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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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June 26, 2012

A Devastatingly Common Heartbreak

My guess is that 100 percent of men have struggled with pornography

All sorts of statistics declare the percentage of men (or of Christian men) who participate in viewing pornography. Although the numbers vary, they’re always high. (Christianity Today reported that 70 percent of American men say they view pornography monthly.) Yet it strikes me that most of the time the survey numbers reflect the men who admit they are viewing pornography—I’d hazard to guess many more don’t admit it. Also, often the questions are about active pornography use, rather than a more broadly worded question such as, “Have you ever struggled with pornography?”

And so my anecdotal guess at the real answer? 100 percent.

It seems to me that in some way, shape, or form, 100 percent of our husbands struggle with pornography. Some struggle because of active use or current addiction; others struggle with memories of past pornography use and the lure that endures; some have been innocently exposed to pornography through no willful choice of their own. Some men may have never viewed pornography—and yet even these men still “struggle” in the sense that it’s out there, all over the place, readily available and an ever-present temptation. Pornography is hard to avoid, even when you’re trying hard. (Just the other day I accidentally saw an obscene image while looking for craft ideas on Pinterest, for goodness’ sake!)

Now I’m sure there are statisticians and perhaps some husbands who’d argue with my blanket, 100-percent assumption. Perhaps there are Christian men who, somehow, have never felt tempted to view pornography.

But for most Christian men, the lure is there. Many carry a secret shame because of current or past pornography use; those who are courageously avoiding this readily available sin still battle the temptation. It’s there, it’s free, and it’s as close as your computer screen.

The data about pornography use is mind-numbing and heart-chilling for most wives—the thought of one’s beloved husband using porn is emotionally and relationally devastating. And regardless of how common this problem is even among Christian men, it doesn’t diminish the bitter pain a wife experiences when she discovers her husband’s pornography use: her self-image and her confidence in the bedroom are shattered; she feels deeply betrayed and unsure if she can trust again; she doubts if she really “knows” her husband; she feels isolated, used, angry, and alone. Is this adultery? Is this an addiction? Is this somehow about me? Is it even possible for this marriage to recover?

Countless Christian women are dealing privately with this pain; because of the nature of the problem, it’s something often kept secret. If you’re facing this situation, you can rest assured that other women in your church are likely dealing with this same deeply painful marital crisis.

This is a complex and painful topic—and there simply is no “easy” answer or generic prescription to help a marriage heal from pornography use or addiction. If you find yourself in a moment of mistrust, discouragement, distance, or hopelessness in your marriage due to pornography, turn to God for strength and sustenance. The reality is that this struggle is extremely common—and that you’re likely surrounded by marriages who’ve survived it and healed! You are not alone. Others have made it through. Marriages have been healed. God continues to love you—and your husband—with his wonder-working love.

Related Tags: healing, marriage, porn, pornography


I'm always suprised when I see an article like this on porno and usage by men, and they never - NEVER - address the WHYs some men use porno. There are many reasons of course, but I can guarantee you that with husbands, a good percentage of it is because of the lack of sexual activity with their wives, and because their wives don't meet their sexual needs. And I'm not talking about sex everyday and twice on sunday, with gymnastics involved. Just regular ol' sex once or twice a week. And this is never talked about by women's groups, women's websites, or in church, or from the pulpit. In fact, women who do address this topic are shunned and ignored and told to be quiet. Don't believe me? Go ask your pastor to preach on the true meaning of 1 Cor 7:5. Or ask to run a class in church on the importance of sex and what sex should be in marrriage. My guess is you'll get a "no". If not, tell me the church because I want to join. Sexless marriages (defined professionally as less than 10 times a year) are a problem in america in general - a recent survey said 20% of marriages have not had sex in the last year - and like this article, I bet its higher because no man wants to admit that. And its probably higher in christian marriages. One of the reasons the church has "lost" the war on porno, adultery, out of wedlock births, co-habitation, and divorce is not only because it has failed to address the sin OF sex OUTSIDE of marriage (which we do hear plenty of from the pulpit to websites to books), but it has also failed to address the sin of NO sex IN Marriage.

I appreciate your comment. My post here certainly does not cover all there is to say about pornography -- for example, it doesn't address the issue of women who struggle with porn (which is a difficult reality for many). And, as you've mentioned, it doesn't talk about all the factors that can add to the lure of pornography (such as a married man in a sexless marriage.) I believe that the point you make is a very important one and I'm glad you've brought it up. I do think you paint with too broad of a brush, though. For example, here on Kyria's site, there are downloads women can purchase that explore the topic of sex in marriage and repeatedly (and biblically) encourage women to be enthusiastic, inspired, and joyful about their sexual relationship with their husband (and also to foster a strong sense of "sexual self-esteem", per se). So I guess I'd say it sort of depends on the church, on a woman's group of friends, etc. There actually are many women's groups, resources, etc. that address this issue. I hope you find that encouraging. Again, I think there is a key point in what you're saying -- there are many types of sexual "dysfunction" or "failure" in a marriage that can be very painful and difficult for either spouse, and pornography is just one of them. A sexless marriage, too, is a source of heartache and struggle. Thanks again for bringing this up.

It's not always a lack of sex in a marriage or the wife's fault for men viewing pornograpy. Women are not the only one's withholding sex, there are actually men who withhold sex from their spouses. There are men who are not meeting their wives sexual needs. There are men who fear any type of intimacy with their spouse. Some people drink, overeat, do drugs or whatever to not deal with issues in their lives. My husband has been struggling with porn for 13 years of our 21 year marriage. He says that he does it as a way to escape from stress or issues in his life. He labels himself as a sex addict. But I feel that it is a sinful way to deal with stress. It's a choice, it's a sin and it's called lust. Pornograpy is not always about a lack of sex. I cannot compete with an image or a fantasy. I do not play the victim nor do I do I take responsibility for my husband's problem. I feel like I was blindsided by his choice of porn. There are many things that we wives have to face when we discover our husbands lust for porn. (Lying from our spouses, secrets, mistrust, self-esteem issues, protecting our children from this smut, and the anger) The list can go on. The church does not talk about what this does to the family. My Valentine's Gift this year was my husband coming home early to tell me that he was let go from a high-paid government job, because he was looking at porn on his government computer. I believe in marriage. I believe that I'm in a covenant relationship before God. There are many women like me, sitting in church, and too afraid to talk to someone about their husbands problem. Trying to hold it together before their children, friends, family, neighbors etc... Sometimes people just get tired. We have been to marriage counseling twice. He's been to therapy by himself twice. He attends Christian sex addiction groups almost weekly. I cleave to my relationship with the Lord and to his Word. This is not the godly marriage I prayed for nor is my husband the godly man I prayed for. To all of you who suffer in silence because of someone else's sin of pornography, there are people who truly understand what you are going through. You can't control anothers choice and actions. Stay faithful to God and pray for wisdom. Be careful who you confide in, because some people do not understand if they have not been in your shoes. Keep the faith, don't let the enemy uproot you, stay encouraged. God Speed!!!

There are so many qualifications one could make. I would not even get into them.
While 100% percent attraction to "Porn" may well be high, it is not far off. The facination with the female form is hard wired into us men. Contrary to what most wives and women think, it does not necessarily follow that an appreciation for a womans appearance is an indication of physical desire. GOD made women beautiful, to pretend otherwise would be silly, and a lie.
The word "Porn" has a very broad definition. I appreciate the female form and do not consider that innapropriate. It is a far cry however from a black and white "Art Nude" to something depicting sexual activity. Only the individual viewer can know whether the appeal is beauty or desire. It is incumbent upon the individual man to be honest with him self.
As for a mans attraction to porn being the result of an unresponsive wife, No. I spent most of my marriage without any sexual intimacy, by my wifes choice. Obviously this was difficult, but I did not step outside my marital vow's nor my covenant with God. I did not allow my mind to entertain thoughts or images of any one other than my wife
The appeal of "porn" is not because of inadeqacy on the part of a wife, it is merely a part of the male psyche. It does not indicate a desire to be unfaithful.
A man can not fail to notice a beautiful woman, he is obligated however not to dwell upon that beauty, unless that beauty is the woman he married.

I realize that this is a women's forum. But want I am going to say to Christian men applies equally to Christian women as well:

Men, if you see a scantily clad woman on television or on the cover of a magazine and you are tempted, what is your first response? Are you sin-conscious or righteousness-conscious? Sin-consciousness will draw you to succumb to your temptation, whereas righteousness-consciousness gives you the power to overcome every temptation. That is why the enemy wants to keep you sin-conscious. Confessing your sins all the time keeps you sin-conscious. It is as if Jesus did not become your sin on the cross. Righteousness-consciousness keeps you conscious of Jesus. You need to open your mouth and say by faith ,"I am the righteousness of God in Christ!"

Every time you speak it, you magnify the work of Jesus on the cross.

The main cause of addiciton to pornography has nothing to do with the amount of sex one gets from their spouse. I have been in women's ministry for over 20 years and know women that were constantly available to their husbands and they still entertained pornography and all that comes with it. It has to do with a sin nature that has not sought freedom through the God who came to set the captives free. The thought that husbands would not have to turn to pornography if their wives "just had more sex" is a complete lie. We all have free will and we all are accountable to God for our choices. Nobody "makes" me do anything that I do not want to do. My mother was sick and eventually paralyzed from cancer and my parents did not engage in any sexual activity for almost three years before she died. Does anyone think that because she could not have sex that it gave him license to sin against God and break their marriage covenant by looking at porn? According to Jesus if you look upon another with lust in your heart that is considered adultery.
The problem today is that marriage has become a contract rather than a covenant. A contract can be changed or even nulled if one or the other does not satisfy or meet the obligations of the contract. A covenant is a commitment first to God and then to one's spouse to remain faithful to one another until death do you part, period! I could be the worst spouse in the world and it still does not give my husband the right to choose sin. We seem to have forgotten that marriage was never meant to make us happy but to make us holy.
We will all stand before God one day and will have to answer for our own choices. I will not be able to blame my husband and he will not be able to point fingers at me. I will answer to God and God alone for the choices (good or bad) that I made while on this dusty earth.
For those looking for help and accountability for a loved one addicted to pornography I recommend a free online Bible study with accountability. The website is "Setting Captives Free". I highly recommend it for the men and for the women there are alot of resources and books to help you find healing from the betrayal. There is hope and there is freedom to be found. As women of God we are called to honor our husbands, but we were never called to enable them. Get help and reach out! You are not alone.

I know of a very helpful program called MindArmor that helps with the struggle of pornography. One of the biggest problems with pornography is that we still have the pictures floating around in our heads. This helps with destroying the pictures we are stuck with. www.mind-armor.com

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