Some advice and an explanation as to how porn impacts a young man and his future wife when they get married. You can listen to the entire podcast here- https://soundcloud.com/askpastorjohn
Is My Boyfriend’s Porn a Marriage Deal-Breaker? (Episode 122):
Porn is destructive to a man’s capacities to love a woman purely for herself. He is training his body to need increasingly different, strange, erotic situations and bodies, and he is making it harder to be content with the real body of the woman that is going to be offered to him as his wife. And her body, as it is, at its best, is not going to be the airbrushed body of pornographic sites. And when she is 50 it isn’t going to be that either. And if he hasn’t cultivated a kind of pure love for his wife, for herself, as she is, then his eyes are going to be cruising continually beyond what she has to offer him at age 40 and 50 and 60. A woman needs to be able to trust a man. A woman feels profoundly compromised when a man says to her, “No, I really need more than you can offer me.” That is tragic for a man to say that to a woman. So porn is destructive to his capacity to love her for who she is.
And here is the fourth and the last thing I will say about why it is so wrong for a man to do this. Porn is destructive to a man’s soul. His capacity to see God in the purity and the greatness of his glory is shriveled. It is compromised. The soul shrinks to the size and the quality of its pleasures.
QUESTION: Lindsay writes in to ask: As I considered men who had a desire to marry me, pornography and lust continue to lay strongholds in the lives of my suitors. I am seeking to view men with eyes of grace , but to use wisdom at the same time. I understand that every sin, including lust is the turning away from delight in Jesus to a broken cistern. In light of this, do you believe it is possible for a man to be strong in faith, finding genuine joy in Jesus, and enjoying an overall satisfying relationship with Him, while simultaneously indulging frequently in lust? I believe that every sin could be defeated through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I do not wanna be naive either, since I know this issue is wide and pervasive. I suppose another way to pose my question would be this: Pastor John, should the present presence of pornography in a man’s life be a marriage deal breaker for a single woman like me?
Wow, I hear at least 2 questions there, and I can’t answer the last one ‘Is it a deal breaker’ until I answer a couple of others. When I hear about this, here are the 4 questions I’m going to have to tackle.
- The very question she asked: Can a man get victory over this? Shouldn’t a man be able to live a life of more or less regular triumph, instead of recovering over and over again from pornography?
- If he can’t, is it a deal breaker for her marrying him?
- What is pornography? That she didn’t ask. I’ve got to ask it.
- And, even more important: Why is it wrong?
So, let me tackle those real quick. Here’s my definition. I’m going to omit homosexual issues. I’m going to omit sex in movies, those are huge issues, but more or less, what men are usually dealing with today is: Involvement with pornography is looking at sexually, or fantasizing about nude women, other than your wife. That’s what I’m talking about. Looking at or fantasizing about nude women. They might be doing all kinds of stuff, or just standing there- (but they are) other than your wife. That’s my definition.
Now, here’s why I think it’s wrong. And, I have to say this: Until the guy feels these things that I’m gonna say right now, about why it’s wrong, it won’t make any sense to him why she would say, „I can’t marry you.” These are so big, I’m gonna wind up saying, „Woman, you are so right! Don’t lower your standards!”
So, here’s why I think it’s wrong:
1. Porn is unloving
It’s unloving to the women involved because it endorses their behaviors and their desires, which are going to destroy them if they don’t repent. It’s unloving to their future husbands. And, when they are confirming in these women a lifestyle of nudity, that is gonna be destructive to those future relationships those women are going to try and have some day. It’s unloving to the parents of those women. I would just ask men: Put yourself in the position of the dad, or the mom. That’s your daughter, how do you feel about that? And here’s this Christian guy, who is endorsing, approving, helping that happen, and confirming that as if he doesn’t give a rip about those parents and their broken heart. Their hearts are broken because of this girl’s behavior, and this guy doesn’t give a rip about whether their hearts are broken. He’s enjoying her breaking their hearts.
2. Porn is adulterous
In other words, it cultivates and pursues mental and physical pleasures that are made by God to flourish in marriage. But they are pursued through women other than our wives. So Jesus has had very strong words to say about that.
3. Porn is destructive to man’s capacity to love a woman purely for herself
He’s training himself. When he does pornography, he’s training his body to need increasingly different, strange erotic situations and bodies. And he’s making it, therefore, harder to be content with the real body of this woman who is going to be offered to him as his wife. And her body, at its best is not going to be the airbrushed body of these pornographic sites. And when she’s 50, it isn’t going to be that either. And if he hasn’t cultivated a kind of pure love for his wife, for herself as she is, then his eyes are going to be cruising continuously beyond what she has to offer him at 40 and 50 and 60. And a woman needs to be able to trust a man that ‘I am what you have, I have what you need. Don’t have eyes for another woman.’ A woman feels profoundly compromised when a man says to her, „No, I really need more than you can offer me.” That’s tragic, for a man to say that to a woman. Porn is destructive to his capacities to love her for who she is.
4. Porn is destructive to a man’s soul
His capacity to see God in the purity and the greatness of His glory is shriveled, is compromised. The soul tends to shrink to the size and the quality of its pleasures. If a man constantly says to his soul, „Adapt yourself now to this low, brief, unclean, selfish pleasure. Adapt yourself to this, soul. Get yourself around this, soul. Form yourself around this, soul. It will become that small, and a soul that shrinks like that won’t be able to make much of God, won’t be able to see God, won’t be able to delight in God anywhere near how God should be delighted in, in the glorious pleasures that He offers us in His world and in His word.
So, those are my reasons, I would say, to this woman, and to all the men who may be listening, why it is so wrong for him to pursue pornography. Now, back to her question. She wanted to know: Isn’t it possible for a man to be strong enough in faith, and to have enough joy in Jesus, and have an overall satisfying relationship to Him, that he could conquer this? Isn’t his indulging frequently in lust an undermining?
My answer is: She’s right. An overall satisfying relationship with Jesus means that Jesus is precious enough, so that we value Him above those 4 reasons. Those 4 reasons that I gave, that porn is wrong become compelling because Jesus is our treasure, not just a doctrine, but is Lord and friend, and Savior and Supreme treasure of our lives, the way He should be
Then, we won’t be continually hating women with our choices to demean them and confirm their destruction. We won’t be continually committing adultery in our heart with those women. We won’t be continually defiling our capacity to love our present and future wives. We won’t be continually shrinking our souls, our ability to save for the glories of God. We won’t, because Jesus is utterly different than that.
A man who continually says, „I embrace all that destruction, I embrace all that evil, I embrace all that uncleanness, I embrace all that idolatry, and that hatred for women is saying something that a woman who is about to marry him better hear loud and clear. So, my answer to her last question ‘Should it be a deal breaker?’ If this man can’t get victory over this, if he is regularly tuning in , I would say, „Yeah, that’s a deal breaker.” Now, I am not a woman, I can’t make this call for myself. I would just say, if I were her I would say, „You strike me as a woman of remarkable grace , not legalism, you strike me as a woman who is striving for a biblical standard, that is not artificial, nor realistic or perfectionistic standards. I hear grace in your question, I don’t hear brittleness and I would say, „Don’t lower the bar.” I think we’ve lowered the bar too much. We’ve treated men like dogs in heat , rather than men who are created in the image of God, who have the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, and self control. And that last one, self control, is usually used in relationship to sexuality. Men are not victims. And these women have a right to expect more from us. And, I would say to her and to the other women: Don’t lower your standards. God is in the process, I believe right now, in purifying a man’s soul and a man’s body for you.