A Google search for “does porn enhance intimacy in marriage” produces millions of results, many in direct contradiction to one another. There is much confusion and disagreement on the topic. From a Christian perspective, however, the answer is clear: Marital sexuality is to be radically exclusive. So, pornography not only decreases true intimacy in marriage but actually prevents it.
Porn is a third party
Introducing pornography into your marriage, whether viewing it together or alone, has the same effect as bringing in a third party. God’s ideal for sexual intimacy in marriage is for one man and one woman for life. Even though porn isn’t a relationship with a physical person, the result is just as destructive as having an affair.
One of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Adultery brings a virtual third party into the sexual relationship of a married couple. Pornography creates the same feelings and emotional effects as physical adultery, and it’s wrong. Jesus said it like this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Porn in the bedroom, literally or in one’s imagination, draws the eyes and thoughts away from one’s spouse. What’s worse, this nonphysical party ends up paving the way for a physical affair. Researchers have found that exposure to porn is a reliable predictor of physical infidelity in many cases.
Porn creates unrealistic expectations
By nature, porn is fantasy. Figures are digitally enhanced; orgasms are always achieved; and there are never issues with performance or getting in the mood. Therefore, when a couple looks to porn to enhance intimacy, they’re enticed into bringing the unrealistic expectations of the porn world into the real world of their marriage. These worlds don’t mix well.
Early in my marriage when I was secretly addicted to pornography, the more I consumed porn, the more I found flaws in my wife. This created an ever-widening divide in our relationship. No spouse can measure up to porn when it comes to body image, performance and stamina.
Porn fosters dissatisfaction
These unrealistic expectations aren’t just about the sexual relationship. Pornography has never brought long-term, deep soul satisfaction to anyone. Ever. It promises to satisfy but can only disappoint. This vicious cycle keeps addicts coming back, trying again and experiencing disappointment — a process that reinforces discontent.
Am I saying that ultimate satisfaction comes from your spouse? No. Your husband or wife cannot satisfy your soul. Only Jesus Christ can give you water that quenches your soul thirst (John 4). But you can find wonderful contentment in your spouse when you choose to “forsake all others” and “drink water from your own well” (Proverbs 5:15).
Porn misses the point of sex
The one and only focus of porn is sex. But marriage isn’t one dimensional. Two lives coming together include emotional, spiritual, intellectual and relational union. The lifelong covenant bond of marriage is far deeper and richer than simply the act of sex.
Building sexual intimacy into your marriage is important for a healthy, vibrant relationship, but it is not found through porn. To protect each other and your relationship as you nurture intimacy, ask each other the following questions:
- Is the sexual activity moral? Does it align with what the Bible says about sex?
- Is the sexual activity mutually agreeable? Ephesians 5:33 teaches us, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
- Is the sexual activity mutually pleasurable and not simply looking to your “own interests” (Philippians 2:4)?
- Is the sexual activity building oneness? As Ephesians 5:31 says, “The two shall become one flesh.”
Pornography distorts God’s beautiful gift of sex, destroying rather than enhancing true intimacy and oneness. There is no benefit from shaming yourself or your spouse for struggling with this issue. Through Christ, we can confess, repent and move forward. God’s grace offers you the opportunity to try again and discover a better, richer and more intimate marriage.
Jonathan Daugherty is the founder, president and board chairman of Be Broken Ministries. He is the author of Grace Based Recovery: A safe place to grow and heal.
A variety of issues can fuel habitual pornography use. Understanding the deeper needs of individuals affected by this common problem is important. Reach out to well-trained helpers, and if you are a married couple do so together. Change is possible! We can guide you as you seek a referral and take your first steps toward recovery. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 855-771-HELP (4357) or