Pornography's Devastating Effects on Marriage
- Friday, September 04, 2009
Porn creates a set of expectations about sex in marriage that are quite literally impossible to fulfill.
Over the last decade, I've spoken about love, sex, and marriage to many churches across America and Canada, including Baptist, Methodist, Church of God, Church of Christ, Community Churches, and many more. After sharing scriptures to teach God's view of sex in marriage, I offer audiences a chance anonymously to write questions on index cards.
Typically written in female hand, one of the top five questions from Christian audiences goes something like this, "As long as we both enjoy it, isn't it okay for us to watch porn to spice up our lovemaking?" That question from a church audience shouldn't surprise us. In America about 15% of men and nearly 5% of women compulsively use porn. There appears to be many Christians within those numbers.
In those seminars I spend several minutes explaining many reasons that the couple, or either spouse, should not be involved with porn. Interestingly, quoting Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" is often countered with statements such as, "We're not lusting after those people; we want only each other. If we're both for it and use it together, it isn't cheating or leading us to bad things."
Because of statements such as that, in addition to Scripture I share information about the affect of porn on marriage itself.
As people use porn, they start to buy into the idea that most people, especially the spouse they have or will have, should always be ready and willing to have sex. Not only that, from exposure to the multiplied variations of sexual behavior modeled in porn, they expect their partner to have sex in every manner possible, even ungodly acts. They also eventually compare themselves or their spouses to the people in porn. The person in a picture or video will never age a day or gain a pound, no matter how often the film is played. However, spouses age, gain weight, and wrinkle.
Because real people in real marriages eventually do not compare physically to those in pornography, porn usage erodes the ability to be sexually attracted to one's spouse. As one woman said to me, "I wish I had the money to have cosmetic surgery from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet so that maybe my husband would want to look at me rather than those women on the Internet."
It appears that the American expectation (maybe worldwide) is evolving into marrying a spouse that doesn't age or change physically, thinks about sex constantly, talks, acts, and dresses seductively, makes every lovemaking session extraordinary, and does everything either of them has seen, heard of, or imagined.
Will all who have that marriage please raise their hands?
Real life isn't like porn. Even the real life of porn actors isn't like porn. People get tired, become preoccupied, develop broader interests, grow passionate about other dimensions of life, change after childbirth (both genders), and age a little every day. Occasionally, they don't like their partner. Life isn't focused on sex.
Sometimes I hear someone say that men think about sex every 30 seconds, or some such number. Ridiculous. Life is broad, complicated, and demanding.
My friend, outstanding sex researcher, writer, and expert Barry McCarthy, PhD, spreads the message broad and wide that we shouldn't expect every sexual encounter to be great. In a recent communication, he reminded me, "Emphasize the crucial importance of positive, realistic sexual expectations: The most important being that less than 50% of sexual encounters among happily married, sexually functional couples have outcomes that are mutually satisfying, and 5-15% of sexual encounters in marriage are dissatisfying or dysfunctional."
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