By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
Marriage is a sacred covenant created by God. He created men and women to be committed in their marriage until death do they part. This is not something to be taken lightly. We must be intentional daily to create a thriving marriage that glorifies God.
Being a committed spouse means that we don't allow our hearts, minds, or bodies to venture outside of the covenant that we have made.
The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4 that marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Unfortunately, these laws are disregarded at every turn in our current culture. The world wants us to believe we can create our truth about marriage. But God created marriage laws to protect us. He desires for us to have thriving, committed marriages that reflect Him, which means fidelity and solid commitment to each other.
Being in a committed marriage is becoming more and more difficult with the amount of pornography that is on display in multiple aspects. Billboards, movies, TV shows, magazines, and of course, the internet. The enemy is having a hay day with the number of inappropriate images infiltrating our minds.
This can make it especially difficult to avoid the draw of pornography addiction. It is presented as normal and innocent when in reality, it is destroying lives and destroying families.
Pornography addiction is an epidemic in our country. The damaging effects on marriages are devastating and harmful.
Here are 4 ways that pornography damages a marriage:
1. God's Design for Sex Becomes Contorted
Sex was designed as a selfless act of deep intimacy with our spouse. We read in Genesis 2:24 that they shall become one flesh. God desires couples to experience this kind of pleasure with each other and no one else, not even an image.
Pornography is entirely self-focused. There is no need for a relationship and no requirement for love. However, acting out sexually without a spouse will end in deep dissatisfaction and leave them wanting more, entering addiction. This is a perfect tactic for the enemy. He comes to steal, kill and destroy John 10:10, and marriage is his number one target.
The act of pornography not only destroys marriage intimacy but can also lead to destroying families and societies as a whole.
A Focus on the Family article "How Pornography Impacts Marriage" states, "God-honoring and marriage-honoring sex is about self-giving love. Righteous sex is about self-sacrifice. It joins two people together in love and should always strengthen a relationship rather than weaken it. The opposite of God's design for sex between a husband and wife can be seen in the use of porn where satisfaction is always at the expense of your spouse — because it's all about you. God created sex to be about love, sacrifice, mutual respect, dignity, and care between a husband and wife. Great sex happens when the focus is on serving each other and not on getting our own needs met."
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2. Loss of Intimacy and Trust
When a wife learns of her husband's (or the husband learns of his wife's) pornography addiction, trust is immediately broken. They think back to their intimate times and feel like it was all a fraud. Their minds start spinning with how they were able to carry on marriage with this dark, dirty secret lurking in the corners. A spouse will feel deep betrayal and be forced to navigate some incredibly difficult feelings and emotions. They will feel like they were cheated on and be devastated that their spouse's sexual intimacy was projected onto someone other than them.
Unfortunately, many men or women justify their actions and believe it is not cheating because it is not a real person, but this could not be further from the truth. Anytime a spouse acts out in a sexual way, digital or not, they are betraying the covenant and commitment to their spouse, breaking down their bonds of marriage.
Each time they act out, it tears down walls of trust and intimacy that can take years to rebuild.
3. Distorts View on the Marriage Relationship
When a person looks to pornography to fulfill their sexual desires, this can steal from the intimacy that marriage creates. The more a mind is filled with the false realities of pornography, the more the view of marriage changes. It makes sex more transactional, eliminating the need for intimacy. This leaves the spouse feeling like they are being used or worrying that their spouse's mind is in a fantasy world during their time together.
An article from Carlos Santiago at familylife.com "Marital sex, free from the influence of porn, is a place where we can expose all our imperfections yet still receive acceptance. It's no wonder the Bible uses the marital relationship as a picture of Christ's relationship with His church."
4. Causes Spouse Self-Doubt
When a spouse is aware of sexual addiction with their partner, they immediately attribute it to their lack. Maybe they are not beautiful enough or sexy enough, and they begin to pick themselves apart or even start to change things about themselves to become more attractive. This addiction not only breaks down the marriage, but it also breaks down the people individually.
The truth about pornography addiction is that it is just that, an addiction. An experience with pornography triggers the release of dopamine, causing a person to feel satisfaction or pleasure. The problem with dopamine release with pornography is that it instantly wears off, leaving the person feeling guilty, ashamed, and unsatisfied. However, the feeling is addicting, so they keep returning for more.
A spouse understanding this part of the addiction can be helpful on their road to recovery. As hard as it may be, it can help the spouse to approach their partner with grace, extending sympathy for their addiction and walking with them on the road to recovery.
The Road to Recovery
The first step to recovery from any addiction is acknowledgment. It is nearly impossible to overcome without understanding that we have an addiction.
When an addict becomes fully aware of its catastrophic consequences, they will be more likely to seek help. However, unwinding this sort of addiction can take time and effort and will not happen overnight.
With God's help and the right amount of support, it is possible to overcome this destructive addiction. It may seem daunting and overwhelming, but I have seen firsthand how reaching out for help and gaining a deeper understanding of the addiction has helped my marriage undo the damage caused by pornography. It has been a long road, and it is not perfect. We have relied heavily on our church family to help us pull through some of the most challenging times in our marriage.
Bring the addiction into the light. Share your struggles with trusted friends or family and allow them to champion you to recovery. This addiction can cause deep shame, embarrassment, and judgment, so pray about who the right people are, who can walk beside you, encourage you, and keep you accountable.
God does not want us living tangled in sin, and with His strength, we can push through to healing and reconciliation in our damaged marriages.
Here are some resources to help an addict on their road to recovery: