Our culture has bought into two lies about pornography:

  1. Most guys look at porn. It’s normal behaviour.
  2. Porn does not hurt anyone. It’s no big deal.

Here’s the truth – men have trouble separating love from lust. Love is personal; lust is impersonal. Love is a matter of giving; lust is a matter of taking. Love seeks stability; lust is short-lived. Love overcomes addictions; lust fuels addictions. Men who just "look at" pornography have begun the descent down the slippery slope to sexual addiction, and that hurts both them and their wives. Men addicted to porn compartmentalize; they put loving their wives in one box and lusting after pictures of nude women in another box. They don’t see the connection. So, what for women are inseparably entwined – love and sex – can seem to be in two entirely separate places of the male psyche.

Porn as adultery

Some men have asked us – "Is it ok just to look at pornography as long as it doesn’t become a real problem?" The short answer is – No. It’s not okay. You must understand the impact that exploring sexually explicit material can have on your relationships with those you love. Pornography and other sexually explicit materials rob your wife of the intimacy intended for her alone. It invites strangers into the intimate experience intended exclusively for her. The use of pornography is a betrayal that will deeply wound the one you love. Do not be deceived: It is adultery! Jesus said, "Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart," (Matthew 5:28). The Bible could not be clearer. And even though the Bible is clear, the sad truth is 47 per cent of Christians say pornography is a major problem in their home.

Addictive like a drug

One of the most alluring aspects of porn is that a man can have a sexual experience without being judged or evaluated by a woman. His feelings of inadequacy and fears of vulnerability make him more comfortable with false intimacy than with intimate sex. If you think pornography is harmless, think again. Experts have compared pornography to crack cocaine for its addictive behaviour. This is no joke. Pornography can rob you and your spouse of the marriage God intended you to have and it can destroy your family.

Scripture commands us to "run from sexual sin" (1 Corinthians 6:18) because God understands our unique vulnerability. Our failure to resist temptation in this area can lead us into more deviant expressions of sexual sin, things that we could never imagine ourselves doing. What may begin as "harmless looking" can degenerate into more destructive behaviour.

Pornography is never harmless. It often becomes an addiction. Addictions are tools of the enemy of our souls. Satan will not give up easily. Ending an addiction to pornography won’t be easy – it will be a tough battle! But you can’t give up. You must remain firm in your resolve to find victory over this addiction. You have to realize that you choose your behaviour. The men Gary has counselled say they could never have broken the habit gradually. It had to be done cold turkey.

Signs to watch out for

If you’re wondering if you could be a sex addict – or if you’re suspicious your spouse might be – here are some of the characteristics of sexual addiction:

  • It is done in isolation and is secretive.
  • It detaches the person from other people or relationships.
  • It robs the person of intimacy.
  • The self-gratification blinds a person to the harm caused by obsessive behaviour.
  • It avoids pain and problems.
  • It ends in despair.

If you notice some or maybe all of these characteristics in yourself – or your spouse – take notice now, and take action. Here are six steps you can take to break the habit of sexual addiction.

  1. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge you have a problem.
  2. Tell a trustworthy person about your addiction. Then be accountable to that person.
  3. Dispose of all pornographic material you own. Don’t keep any of it. If you’re tempted to rent videos, don’t go near a video store of any kind.
  4. Internet pornography is an insidious threat. Don’t go there. Buy blocking software.
  5. Be patient, and resist feeling defeated each time you fail. Your addiction took time to develop; it will take time to overcome.
  6. Pray about your problem. Rely on God for deliverance and strength. God promises to make a difference in your life. Allow Him to give you the special strength you need to fight this battle and ultimately have the victory.

If your spouse is struggling with an addiction to pornography, but still hasn’t owned up to it, don’t enable his or her behaviour. Do what you can to stop the cycle. Make your home safe from pornography. Demand that all questionable magazines and videos be thrown out. Install a filter on your computer that will not allow it to connect to porn sites. Cleanse the house of movies and video games with explicit love scenes. Then, make an appointment for you and your spouse to see a professional Biblical counsellor. The counsellor will help you with problems resulting from your spouse’s sex addiction and will encourage you to keep fighting for your marriage. And of course, keep praying for the situation – for your spouse, for yourself, for your children.

Married for over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touches people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counselling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and Biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families through their interactive daily radio program, conferences and marriage and family resources.

Portions of this article were adapted from The Great Marriage Q&A Book, © 2006 Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg. All rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. To order this resource or to find our more about the Rosbergs, visit Drgaryandbarb.com.

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Join our newsletter

Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox