A Christian Perspective of Pornography and the Marriage Bed
Does the bible verse “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4) mean that all things are proper in sex within the confines of marriage, or can the marriage bed become defiled by certain sexual acts or elements? I was once told by a secular counselor that any sexual element is fine as long as both partners agree to it. I believed this lie for a time. Many couples fall into the trap of pornography, on the premise that soft core is harmless, and can even be beneficial to the marriage. But in reality, the devastation brought about by these false assumptions often destroys marriages, families, and society.
Marriages are continually put at risk by the evils of pornography. There are many forms of pornography from the so called “soft core” (sex and nudity) to the “hardcore” (violence and assault or sadomasochism). Its addictive nature affects not only the user, but the other family members as well. A person who becomes addicted to pornography through repeated exposure, returns to it for sexual excitement which needs more explicit, more deviant material for stimulation each time. The addict is desensitized to material that may seem initially disgusting, so that violent and degrading sex is no longer viewed as deviant and is often acted out. One study shows a direct relationship between the use of pornography by the spouses of domestic violence victims in shelters who had been both verbally and physically abused. Pornography’s exaggerated expectations place a much higher emphasis on sex than is normal, healthy, or needed in the marital relationship. The dissatisfaction produced by unrealistic expectations of one or both partners inevitably leads to self-hate, and resentment or anger toward the other partner. This often breeds domestic violence, high divorce rates, devastated children, suicide, and many other social evils, including childhood sexual abuse. If the widespread use of pornography is not halted by some legitimate censorship of obscene materials, our whole society will continue to be at risk.
Children and Teens are exposed everyday to more sex and violence, from the TV, the computer, and the telephone, to magazines, videos, and video games. Many of these materials are acquired from their fathers’ stash or from other family members. Margaret Atwood stated in her address on Pornography that it’s “an educational tool and a powerful propaganda device.” The unhealthy and anti-social kinds of sexual activity that porn promotes does have an impact on what those who use it learn. Porn often depicts people engaging in non-marital, casual sexual encounters involving coitus, oral-genital, and other dangerous sex acts, and usually portrays multiple partners. Atwood asks, if we believe we can change attitudes about sexual behavior through sex education in our school systems, how can we not know that porn has a negative educational effect in our society? She states, that the education we might get from porn doesn’t include information on sexually transmitted diseases, how to cope with divorce, financial losses from addictions and divorce, the devastation of rape, incest, and childhood sexual abuse, unexpected and aborted children, or the financial burden to a society that must deal with these issues. There is no “harmless” pornography and it is not a victimless crime. Atwood further questions, “What happens when a boy educated on porn meets a girl brought up on Harlequin romances? She wants him to get down on his knees with a ring, and he wants her to get down on all fours with a ring in her nose. Can this marriage be saved?” I would say yes, with a lot of forgiveness and faith in the healing power of Jesus Christ, this marriage may be saved, but likely not without devastating and sometimes permanent consequences.
For all that God has created good, Satan has a counterfeit of perversion. Copulation was created by God to be a wonderful and unifying experience between a husband and wife, both for procreation, and for the enjoyment and expression of love toward one another. When neither purpose is served, it becomes a selfish perversion of sex, rather than a selfless act of love. The self-love pornography promotes through masturbation, tears down the bonds of marital love, even before the marriage begins. It takes away the need for a loving and intimate, responsible relationship, becoming a poor substitute for a loving marital union. A young man self-satisfied, often years before marriage, will often not recognize true satisfaction or intimacy when he sees it. Instead of demonstrating love for his wife in the God-ordained act of marriage, he shows love for himself in continuing to masturbate to pornography after the marriage.
Tim and Beverly LaHaye believe that “masturbation is a thief of love.” In Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, Jerry Kirk says, “Real intimacy is not just a function of sex, it permeates our lives only when emotional, spiritual, and sexual faithfulness characterize our relationship with our spouses.” Kirk goes on to say that pornography, with or without masturbation, is an exploitive form of mental intercourse and emotional adultery that will eventually weaken the marriage. Selfish passion seeks only its own fulfillment, rather than the unselfish giving of oneself for the fulfillment of each other. What begins as “harmless” porn-fantasy defrauds the spouse of the other’s heart and mind and often ends in one or both being unfaithful in real life. Victor Cline, Ph.D states of his Family/Marital and Sexual Addiction Practice, that he has had “a number of couple-clients where the wife tearfully reported that her husband preferred to masturbate to pornography than to make love to her.”
When a husband, brainwashed by porn, sees his wife after childbirth, and compares her to the images of the perfect airbrushed bodies in his magazines, how can he not be but a little disappointed? Then when the wife, unsuspectingly finds his stash hidden in a secret place, with her abdomen still swollen from childbirth, will her heart not be broken with the knowledge that she will probably never have the figure she once did? She pages through the perfect specimens comparing herself with each of them, knowing that her husband will not look at her the same as he once did. There is an intimacy breech between the husband and wife that may never be completely healed. Yet because she wants to be his every desire, she sets him up as a god in her heart, and becomes willing to do whatever it takes to keep him, not knowing she will inevitably fall short of his expectations. Her fragile self-esteem is laid on the alter of her husband’s passion, while his desire for lustful fantasies suits his pleasures more than the sacrifices she makes of her moral boundaries.
When she perceives that she is loosing her man to a fantasy world, she may do what she herself is uncomfortable with in her efforts to please and keep him. She might learn all the tricks of the trade in order to be the “whore” he desires in the bedroom, while struggling to keep her self-respect in the other areas of her life. But his lust for the “whore” in the bedroom only fuels his disrespect for her as a person. He will begin to find fault with her actions, her motives, her desires, and her faithfulness. He may test her by tempting her to share in his seductive magazines and videos, claiming that they will enhance their sex life and marriage. Wanting the loving relationship she no longer has, she will often fall into the snare of his fantasy world, giving in to his seducing suggestions, and may even end up having an affair in the process. Then seeing the guilt she has brought on herself, she may seek to deliver herself from its grip by bringing about his downfall, if it has not already taken place in reality. She may encourage the same faithfulness in his real world that he has adulterated in his fantasy world, until he has an affair.
What should be a moment of coming together in a loving relationship, becomes a war of selfish passions. She seeks his love, and he seeks his own unbridled gratification through sexual exploits. He wants to experience all the lustful actions he has seen and read about, and presses her to yield to his every sexual whim. She may yield, but usually not without a guilt that eats away at her very soul until she hates him with her every breath. But often she turns that hatred inward, her conscience not allowing her to hate her own husband, and ends up in suicidal tendencies, which may be a last cry for his love. James 1:5 sums it up perfectly, stating, “Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is completed, brings forth death.” This scenario plays itself out over and over, even in the religious community. The admonition in the children’s song “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See” could well be spoken here.
The human body was designed by our Creator to be admired and respected by the one we choose in marriage for a lifetime. “Don’t defraud one another…(I Cor. 7:5) is often quoted by religious men in their efforts to have a more satisfied sex life when their wives do not give them enough sex, but often they don’t realize that they are defrauding their wives when they are unfaithful to her in the use of pornography and masturbation, which usually go hand in hand, no pun intended. The words of Christ in Matthew 5:28, “Whoever looks on someone in lust has committed adultery with them already in their heart” foresaw the immorality of present day pornography use. Adulterous fantasy, including the steamy romance novels created for young women, has been the ruin of many marriages. The false expectations we build in our fantasy worlds will only let us down eventually. Yet we continue seeking the fantasy rather than taking the real risks of life and love. If someone gets too close to the flame, won’t they get burned? Lust leads to lewdness. Adulterous thinking leads to adulterous actions. “As a person thinks in their heart, so they are.” (Prov. 23:7) Proverbs also gives good counsel in chapter 5:18-19 on remaining faithful. “Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice with the wife of your youth. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times and be ravished always with her love.”
Pornography, from the soft core “harmless” kind to the hard core violent and sometimes deadly kind, is a perversion of all God meant for our good. There’s no question that pornography is harmful to its victims, whether man, woman, or child. But those who say there’s no harm in soft core layouts, don’t realize the hurts of the human heart. Every good thing of God has its perversions, whether it is food, drink, sex, or anything else. Overindulgence of anything is not healthy. God gives us all good things, but we, when left to our own evil imaginations, will find a way to corrupt almost anything. Our overindulging society must make the distinction between what is genuinely good and what is an evil perversion of Satan. For every liberty, there must be restraint. There is no freedom to be had, that left unchecked, cannot be corrupted by the evil intentions of the heart.
Author Kimberly Hartfield’s A Little Redneck Theology
Some people hold to the conviction that nothing should be censored, claiming the freedom of speech guarantees their right to express themselves, even if it is known to offend and incite hatred and harm to certain individuals. Pornography certainly incites hatred and harm to the women and children it portrays. The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed many times that obscenity isn’t protected by the First Amendment. In the book Porn in America by James Lambert, the myth that obscenities are protected by the First Amendment is revealed for the lie it is. It states that in the 1957 Supreme Court case of Roth vs. the United States, Justice William Brennan wrote in the majority opinion that, “This court has always assumed that obscenity is not protected by freedoms of speech and press.”
Free speech is already in danger. We no longer have the freedom to express our faith in prayer in the public school systems, and now, even the Ten Commandments, which our laws are based on, is being systematically removed out of our courtrooms, schools, and other public facilities. If we can censor godly values from our community’s institutions, so as not to offend other’s religious views, should we not censor pornography when it has clearly been shown to be detrimental to the mental and physical health and well-being of individuals and society as a whole? We have the right to have a couple of drinks, but not to drive drunk. We have the right to smoke, but not in public airspace. We have the right to certain medications, but not to take illegal drugs. We have the right to keep weapons for protection, but not to commit murder with it. We have limited our rights on so many other issues, when they have been shown to be harmful or offensive to the health and comforts of ourselves or others, so why should we not limit ourselves on the issue of porn.
Lambert’s book clearly shows that pornography is addictive, the user moving from soft core to more hard core, many times mimicking what he views. The statistics in his book plainly support the relationship of crime rate increases to porn. One such statistic stated that for every increase of 2 % in the circulation of pornography, there’s a 1 % increase in the incidence of rape reports, not including those unreported rapes. According to the FBI, Pornography is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, controlled by organized crime organizations, who are nothing more than human trafficking slave holders. Women and children are portrayed as nothing more than the sexual toys of men, and are treated with no respect to their person. They are dehumanized, molested, raped, tortured, and sometimes murdered in the name of entertainment, for a few individuals making the “Almighty Dollar,” which is their god.
Pornography is a valid threat to our society and it’s offensive and detrimental toward the reputations of the people it portrays. It breaks the delicate bond of intimacy in family and marital relationships, where the most severe pain, damage, and sorrow can occur. Sex in pornography has no real relationships, love, responsibility, or consequences. The victims are the children who lose their innocence, the women who lose self respect, love and intimacy, and the men who lose self control and respect for others. Even the so called soft stuff rapes the hearts of wives until they are numb of feeling and they have no tears left to be cried. Husbands lavish their affections on their own lusts, masturbating their marriage to death when they are addicted to porn.
Certain obscenities, such as porn, can be effectively censored, when deemed offensive and detrimental to communities by the majority of its people, without risk of jeopardizing our constitutional rights. Laws are for the peace of the people, that we might not live in continual fear of the deviants of our own making. A little godly discernment is all that is necessary: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of God, but is of the world. And the world will pass away with all its lusts, but whoever does the will of God will live forever (I John 2:16-17).
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References for Further Reading:
“Pornography.” The New Millenium Reader – Margaret Atwood.
Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper.
Healing Sexual and Pornography Addiction
What Sexual Scientists Know About … Pornography. http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/sss/wssk_prn.htm
Group Against Pornography
The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love – Tim and Beverly LaHaye.
Porn in America: The Drift Toward Decadence in Our Society and the Way Out – James Lambert.
A Discussion of Pornography – Jeannine LeBlanc www.umm.maine.edu/BSED/students/JeannineLeBlanc/j1360.html
There’s no place like home…for pornography? Len Munsil
You call this Victimless? Len Munsil
Porn and Violence http://www.rain.org/sbc-cap/Info/Violence.htm
Porn Hurts People http://www.rain.org/sbc-cap/Info/Hurts.htm
Pornography is Back: Pornography Addiction http://user.aol.com/chaplaind/anti.htm
Studies on the Effects of Pornography. Nadine Strossen http://www.xxxadvocate.com/my_html/Studiesontheeffectsofporn.html
Straight Talk: What Men Need to Know – What Women Should Understand – James Dobson
- Sexuality and Pornography (gofishministries.wordpress.com)