Reason#9: Peace in Marriage, not Regret

I spent the first 32 years of my life unmarried.  For any Christian who even partially wants to live according to the Bible, rather than the rationalizing, compromising, ungratifying ways of the world, this is quite a challenge.  And I failed plenty along the way (why else would I be writing this…).

But one thought that crept into my head at some point was that a compromised life, particularly in the area of sexuality, will have inevitable consequences in marriage.  We could spend a whole book on this topic, obviously, so I won’t get too detailed.  A man who gets married, who is concurrently still mired in addiction to porn or any other false comfort, will not magically transform when he puts on a wedding ring.  I wanted very much to be walking in purity and freedom when I got married.

Without being married, it’s hard to imagine what specific effects a porn addiction will produce.  From what I have learned so far, at the core, it’s about a purity of devotion and loyalty to the person God has provided.  The more the images of porn and sexual immorality have been imprinted on your conscience, the harder they are to remove.  And it doesn’t matter how beautiful your wife is.  This compulsion to rove our eyes at other women (whether in person or on a screen) is not just about beauty.  There is something else our soul thinks it needs that is at work here.  It is dishonoring to your wife in either case, and the more conviction you have of this before you meet her, the easier it will be to look away after you marry her.  Remember, faith is the conviction of things not seen.  Before you have a wife, it requires faith (a humongous gargantuan heaping colossal mountain of it, in some cases) to believe she will become a reality someday.  If your faith is strong, then you believe God knows your needs and has already taken care of them.  It also should be strong enough to know that what you do now will affect what happens after marriage.

I made plenty of bad choices, but I avoided many others.  I didn’t want to spend my whole life regretting visiting strip clubs every time my wife and I drove by one of them.  I didn’t want to worry about my wife finding my ‘stash’ that I couldn’t bear to part from.  These days, most ‘stashes’ are on the computer.  Even worse.  I didn’t want to have to look at my wife and lie to her about my past.  But I also didn’t want to have to tell her all the things I did because I lacked self-control, faith, and knowledge of how to tap into the power of the new covenant.  If both spouses do things the way God designed, you’ll only get married once (barring tragedy or one spouse living much longer than the other).  And I wanted my mistakes to be as little of a hindrance as possible to forming a solid family.  I want my children to grow up, and for me to actually be the dad they will initially believe I am.

Now, if you have partaken in some of these sins, or worse, you’re not alone.  Maybe you’re already married, and are actually dealing with this two-faced life dilemma that I wanted to avoid.  The great thing about God is that His mercy is new every morning.  It’s not too late to turn back to Him.  You may already be living these consequences, or maybe you’ve done far more than you’ll want to tell your future wife about.  You still have time to turn around.  I had plenty of stuff I had to tell her about (and she had a few things too…).  Part of a solid marriage is a foundation of forgiveness.  But it’s a lot easier to forgive someone for things in their past, rather than for things that are ongoing.

The point is, the sooner this problem is put behind us, the better our marriages will be.  Regardless of what has come before or how long it’s been going on. Don’t believe the misguided notion that all sins are the same.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say or imply this.  Yes, all sins require a punishment, a judgment.  But whether you look at the Law in the Old Testament, with its varying degrees of punishment for various breaches of the moral code, or Jesus in the New Testament talking about honoring the greater commandments while not neglecting the others (Matt 23:23), scripture testifies consistently that some sins carry far more weight in the eyes of God.  The sanctity of marriage is a major issue before God.  I say all this not to condemn, but to remind us that God wants our marriages to be honorable, both to Him and to each other.  Marriage is a covenant.  Having sex with another woman is not the same sin as looking at porn.  There are degrees.  But one thing leads to another, and all of it stems from the same sin of adultery, which ultimately arises from one of five sins of the mind that we’ll get to later.

Another way porn addiction can specifically damage a marriage is by the distorted sense of beauty that it imprints upon the addict.  This can lead to the husband expecting or demanding certain behaviors, attitudes, or body forms that will have to compete with the ones he has been imbibing for months or years beforehand.  The ‘false-hope’ mentality stems from impossible expectations that are based on non-reality.  It doesn’t take much imagination to see what effect this would have on the wife, especially over a prolonged period of time. Many women experience a great deal of insecurity about their bodies, so knowing their husbands have seen “something better” only makes it worse.  If it’s not careful, the church can feed this attitude by propagating the idea that you are more “blessed” if you marry an exceptionally beautiful woman.  The same notion also gets spoken to women about potential husbands.  Yes, beauty is a blessing, but there are many other blessings that have far more value in the long run.  Porn not only denies this, it actively fights against it, because it wants to subjugate women and present them as having only one purpose, one source of value.

Finally, on the man’s side, some men find they struggle with intimacy without the additional stimulation provided by porn. This can lead to a variety of problems: painful interpersonal conflicts, pressure for her to let them watch porn together, guilt, and self-condemnation.

We want freedom, then, because we want peace and integrity in our marriages, and strong families.