Porn

The following series about pornography was done on the Generous Husband tips over an eight day period.

Which one are you?

The good news is I am sending a full week of tips about sex – the “bad” news is they are about pornography.

I think men fall into four categories with regards to porn:

    1) Those who are not even trying to avoid it.
    2) Those who are trying/wanting to stop.
    3) Those who have won the battle.
    4) Those who made a decision not to indulge early on and have stuck to it.

Unless you are one of the very few in the last group, pornography has had some affect on your marriage – and that affect is probably greater than you realize. Statistically speaking, more than half of the men receiving this are in one of the first two groups.

Let me start by telling you my story. I want you to know where I’m coming from, and I want you to know I do not speak as one of those in the fourth group who don’t know enough about it to really understand.

My introduction to porn came in 1968, at the age of 7, when I found some Playboy and Penthouse magazines in the guest room closet.
By the age of 10, well before puberty, I was masturbating to orgasm. Porn was the primary reason I started masturbating as such a young age, and porn was a part of my masturbation from the very start.
At the age of 13 I was spending at least 30 minutes a day looking at porn. This was before VCRs or the Internet, so my source was magazines and paperback books that described the sexual “adventures” of fictitious characters in vivid, lusty detail. I swapped porn with several friends to increase what I could see. I found my porn in illegal dumping spots in the woods near my house, another fellow stole his, and one guy found a huge stash in the attic of their new home. By 13 I was into the real fringe stuff, some of which was probably illegal.
Just before my 15th birthday, at a time I was becoming serious about my Christian faith, I realized my porn use was not acceptable to God. It may sound strange this came as a revelation, but back then porn was not discussed, and it certainly was not discussed in church!
I threw away a 30 gallon trash bag of porn, and never looked at it again. And I do know it’s not so easy for most guys. I had some things going for me – first I was young and idealistic, and just knowing it was wrong with Jesus caused me to not want to have anything to do with it. Also, I was not hit in the face with porn a dozen times a day like we all are today. Sure I was tempted to go get some, but by the grace of God I never did. Of course I still had the mental effects of the porn, and that took me another ten years to rid myself of those.

Which brings us to the platypus in the green T-shirt.

Platypus in a green T-shirt??

I want to try and explain how pornography affects our minds and bodies. Stay with me, it will all come together eventually.

In a study, people who did not know the purpose of the study were shown an abstract image at the same time they were exposed to a distinctive food smell. With repeated exposures their brains became conditioned to associate the image with the smell. Eventually the sight of the abstract image caused them to hunger for the food associated with the image, even when the smell was not present. What we see, hear or smell when we are sexually aroused has a similar affect, and the affect is particularly strong when an orgasm occurs. This is how God made us, and when we limit our sexuality to our wife this is a good thing – it causes us to sexually desire her more strongly and it makes sex with her better.

Imagine for a moment most of the world’s pornographers decided to start putting all their female “models” and “actresses” in green T-shirts. And not just to start with, the T-shirt is either worn or held or in some way used in every picture or scene. After repeated exposure to this, men would start to be aroused by green T-shirts. Men would even get aroused seeing a display rack of green T-shirts. Let us further imagine these same pornographers started using the word “platypus” in all their porn. Men say platypus as they pull women’s clothing off, and women say it loudly during sex. Soon the word would have a sexual force behind it for the men watching porn.

But the affects would not stop with men being aroused by green T-shirts and the word platypus. Men would want and crave those things to be a part of their sex life. Men would buy their wives green T-shirts and beg them to wear them for sex. Men would say platypus during sex, and want their wife to do the same.

Know where I’m going here? Think about it. Next we will move from the hypothetical green shirted Australian oddity to something totally unreal.

Bambi in fantasy land …

Okay, no one says platypus, or wears green T-shirts, in porn. But porn has about as much to do with reality as a bad 60’s science fiction movie; except the special affects are better in the porn. Pornographers are experts at using camera angles, lighting, and even body make up to make things look bigger than they really are. And of course the men pop Viagra like candy, and the women use large quantities of artificial lubricants. It’s not sex, it’s a gross caricature of sex.

Admittedly my exposure to porn is somewhat dated, but I’ve heard enough to know the game is the same, only the props have changed. In the mid 70’s “the look” was breasts so large they seems likely to explode; today “the look” is piercing and tattoos in sensitive places and shaved off pubic hair. Back then oral sex was THE sex act – if you had sex with a woman and it did not include oral sex you were being cheated, you were missing out. Today the must experience, don’t let her cheat you out of it thing is anal sex.

I do not mean to say any of these looks or activities are inherently wrong. But like the green T-shirts in my example, the constant exposure to these looks and acts affects a man. He starts to want his wife to look a way she does not want to look, and to do things she is not interested in doing. The man starts to feel neglected and cheated because his wife won’t engage in some act he has seen repeatedly in porn. She could be willing to have sex with him twice a day, but if she won’t do those things he has come to see as important, he is upset and unsatisfied. The false reality of porn is invading his marriage bed; it’s hurting his wife, and destroying their sex life.

Wanting her to shave or to try anal sex is only the tip of the iceberg – the real damage to his mind, and to their sex life, is deeper and less obvious. 

Are any real women like that?

Yesterday I discussed some of the unreality of porn. Today I want to look at some subtler, and therefore more damaging lies porn tells about women.

In porn most women are ready and eager for sex 24/7. In fact, most of them are so eager they will have sex with anyone, or anything they can get their hands on. And the women who are not “always on” can be made ready and willing with a few dirty words and 30 seconds of fondling.

The women of porn orgasm easily, quickly, and often. Even in the most bizarre, contorted intercourse positions, they orgasm over and over, without any foreplay required. If there is foreplay, they orgasm at least once during that.

The women of porn like sex hard and rough. A slap on the butt that will hurt for hours is a turn on, so is having a nipple almost pulled off. Sex that will leave marks is fun, and prolonged intercourse that would leave a real woman raw is how they like it.

And of course, the women of porn make sure you know when they orgasm. They wake the neighbours and threaten to buck the man off of the bed.

I could give numerous other examples of how the “women of porn” have no similarity to real women, but I’ll do just one more. I’ve saved the worst, the most destructive, for last. The women of porn have no need for a relationship with their sex partner. Anyone, any time, any place, relationship unnecessary. The women of porn don’t need to feel loved or cherished in order to feel sexual, they do not need romance in order to want sex, they do not need a committed relationship in order to want, much less have, an orgasm. For the women of porn sex is an entity unto it’s self, and the rest of their lives don’t intrude into their sex lives.

Are there any real women who are like that? Is your wife like that?

Time for the big question.

I’ve spent four days laying the foundation for this question: How has your exposure to porn altered your sexual desires and expectations?

Please don’t think you can ignore the question if you no longer view porn. I gave it up at age 15, but I found some of its influence was still with me when I married at 24. Just like those folks I discussed who got hungry for a certain food when they saw a certain abstract image, if you have viewed porn you have been affected.

Have you asked your wife to shave her pubic hair? Were you upset when she said no? Did you think she was being uptight for not wanting you to ejaculate on her face, or did you not believe she was telling the truth when she said anal sex was not enjoyable for her? Do you get mad she won’t scream when she orgasms, or are you frustrated she won’t even try to have more than one orgasm? Have you ever “surprised her” with a sex toy or extreme lingerie or tried to sneak a finger in her anus because you knew she would say no if you asked, but thought she might like it if she tried it?

Are you unhappy with a sex life which should satisfy you? Do you feel sexually cheated, but can’t give a good reason for feeling like that? Has your frustration pushed your wife away? Or has your pushiness forced her away? Has she said in exasperation “No matter what I do you will never be satisfied” or “Why can’t we just have normal sex for once?”

If your desires, attitudes, and expectations have been coloured by porn, you are hurting your wife and cheating both of you out of what God wants you to have sexually. Pray about it, be brutally honest with yourself.

The other thing

We can’t talk about pornography without discussing masturbation.

After a great deal of study and prayer I am convinced masturbation, in and of itself, is not inherently sinful. I mention this only because some of you know my stand on this and I don’t want to confuse anyone; however, it’s not relevant to our current discussion. If you are married, it now belongs to her, not you (1 Cor 7:4) and you have no business playing with it on your own!

While some guys who vent their porn-inspired lust on their wife (how nice for the wife) the majority of men with a serious porn habit are also masturbating – some guys more than once a day. Porn is intentionally designed to get a guy to masturbate – if he has an orgasm while watching a video or viewing a web site, it greatly increases the chances he will come back.

Masturbation does not fulfil all the sexual urges God gave us as men, but it does drain off our strong physical drive. Did you know God gave you a strong drive for a reason? He wants you to have a lot of sex with your wife! God created us to need sex for a variety of things, including a healthy marriage, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. When you masturbate you reduce the push to have sex with your wife. This reduces the amount of sex you have with her, which in turn hurts the health of your marriage as well as the health of both you and your wife. If you’re married, masturbation is like only eating junk food each time you feel hunger. It takes the hunger away, but it does not give you what and need, and you have not done what God intended the drive to cause you to do.

I know many of you struggle because your wife is not as interested in sex as you are. I understand taking care of it in the shower is easier, and safer, than risking rejection. I also know masturbation is the wrong way to deal with the situation. When a man starts masturbating it inevitably results in less and less sex with his wife. It’s usually gradual, but it happens, and that is a very bad thing. Masturbation can also become a habit a man won’t give up. Many women start to want more sex as they pass the mid thirties (there are hormonal reasons for this, along with less stress from child raising). A growing number of these women are finding their husband is unwilling to have more sex. There are many reasons for this, but masturbation is a major factor. How sad! A man looking for a temporary fix ultimately cheats himself, and his wife, out of what he really wants.

We also need to realize many women do not see masturbation as a minor issue. Most are deeply hurt and offended when they discover their husband is doing it, and some even see it as a form of adultery. Throw in porn, and some women will start talking about divorce. When a woman finds out her husband is engaged in porn and/or masturbation it hurts her deeply, and does significant harm to the couple’s marriage.

What to do about it

But what to do? First let me suggest you not hang the word “addict” around your neck. Depending on how you define addiction, porn qualifies, but the word too often is used to relieve someone of responsibility or say they are powerless. Let me ask you – if your wife said “The next time you use porn I will divorce you” and you knew she meant it – do you think you could stop “cold turkey”? If so then the issue is about how motivated you are to stop! That is what the proceeding is about. It is my prayer some who thought their porn use was “no big deal” now see it for the problem it is. I also pray those who already knew porn was a problem have become motivated to do something about it.

The first thing to do is to pray and commit yourself to ending your porn use. Next, get rid of every bit of porn you have, as well as how you get it. Don’t save a few pictures in a hidden folder on your hard drive, don’t “forget” to throw out a video you have stashed some place, and don’t save a few porn site URLs. Get rid of everything! Clear your e-mail addresses and your browser history and destroy any links back.

Next you need to make changes to reduce your temptations. If your drive to work takes you by the X-rated video store you shop, find another way to drive. Move the computer to a place where you can’t hide, and choose not to be on it when you are alone. Change whatever you need to change. When I gave up porn it cost me my best friend, the best friend I’d had up to that point. But it was worth it. Also be aware of things that cause you to go after porn – if you use porn to deal with stress or anger, find better ways of dealing with those things. If watching certain shows cause you to want to view porn, then stop watching them. If going to the park for lunch and looking at the women walking by causes you temptation, find some place else to eat.

Now it’s time to confess to your wife. You have sinned against her, and you can’t repent or seek her forgiveness, without confessing. Yes, she will be mad – and she has good reason to be. It’s going to hurt her, maybe deeply, and it’s going to strain your marriage; sin hurts people and relationships. I know some will not confess, claiming they don’t want to hurt their wife, or fearing she might leave them, but confessing and working to rebuild is the right thing to do – so be a man and do it!

Beyond being the right thing to do, telling your wife significantly improves your chances of freeing yourself for good. In part this is because being willing to confess is a sign a man is serious (if a guy isn’t serious, he is NOT going to tell his wife). Additionally your wife can be a help to you. Ask her to regularly ask you how your doing. Knowing SHE will be asking you can really help when you are tempted. A further reason to talk to your wife is so she will understand if you experience sexual changes as you remove yourself from porn. If you have been masturbating a lot your drive may go up. You could also have a short term problem with rapid ejaculation. On the other hand, if porn has been adding to your sex drive you may feel a decrease in desire., Some men have erection problems, others have difficulty ejaculating. Your wife may suddenly seem sexually boring, or you may get upset about sex for no explainable reason.

I’m all for getting help with ending a porn habit, but be careful. In a recent survey more than half of all self-described “Evangelical pastors” admitted to an ongoing problem with porn – and the situation with the men in the pews is no better. The last thing you want is a case of the blind leading the blind. There are a number of good Internet resources for this, I’ll plug a few. 

I have gotten to know, in a cyber way, the founder of Be Broken Ministries. Jonathan is a great and dedicated guy, and he has a fresh approach to an old issue. I highly recommend his book “Understanding Shame“.

I have heard many good things about Setting Captives Free, and several of the men on this list have contacted me this week to say it has really helped them. Their Pure Freedom Course is excellent. SCF also helps women who are involved in porn – if you and your wife have been viewing porn together and both need help, this is a great place to get it.

Some other good resources are the free accountability software from XXXChurch.com, and the tools at Content Watch, including a free scan for of your computer, and various pay tools to remove porn and prevent you from getting to it again.

And what about this computer you are using? It’s a great tool, but it is also a major problem for anyone trying to escape porn. Two big problem areas are pop-ups and e-mail. I use the the free Google Toolbar, which includes a pop-up stopper. E-mail is a bigger problem. Filters and spam block services don’t really do the job – some stuff you don’t want gets through, while some you do want does not. The only real way to cut off all porn from your in-box is to use a white list service. The service offered by Spam Rival will do this for you (unless you are on AOL), and at $15.00 a year it’s affordable.

Follow ups

This last week of posts has brought me more feed back than any previous month of posts. Several points should be addressed here. 

What about “soft porn” – sexual images not in the category many would call porn. In days gone by teen age boys would use the lingerie section of the Sears and Roebuck catalog or pictures of naked natives from National Geographic as porn. Lust, other than lust for one’s wife, is sin. Jesus said it is like adultery in your heart. Each of us has a different level of what we can ignore and what causes us to lust, but need to avoid what causes us to lust. I also think the sex one sees in movies rated R, PG-13 and even PG can be a problem. There is not as much nudity as with porn, but the wrong attitudes and desires and many of the other unreal aspects I talked about are there. Is a man who thinks women don’t need foreplay because of R rated movies any better off than a man who thinks this because of porn?

I know some of you have a dug yourself into a hole by not being honest with your wife about your sexual needs. You told her you wanted/needed less than you really did out of fear she would think you were being selfish or saying you were over sexed. Our society has called the sex drive God gave men wrong, and many of us fear exposing what is really there. Increasingly men are questioning their normal, God given sex drive, thinking there is something wrong with them. How very sad this is! God made you to have a strong drive, a much stronger drive than your wife, and He called it good. It is not unreasonable or selfish for a man to desire sex as much as everyday. It’s natural for a man to feel frustrated, and even angry, when sex occurs significantly less often than he wants. You are responsible for your actions and how you deal with your sex drive, but you are not “to blame” for your strong drive. God does not want you to apologize for your drive, down play it, or ignore it. Do not call what God made bad, and don’t let your wife think it’s bad. You need to be honest, and you need to educate your wife. Ask her to forgive you if you have lied or mislead her, and work to help her understand how God made you.

I was asked if it’s wrong for a man to masturbate if his wife refuses him sex. First I think we need to be clear about what is refusing and what is not. Your wife is responsible for taking care of your sexual needs, but she has to have a clear understanding of what those needs are in order to do her part. Don’t assume she knows; she is a woman and she can’t know how you feel, what you want, or how you think. If you hint you want sex and your wife does not make herself available, she is not refusing. If you ask her if she wants to have sex and she says no, she is not refusing. If you come to bed after her and she is asleep, or almost asleep, she is not refusing. If you ask to have sex and she says no, then she is refusing. If this happens regularly you need to sit down with her and tell her it hurts you emotionally and causes you to struggle with temptation. If she still won’t meet your sexual needs, then and only then can you really say your wife is refusing you.

If your wife is sinfully unwilling to meet your sexual needs, I do not think you do sin by OCCASIONALLY masturbating to deal with the physical part of the pressure. Of course any use of porn or sexual thoughts about a woman other than your wife is sin, no matter what you are doing. I realize there are some who will strongly disagree with me on this. I respect that, but without a Biblical text to support it I can’t tie this burden onto any man.