Focus on the Family

Erosive Influence of Porn Upon Husbands

It’s when work life and family life are at their peak—and at times at each other’s throats. Many men turn to porn during these exhaustive years as an illicit pick-me-up.

byPaul Coughlin

For the surprising number of husbands who think that pornography use is “no big deal,” consider this from those who work at ground-zero of divorce. During a recent meeting of divorce attorneys, two thirds of the 350 attorneys said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just 10 or so years ago.

The majority of male porn consumers are between the ages of 35-49. I highlight this fact because it provides both context and hope for the many men I talk with across the country. Just as there is fun in sin for a season, there is also a temptation toward particular sins for a season as well. For some men, this is a battle that may never have a complete resolution, but a welcomed truce.

Illicit Pick-Me-Up

It is no coincidence that these years are consistently among the most difficult for men. It’s when work life and family life are at their peak—and at times at each other’s throats. Many men turn to porn during these exhaustive years as an illicit pick-me-up. And surprising to many women, they aren’t so much lusting after that one woman on the monitor; she’s merely a conduit to feeling pleasure again. In many ways, the woman on the monitor who promises so much pleasure and admiration could be any attractive woman. It’s what she provides, not who she is, that matters.

It’s here where biology is especially unkind to husbands. As the more visually inclined gender, these images have the unique capacity to both hyper-sensitize and de-sensitize us, making them especially hazardous to male souls, much like addictive drugs. They also carry with them the deceptive capacity to make the viewer believe that the object can be possessed, seducing the viewer even further into delusion.

One of the most ironic examples of how far this visual-based delusion can go is in the life of the grandfather of porn, Hugh Hefner. Sandy Bentley, a Playboy cover girl and former Hefner girlfriend, observed how Hefner “has trouble finding satisfaction through intercourse; instead, he likes the girls to pleasure each other while he masturbated and watched gay porn.”

Unfair Trial

Image-based virtual infidelity, so enhanced by silicon and deceptive camera angles, creates unfair comparisons to real wives who are not sexually aroused at a moment’s notice. Real wives are picked apart and found wanting, tried in the one-way court of our minds with slim chance for a fair trial. Here wives are quietly deemed undesirable and boring when compared to the artificially slim, breast implanted, and those so eager to please, contort and perform—at least when the cameras are rolling.

Nate Larkin is an author, speaker, and founder of Samson Society, a national fellowship of Christian men who are serious “but not grave” about authenticity, community, humility and recovery. He’s also a former pastor who at one time regularly viewed pornography and who now ministers to men, especially pastors. He says that it’s the perceived anonymity of the Internet that gives pastors the courage to experiment with pornography.

Why pastors look at porn, he says, is multifaceted. “First, because he’s male, and sexual curiosity is hard-wired into the male human body. Second, because he lives in a fallen world, one in which his natural sexual instincts have been warped and titillated. Third, because he works under incredible stress, his performance critiqued on a weekly basis by an unrealistic audience who insists on treating him as an asexual being or as the sole inhabitant of a higher moral plane.”

Like all men, every pastor experiences moments of despair, anger or loneliness. “At such a moment, pornography can appear to be a safe alternative to adultery. To the man who is feeling insecure but doesn’t want to cheat on his wife, a few fleeting seconds with an imaginary lover can prove irresistible.”

Yet Larkin says that for a pastor to admit such a mistake, however, is fatal, forcing his sin and the reasons for it even further underground where redemption is impossible. “If anyone discovers what he’s done, he’ll be tarred and feathered and carried out of town on a rail. So what does he do? He takes his guilt to God privately and makes a private promise never to make that mistake again. And maybe he won’t. But speaking for myself, that’s how I became a porn addict.”