By: Shane James O’Neill
4 min read
Once I Get Married…
An article titled A Laptop Never Say No begins by stating the fear of competition a woman feels in relationships. In the opening paragraph the author says: “Once upon a time, a woman’s greatest fear was a good-looking … blonde. These days, her greatest fear is thousands of them.”
What a heart aching phrase. Its truthfulness pronounces the ache.
Many single men and women we talk to, who are viewing porn, say: “Once I get married then I won’t have this problem.”
On the surface, marriage as a remedy for pornography makes sense. If we watch porn as an outlet for sexual desire, then marriage should fix that issue.
Typically, people believe this for two different reasons (and I’ve seen both of these reasons in my heart over the years). Either we think that having an available sexual partner will replace the need for porn, or the commitment to another person will be motivation to push porn use out our lives.
We’re here to ask the simple question, “Is that true?”
Does Porn Impact Marriage?
For the last decade, there have been over one million divorces each year. In a survey among 350 divorce lawyers, it came to light that 50% of that one million end because of pornography use. 500,000.
The impacts of porn in marriage do not merely impact the religious. The damage has become so wide spread that even secular outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Magazine have to contend with its destruction in committed relationships.
Why Won’t Marriage Fix the Problem?!
The best connection to illustrate why sex in marriage doesn’t seem to kick-out porn is between pornography and gambling. If you were to give a gambler the money they may have won through gambling, all they would do is then gamble it away. Winning isn’t the point. We see this all the time: when people win the lottery, they continue on to be lifelong lottery players. The lie is the fantasy that winning will make them happy.
Porn is nearly identical. Even if we substitute the fantasy with a real person, the actual longing doesn’t go away. And once we acquire something valuable (a life-long partner), we just want to reproduce that same fantasy. Marriage doesn’t cure a porn addiction anymore than winning the lottery cures the gambler.
Related: Is Porn Actually Addictive?
Porn watching isn’t simply about getting off. As Matt Fradd has said, “He is hooked on the anticipation of what comes next, the rush of moving from one object of desire to the next, one body to the next, always looking to trade the one in front of his eyes for what he hopes will be the ultimate sexual experience.”
“It’s Unrealistic to Wait!”
It could be argued that the issue is the availability of images and opportunities. And, yet, there are men who are remarkably faithful husbands, women who long only for their husbands, and individuals who wholeheartedly practice true love and purity in their affection, interactions, and motivations.
I long to be one such individual, and someday, one such husband. And I would wager that you do as well.
True love and purity looks like hugging a woman without ulterior motives or a wandering imagination, being present to a person in pain without hoping the action garners her to trust you with her body, making the hard choice to not to be present because you’re not safe for her (and you know that’s the best way for you to love her), calling a friend before you act out because you desperately don’t want to exploit the image of another person.
True love and purity is about saying yes for the right reasons and saying no in order to protect another person’s dignity. Saying no will grow your heart to be able to say yes, as it exposes, kills, and reshapes your desires and motives.
Re-forming Your Affections
This is what the ancients called The Jesus Way. Which is simply the way of following Jesus, in order to become like Him. Jesus, a man with the kind of integrity of heart that even when left alone with prostitutes, or when they bathed His feet in tears and fragrances, He was safe and true.
That image of masculinity has infinitely more depth and breadth than the masculinity of ulterior motives and lust, and it is worth spending an entire lifetime to become such a person.
As the Proverbs remind us, “Greater is a man who rules his own spirit than one who conquers a city.”
Sleeping around may make you great among your friends, and porn may make you feel great, yet you’ll just be a man enslaved to your desires, a man without any actual greatness at all.
We can be a resource of safety and love to those around us, or we can use the people around us as a resource of lust.
The way of Jesus, his life and death and resurrection, offers us the power to choose and models for us what we are choosing, and what we could become.
So, the ball is in our court — we can keep lying to ourselves or become like Him.
In summary to this issue of porn and marriage, let me once more quote from Fradd: “Marriage will not fix a pornography habit, but a pornography habit will likely destroy a marriage.”
Grace and peace in your journey.
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Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.