Preferences, Sacrifice, and Media

Yesterday I talked about preferences and sacrifice in marriage. Today I want to apply that to the media we consume. 

Preferences, Sacrifice, and Media

There are a lot of shows out there that contain content some women find morally wrong. It might be nudity or sex scenes. It might be supernatural content. Or maybe they see it as degrading to women, or children, or people in general. He sees nothing wrong with it, and he’s not about to let her control what he does and does not watch!

She gets angry or hurt, and he gets defensive. Eventually, she may give up trying to get him to change, but it still hurts her. He feels justified in watching whatever he wants, not wanting to be limited by what he sees as her being over sensitive or exaggerating the situation. 

I get it. Her thinking seems to be condemning of him. She acts like she’s better than him, and questions his spirituality. And frankly, we enjoy our entertainment and don’t want to give up something we enjoy. But I don’t see this as any different than drinking. If she honestly has a moral objection the Bible is clear on what you should do. It’s not about her being right or wrong. If she’s right you should stop because it’s wrong for you to view those things. If she’s wrong you should stop because she is the weaker sister and if you continue to watch it’s harming her.

And yes, I know I’m meddling now. Thing is Lori and I have had a number of women complain about this issue. It’s a big deal to some women, and it’s a marriage harming issue for many of them.

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30 Comments on “Preferences, Sacrifice, and Media

  1. Paul where do you draw the line between absurd neuroticism coupled unhealthy controlling behavior, and a reasonable request? The only women I know that do this are extremely controlling in every other aspect of their husband’s lives, and need to chill out across the board. The flip side would be, can the husband then tell her to stop watching the Kardashians, Teen Mom, Real Housewives, the Bachelor…..or whatever because he doesn’t like the content of those shows? I think you are on a very slippery slope with enabling unhealthy controlling behavior, or to reference your last post making an ethical mountain out of a preference molehill.

    • I am a wife who wishes very much for her husband to better jury his choices of tv and movie viewing. It hurts me very much for him to watch so many shows with sex and nudity in it. He has seen hundreds of women naked, and it removes a sense of specialness about my nudity. It has affected how he sees me and his expectations and behavior in the marriage bed.

      Plus, I believe it is a sin, and I believe it is unedifying and potentially damaging to the spiritual sanctity of the home, especially with children. I was homeschooling our children at the table (our bedroom isn’t far from the dining area) while hubby was watching a movie, and we could clearly hear a woman moaning in sexual pleasure and coming to orgasm from the movie he was watching!

      I can’t and won’t nag him about every movie I am uncomfortable with, but have put my foot firmly down about Game of Thrones and Spartacus. If a movie has a token nude or sex scene, while I hate it, I keep my mouth shut and trust him to look away. I do not dictate or nag about his clothes, friends, music, hobby, or social media choices.

      On the flip side, I do not watch trashy TV, nor do I watch romances. I don’t read trash or romance novels. I keep my eyes to myself and don’t engage in those stupid social media quizzes about who is your celebrity boyfriend.

      He does not share my conviction and says he can watch such shows without lusting. If it is wrong to watch your neighbor’s college daughter sun bathing topless, if it is wrong to watch your neighbors having sex, then it is wrong to indulge in TV and movies that show that.

      Not a fan of violence, either, but at least the violence is simulated. No one is actually bleeding, broken, and dead. But, the nudity is real. While they may not be engaging in penetration, the sex is pretty close to real, too.

      • I would agree with your husband, if you believe it is a sin, that’s fine – you should not watch them, you can’t decide for him it is though, at best you can say it is frowned upon. I think being significantly overweight and smoking are sins, but that doesn’t mean I can beat someone else over the head with it. I’ve seen plenty of nudity and graphic sex scenes that don’t cause me to lust for one reason or another. Paul will disagree with me, but I think this is a lot overreacting.

        This is really one of those things that you should flesh out before you get married, if someone has an issue with ever seeing nudity on tv or a movie, that needs to be upfront and clear as a part of the contract before “I do” that is a pretty tough expectation to manage.

        • @mykidsmademedoit – So the weaker brother does not apply to one’s wife?

          As to working things out before marriage, that’s nice, but no help now. Besides, some of these issues may not have existed when a couple got married, and it’s also possible the one who is watching has changed since marriage.It’s also possible the other spouse has changed their view of such things.

          Media nudity and sex are not an issue between Lori and me. However, she has a much lower tolerance to scary stuff than I do, and there are movies and series we started and didn’t finish because of that. She’s never said it was a moral issue, but she doesn’t want to see it or hear it. So I choose to not watch those things. I find it a small sacrifice for the feeling of the woman I love.

          • The weaker brother argument is that you are causing them to sin, watching Spartacus alone is not causing your wife to sin, she just doesn’t like it. If your wife is an alcoholic, and you drink alcohol in front of her, then it would apply. If you aren’t forcing her to participate, no the weaker brother doesn’t apply.

            If you’ve been married for less than 30 years, there was nudity in movies before you got married, that didn’t just pop up. If you’ve been married for less than 20, there has been nudity on TV shows since you’ve been married, that didn’t just pop up. Internet porn has even existed for more then twenty years now.

            It is great that you honor her by sharing so much, but there is a big difference in choosing not to watch scary movies because she can’t participate, and her deciding to tell you that you cannot watch them on your own. My wife doesn’t like Star Wars movies, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going next week.

          • Mykids….it can cause her to stumble. For me, I feel less loved. I doubt my marriage bed sanctity. I feel violated in a way…imposed upon by another woman. I lose respect for my husband because he obviously doesn’t respect me or the spiritual safety and sanctity of our home, especially with children in it.

            If my appearance insecurities are my weak point, a husband is just tripping me up more and making it harder to overcome by placing other naked women before his eyes, even if his intent is not to watch the movie “for that.”

            He used to read Playboy “for the articles.” I suppose that was ok. I knew a guy who hung a Playboy calendar within view of his children “for the art”.

          • @mykidsmademedoit – Paul said nothing about forcing others to go along. I think what he said very much applies to the issue of watching something with nudity. You disagree. So there we are.

    • @mykidsmademedoit – Using God as a whip is never acceptable. It’s a common tactic by people who feel they have no power or authority of their own, and that may be a sign of a marriage problem. That said, some women have very real and very biblical concerns in this area.

      Part of the issue is the line between what is not profitable and what is sin.

      • There is not a clear line here on what is “sin” either, nowhere biblically is nudity specifically called sin. The image is not sin, lusting is sin. An in the context of what jesus said, lusting is akin to adultery not fornication (or porneia)…which brings a different nuance to it.

        Again, I’m not saying viewing anything right or wrong, I’m just asking where do you draw the line between what is reasonable and what is not. The wife is not the sole arbiter of right and wrong.

        • @mykidsmademedoit – In the OT being seen naked outside of an intimate relationship was considered extremely shameful. No one would have thought it was okay to be naked or to look at others naked.

          • If we are going to use the OT; it was also perfectly acceptable to have multiple wives, concubines, and sleep with your wife’s servant. You could also rape her, as long as you married her afterwards and pay her father 50 shekels (Deut22:28) You can forcibly marry a captive (Deut21:10-14) They would have no issue of a man lusting after a woman, as long as she wasn’t married to someone else.

            Adam and Eve walked around in the garden naked before sin existed, therefore being naked in and of itself cannot be sinful.

      • Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

        1 Thes. 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.

        1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people

        Gal. 5:10-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

        Here’s just a few.

        Here’s the thing. There are movies out there that speak to greater humanity. Schindler’s List comes to mind. But, there is a big difference between watching Schindler’s List and seeing the nudity in that than watching Wedding Crashers with its slow-mo fornication breast montage.

        I was not offended by the scene in Kong’s Speech where he lets out his stress and inhibitions with a slew of cussing. It was heart breaking and actually relatable.
        However, I cringe at movies that just dump profanity throughout it just to be more adult and vile.

        I am not offended by the violence in Hacksaw Ridge because it is history, but will never watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

        Even so, if I had my druthers, I would still want it more implied or suggested than blatantly shown.

        The creators of Game of Thrones admit to wanting to push the envelope and be pornographic. Others have followed suit simply to get the viewers and thus the money.

        As for working it out before marriage, this wasn’t as big of an issue 15-20 years ago. It seems the sex and nudity has been amped up a LOT in recent years. Even if one as convinced that hubby was in no way sinning watching these things, contributing money to Hollywood, basically letting them know this is ok and the more they expose and exploit, the more money they make, is enough to make me still disapprove of such movies and tv shows.

        • Not one of those verses says that nudity or looking on nudity is a sin, you are really stretching to use the letter to the Thessalonians to say that nudity is “evil”. I repeat, there is no verse that says nudity is a sin.

          I don’t really get the point of being upset about movie nudity anyways, if you really want to lust after something porn is universally available and free 24/7…GoT is a dramatic show that includes it as it’s attempt to make the characters seem more real. It is no different than making the violence more real, people in general do have wonton sex.

          All of this was there 15 or 20 years ago, Sex in the City had gratuitous nudity in it, and it started in 1998, that show was just geared towards women. Netflix has made it a little easier to access, you don’t have to go to Blockbuster’s brick and mortar anymore. I hate the puritanical aspects of modern evangelical Christianity, I think it skews reality, and creates more problems than it solves.

          • These movies purposefully use sexual sin and these women sell their bodies in sexually saturated ways for money. How is this not sin? And then to engage in the willful watching of it for mere entertainment purposes? How is that edifying to God?

            Frankly, I think it is you who is stretching the Bible to justify watching things you ought not to as a follower of Christ.

            I’ll take the safer, more narrow road of just avoiding the smut. For full disclosure, I do, personally find it very arousing and it sticks with me, so in that case I must avoid it. I also find it sickening and disturbing, and I find hubby is different in the marriage bed after indulging. He is less attentive and less present, and more likely to want things closer related to show than to reality. For example, he’ll want me to dress like the actress.

  2. While I agree with this in principal, I see the point mykidsmademedoit was making.

    My bottom line is to let the spirit guide me. I am not my wifes conscience, nor is she mine.

    That said, I think it is wrong use the “weaker sister” argument to justify legalism. Yes, deliberately searching out nudity on TV is sinful, and there is no justification for it. I think you cross the line when you bring things that are not sinful in and of themselves.

    We should be sensitive to the feelings of everyone around us, especially sensitive to our spouses, but makeing wives the one and only moral compass, rather than using the scripture to guide us is equally wrong.

    • @Man without a map “I think it is wrong use the “weaker sister” argument to justify legalism.”

      I’m with you 1000% on that, But calling it that just to justify ignoring it is wrong too. I’ve seen plenty of both.

      • I think it really gets complicated.

        I know there are a lot of cut and dried examples. They involve sin as called out in the bible. Where it gets very murky, is where peoples own opinions become the deciding vote.

        Lets assume that my wife and I have enjoyed a glass of wine each night for the last 20 years, and suddenly she finds something in scripture that convinces her it is sinful. I read the same verse, and do not agree. Her soul is not in jeopardy because I have a drink, yet she decides that it will not be allowed in the house. I disagree, and bring a bottle in, and it angers her. Her anger is completely out of control, and clearly sinful. Was it my behavior which provoked her anger. Did I cause her ro stumble?

        What if you remove the alcohol, which is not universally agreed on. Some claim it is sinful, and others dispute that.

        Lets say that suddenly my wife has become a vegan, and the offensive beverage is a glass of milk. In my view, not sinful. My wife, on the other hand starts in on animal rights and her anger is equal to the previous version of the story, involving alcohol. Did I really cause her to stumble? Do I really have to forego milk with my cookies because it offends my wife.

        I agree with you in principal that we should be sensitive, and maybe even err on the side of sensitivity.

        That said, i dont believe the verses you quote were intended in that way. I think they were intended to unify, not divide. If you have guests over who are opposed to drinking alcohol themselves , you might or might not have a glass of wine with your meal, but you certainly wouldn’t pressure them to drink. If they were opposed to eating meat, you would probably not invite them to a BBQ.

        The weaker brother and sister refers to spiritually weaker. It does not refer to those easily offended.

        • This is the most salient point, we cannot take someone’s preferences and then decide they cause that person to stumble, ala your vegan point. It is akin to intellectual terrorism, calling it a sin to try and silence a valid point of disagreement.

  3. Libl I think you should tread carefully in telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. You don’t like something that is fine, no one is making you do it, but you do not have some god given moral imperative to cast judgement on anyone else. You are being awfully self-righteous about how great you are and how terrible your husband is, I’m sure that is a major part of why he doesn’t care what you think.

        • I can’t believe that you’re making that kind of a judgment call about her reaction to something so basic. A mom bothered by her husband watching explicit sex at home? Is this really an extreme expectation?

        • You, sir, are deliberately hitting below the belt to try to shut me up and over power me.

          I have taken your accusation to heart and I already pray frequently for the Lord to expose His truth and my sin. I admit there is a measure of lack of respect towards my husband that I am working on rebuilding through hurts I have endured, and in turn, I am working on always being a better wife, which is why I don’t nag my husband about what he watches anymore.

          Paul often wants to know how women feel and why they feel the way they do, so I explained myself here, the nutty gritty details. Not trying to dump my spouse, just being brutally honest.

          It is nice to know movie sex and nudity isnt the porn I feel it is towards husbands, BUT I get mixed messages here.

          Either men are visual and nudity affects them and women ought to cover up, not wear leggings as pants, dress modestly, etc. Or, men aren’t as affected as we think and they can watch all those girls get naked on game of thrones and not be the least affected by it. May as well be a documentary on heart surgery.

          Which is it?

          • You are getting the same brutal honesty you are giving.

            You want nudity in film to be a black and white issue, and to be able to compare it to porn, but it just isn’t. Your husband can lust after a fully clothed woman just as easily as he can over a woman in a sex scene in a movie, no matter how mad you get or how many rules you want to lay down, you cannot prevent him looking at other women. I would tell you that this isn’t a winning battle, he clearly has a different opinion and has no compulsion to change it, you are just making yourself miserable in the process trying to control something you can’t.

            As much of a jerk as you perceive me to be, I’m a happily married guy of more than a decade, I have little children, I have bible study tomorrow, and will be one of the minority of men at church on Sunday, I’m the same as almost every guy you know. So take it for what it’s worth, the vast majority of men see your position on this like your husband does, Paul won’t dispute that, go look at the surveys

          • @mykidsmademedoit, I hope you study I Corinthians 13 at your Bible study sometime (which, despite its popularity at weddings, is not about romantic love but about being godly). As in … “love does not insist on its own way.”

            You aren’t being “brutally honest” about libl’s behavior, but your own — which is to insist on your own way even knowing (or maybe ESPECIALLY knowing) that it’s hurtful or offensive to your wife. The kindest way I can put it is knowing that someone hates smoking, so you take a huge puff, walk over, and blow smoke 3 inches from their nose just to prove that they can’t control you. At that point, it’s not about whether they’re right to be offended by smoking and a lot more about you being a jerk because you want to make a point to them.

            We can debate the morality of nudity and boobs and simulated sex. It’s even fair to acknowledge there can be a debate. I am hard pressed to find a way to debate intentionally insulting and hurting someone to prove … something. Where does the Bible say that’s okay? Why is that even a question?

  4. This really isn’t that hard. If either of you don’t like it, then don’t watch it. If it’s even a potential moral issue – don’t watch it. If it hurts your wife/ husband – don’t watch it. If it causes you to covet or to lust or even tempts you or your spouse to these sins don’t watch it. It’s not like entertainment has any eternal value. How you treat your spouse does.

    Entertainment is not a right and you won’t suffer any ill effects without it.

    If you feel you have to justify or defend your TV habits, maybe you should do some introspection. If you are unwilling to give up a show that causes your spouse unhappiness, you should take a good long look at yourself.

    I think Americans fight so hard against this because it strikes their pet idols of entertainment and individualism. Aka, lack of self-control and pride. That’s not to say other nationd don’t have these, but American culture really seems to be all about me. With the collolary that I should not deny myself anything. Thus the over-eating, over-spending, media and social media addictions, porn etc.

    Oh, and if youre really that worried that not watching a show because your wife asked you will lead to her controlling your every move, I have to ask: why did you marry a manipulative and controlling woman?

  5. Paul, out of curiosity, if MyKids and I were husband and wife and both at these compasses, which my husband and I are at, how would you advise me?

    • Libl,

      I know you asked Paul, but I am going to offer my 2 cents worth.

      I think you have every right to stand on your own convictions in the matter. I believe the choices your husband is making dishonour you and your marriage.

      With that said, I believe it is enough to state your convictions. By all neans, live up to them yourself, but then accept that your husband is sinning, and grant him the same grace we have all recieved ourselves.

      Romans 5:8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

      Our witness is not so much in the words we speak, but in our actions and the lives we lead. You can be a powerful witness to your husband by demonstrating that principal to him. Just as not everyone accepts Gods grace, your husband may not accept yours, but you will have given it.

      I understand there is a lot of hurt that goes along with his actions, but have any of us ever had to forgive something that didnt hurt?

    • @Libl – Sorry I missed this. I hit the male side of this on Sunday in When in Doubt, Prefer the Other Person.

      For the woman I would say make your stand clear and leave it at that. If the kids are being affected then I think the woman has an obligation to make noise until that changes.

      What a lot of men don’t get in all of this that it hurts how the wife sees her husband. That’s bad for their relationship, and it’s probably bad for their sex life. If men knew what they were putting at risk for their TV pleasure they might not see it as a good choice. On the other hand, some men feel they have nothing to lose, so why not.

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