What does pornography do to marriages? *
To be blunt, pornography is the perfect way to shoot your future marriage in the head. Imagine that a young man has a habit of using pornography, and he does not reveal this to his fiancée.
He hopes that once he is married, the desires for illicit sexual arousal will subside. But what becomes of his lust once he marries? It does not disappear; it is foisted upon his wife. The pornography has trained him to react to the sexual value of a woman and nothing else. He has trained himself to believe that women should be physically flawless and constantly sexually accessible.
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Even if he rejects this intellectually, the fact remains that pornography has warped the way he looks at women. You could say that he views the world through porn-goggles. He only knows how to look at women through the lens of lust. One psychologist who specializes in sexuality problems noticed, “the more time you spend in this fantasy world, the more difficult it becomes to make the transition to reality.”
Provided a man’s wife is a life-size Barbie doll with a squad of makeup artists and hairdressers who follow her around the house, things might run smoothly for a time. But when reality confronts fantasy, the man will be left disillusioned, and the woman’s self image will suffer. No real-life woman can ever fulfill his disordered desires and fantasies. They focus solely upon self-centered gratification rather than mutual self-giving and joy in pleasing one’s spouse.
One woman explained that if a man’s real-life partner is not always as available sexually and willing to do whatever he wishes as the women he has fantasized about, he may accuse her of being a prude. If she looks normal, and unlike the models he has come to adore, he may accuse her of being fat. If she has needs, the passive images in the magazines, then she may seem too demanding for him.
In other words, he will be quick to blame his disorder on her; his fantasies will have robbed him of the ability to be truly intimate with his wife. One reason he is unable to have healthy intimacy with his wife is because intimacy is not an escape from reality but the capacity to see the beauty of the other. The presence of lust in the heart of the man blocks his ability to view the woman as a person. He has reduced her to an object and ignored her value as a person. When this happens he forfeits love. True intimacy is impossible.
It has been said that the problem with pornography is not simply that it shows too much but that it shows too little. It reduces a woman to nothing more than her body. Thus a man will assume that the greater the body, the greater the value of the woman. With this mindset men not only expect their future wives to look no less perfect than Miss September; they also don’t appreciate a woman’s most beautiful and precious qualities, since a centerfold display can never reveal these. This drives men to look elsewhere in an impossible quest to satisfy their lust. After all, pornography fosters the false mentality that casual, uncommitted sex is the most fulfilling and enjoyable. Who does not want to be fulfilled?
One response to the marital dissatisfaction often caused by pornography habits is to bring pornography into the bedroom. This is a vain effort on the part of the man to have the illicit excitement he has formed an attachment to. The poor wife may allow this, but the joy of loving has escaped the man, who no longer sees the value of the person and the need to deny himself for her. Married couples who use pornography find that their marital problems only worsen. If a husband needs to pretend that his wife is someone else in order for him to be excited, then he will become less and less drawn to her. Instead of making love to her, he is destroying love between them. At the very moment he is supposed to be renewing his wedding vows with his body, he’s committing adultery in his mind.
Sexual dissatisfaction: don’t try porn!
Because the effects of pornography are so severe, Christian men and women have an obligation to rid their lives of it. According to Pope John Paul II, God “assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.” When we act in a way that is contrary to the dignity of others, we act contrary to our own dignity. For this reason, the Holy Father says, “each man must look within himself to see whether she who was entrusted to him as a sister in humanity, as a spouse, has not become in his heart an object of adultery.”
Even if pornography had no adverse effects on people, we must never forget that sin is not simply a social matter. We owe it to our neighbors to love them, but we also owe it to God to honor him in all our actions and thoughts. To lust after his daughters is a grave sin, even if no one becomes pregnant as a result of another’s imagination.
“So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
So, what do you think about it? Do you fear for your (future) marriage because of a porn addiction? Come and talk to us via the live chat’! (Free and anonymous listening service)
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(*) Source : A text by Jason Evert from his book If You Really Loved Me (Chastity Project, 2007), freely adapted for SOSporno.net/SOSporn.org. Author of many other books on male-female love, he and his wife Crystalina run the website chastityproject.com and live with their children in Colorado.
(1). Marriott, “Men and Porn,” The Guardian (November 8, 2003).
(2). Laurie Hall, “When Fantasy Meets Reality” (www.pureintimacy.org).
(3). Pope John Paul II, general audience, November 24, 1982. As quoted by Man and Woman He Created Them, 519.
(4). Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem 14 (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1988).