his marriage vows seriously. This is not a punishment, but a consequence of continual abuse, betrayal, and adultery.
While there are no easy roads or easy answers when abuse and porn addiction are destroying a marriage, know that you have options. You can seek help, get clarity, and make decisions that break you out of the continuous cycle of abuse. You can heal and have your dignity and personhood restored. I pray that God will pour healing balm in your heart, direct your steps, and give you great strength and wisdom for the journey!
Check out these articles from Leslie Vernick’s blog:
- Sexual Abuse In Marriage, Part 1
- Sexual Abuse In Marriage, Part 2
- Do I Have A Biblical Right To Say No To Sex?