Abuse and Pornography: A Digest of Scott Johnson’s “Pornography and Abuse”

NOTE: There are assessment tools by Dr. Frank Skinner at Growth Climate Intuitive Relationships [Internet Archive link] to help spouses of porn addicts and also another one to assess what level of addiction a person is at.

We have referred to Scott Allen Johnson’s great book before, Physical Abusers and Sexual Offenders [Affiliate link] when we summarized his tenth chapter on Empathy. Here, we will do the same with the 20th chapter of his book entitled Pornography and Abuse. As most of our readers are fully aware of, many abusers are into pornography. It is anything but a harmless pastime and must never be taken lightly. Johnson’s chapter begins with this insightful quote from an unknown source:

“If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. You have to believe, in other words, that art is morally trivial and that education is morally irrelevant. Pornography’s whole purpose is to treat human beings obscenely, to deprive them of their specifically human dimension.”

Pornography feeds abuse by nourishing the perverted and even violent fantasies in the abuser’s mind. It transforms women and children into objects whose purpose is to bring pleasure to the abuser. While, as Johnson notes, research has not proven that pornography directly causes sexual violence, the end result is really the same because porn in fact reinforces violent fantasies and perverted thinking that abusers possess. It is, you might say, gasoline on the fire.

Pornography is progressive as a person becomes increasingly addicted to it. Like larger doses of heroin, the porn addict will advance from “soft” porn to the harder and more perverted. As a person is increasingly exposed to porn, his (and dare we say “her” with the advent of “mommy porn”) tolerance level for more and more grotesque forms of porn rises. That is to say, what he may have once found very offensive and even shocking eventually becomes unremarkable.

Porn leads men to pressure or even force women to comply with what the man has seen in pornography, thus coercing women into degrading, humiliating, and even painful acts. Compassion for women, empathy if you will, lessens as exposure to porn continues. It also leads to increasing dissatisfaction with one’s normal sexual relationship. Here is a great quote and observation by Johnson:

….People who say that they buy pornography only to view and read the articles (such as Playboy) are simply liars. If they wanted articles, they could have found similar articles and topics in nonpornographic magazines. Pornography serves a sexual purpose each and every time it is used. There is no such thing as a “nonsexual” use of pornography. People view it and usually masturbate to it.

And that is the ugly truth.

Johnson makes the vital point that much pornography depicts women with facial expressions of fear, discomfort, anger, frustration, or surprise. These expressions are intentional and they do not escape the notice of men who view these images. It is, Johnson notes —

….as though the publishers and photographers of pornography purposely choose….that which portrays nonconsensual sex and unrealistic sexual interaction. I believe that pornographers purposefully pair the negative, degrading, and abusive, because violence and forced sex sells far more than consensual sex would….So, what they are really selling is sexualized aggression, violence and force with intimacy, and surreal expectations of what to expect from sexual partners. The end result is that they pair anger with sexuality.  [Emphasis added.]

And that spells Trouble with a capital T!

As porn addicts become increasingly callous to the degrading acts committed against women in the porn, the viewer himself becomes increasingly convinced that women are objects to be used by men at will. Johnson notes that  —

It was not that long ago when victims of sexual abuse (including incest) were questioned as to whether they enjoyed the sexual abuse, whether they asked for or deserved to be sexually abused, and to have their past sexual histories used to determine if they were promiscuous or virginal, as if it really mattered….

By the way, this is exactly the kind of questioning that occurred in the sordid coverup of the rape of a 15 year old girl by a church member, featured on national news. Pastor Chuck Phelps covered it up and when he and his wife interviewed the girl she was asked if she “enjoyed it.”

This has been just an introduction to the content of Johnson’s 20th chapter. We end with one more quote:

….Men have long been excused from being held accountable for their physically and sexually abusive behavior.

…If men developed more respect for women, they would more than likely use far less pornography. This would certainly not please the pornography industry. Recall how the tobacco industry continues to fight as they, in a state of delusional wisdom, attempt to convince people that smoking is a harmless, low-risk activity, despite insurmountable evidence to the contrary. What would the pornography industry do to maintain the right to humiliate and denigrate women? Wouldn’t that be a battle to witness?

Therefore, the use of pornography and domestic abuse are closely connected. Men, and especially Christian men, must stand against this evil and reject porn for the vile thing that it is. Any woman whose husband is using porn must draw firm boundaries and insist that he be done with it immediately. If this requires that he take serious measures, such as entering therapy or a support group, then so be it. But it must stop.

(Proverbs 6:27-29  ESV)  (27) Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?  (28) Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?  (29) So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.

Here is the testimony of one abuse victim. Listen as she provides her “take” on this nemesis:

From where I stand, the church is dropping the ball big-time with pornography. A wise friend has said for years, “Sin is anything that breaks down relationship.” I tell my children this. When you steal, covet, lie, gossip….all of those things fall under the canopy of relationship-destroying and are, therefore, sin. It can be subtle. A person can do something very righteous looking but it ends up breaking down a friendship….so, no matter how you slice it, it still comes from the black pie of sin. OR, we can try to generalize it (“everybody’s doing it”) and, therefore, justify it. (Didn’t work for Sodom and Gomorrah now, did it?) But, that is what we have done with porn. We’re all a little more OK with it than we think….somehow. There is a book (which I hate and I am certainly entitled to my opinion) called “Every Man’s Battle.” Just the title slays me. I might FULLY be reading into this (no pun intended) but the title suggests that every man struggles with lust and porn. I don’t get that. That is a sweeping generalization that, surely, must make a LOT of men feel a WHOLE lot better about what they do in secret. Because EVERY MAN battles this….right? The title says so!

I am not going to go into some sort of platform about porn because I know I will miss some big issues….I hear that a lot of women look at porn now….I hear that there is some sort of a whopping 90% of men who are church-goers who regularly look at porn. (OK. That is probably an exaggeration….but it is some ridiculous number like that.) I cannot be sure of all the new information out there on pornography. But I do know this….it wreaked much MUCH more havoc in my life over the past 12 years than I EVER see documented in these studies. HAVOC. And I feel almost certain that people do not understand the devastation years of pornography can have on a person. I once saw a glimpse — A GLIMPSE of porn at someone’s house when I was 22 or 23. It was (literally) about 2 seconds. I can still see it in my mind. And it was mild. But, it has been burned into my memory. I cannot imagine what a lifetime of porn does to a person’s soul….it makes them soul-sick.

I will step onto my soapbox for one sentence: I wish pastors / people took pornography more seriously. (OK, two sentences.) I also wish they would quit trying to blame wives for husbands’ porn addictions. Listen….

God never holds anyone responsible for someone else’s sin.

Stepping off….

Whoops. Stepping back on….a woman is created in God’s image. When you reduce her to an object for your personal, loveless use, it is a slap in God’s face.

Moving on….

I am already talking to my two oldest about porn. I actually started last year. Because I know PLENTY of young men who started looking at it as early as 10 or 11….  Here are the main points that I discuss with my children:

1) There is NO WAY to look at pornography and have any sort of healthy view of husband / wife relationships.

2) There is NO WAY to look at pornography and still maintain a healthy view of women (or men).

The reason for these two assertions is that….as soon as you step into the realm of using a person (that is what pornography is — using a person for your own pleasure, devoid of any sort of real intimacy)….it is very difficult to then turn around, look a woman in the eye and view her with the honor she deserves as a human being, having been created in God’s image. Pornography wears down a view of women, bit by bit….over time….until she is….only a thing. Which helps lead….to abuse.

I know several men who have become so incredibly convicted that they can hardly bear the guilt….so they do this funny thing where they blame the women in the videos. They believe they are temptresses….out to get them. It is the weirdest thing but, I promise you, they do it. It doesn’t take long for said men to believe that all women are temptresses. That is why you get the weird super-conservative guys who insist that women dress super-modestly and not wear make-up, etc., and then they get caught doing something sexually sick. In their minds, women are condemned for being beautiful. Because they are manipulative temptresses….as are the women in the movies they watch….rather than the beaten-down-kidnapped-sex-slaved-shells-of-women-who-need-to-be-loved that they are. (Incidentally, give me a room full of men and I can tell you who is addicted….they don’t look me in the eye….they treat women with disdain. They are arrogant.) Sadly, these twisted beliefs lead me to number three….

3) There is NO WAY to look at pornography and have a healthy view of daughters.

Many many many many little girls are de-valued by the very men who should treat them like princesses. Their views of women are so incredibly warped that they have a natural disdain for their daughters. Little girls can sense this at a VERY young age. The damage is near irreparable. Treat a girl like she is a manipulative slut and that’s what you’ll get — a love-starved girl chasing after boys at age 12.

If death is the total break-down of relationship….utter selfishness….then what is porn? It is destructive to the greatest degree and we’re glossing over it….well, either glossing over it or we’re telling the wives that they need to get in there and fix their husband’s sin problem. We’ve got young men marrying because they think that if they can “legally” have sex then they won’t look at porn. What. A. Lie. You cannot use a woman to stop your addiction. And boy….does that woman feel used if you try.

Porn kills. And I’m telling it to my children now. I don’t care about all the books that have come out. I don’t care about what the church or “Promise Keepers” or anyone else is saying about it. They’re not getting it right. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that it is OK! But, I can tell you this: It WILL NOT have a foothold in THIS FAMILY….anymore.

[September 22, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 22, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 22, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 22, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 22, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

37 thoughts on “Abuse and Pornography: A Digest of Scott Johnson’s “Pornography and Abuse””

  1. WOW! So well said…I can see a progression in my marriage over the last 10 years that leads me to the conclusion that there was pornography being used, even though I still cannot prove it. My daughter once said her relationship with her dad began disintegrating when she was around 10-12…this would be about 10 years ago when things got so bad for my marriage. Especially in our physical relationship I began to feel that sense of being objectified, and believe me, there was NO EMPATHY! I have been thinking about this subject so much lately, and I think this is the SINGLE, LARGEST reason for the disintegration of marriage in America and especially in the church. It cannot be over-emphasized…

  2. One more thing…”The end result is that they pair anger with sexuality.“ This is a common thread throughout our relationship…but became so much worse the last 6 months when I began making boundaries regarding his behavior in the bedroom…threats, intimidation tactics…and never once could he see that was NOT helping me draw close to him!! It was as if he was completely deceived and blinded (which he was).

    “As soon as you step into the realm of using a person (that is what pornography is — using a person for your own pleasure, devoid of any sort of real intimacy) . . . it is very difficult to then turn around, look a woman in the eye and view her with the honor she deserves as a human being, having been created in God’s image. Pornography wears down a view of women, bit by bit . . . . over time . . . . until she is . . . . . only a thing. Which helps lead . . . . . . to abuse.”

    Been there, lived that.

  3. Pornography is an evil stain on the church and I’m sick to death of church folks who marginalize, minimize and manipulate those in their congregation for no other reason than to justify their own sin. Pastors who look the other way while their members hold sex toy parties and pass around ‘instructional videos,’ calling evil good and good evil, are a major part of the problem.

    And let me agree with the anonymous author here– I too can pick out those who use porn in a room. Not difficult in the least for those who’ve lived any length of time with someone who habitually indulges. The marks on the behavior, speech patterns, attitudes and treatment toward women of any age are crystal. The difference usually shows in whether they are a-okay with what their doing– (leering disrespect of woman, disdain and disrespect for older, middle aged and any female they think has ‘let themselves go’) and those self righteous hypocrites who are supposedly battling their addiction (which really means playing around with sin, repeating the pattern over and over, justifying their behavior by blaming all woman-kind for leading them into lustful thoughts so they ‘just can’t help themselves’.)


    The redeemed of the Lord are strong and mighty. They are called to be men of valor, courageous and strong, just bumping over with the fruit of the Spirit of the Lord God Almighty– love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self control. They protect the weak and stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior and call others to repentance with a spirit of humility.

    I refuse to believe our Christian men are weak and helpless, the spineless creatures our current church system makes them out to be.

    (Climbing off my soapbox, at least long enough for more coffee…)

    1. Right on, Ida Mae. You know, any true Christian who is battling with pornography is doing just that – BATTLING! Not justifying it or making excuses. Romans 8 makes it very plain that the Spirit of Christ in the believer rises up when the flesh threatens and urges us to obey Him. And even when we fail and sin, there is grief and remorse and repentance, even when we know that Christ still loves us. There is not going to be a dominant spirit of “well, we are all sinners you know. And besides, God made us to be sexual beings and He understands…..yada, yada.” We can flee to Christ when we fall, but we WILL flee to Him in confession and repentance and grief over our sin. We won’t boast about it as the Corinthians tried to do (1 Cor 5).

  4. It seems that (even in contexts outside of marriage)
    — when a person is into physically and mentally
    ‘controlling’and ‘abusing’ others — pornography
    and other sexual ‘perversions’ almost ALWAYS
    will eventually fit into the picture of who they are.

    The following link is an example of a teacher who
    decided to violent abuse a young student (in the
    name of “discipline”) when this young student had
    difficulty in learning a given subject — and, shock
    of all shocks, it was later found that the teacher
    was also found to be in possession, of not just
    pornography but, of actual child-pornography.

    Michael Shanklin, Teacher Who Spanked Student, Also Had Child Porn: Virginia Cops [Internet Archive link]

    It never ceases to amaze me how very often abusers
    are obsessed with trying to make ‘abuse’ look like it
    is “discipline” or “guidance” — AND how often their
    ‘abusive-mentality’ is also tied into being obsessed
    with trying to take sexual control over others and
    to ALWAYS pervert God’s intention for mankind.

    1. Wow, that reminds me of a story wherein a music teacher committed suicide when accused of showing porn to his students. Looking back, I can see this … at first I wondered why he had so few kids wanting to sign up for his choir. Then I witnessed a concert where he would “put kids down” to “keep them in line”. I thought it was sad and up until now, still wondered aloud of his innocence. Thanks for connecting the dots for me.

  5. Pornography destroyed my marriage but I don’t think it was the cause of the abuse in my case. I can’t be sure but I am sure that it at least greatly aggravated the abuse. I have said elsewhere on this blog how I was sexually abused my whole marriage because of his pornography addiction. I watched as it progressed over seven years like the article said. In the end I lived in fear of his “new fantasies” that he wanted to play out in the bedroom. He also always had some “article or interview” which clamed that the woman liked it and therefore I should like it too. Early in our marriage I bought him the book “Every Man’s Battle” hoping that it would help him. I read the book and found it to be very convicting on many levels. The author made sure to treat it as a horrible sin that would destroy your relationship with God. In a young Christian boy’s hands it would probably work well as a good warning to keep them from it, but in the hands of an abuser it is nothing but a “license to sin” because it also mentions that it is a common problem in men’s live and it should be looked at as no worse then any other sin. (I am paraphrasing a great deal it has been more than 5years since I last looked at it). Pornography is not just any other sin though. God said to ‘Flee’ from this sin where other sins he said we should resist, So even God shows us that there is a difference between sexual sin and other sins. “soul-sick” is a great way to describe it.

  6. This rings so true. My husband has used porn our whole marriage. This is almost no intimacy and I frequently feel used in bed. That and he is a verbal/emotional abuser. I have always believed that porn was a huge contributor to the problems in our marriage. I will say that when he is not viewing porn as much he is less abusive. But, I think until if or when he repents and renews his mind in Christ that the problems in our marriage will not improve significantly.

    1. WC- Just as a point of interest, does your husband claim to be a Christian? Does he attend church? Not prying, I just like to find these things out so I can better understand abusers and how they operate.

      1. Jeff – My husband does claim to be a Christian. We are not currently attending church. I am struggling with issues related to church and abuse. I would love to find a church and continue to pray and search. My husband is a truck driver so is frequently over the road. He says he wants to attend church but when he is home he usually will decide not to go.

      2. Thanks WC. And I understand how difficult it is to find a church. In my opinion, as I have mentioned elsewhere, the abuser who claims to be a Christian is the toughest kind.

  7. In seven years of leading divorce recovery groups I have seen pornography/sexual addiction be the primary cause of divorce more often than alcohol/drug addiction. Cannot really share the details, but the affected spouse can be left extremely damaged and suffer PTSD like symptoms. It is encouraging to see better counseling regarding this scourge in recent years.
    In regards to “Everyman’s Battle”, the book is a mixed bag. My primary objection to it is the depiction of men’s sexual drive as unrelenting. I remember discussions of married men needing sexual activity every three days. Turns men into machinery that needs to change oil on a regular schedule and reduces their responsibility. Too bad if that is inconvenient or unwanted by the wife. I feel the book is just an “enlightened” expression of patriarchy in the Christian church. On the plus side, it has brought a more open discussion of sex in churches. I hope that the book is an interim step towards a more balanced and holistic view.

    1. Thanks Loren. I find this fact very interesting. I announced to my congregation this morning that if anyone is feeling hooked by pornography that they need to tell someone and get help and that they will not be judged nor condemned for doing so. I remember also seeing in the DVD seminar series (also a book) — Love and Respect, by the Eggeriches (probably misspelled that) that the guy makes the statement, “How dare a wife condemn her husband for struggling with something that she knows nothing about.” He meant, pornography. That line alone has given me reason enough to reject Love and Respect as a counseling tool.

  8. To my knowledge and gut feeling, my two exes did not have pornography problems so I guess I don’t have such sharp antennae as Ida Mae and others who were married to porn addicts. But the thought of being able to tell the men in the room who are into porn by their body language, attitudes, and the ways they talk …. that’s intriguing. I wonder if I’ve been aware of some of that stuff subliminally and not fully understanding what I was picking up.

    I do know one guy I worked with used to have problems looking at a woman’s face for more than half a second. His eyes kept going down to her chest like they were yo-yo’s on amphetamines. It certainly said something about how obsessed he was. It was extraordinarily difficulty trying to have a proper work-related conversation with him while he was doing that.

  9. My husband looks at porn. He has for our entire marriage and even before we were married. Here’s the weird part. I don’t really even care. I was horrified when I found out when we were engaged, but I felt trapped and so I married him anyway in spite of all the massive red flags. And somewhere along the way, I lost my sense of outrage about the porn. I think it’s because I’m so detached from him and have never felt much of an emotional attachment to him. I’ve always seen it as his problem, for which I’m not responsible. I care for his sake, because it’s sin. But I don’t feel personally violated that he looks at it. Is that strange? I get angry that he looks at it but then tells me in counseling that he feels that we lack intimacy (physical and emotional), but that’s the extent of my outrage. I think it’s cruel that he asks me to work on something that will never be what God intends it to be because he’s looking at porn and he thinks I don’t know. He knows I know that he periodically looks at it, but he doesn’t know that I know the extent of how much he looks at it.

    He used to be completely open about it and would ask me to look at it with him. A few times (earlier in our marriage) I did look at it with him. Then I became stronger about saying no. Once it came up in counseling (2 years ago) he started hiding it. I didn’t even tell the counselor on my own. He gave us a questionaire to fill out separately, which asked if either of us looked at porn. I said that he did and he said that he didn’t. It was totally awkward when the counselor confronted him about it during our next session. I even started to defend him! “But he’s not addicted to it.” “All his friends look at it and email it around to each other, so he doesn’t understand that it’s wrong.” It wasn’t until he started insinuating that he wasn’t looking at it anymore, but I knew that he was, that it became an issue for me.

    I go into the computer history and delete it out so the kids can’t accidentally stumble across it. And in confessing my true motives for not caring, one of my biggest fears is that if I make a huge deal about it and insist that he work on it, he’ll stop and then he’ll want more sex from me. It’s difficult enough for me giving him the pitiful little sex that I can manage to give him. I don’t want to have sex with him more. I truly hate having sex with him. But I do know that he’s going to have a much more difficult time turning away from porn if I’m not helping out much in that department. I’ve never seen him truly repent of it, though. When I’ve confronted him, he’s apologized, then found better ways to hide it.

    I do feel outrage at the nonchalant attitude that the church has towards pornography. I think I’ve heard my pastor mention it in passing in one sermon, but that’s it. Maybe they discuss it more in the men’s groups or in adult Sunday school classes?? If you google pornography and Biblical grounds for divorce, you will be hard pressed to find any Christian saying that it is grounds for divorce. I think that a man, who is otherwise a decent husband, can slip into it for a time. And if he were genuinely repentant, I would be willing to work on the relationship. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the case most of the time. It seems like a habitual, unrepentant thing. If it’s going on for years and years, and the husband is obviously not willing to stop (he only hides it better when caught) how is that not adultery?

    Perhaps if the church took a stronger stand and considered it to be adultery, more men would flee from it.

    And that quote from Love and Respect that Jeff C mentioned,“How dare a wife condemn her husband for struggling with something that she knows nothing about,” confuses me. Does the author really think that women don’t struggle with lust? I have certainly struggled with lust. And are Christian wives really condemning their husbands? There’s a difference between feeling hurt or violated and condemning.

    Thank you for this post and for reminding me of the dangers of porn and the fact that the way it depicts women is adding to the abuse that is so prevalent within the church.

    Eds. note: Mark Baker has a 12-page PDF [Internet Archive link] that exposes the biblical error of the Love & Respect book by Eggerichs.

    1. JM – Very understandable. If his intentions are directed at the porn, that takes pressure off of you. And why would anyone not dread being intimate with such a person.

      Being forgiving and understanding of someone who acknowledges their sin (let’s say, porn for example), hates it, takes steps to be free of it such as seeking therapy, empathetically acknowledging the harm it is doing to others, is one thing. Christians battle sin. But the key word here is “battle.” From your description, your husband does not battle with porn. He agrees with it, does not care what it does to you or the family, and is only upset when anyone or anything interferes with what he wants to do. Such hard-hearted, unrepentant violation of the marriage covenant destroys the marriage. Divorce in such cases is merely acknowledging what has already been done by the perpetrator.

      Unrepentant, ongoing, persistent love for and use of porn is indeed grounds for divorce. And it should be very clear to Christians because there is no doubt that it is adultery. Think of the progression. Is going to a prostitute grounds for divorce? Of course. Is going to a strip club any different? No. So, just because the stripper happens to be online instead of in an actual club (where does this word “club” come from anyway?), is it any different? No. And yet, as you point out, somehow Pharisaical thinking and religion has come into this scene and pronounced (at least by omission of taking action) that online adultery is not actual adultery. Hmmmm…I think Jesus had something to say about that. Can’t you see the Pharisees, if they had computers, adjusting their rules so that they could sin online and get away with it? “If a man payeth for online porn, it is a sin, yet it shall not be so terrible as if he payeth for an actual harlot whom he can toucheth.” (Pharisees used KJV language, did you know?) “Yet if a man only uses impersonal online pornography, it shall not be deemed as serious of a sin as if he connects with an actual person online.” “No online sin is actual adultery because it does not involve physical contact. It shall not be grounds for divorce.”

      As stupid as that all sounds, it sounds pretty much like the “reasoning” we employ so often in the church today, right?

      1. Oh my goodness, Jeff. I agree so whole-heartedly with this entire comment. It helps me so much. I felt like the lone wolf SO MANY TIMES on this pornography issue. Thank you for affirming what I have felt to be true for so many years. I needed this right here:

        Such hard-hearted, unrepentant violation of the marriage covenant destroys the marriage. Divorce in such cases is merely acknowledging what has already been done by the perpetrator.

        One time, an Elder at a church said to me, “If pornography were adultery, and it were grounds for a divorce, than 90% of the women in church would have grounds for divorce. That’s preposterous”. I said, “EXACTLY!! It is WAY out of hand and no one seems to see it!!! We have a great big problem on our hands!” He didn’t listen….but I know it and feel it.

        Just Me, I completely understand your struggles. How can you have any sort of intimacy that is real with a man who constantly gives away the precious gift of intimacy with YOU by viewing porn? He is taking your gift and stomping on it every single time he views porn. It is no different than if he daily visited prostitutes. We should all be very appalled and I wish I saw more of this shock and awe over such a devastating “acceptable” sin. Big hugs to you. I pray, someday, you will be free of this pressure and pain and that this part of your life will be healed and beautiful. Your husband has chosen to give into this sin. He isn’t fighting it at all. It has become his close friend. Big big hugs to you.

  10. One time, an elder at a church said to me, “If pornography were adultery, and it were grounds for a divorce, than 90% of the women in church would have grounds for divorce. That’s preposterous”. I said, “EXACTLY!! It is WAY out of hand and no one seems to see it!!! We have a great big problem on our hands!” He didn’t listen . . . but I know it and feel it.

    Megan, this is exactly it!! I’ve periodically googled porn and divorce for a few years and I see this rationalization so often. And I thought the same thing! How can people look at that statistic and think the real concern is making it known that it is NOT grounds for divorce? The real outrage is that 90% of marriages within the church do have grounds for divorce! The outrage is that it is so prevalent and so accepted even within the church! If a few divorces happened because of it, other men may be more likely to turn away from it.

    Jeff, LOVE your KJV quote. And I think that most Christians don’t consider lap dances and strip clubs to be grounds for divorce either because they don’t involve actual intercourse. And you’re right, he’s not “battling” porn. He’s looking at it. I’ve been shocked many times over the years at his lack of a conscience in a lot of areas. And I struggle with the balance between enabling and forcing my conscience upon him. Neither is right, but it is so difficult to find the middle ground where I’m not doing either one.

  11. I recently wrote about SOME of the effects of porn on my life on my own blog. This post completely nails it! I love my dad. He is now dead, and we restored our relationship before his death. But, he was into porn in a big way, and I constantly heard that “women are only good for one thing and most of them aren’t good at that” and “all women are either gold diggers or whores.” I hated my own gender. I hated my own body. I hated all things feminine. My mom was also really into porn and used it to sexualize me at a very, very young age. My husband was horribly addicted to porn and had really sick sexual appetites that I worry may have involved the children. I, too, have always HATED that book’s title and refused to even consider looking at it when it was recommended for my husband. Every Man’s Battle. Baloney! Nice way to normalize the abnormal. I cannot even begin to articulate all of the ways porn ruined my life and how much it messed me up. In fact, I can’t even continue my thoughts here right now. I am distraught. Just please, please, please continue to try to help people realize it is a horribly destructive force.

    1. ANFL – Destructive indeed. I have been doing more reading about it today. Pornography is a mood-altering device that releases powerful chemicals in our brains. Properly used, those chemicals are for good. But pornography becomes a means of activating those chemicals into a cocktail mix something like amphetamines. Add masturbation to the mix and a person is well on the way to becoming an addict. Addiction to porn, as you know all too well, has far-reaching consequences: emotional, physical, financial, relational, familial, spiritual. Women’s rights groups, even the most radical and even God-rejecting groups, should be incensed about pornography, as should ALL Christians, male and female. You hear Christians shouting far and wide about the destruction of divorce. But what is causing those divorces? Some say that pornography is at the root of more than we know or want to admit.

      1. Jeff — Nouthetic counseling would insist that pornography is only a sin and not an addiction. I disagree. Like anything, it CAN only be a sin and then it can ALSO be an addiction. I read a book (it might be what you are reading today) written by a Christian physician who speaks about the brain chemicals you are talking about and it makes perfect sense. If it was more widely recognized that there IS a chemical rush that is addictive, there might be better treatments out there.

      2. Megan – the book I am reading is called Treating Pornography Addiction: The Essential Tools for Recovery by Kevin B. Skinner, PHD. Yes, nouthetic counseling flunks once again. Sure, bottom line is that sin is the cause. But sometimes a person gets initially hooked even as a kid or teen because of the sin of someone ELSE exposing them to the garbage. Then, yes, they sin by pursuing it, but there are physiological effects and dynamics going on in a person’s brain and body just like when someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs. And in just my small experience of working with people who are struggling with porn and truly hate it and want to be free of it, I see them being really helped when they find out about the physical/emotional link that is happening to them when they view porn. If you don’t know what is happening, it is much harder to combat it.

      3. This is another stupidity that some forms of Christian counselling do: categorise a thing as ‘a sin’ or ‘an addiction’ rather than saying ‘it can be both’.
        Reminiscent of the way psychiatry categorises and sub-categorises different mental disorders. I know the categories can be somewhat helpful in psychiatry, but it does lead to rigid and reductionist thinking on the part of both practitioner and client.

      4. Barbara – I wonder how many biblical counselors, for instance, would insist that because the use of heroin is a sin, there is no need to address the physical addiction that sin led to? And not just physical addiction, but psychological and emotional as well. Whatever stimulus kicks loose that powerful cocktail of chemicals produced by the brain surely alters the brain and creates a powerful craving. In my reading on pornography, I am learning that some very parallel physico-chemical events are set in motion by the porn and especially if accompanied by some sexual activity like masturbation. A person can literally get hooked and that is why porn addicts can end up spending all their money on it and hours and hours every day looking at it. They become its slaves.

      5. I was talking to a Christian counselor I really respect today and we touched on porn and sexual addiction. He confirmed to me what I’ve read elsewhere, that most sex addicts (addicted to porn, pedophilia, fornication) don’t get healed. He has worked with many such clients and they rarely kick the habit. He agrees with this neuro-biological-chemical understanding of addiction to porn that you have been reading about, Jeff. He also mentioned that very very often it start pre-puberty. Not that the masturbation starts then, but exposure pre–puberty starts off the neural pathways and then when puberty hits the guy is going to react strongly to porn and want more and more of it. He also talked about three levels in degree of seriousness: use of porn online, use of chat rooms online, use of prostitutes. Some of the guys he treats give up the prostitutes, but don’t give up the two other practices.
        He also mentioned that he thinks Nouthetic counseling is a form of abuse.

      6. All the more amazing then what Christ does when He regenerates us:

        1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV
        (9) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

        At the same time, there is a real warning here that “knowing unbelief” persisted in, wherein the sinner knows Christ is Lord yet hardens himself against that knowledge, even experiences the grace and goodness of Christ by being in a place where the gospel is preached and where, quite often, a godly spouse models Christ — there is a warning in this and in the Scriptures that a person can reach a point of no return, as Esau did.

      7. I was at the No To Violence conference last week, a secular conference for professionals who are working on male behaviour change for DV perpetrators, and primary prevention of family violence. I spoke to a secular female worker who said that men who abuse their partners are very often using pornography and the effect on the woman and children is terrible. She certainly saw it as a giant part of the problem and she displayed what I thought was an appropriate sense of outrage about pornography. I was heartened to see a non-Christian being outraged about porn.

      8. We are all, secular and Christian, going to be forced to own up to the disastrous consequences of porn – both “soft” and “hard” because the effects are getting to be so widespread. It is like a plague. I wonder if porn has anything to do with my perception that young men and women are not getting married until a much older age than 40 years ago when I was growing up?

  12. To add to my story, about March of this year (2012) I found out that my husband was into porn. I had an idea that he was into porn but the proof came when my youngest daughter came to me and said that her dad was watching naked people on the computer. I was very, very mad. I did some research and found a site activtrak.com that will let you see what people are doing on a computer for free. I signed up and went home, luckily he had left to go get some parts, so frantically I was trying to download this program onto the computer he was using. I was so nervous thinking he could walk in any given second and catch me on that computer. The day before, I was looking at the history of the internet and found out that my suspicions were correct. After loading it on the computer I had put [turned] it off and he walked in within 5 minutes of me completing my task and went straight on the computer.

    In one sense I was relieved that I would be able to see what he was doing. The next day I went to work, logged onto my activtrak account and was blown away at what I found out. He was into very hard core porn. It went on for hours and hours, then in about May I noticed he was going onto speed dating on the internet. He was on the computer from 5 minutes after I left the house ’til about 15 minutes before I returned from work. That is [about 10 hours non-stop] every day, looking at porn and talking to women on speed dating. I copied some of the conversations that he was having with women, how he was telling then how awful of a person I was. He would speak to some women in Tennessee, New York, Michigan and also Florida, telling them how long it would take him to get to their location and that I was capable of taking care of the kids without his help. How, when I finally kicked him out of the house, he would be looking for another girl to be with. And what I could not believe is how these women would believe that he was the victim in this case. This went on until the day before he was taken to jail. That Sunday he was commenting about how mad he was at the B….that he was married too and that we just had a huge fight.

    [For safety and protection, some details have been airbrushed. Paragraph break added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1. Tersia, other readers here may like to use activtrak, so I’d like to ask you a bit more about it. Did it show you the actual porn images that your husband had been watching? Or were you just able to be told the URLS of the sites he visited and for how long he stayed on each one. I’m wondering because I would think that many women would not want to look at porn images. I know my mind is pained when I have accidentally been exposed to such things, even if only for a second. I have to pray and ask Jesus to wipe the image from my mind, or at least take out the sting of it and stop my mind replaying it because it was to horrid and traumatizing.
      I understand wives want to know what their husband is involved in, but we also don’t want wives traumatized by too much detail, if we can help it.
      Have you any thoughts on this dilemma?

      1. Barbara, yes, activtrak takes a screen shot and you see exactly what is on the screen and then tells you how long they have been on that particular site. You can tell it how often to take a screen shot. You might want to set up an account and then download it on another computer and experiment with the settings. It tells you everything from the minute the computer goes on ’til it gets cut off.

      2. Thanks for that explanation, Tersia. I am wondering one more thing, but please understand there is no pressure to answer. If you were traumatized from looking at those images that your husband had been watching, how did you handle that? Do you have any tips for others like yourself who witness the explicit material?

  13. Knowing that any kind of porn use escalates, and that child porn is the only prosecutable porn, and because of the tragedy of a friend’s destroyed marriage to an “addicted to gay porn domestically abusive sociopathic narcissistic serial liar pastor-husband” (now ex) it would be good to see articles relating to how same sex porn also destroys families and what are the dangers to, signs to look for in, the same gender children produced in the marriage and how the abused spouse can ever get protection for the children since his secrecy assures she can’t produce evidence of child porn even if she’s concerned about it.

    1. it would be good to see articles relating to how same sex porn also destroys families and what are the dangers to, signs to look for in, the same gender children produced in the marriage and how the abused spouse can ever get protection for the children since his secrecy assures she can’t produce evidence of child porn even if she’s concerned about it.

      Wendell could maybe do something on this, I’m not sure. But how to get protection for the kids. . . that’s the really HARD one, since the family courts are so often manipulated by the abusers. I have no answers for that, except to work for long term social change in the church until the church starts REALLY standing up for victims and pressuring the government to change the legislation so that Family Courts provide more protection for victims and their children, until no child will be handed by the courts into the hands and influence of the abuser/ porn addict/ pervert / pedophile / substance abuser / sociopath/ conscienceless monster.

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