As someone who used to watch a lot of porn, I have the utmost compassion for men who are really struggling to quit and can’t seem to find the willpower to do so. I love talking with and helping blokes like this.
That said, when I’m writing and speaking about the subject of pornography, I occasionally run into men who really believe their wives are the source of the problem.
These men, I have less respect for.
Please don’t misunderstand me. The struggle against objectification and lust is a fight most men face. If you are striving with all your heart to be a better man to your bride, I’m in the same boat as you.
But if you are more interested in justifying your porn use by shifting the blame, this article has been written to set you straight. I don’t write it as someone who thinks he’s in anyway above you. As Saint John Paul the Great wrote: “every man’s heart is a battlefield between love and lust.” The reason I’m going to be extremely frank in this article is because sometimes nothing less than unvarnished truth will wake us up to reality.
Are you ready? Good.
Now, in one sense, I get why some men think their wives are to blame. Pornography has the nagging habit of making a man feel like a man without requiring him to be one. Given enough time with porn, men can delude themselves into thinking if their wives were a little more _________, they wouldn’t touch porn.
I have five reasons for why this is a ridiculous argument.
1. Your wife’s so-called “frigidity” is not the catalyst for your habit. In fact, it might be the other way around.
Perhaps there are men today who don’t touch porn until after they are married, but I have never met one.
Most men start their porn habits long before they get married; so to blame a woman for the habit is clearly mistaken.
Furthermore, in nearly every case I’ve seen, what men interpret as a woman’s “frigidity” is actually a lack of initiative on the his part. A man might say, “But I ask my wife for sex all the time.” To which I reply, “When was the last time you really fostered an environment of romance in the home that would make your wife feel treasured and not just like a warm body?”
Unfortunately, porn trains this belief into us: sex should be on-demand—as quick to boot up as my web browser. Healthy intimacy, however, takes time, attention, and devotion to maintain.
2. Porn is cleverly edited, high-octane sex, and no woman can (or should) compete with this.
Everywhere women are told they need to be younger, prettier, and bustier. The last place they need to have that message reinforced is in their marriages. In the arms of their husbands they should feel beautiful—because they are.
But using porn not only communicates the opposite to a woman, it trains men to believe the opposite.
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Here’s an odd story to illustrate my point:
Back in the 1860s, Americans made the mistake of bringing the gypsy moth from Europe to Boston. Within 10 years, swarms of gypsy moths were devastating the forests and continued doing so for over a century. Attempts to eradicate this moth failed. But then in the 1960s scientists devised a new strategy. Biologists knew that the male gypsy moth found the female by following her scent—her pheromones. Scientists developed massive quantities of a synthetic version of this pheromone and then scattered small pellets of it from the air. The effect was overpowering for the males. Overwhelmed by the highly concentrated pheromone, they became confused and didn’t know which direction to turn to find the female, or they became desensitized to the lower levels of pheromones naturally given out by the female.
This is what porn is to men: a highly synthetic, industrial, commercial form of sexuality, pumped into our atmosphere and found in ultra-concentrated doses online. If overexposed to this high-octane sex, suddenly the subtleties of a woman’s natural mystique and beauty are lost.
This is why there are so many young, healthy men today who are experiencing what one Harvard professor calls, “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.” This is a real thing: young men, raised on porn from their teen years, have so hardwired their brains they can’t even get it up for a real woman when they want to.
Why porn causes this problem is dealt with in the next reason…
3. Porn is about sexual novelty and variety; marriage is about loving commitment.
The pornographic experience is one of constant novelty: multiple tabs open, endless clicking, browsing, and always searching for the next girl who will really send you over the edge.
It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t hundreds of two-dimensional Internet women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she isn’t as clickable and customizable as the endless parade of digital women. It isn’t your wife’s fault she doesn’t become sexually euphoric at the drop of a hat like the porn stars you frequent. She is a woman—a human being with sexual desires and feelings of her own.
A mind trained for constant sexual novelty and variety simply won’t take the time and effort to really connect with one woman in a truly intimate way.
4. Porn is objectifying and selfish; marriage celebrates your wife’s humanity.
Russell Brand is making waves right now with his recent video about pornography. After honesty admitting about his own struggles with porn, Brand says, “If I had total dominion over myself, I would never look at pornography again.” Why? Because he hates how porn is intricately linked to a culture of objectification. When we reduce sex to an extracted physical act, we allow ourselves to turn women into objects to be used rather than women to be loved and cherished.
Porn is consumer, Burger-King sex: your way, right away. You can handpick the exact women you want to see, down the smallest specification. The women in porn are dolled up to play to any stereotype or fetish you desire. All traces of humanity are stripped away until there is nothing left but misogynistic fantasy.
Porn is entirely selfish. By that I don’t mean that masturbation is a solo act—though that is true as well—I mean the whole point of porn is to play to a man’s desire for validation: the women are portrayed as sex goddesses that cater to the man’s every whim. They are objects to use for his pleasure.
A married man with a mind trained for objectification can only go one of three ways:
1. He will drag his wife into that objectification, not seeing sex as a giving act but as an opportunity to act out pornographic fantasies in real life.
2. He will ignore his wife to pursue more online objectification—or worse.
3. He will turn away from a culture of objectification and relearn what it means to make his wife his standard of beauty.
As my friend Luke Gilkerson wrote in his book Your Brain on Porn, “‘Free porn’ is a misnomer. Pornography always costs somebody something. And it’s the women and girls in our culture, surrounded by boys and men with porn expectations, who often end up paying the highest price.”
5. Porn is an insult to your marriage vows, so your wife has every right to feel betrayed.
When you stood before God and others, slipped that ring on your wife’s finger, and told her you would “forsake all others,” did you really think that sneaking off to masturbate to digital prostitutes would fit with the spirit of that vow?
Some men actually have the nerve to say, “I get my needs met with porn. At least I’m not going out sleeping with other women.”
Really? Is this what we’ve come to: the measure of your virtue as a husband is not sleeping around?
Deep down, despite all the excuses, this is not who a man really wants to be. Do you want to be the man who loves one woman well for the rest of your life, gladly sacrificing yourself for the good of another—experiencing an intimate sexual bond? Or do you want to be the guy who sneaks off to get a fix from your computer screen and your hand? Which one of these sounds closer to the wedding vows you spoke and the man you wish to become?
A Word to Wives
If your husband struggles with porn—and I mean that in the truest sense of the word…that he contends with porn like an adversary—then you can count yourself blessed. I wish that more men counted porn as an enemy.
However, if your husband is brazenly using porn despite your wishes, know this: you are not the problem. No matter what you have done or not done, no matter how you have contributed to marital strife, no matter how you look, your husband’s porn problem is his to own. No offense—real or imaginary—is license to sin again you.
Wives, We Need Your Help!
My friends at Covenant Eyes are getting ready to re-release their amazing book, Porn and Your Husband. They want to hear from you before they release it. Please fill out their one-question survey and let them know: What's the one big thing you hope they cover in the book, Porn and Your Husband?
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