10 Hard Truths that Christian wives must accept about their husband’s and porn

“Is divorce ever an option? Sure it is. Adultery always makes divorce an option, and if your husband will not repent and refuses to turn from an ongoing, regular porn habit, he is an adulterer.” This is a quote from an article on charismanews.com entitled “4 Ways to Respond to Your Husband’s Porn Addiction”.

Brenda Stoeker is the author of this article and she was a co-author with her husband Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn along with Mike Yorkey of the book “Every Heart Restored”. Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn are famous for their book entitled “Every Man’s Battle”.

I chose Brenda’s article on this because her views on how Christian wives should respond to their husband’s porn habits have become very popular in churches across America.  You as a Christian wife may have heard teachings like this in your ladies Bible studies.

To be fair to Brenda’s views – she is not telling women that they must divorce their husbands for their porn use but rather she presents it as an option if the husband remains unrepentant about his porn habit. She does state that she believes there can be damage to a wife and her children in either case – whether they opt for divorce or opt to stay in the marriage.

The goal of this article is to help compare Brenda’s (as well as many churches) teachings to Christian wives on how to respond to their husband’s porn habits and contrast that with what I believe the Word of God actually teaches Christian women their response should be in these kinds of situations.

Are women called to take an active role in spiritually confronting their husband’s sin?

Brenda writes:

“As wives, God has given us two roles to play in marriage. One role relates to submission, and the other involves our responsibility to be our husband’s helpmate. The trouble is that we too often play the wrong role in the face of sexual sin, submitting quietly in the messy tide of events, alternating between wringing our hands in worry and folding our hands to pray while we wait for our husbands to turn.

This is time to play the other role…. confront your husband, telling him what a Christian wife expects of a mature, Christian husband in marriage and holding him accountable to become that very man.”

Later she writes:

“Refuse to be muzzled verbally. Your husband needs your complete honesty so that he can feel the full extent of the damage he is causing.

Insist that he bring his “church image” in line with the truth—that his sin is damaging his ministry in the spiritual realm. If he is on the church board, then he must step down. If he is on the worship team or missions board, then he must step down.

Clearly define what trustworthy means to you. If you need him to read a book and he won’t, that will set back your trust.”

Brenda tells Christian women that part of their role as their husbands help meet is to “confront your husband, telling him what a Christian wife expects of a mature, Christian husband” and that they should “Refuse to be muzzled verbally”.  This entire statement by Brenda may make some Christian women feel empowered but it is in DIRECT contradiction to the Word of God:

“1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

God does not tell Christian wives to confront their husband’s disobedient behaviors.  Rather God call’s women to win their husbands “without a word” by their pure and respectful behavior.

Let me clarify here what I am saying.  I am not saying a wife can never bring her grievances to her husband but rather she can do this based on the Job 31:13-15 principle that those in authority should hear the grievances of those under their authority.  A husband should hear his wife’s grievances whether it be about porn use or any other subject. However how he responds to that grievance is up to him. He must weigh what she has said by the Word of God and act as he believes God would have him act.

But Christian wives must face the truth that sometimes their husbands may not see where they are wrong or a sin they are committing. A wife after sharing her respectful grievance must leave her husband’s spiritual walk in God’s hands.  It is not her job to continuing nagging him into what she believes would be obedience to God’s Word.

In a previous post we had a discussion in the comments section where I talked about the I Samuel 25 exemption to I Peter 3:1-2.  In that story we see that God does allow for a woman (Abigail) to disobey and not enable a husband (Nabal) whose wishes would place her family in physical jeopardy as his actions were about to do.

I talked about how if a wife is being physically abused or her children are being physically abused or put in a dangerous situation she can separate herself from that situation and ultimately if her husband does not repent she may divorce him. I based my belief in this area of physical abuse or physical harm on the principle that God commanded that slaves be freed from their masters for physical abuse (Exodus 21:26-27) and wives had more rights than slaves did.

This same principle would apply to a husband whose addiction to alcohol or other drugs was creating an unsafe environment for the children then the mother would not be expected to let the husband drive her or her children while impaired and if he had violent outbursts or failed to provide because of his addiction she could divorce him on those grounds. Also in the example of an alcoholic husband a wife would not be expected by God to go and purchase her husband’s alcohol.

Is it unsafe for a Christian wife to remain married to a husband who uses porn?

Brenda made this statement to Christian wives regarding a husband who has a porn habit:

“Staying married surely isn’t safe. His sexual sin poses huge spiritual danger to the whole family, and compromises his spiritual protection over you. I was chased regularly in nightmares by Satan until Fred turned from his sexual sin. I haven’t had such a nightmare since.”

So here is the real question.  Was Brenda having these nightmares about being chased by Satan because of her husband’s sexual sin or because of her own self-imposed belief that her family was in spiritual danger because of his viewing porn and it was her job to reform him to save her family? I think Biblically speaking the answer is the latter.

Is there any instance where a husband’s porn habit would cause direct damage to his family? Yes. If a man leaves out nude magazines or leaves movies laying around where young children would be exposed to them this would not be a healthy environment mentally speaking for children to be in. But if a Christian woman’s husband engaged in his porn habit with discretion away from the presence of his children then there is no danger to his children.

Again let’s say this was not a porn habit – if a man were what is known as a “functional alcoholic” where he never drives drunk and he keeps his drinking private and he still works and provides for his family then while this is still a problem it is not something that rises to the level of creating an unsafe environment either spiritually or physically for his family.

The fact is we are all sinners.  Some of us are bigger sinners than others. We all have bad habits. Some habits have more shame attached to them than others.  Some habits do actually pose a risk to the health and safety of a family – but a husband’s porn habit in and of itself does not pose such a risk.

Now we will discuss the biggest question raised by Brenda’s post regarding a wife divorcing her husband for his porn use.

Does the Bible permit women to Divorce their husband’s for their porn use?

Here again is Brenda’s statement on divorce in regards to porn use:

“Is divorce ever an option? Sure it is. Adultery always makes divorce an option, and if your husband will not repent and refuses to turn from an ongoing, regular porn habit, he is an adulterer.”

Again like her previous statement on women confronting their husbands about what they expect of their husbands this statement may feel very empowering to a woman whose husband uses porn. She may feel hurt and she may feel trapped in a relationship with a man has what she and many others would consider to be a shameful and disgusting habit.

But God does not allow wives to divorce their husbands for their bad habits including porn habits no matter how disgusting they may be to a wife. 

The only reasons God allowed women to divorce their husbands (be freed from them) are for failure to provide food, clothing, sex (Exodus 21:10-11) or if he physically abusing them (Exodus 21:26-27) or if he abandons them (I Corinthians 7:15).

If a woman’s husband denies her sex as a result of his porn habit or for any other reason than that is cause for divorce.  But if he regularly has sex with her but he also has a porn habit a Christian wife biblically speaking does not have cause for separation or divorce.

Brenda is absolutely WRONG when she states “Adultery always makes divorce an option”. This is most likely the passage that she would point to saying that women could divorce their husbands for adultery:

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” – Matthew 19:9 (KJV)

We cannot take gender neutral approaches to Scripture where it is not gender neutral.  For instance the Exodus 21:10-11 allowances for divorce are for woman only while I Corinthians 7:15’s abandonment exemption is equally applied to both men and women. But here in Matthew 19:9 it clearly speaks of how a husband could “put way HIS WIFE” – it is not speaking as to how a wife can put away her husband. So like Exodus 21:10-11 is specifically speaking to women in regard to reasons they may divorce their husbands Matthew 19:9 is specifically speaking to men as to reasons they may divorce their wives.

Also Brenda fails to recognize that physical adultery ALWAYS consisted of a married woman having sex with man other than her husband. The most literal definition adultery in the Bible is actually found in Ezekiel:

“And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.” – Ezekiel 16:38 (KJV)

“Women that break wedlock” is the most literal definition of the Hebrew (“naaph”) and the Greek (“Moichao”).   So a woman is adulteress when she has sex with a man other than her husband and a man is an adulterer when he has sex with another man’s wife.  This flies in the face of our modern gender neutral definition of adultery that would say a man is an adulterer if he has sex with a woman other than his wife.  But this is not what the Bible says.

To be sure it is still a sin when a man has sex with a woman he is not married to but this is the sin of whoremongering – not adultery.  Hebrews shows us this distinction:

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

The Bible never presents a man having sex with a woman other than his wife as an act of adultery against his wife. Rather it is an act of whoremongering against God himself.

Now Christ does give us a new form of spiritual adultery in Matthew 19:9 and this has to do with a man wrongly divorcing his wife. See my post “Is there such a thing as an adulterous marriage” for more on this kind of adultery.

But then we have Christ’s comparison of lust to adultery which is also found in the Gospel of Matthew:

“27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28 (KJV)

Remember again that physical adultery (as opposed to spiritual adultery) always has at its center a married woman having sex with a man other than her husband.  She is an adulteress and the man who sleeps with her (whether he is married or not) is an adulterer. But now Christ is taking the 10th commandment’s prohibition against coveting a man’s wife and classifying it as a spiritual form of adultery.  The word Greek word which is translated as lust here is actually the same word that is translated as “covet” in many other passages.

To covet or lust is to desire to unlawfully possess or use something that does not belong to you. A man finding a woman desirable or even imaging a woman naked or what it would be like to have sex with her is NOT lust.

Let me give you one simple example and then I will refer you to an entire article I wrote on this subject of lust.  A man asks a beautiful woman out on a date.  Over several months of dating he falls madly in love with her and imagines what she looks like naked and then what it would be like to have sex with her but he has absolutely no intent or desire to have unlawful sex with her – sex before marriage.   Most Christians would say this is ok and not lust. But many Christians believe if a man has this same type of sexual thoughts about a woman whom he does not have a close relationship with and a possibility of marrying that somehow these same thoughts become lust.  There is no Biblical support for such a distinction.  Neither scenario is lust.

See my post “What is Lust?” for more on this often misunderstood subject.

The point of all this is a man looking at pornography is NOT him lusting and therefore he is not committing spiritual adultery in doing so.

Now it may be wrong for a man to look at certain types of pornography when they depict sex that is outside of God’s design for sex like homosexual acts, group sex and bestiality but even then that is not adultery but rather the sin of taking pleasure in something God considers to be evil.

Even if looking at pornography was lust and therefore spiritual adultery no passage of Scripture gives a woman the right to divorce her husband for adultery. Matthew 19:9 is very specific – a MAN had the right to divorce his WIFE for fornication (sexual immorality which includes sins like adultery and sexual defraudment) but a wife is never given the right to divorce her husband for adultery or whoremongering.

I know this is a hard teaching and most men and women today would reject it.  Women would reject it for obvious reasons that they believe God would not have them to have to remain married to a whoremonger. Men would reject it because they would not want to think of their daughters having to stay with a whoremongering husband.  I know for me it would be VERY difficult to tell my daughter she cannot divorce her whoremongering husband.  But the Bible does not allow divorce in this case.

The difference between a porn habit and a porn addiction

One of my regular commenters to this site Alex (who incidentally is a Christian woman) gave a great summary distinction between what a porn habit and a porn addiction looks like:

“I’d also like to clarify that when I talk about porn addiction, I’m not talking about just looking at porn or even frequently looking at porn. There’s some scientific debate now as to whether or not porn addiction even exists because there’s not sufficient evidence to demonstrate neurological dependence. But there are definitely men and women who develop enough of a dependence on porn that it interferes with their lives, relationships, and obligations. By that, I don’t mean their spouses getting jealous. I’m talking about getting to the point where they use porn so frequently that they begin regularly denying their spouse sex or start neglecting their other duties because of it.”

The key phrase she uses is that porn viewing because dangerous when “that it interferes with their lives, relationships, and obligations.” I have said similar statements elsewhere on this blog. And Alex is absolutely right that the whole “porn rewires your brain” fad is not supported by solid scientific evidence.

Consider these statements from psychologytoday.com in an article entitled “Porn is not the problem you are”:

“Porn is not addictive. Sex is not addictive. The ideas of porn and sex addiction are pop psychology concepts that seem to make sense, but have no legitimate scientific basis. For decades, these concepts have flourished in America, but have consistently been rejected by medicine and mental health. The media and American society have accepted that sex and porn are addictive, because it seems intuitively true – we all feel like sometimes, we might do something stupid or self-destructive, when sex is involved. But, this false belief is dangerous, and ultimately not helpful. Because when people buy into the belief that porn is addictive, it changes the argument, and all of a sudden, it seems like it is porn and sex that are the problems. Porn addiction becomes a label, and seems to be an explanation, when in fact, it is just meaningless words and platitudes that distract from the real issue. But sex and porn aren’t the problems. You are.

Why is this? Because one part of this issue is an attack on aspects of male sexuality, including masturbation and use of pornography, behaviors which society fears and doesn’t understand…

It is getting increasingly difficult to find men in our society, who’ve never viewed pornography. But, if porn were the problem – if porn were addictive, then the problems of porn would be far, far greater than they are. In fact, in recent studies, fewer than 1% of people report that they have had problems in their life due to difficulties controlling their sexual behaviors, including watching porn. Now – higher numbers, around 10%, report “feeling” that their sexual desires are hard to control, but it is very different to feel something, versus ACTUALLY being out of control…

But, if you are a man who likes sex, and likes porn, is that something you’ve ever really owned? I’m sad to say that our society has not taught men how to identify and negotiate their sexual desires or needs.

We treat sex like a dirty secret. Then, when men get caught, they feed into that dirty secret mentality, and treat sex like it’s the problem.

Those other men, who like sex, watch porn, and don’t get in trouble – How do they do that? One thing is that they understand themselves, and their desires. Sometimes, they sit down with their wives and girlfriends and have a real, open discussion about their use of porn, their interest in it, and what it means, and doesn’t mean, about their attraction to and interest in their partner. That’s a hard, scary discussion (and not one for the first date, please), because it requires a man to stand up for himself and his sexual desires, to be willing to negotiate for those needs, to be willing to compromise, but stay true to himself, while asking for the same in return.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201305/porn-is-not-the-problem-you-are

Also for more on the debate about the supposed “neurological dependence” and “Rewiring of the brain” that porn does see this article:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201603/we-must-rely-good-science-in-porn-debate

Your husband’s porn habit is NOT about you

Brenda talks about feelings and thoughts many women have when the first discover their husband’s porn habit:

“Your husband’s addiction to pornography has just been discovered. The aftermath of this betrayal leaves every precious memory grimy and tainted. You muse back on your wedding night. Was he thinking of some porn star as he touched you? When you were working to conceive a baby together by night, what had he been conceiving with his computer monitor by day?

Your dreams are shattered. You despise him for how his sexual addiction makes you see him, and you’re panicked by how it makes you see yourself…

When a sexually addicted husband is unrepentant, a wife begins to heal by learning the sexual differences between men and women. The real root of his sexual sin lies elsewhere. Once you understand that his problem is not about you, your beauty or sexiness, you can quickly recover your sense of worth and focus on restoration.”

There is one phrase here that Brenda uses that I completely agree with and women need to accept.

Ladies your husband’s porn use “is not about you”

Now it may or may not be a problem depending on what a man is viewing and if it is interfering with other areas of his life whether it be his job or his desire to have sex with his wife or if he is leaving sexual materials around that children might find.  But in either case it truly “is not about you” as his wife.

If he is denying you sex then that aspect of his behavior is about you and that is an area you can rightly address with him.

But what thoughts he has running through his mind is NOT your business.  There is a reason that God did not give us as human beings the ability to read each other’s minds and know each other’s thoughts feelings.  It is because we would literally go insane if we could hear all of each other’s thoughts and feelings. God even says about someone who utters every thought and feeling they have:

“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” – Proverbs 29:11 (KJV)

God is the ONLY one who can hold a person accountable for their thoughts and feelings.  We as human beings can only hold each other responsible for our actions.

Most men actually understand this concept far better than most women.  There is a time when should share our feelings and thoughts and there are some feelings and thoughts that should not be shared. We don’t want to know every thought that goes through our wives minds and we certainly don’t want share every thought and feeling that goes through our minds nor should we.

I had a woman email me a while back asking if she was accountable to her husband for her thoughts and feelings and I said “absolutely NOT!”  She is only accountable to God for her thoughts and feelings while she is accountable to BOTH God and her husband for her actions.  Now do people sometimes share their thoughts and feelings in wrong ways or in wrong places? Yes.  But it is the action based on the feeling that one can be held accountable for, not the thought or feeling itself – that is God’s territory and God’s alone.

You as a wife may say “But his viewing porn on a computer is an action not just a thought!”  I will concede that this is an action and not just a thought or feeling. However your husband is not accountable to you for his actions but rather he is accountable to God. You are not his spiritual authority – he is yours.

Why women often react poorly to their husband’s porn use

Most women react very poorly to finding out that their husband views porn because of one of the following reasons:

  1. They were never taught growing up the difference in sexual natures between men and women that women tend to be more emotionally and relationally oriented in their sex natures and men tend to be more visually and physically oriented in their sexual natures.
  2. They may have been taught and accept the visual and physical sexual nature of men but they were never taught the polygynous nature of men.
  3. They may have been taught some differences between men and women in regard to sex but they were taught to view the male sexual nature as a perversion of God’s original design for sex.

Many women go into relationships with their blinders on.  They think things like “I know some men look at other women and are more physical and visual but those men who do are just pigs. This guy I am dating is not like that.”

What they fail to recognize is that all men are drawn to the beauty of women around them but some men are just far better at hiding it than others. So then a few years into the marriage when this same woman discovers her husband’s porn use her romantic bubble is shattered!

Other women have a much more realistic view of the men and they realize that all men do in fact look but they believe it is their job to keep their man in line. These women believe (and perhaps even their husbands believe this as well) that God meant a man’s sexual nature to be more like that of a typical woman.  They believe a woman’s emotional and relational view of sex is what God also meant men to have and that just got corrupted when sin entered the world.

Still some women will even go as far as allowing for the fact that God made men with more visual and physical sexual natures but they reject the polygynous nature of men as a sinful corruption of their sex drive. So in essence these women believe God meant for a man to only be physically and visually attracted to one woman.  If he is visually attracted to more than one woman this is only as a result the sin corrupting his nature.

This brings us to some hard truths that Christian wives must embrace if they to truly accept how God has created men.

10 Hard Truths that Christian wives must learn to accept about their husband’s and porn

Some truths in life are hard to hear and even harder to accept. For women when it comes to understanding and accepting their husband’s sexual nature as well as how men love differently than women this can be an especially daunting task.  This is why I call these “hard truths”.

Hard Truth 1

God created man’s sexual nature to be more visually and physically based than woman’s more emotionally and relationally based sexual nature. This means a man does not need to talk to have sex and he does not need to feel close with a woman first to have sex her. In fact if a man is going to emotionally connect with a woman it is more likely to occur AFTER sex than before sex.

Hard Truth 2

God designed men with the physical and emotional capacity for polygyny while he designed women to be strictly monogamous both physically and emotionally.   What this means practically speaking is your husband can be attracted to other women and still be attracted to you at the same time. He can even think sexual thoughts about other women and still completely love you and sexually desire you. Technically speaking your husband has the God given capacity not only to be attracted to more than one woman but he also has the capacity to love more than one woman but he has chosen though to love you.  See my articles on polygamy for more on what the Bible actually says about polygamy.

Hard Truth 3

Your husband using porn does not mean he will want to have sex with you less. In fact while the majority of men view porn in some shape or fashion most do not see their desire for their wives lessoned by it.

Hard Truth 4

You and your response to your husband’s porn use as well as how you treat him in general actually have a much greater chance of decreasing his sexual desire for you than his porn use does.

Hard Truth 5

While most married men view porn this does not mean they do not still find their wives attractive. In fact most wives are harder on their physical appearance that their husbands are. Most men accept the natural aging process that women go through and all that entails.

Hard Truth 6

While most married men view porn you may directly contribute to your husband viewing it more by neglecting your physical appearance. If you gain an excessive amount of weight or fail to properly groom yourself or wear nice clothes your husband may look more to porn than he normally would for the feminine beauty that he is naturally designed to crave.

Hard Truth 7

Even if you take great care about your physical appearance if you are harsh, critical, disrespectful or less than fully receptive to your husband’s sexual advances he may view more porn than he would have otherwise. Most women fail to realize that men do not view porn only because of the bodies of these women or the sex acts themselves. Many men also view porn because of the enthusiasm these women show toward sexually pleasing the man they are with.

Hard Truth 8

Even if you as a Christian wife take great care of your appearance and you willingly and enthusiastically have great sex with your husband he may still look at porn. I refer you back to hard truth number 2 about men and their sexuality – men are designed by God with a capacity for polygyny.  So this means even if your husband is thrilled with you in all these areas he will still be drawn to enjoy the view of a variety of women’s bodies.

Hard Truth 9

Even if you deny most or all of the hard truths I have just stated the Bible nowhere gives you the right to deny you husband sex because is he doing something sinful. Remember that the same Bible which you believe says men viewing any kind of porn or thinking sexual thoughts of other women is wrong also says very clearly that a woman may not deny her husband sexually.

Hard Truth 10

Even if you deny most or all of the hard truths I have just stated your husband is NOT accountable to you for his thought life or his actions.  Even if you feel he is being disobedient to God in his porn use you are not his spiritual authority and you have no authority to confront him in this spiritual matter.

Brenda’s full article can be found here:

4 Ways to Respond to Your Husband’s Porn Addiction

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95 thoughts on “10 Hard Truths that Christian wives must accept about their husband’s and porn

  1. @Snapper,

    How much a person should be willing to give up for a spouse is highly situational (I don’t have the same issues with crime shows that Ame does for example), and a lot of it should be taken care of in the dating stage. This is part of why I encourage people to be an active part of each other’s non-sexual lives in that stage of their relationship. If a guy keeps his porn use a secret until marriage, he has only himself to blame that they weren’t able to have a conversation about that prior to getting married. If your wife spent any significant amount of time with you, she should have realized that you enjoyed computer games and you guys could have either discussed it then, or she would have been fine with it then and shouldn’t change right now. Generally, I’d say that if someone was fine with something in the dating stage, they have no right to do a 180 after marriage (doesn’t mean that the thing in question isn’t sin, but more that the offended spouse doesn’t really have a leg to stand on at that point). Keep in mind that this will work both ways. Just like your wife shouldn’t have a problem with your computer games if she knew you enjoyed them prior to marriage, a man who marries a known feminist shouldn’t start having a problem with that after they’re married. If a guy doesn’t want to be married to a feminist, I completely sympathize. But the solution is to not marry a feminist, not to marry one and try to change her. Same with your wife and your computer games.

    No couple is completely compatible, but if people take an active role in the dating process, it should avoid a lot of these situations (no solution is 100% foolproof). People need to pick their battles. For me, if my husband had been in unrepentant continued porn use, that would have been a deal-breaker. His enjoyment of Game of Thrones was very difficult for me and though I wasn’t ending the relationship because of it, he knew I struggled with it and asked him if he was willing to stop watching it for me, even if he didn’t necessarily think he had to. He was willing to and it was a good 6 months later before God convicted him of that. Prior to that, he had been giving up what he saw as a legitimate right in order to prioritize me. He is also more keen on 3rd party candidates than I am, but that was not a hill I was going to die on to any degree. He had his own list. Point being, each couple needs to pick their battles and come to some sort of resolution prior to marriage. And it helps if people aren’t just standing on their rights to the hurt of the person they’re preparing to spend the rest of their lives with.

  2. @BGR,

    You raise a good point about Jewish interpretations of SoS. It also makes sense that medieval Christians rejected the more literal interpretation for a more spiritual one. After all, Christians from that period often argued that their interpretation of the Bible, which they considered more spiritual, was superior to the more “carnal” Jewish interpretation.

  3. @AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “But for me, the concept of a husband and wife being one, implies that the person is there. Maybe not always physically, but they are in our thoughts, and they influence our actions (or at least should). There is a huge difference between a random stranger not being part of a dinner party, and a wife not being in the room.”

    When a husband and wife become one in marriage this does not mean they loose their distinctive personality or gender differences. It does not even mean that their differences on political, family or spiritual matters go away. God calls marriage a “one flesh” relationship not a “one heart”, “one mind” relationship. Obviously being one flesh means a married couple must be physically united in the act of sex on as regular a basis as possible. I Peter 3:7 shows us that a husband should know his wife – he should know her thoughts and feelings on issues to the extent that she wishes to reveal those thoughts and feelings.

    But there is a “oneness” in marriage that the world believes in and a “oneness” in marriage that the Bible teaches us. The world teaches us a “oneness” model where the man and woman equally influence one another in the style of an equal partnership. But in Biblical marriage the oneness looks more like that a general and his subordinate officers. The Greek word that the Bible uses when telling wives to submit was “Hupotasso” and this was a military term used to refer to men arranging themselves under their commanders and uniting behind their commander. In the military a captain may be able to attempt to influence his general’s decisions and a wise general will hear the advice of the officers under his command. But at the end of the day the subordinate officer lines up under his general and he becomes one behind him.

    Would a general after hearing the disagreement of his subordinate office on a particular policy or action he was going take and deciding against that officer’s position then decide that he still would not act in deference to that subordinate? The answer would definitely be no.

    So I stand by my position that men as husbands and the head of their homes must set the policy for themselves and their family what they feel is best in these matters. This is of course tempered by the Bible’s admonitions in Romans 14, I Corinthians 8 and I Corinthians 10 meaning that we as husbands while being the spiritual head’s of our home and the final decider on policy and practice may choose to do some things in private away from our wives. There is no sin in this.

    Your Statement:

    “As to whether or not a man should try to suppress his attraction to a variety of women, I would replace the word ‘suppress’ with ‘channel’. Get as much variety as is situationally possible with one’s wife. Whether that’s her varying her appearance, or trying out different sexual positions..”

    You and I both agree that men need to “channel” their sexual desires but we are going to have to agree to disagree on what the channeling looks like. Telling men to channel their natural(and I would argue God given) attraction to a variety of women by focusing on the variety from one’s wife(wearing different things and using different positions) is like telling someone they can only eat hot dogs for the rest of their life but they can change the condiments for “variety”. A hot dog will still be a hot dog no matter how you change up condiments, it will never be a hamburger, or a ham sandwich or a pizza.

    It does not solve the issue and allow a man to exercise his polygynous nature. It is the same as telling single people that instead of them being able to exercise their sexual natures by enjoying sexual fantasies and masturbating that they just need to redirect their thoughts to some other thing like sports or other hobbies. It does not solve the underlying issue it only suppresses it.

    So when I argue that men need to channel their polygynous natures in healthy ways I mean doing it in ways that do not violate God’s law. Porn is similar to violent video games in that it allows men to exercise their aggressive nature in the same way porn allows men to exercise their polygynous nature.

    And contrary to popular belief porn is far older that our modern age. There are very ancient statues, carvings and paintings all over the world of nude men, women and couples having sex. Even without an external stimulus(like a painting or an image) men simply constructed porn in their minds. The only difference is the technology today allows us not to have to do all the imagining in our minds. Before violent video games boys played army in the back yard – now they just play it on a screen. But there are certain aspects of a men’s minds that needs that need to be exercised in healthy ways.

    We will just agree to disagree on what those healthy ways are as we did before.

  4. i want you to know i’m very thankful for you and all the time you put into your research and writing. you are able to explain things that, as women, we just cannot understand. and although i will never empathy-understand b/c i’m not a male, i can at least have an intellectual understanding which i can then pass along to my daughters and other women i know. i wish i had information like this when i was much, much younger. idk if it would have saved my first marriage, but it would have given me a better intellectual understanding of men in general.

    ***

    i heard the saying years ago … we should not set another up to lie … our friends, our husbands/wives, our kids.

  5. BGR,

    I think I must have been very unclear because by saying that the husband and wife are one, I was not trying to imply that the chain of authority was no longer correct. To me, it doesn’t have anything to do with authority. If i could use an example from your life that you’ve said before on the blog, it would be polygamy. You believe that you have a Biblical right to more than one wife, but you have chosen to not exercise that because you know that that would really offend your wife. That’s the same argument I was trying to make for porn. So even if a man did consider porn to be a Biblical right, it might be best to sacrifice that right for one’s wife. Since that concept can be abused by either spouse, I’d refer you to what I said to Snapper previously. This is the same thing that my husband did for me when he agreed to give up GoT prior to being convicted of it.

    I think that men need to consider the impact that marriage will have on them. They are committing to one woman. There are plenty of men in the manosphere that consider themselves unable to settle for one woman so they avoid marriage and go from one LTR to the next. I don’t condone that lifestyle, but I wouldn’t recommend marriage either for a man who wasn’t able to commit to just one woman. But if a man does in fact choose to marry and to make a wedding vow of faithfulness only to that woman, he needs to be willing to do just that. So if he marries a brunette and he wakes up with a strong desire to see a redhead naked, he might need to give that up. Nobody, male or female, gets it all in this world.

  6. AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “To me, it doesn’t have anything to do with authority. If i could use an example from your life that you’ve said before on the blog, it would be polygamy. You believe that you have a Biblical right to more than one wife, but you have chosen to not exercise that because you know that that would really offend your wife. That’s the same argument I was trying to make for porn. So even if a man did consider porn to be a Biblical right, it might be best to sacrifice that right for one’s wife.”

    I think you may have misunderstand my position on polygamy.

    I stated this in the fifth part of my series “Why polygamy is not unbiblical?”

    Do I practice polygamy?

    No I do not. The reason is not because I believe it is wrong, nor is it because State governments have declared it illegal. The reason is because right now the conditions for me are not right. But do I condemn those Christians who do practice polygamy within the guidelines of Scripture? No I do not.

    But if I were living in a culture that allowed polygamy would I practice it? Absolutely! And no the reason is not all about sex as polygamists are often accused of. It goes far beyond that. See below many of the positive benefits of polygynous marriages.”

    I also stated this in my post “Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament?”:

    “I am not a practicing polygamist and I have no plans to pursue that lifestyle(one practical reason is that my wife would divorce me in a second if I did).

    But the Christian polygamists I know that have entered the lifestyle have done so with the consent of their first wife. That is not to say that the Bible requires such consent. In any area of marriage, Biblically speaking the husband has the final word.”

    The reason I don’t practice polygamy is NOT because it would offend my wife.

    My wife and I discussed what I had believed about polygamy for over 20 years. She did not believe that polygamy was unbiblical but she would never want to live in a polygamous relationship. I told her I had no plans to act on my belief that polygamy was still Biblical for today.

    Now let’s go to the marriage vows. Even though my wife and I had talked about it while we were dating and engaged our vows had no specific language that would forbid me from taking another wife. I vowed to be faithful to my wife and I believe that Biblically speaking a man can be faithful to multiple wives if he lovingly leads, protects, provides for and has sex with each of his wives. If he is kind to each of them and forgives each one of them and never abandons them he is being faithful to each of his wives and each of his marriages. Today though we imply in the word “faithful” the meaning of a vow of monogamy but that is not the case.

    But let’s say that there even is specific language in one’s wedding vows that would prohibit polygamy or any agreement made before the wedding. I don’t even believe that would prohibit a man from exercising that right and here is why. Any vows which relinquish a man’s rights are not valid. If a man vowed in his wedding vows to only have sex with his wife when she wanted it just as much(mutual desire) that would be invalid vow. God gave men(and women) the right to have sex with their wives even when they are not in the mood(not forcing themselves, but the wife must submit to his sexual needs even if she does not feel like it).

    In fact a good example of certain things in marriage vows being invalidated after that fact is egalitarian vows. There are some Christian couples that wrote very specific vows to each to other vowing their marriage to be an egalitarian marriage. Then some years later the man realizes what the Scripture says the husband being the head of his wife and the family. He goes to exercise that leadership and his wife reminds him of the egalitarian vows he made to her.

    Any vows that are made by a husband or wife that violate or give up rights and responsibilities of either the husband or the wife are invalid.

    Now having said all that. I do think there certain rights we absolutely must exercise and others that we can choose not exercise. I believe a husband must exercise his right and responsibility to lead his wife and children. If his wife chooses to divorce him over that then he must let her go. But a man does not have to exercise his right to take polygyny. He can choose for whatever reasons not to exercise that right.

    So at this time have chosen not to fully exercise my right to polygyny but instead I only partially exercise my polygynous nature by watching programs like Game of Thrones or other erotic programs. My wife is not offended by me watching Game of Thrones so I can watch that in front of her although she usually goes and watches her own shows during that time as she just does not like any imaginary shows(super heroes, magic…ect). But there are some other sexual movies and shows I would not watch in front of her because she would find it offensive but I still exercise my right in private to do so. Now if she tried to completely prohibit all exercising of my polgynous nature and told me all of a sudden the only naked woman I was allowed to look at was her or she was leaving I would show her the door.

    We each as men of God and the heads of homes must decide how we will act using our rights but also tempering our actions using the principles of Romans 14, I Corinthians 8 & 10. What one husband decides to do in this situation and what another will do depends greatly on the man and his level of his polygynous nature. Let’s be clear just like sexual appetites are different so too men have different levels of urges for variety of women. Some men have a very low drive for variety so for them to give up looking at other women whether in Game of Thrones or other shows or even in Porn is small thing to ask. For them to be asked to solely focus all their sexual thoughts on their one woman is a huge feat. But for other men this is very large feat to ask. Now for those who believe that God originally designed men to focus soley on one woman and woman only they say this just a character defect in the man and he must battle it daily for the rest of his life. I know that is how you and many other good Christians feel about that and I can respect that. But at the same time I respectfully disagree – I believe that men all have the capacity for polygamy and while the urge to exercise that part of our nature may be stronger or weaker in men it is there.

    I believe that if a man does have strong polygynous urges as many(but not all men) do these urges must be exercised and as I said before to you a wife wearing different lingerie or using different positions is not going to cut it. Even before the days of porn and modern photography men with these strong urges had to exercise these polygynous urges an if they could not marry multiple wives the way they did it was in their imagination since they did not have porn. Sometimes they may have seen a painting or sculpture that allowed them to exercise this part of their nature.

    If a man has not just a strong sex drive, but strong polygynous urges and his wife attempts to constrict all his sexual thoughts only to her it can have disastrous results.

  7. One point i would make (and I agree it’s not a first date conversation!) is that for a Christian man courting/dating, there’s never a good time to bring it up under most modern church teaching. If a man confesses this or tries to address it with a woman he might want to marry, those women are taught by parents/church authorities for the most part to flee from those men, rather than address the issue as you’ve outlined here, and dialogue about the important questions you raise. So while it’s a good conversation to have, it’s one that I am concerned the majority of Christian women today may still not be ready to hear from their men and deal with in a productive fashion, rather than abandon the relationship simply upon hearing of the word “porn” or insisting these men need some sort of therapy. To say nothing of the other “p” word – “poly” – but in all seriousness, this is a deeply rooted issue that is challenging even for the men who would gladly speak honestly to their potential wife about such things.

  8. this is not a comment disagreeing with you … but it is a comment sharing my feelings as a woman.

    what i think i’m hearing in what you write is that these are things men inherently know and have known … but it has been kept to men and not explained to women in our culture. i would guess that women in cultures where polygyny was naturally practiced had an unconscious understanding of this.

    this is hard to read for one having grown up being taught that boys and men should never look at another woman other than their wife. as a woman having grown up with that teaching in the church … there was added to this teaching that one’s wife is ‘worth’ it, valuable. so if i’ve been taught that my value lies in my husband’s focus being only on me, if his thoughts (or actions) also include another, all of my foundational teaching has just been shattered. who am i? am i valuable to my husband? am i important to him? or am i replaceable like clothing. i don’t think i’m speaking to putting women on a pedestal. i believe i’m speaking to a woman’s value and worth in her role as a wife. does this make sense?

    and while i absolutely believe our value and worth, as Christians, is found in Jesus, there is a value and worth found in our roles. a man finds value and worth in his job, in protecting and providing for his family, etc. so if a woman has been raised to believe her value and worth will be found in her husband, in keeping herself healthy and attractive for him, in doing things for him that make him happy … then she finds out that she’s not enough .. he needs more than you, more than one woman to satisfy him … it makes me feel inadequate. like i failed at my role. like i’m not good enough. like i’m not valuable enough. that i’m just not enough.

    as my late mentor would often say, it’s harder to unlearn false truths than to originally be taught Truth.

    i am not disagreeing with you.

    i am saying … this is a hard pill to swallow. if i’m only one of many, why am i needed? wanted? what’s my purpose now? i thought i was enough; now i find out i’m not and never have been.

  9. BGR, My point about what you said on polygamy was based on when you said the following on your post ‘was polygamy a sin that God overlooked’.

    “I am not a practicing polygamist and I have no plans to pursue that lifestyle(one practical reason is that my wife would divorce me in a second if I did).”

    That is what led me to believe that part of your sacrificing what you saw as a right was in deference to your wife and I gotta say, I had a lot of respect for that. You say that vows that go against a man’s rights are null and void but I would respectfully request that you provide Biblical support for that claim. That is not what the Bible teaches in Numbers 30.

  10. I found this post when someone I know posted it on their wall on Facebook wall. To say she had less than nice things to say about this post would be an understatement. Words like “herectic”, “false teacher” and “pervert” were thrown around by people who commented on her post. I did not make a comment for probably the same reason you remain anonymous.

    There are some things we are just not allowed to say and not allowed to talk about either as Americans or as Christians. I read this post and then I read many of your other posts. I thought I was the only one out there who thought as I did and then I realized thanks to your posts that there are others. But the difference is I like many men am not good at putting my thoughts into words. You have so well represented how men think and the struggles men face. I think any woman who truly had an open mind and wanted to know how men operate should read your blog.

    I believe this post in particular about porn is really going to strike a nerve with a lot of people. But what are saying is true and right. I want to share my story so that other men can know they are not alone and also I believe what happened to me proves some of the points you have tried to make in this post and in your comments.

    I am 42 years old and have been married for 21 years and we have two boys and a girl. My wife and I are both Bible believing Christians and we like you were raised in a conservative Baptist church. We were taught the same teachings you were about basically suppressing our sexuality until were married. We all know the “deflection and redirection” techniques that were taught. If you starting thinking sexual thoughts turn to sports or some other thing we were taught.

    Also like most people in churches today we were taught that polygamy was a sin. I can remember in my youth group Sunday school class one time we were studying the story of Jacob and his wives and someone brought up the verse you talked about where Leah says she was rewarded by God for giving her female servant as another wife to Jacob. To teacher quickly changed the subject.

    Another time when was in my college and career Sunday school class the passage where David had sinned with Bathsheba came up where God asks him why he took another man’s wife when God gave him all the wives of his master(Saul) and he would have given him “many more” talking about more wives. Again the teacher quickly changed the subject when someone raised a question about that verse.

    For many years I bought into this traditional teaching that God meant for marriage to monogamous and men were only meant to be attracted to one woman which was their wife. But at the same time I struggle with my own attraction to multiple women. In my youth group I was definitely attracted to multiple women and I can say for sure if polygamy was allowed I would not have gone with just my wife. I realize that sounds really unromantic to any woman here (and would to my wife if I ever told her that).

    But I chose my wife and I still love her to this day.

    I looked at porn before I was married and I had a constant cloud of guilt hanging over my head. Like many Christian men I reasoned that when I got married my attraction to porn would go away. Well it did not. I will say how much I looked at porn certainly did go down after I was married and was able to have sex with my wife (we were both virgins until we were married).

    That cycle of guilt and shame and all you Christian men who look at porn no exactly what I am talking about was eating me up. Why was my wife not enough? There were times I doubted my salvation but then I remembered that one of my greatest heroes of the faith struggled with sexual sin and God called him a man after his own heart. I would ask God for forgiveness and go for weeks or even a months without looking at it only to have some beautiful woman pass me by in the mall and the trigger was set. I needed to experience my fantasies. So would look at porn again and then the cycle of guilt and shame began.

    My wife knew nothing of my porn habit as I was very good at hiding it.

    Let me say before I continue that my wife was not and is not like some of the wives described on this blog that deny their husbands sexually. My wife has always made herself available to me and except for a few things I would like more (and you guys all know what I am talking about) my wife is pretty enthusiastic in the bedroom. For most of our marriage we have had sex probably at least 3 times a week so I can’t complain about that from my wife.

    Also in most cases I would have sex with my wife the same day after I looked at porn so it was not as if there a ton of masturbation going on. I would say I probably masturbated only about 20 percent of the time and 80 percent of the time I would just go have sex with my wife.

    At first I would reason that looking at porn was better than me seeking out sex with strange women. But at one of my lowest points after condemning myself OVER AND OVER since I was a teenage boy I snapped! I reasoned EXACTLY what you have said in you have said here that if porn was adultery and so was having sex with other women other than my wife I might as well do that and that was way better than porn.

    I had been married about 5 years and went to massage parlor and I paid a woman for sex. Afterwards I felt a rush of guilt worse than I ever felt after using porn. I could not touch my wife afterwards because I knew what I had done. It was one of the worst feelings I have ever felt. My wife knew there was something wrong with me and I broke down in tears and told her what I did. I also did what many men do and took the easy way out and blamed it on the porn. I made porn my scapegoat. My wife was very upset but she forgave me that same day and she too was willing to let porn be my scapegoat. Although it certainly left some scars in our marriage. She and eventually started having sex again and for a while things were tense and she would need to just cry and experience her hurt but eventually we go through it and we had a healthy sex life once again.

    I went to a sex addiction program that was sponsored by a local church and vowed to give up porn. For me and my wife we decided porn was the enemy. But the battle against looking at porn reared its ugly head again within a few months of me being in the program. I left the program and told my wife I was cured – she was doubtful and said “you don’t cure an addiction that fast” but she left me alone.
    The cycle started again where I would look at porn and then feel a huge rush of guilt. I would pray hard every night in tears asking God to change me and asking God to take away these sinful desires I had. I begged God to make me desire only my wife and no other woman. I reasoned with him day and night “God if you could part the red sea and bring back the dead surely you can make me desire only one woman”. But my prayers went unanswered.

    About two years after I sinned with that woman in the massage parlor after constant failures of returning to porn and asking God for forgiveness and begging God to take away my attraction toward other women I started to have those same thoughts again about going to a woman at a massage parlor. But then I would stop myself and remind myself how horrible I felt and that while porn was sin and I felt guilty but the guilt I felt after being with that other woman was 10 times worse!

    I even entertained thoughts of just telling my wife she needed to divorce me and find a better man. A man who would only be attracted to her. Surely they were out there and I was just a perverted sexual freak for desiring women other than my wife. But I knew the havoc that would bring to my children and that held me back from talking to my wife about my thoughts.

    Finally one day it hit me. I still remember the day about 13 years ago when I realized a startling truth. Porn was not my enemy and it was not the reason I slept with that woman at the massage parlor two years prior. Porn was what kept me from sleeping with other women and even kept me from trying to sleep with my wife before we were married. Porn gave me a sexual outlet so I would be less tempted to have sex outside of marriage. But then I still struggled with the issue of porn being lust even if it was the lesser of two evils.

    For many years after this point I reasoned that porn for me was like smoking cigarettes verses smoking pot or doing drugs. Cigarettes are the lesser of the two evils. This way I would keep my family together and I would use porn to experience my fantasies and I would not allow myself to be tempted by that argument that if both porn and sleeping with other women are the same why not just do the second one.

    I continued to ask God to forgive me but I knew I could not let my guilt destroy my family. Then about 5 years ago I came across some people posting some things about lust in some Christian forums online. I remember some posters making some very similar arguments to what you have made on this site that we as a culture have it all wrong. They were talking about men being naturally polygynous like you and what lust really is verses what we think it is today. It changed my life. I felt as though a burden was finally lifted off my shoulders! I was not a pervert any more than Abraham, Jacob or King David were perverts. I finally embraced the fact that God made me the way I am and my attractions toward other women was not sin. I just needed to “channel” my desires (something I see here a lot in your comments).

    I came to believe from that point forward that God knew my heart and my heart’s intent. I had absolutely zero desire to go and have what you call “unlawful” sex with strange women in those pictures and movies I looked at. By the way I love the way you break down things into understandable terms like that. I just needed to “exercise” my polygynous desires without breaking God’s law and porn was a vehicle that would allow me to do that.

    I can say that now because I can look at porn guilt free (and I agree not all porn is good and I agree with your standards on it). This has been such freeing experience for me. People don’t realize how much energy it takes feeling guilty all the time and hating your own natural desires especially when those desires were built into you by God himself. But I realized the freedom in Christ I had in this area it truly freed up so much energy that guilt and self-condemnation took up and I was able to poor that into my marriage, my family and other interests.

    Honestly I can say that I now look at porn less than I ever did now that I know I can look at it. But the nice thing is if I am walking through a mall now and some young woman triggers my fancy I can go home that evening to my office and find a similar woman in some porn site and have any fantasy I want with her. Then I can decide if I want to “finish” the fantasy with my wife which I often do or by myself and in either case I am guilt free in doing so.

    And to answer the question I know all the ladies will ask. No my wife has no clue. She actually thinks I totally kicked the porn habit and I 100 percent only have eyes for her and she is happy. But I did secretly share with my older teenage sons but I am still afraid to share it with my daughter as I don’t want her running to her mom. I had to share this truth with my sons because I did not want them going through the agony I did. I believe it might just save their future marriages.

    I have weighed the possibility that one way or the other my wife will find out one day. She may over hear a conversation I have with my one of my boys because we freely talk about sex stuff when we are alone or as well as I hide my porn use she may discover it at one point.

    I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. I am hoping to maybe glean some advice from you as to what I should do if that day ever comes. There are still many things I need to figure out that I may need your wise counsel on.

    But all I know is at the end of the day porn did not destroy my marriage but instead it saved my marriage and I thank God each and every day for revealing to me that not all porn use is sin and neither is sexual fantasy. It is as you say here on this site only when we have desires and thoughts about “unlawful” sex that we have passed from experiencing our sexual nature as God designed it to sinning against God’s design for sex.

    I am sorry for such a long comment but I wanted to let you know you are truly doing the work of the Lord on this blog and I hope other men will be saved a lot heartache and wasted years of guilt and shame by my story.

  11. PornSavesMarriages,

    I just wanted to say your story is an incredible one. I don’t have a lot of time to comment on it right now and I may actually feature your story as separate post in the future but I just wanted to approve your comment now so other men and women can really absorb what happened to you.

    Thank you for sharing.

  12. i am overwhelmed by your story and so very thankful you have found freedom from so much guilt. the church has done such a disservice to both men and women on the topic of sex – from both the man’s pov and the woman’s pov … and then teaching women about how men perceive and need sex and vice-versa.

    may God reveal these truths about men and sex long before she might ever find out the truth. may He prepare her to hear. may she already have found peace in her heart and a knowing of the truth before any evidence presents itself to her. and may your marriage be protected and strengthened for all the years of your lives together.

    thank you for sharing your story. i needed to read it.

  13. BGR –

    I just read an interesting article at The Peaceful Wife written by a guest writer (https://peacefulwife.com/2016/04/11/curbing-my-sexual-appetite-a-guest-post/). I have actually heard of this kind of ‘reverse desire’ where the wife has more desire for intimacy than her husband and always wondered about it (especially when we were all in our 20’s). What stood out, which in reverse relates to this discussion somewhat, is when the author says, “I am going to try to squash my appetite when it gets too intense,.” idk if you’ve written on this paradigm before or if it even applies to this piece.

    ===============

    “So I finally realized, my desire for my husband is not a bad thing. It is not the curse I was beginning to think it was. It is a God-given appetite and it is good. However, I need to learn to control my appetite. The problem here isn’t my husband’s lower desire, but perhaps it is my out-of-control appetite.

    So just this week I’ve begun working on things I’ve been procrastinating about, like cleaning the storage room. I have been neglecting my duties because I have been wallowing in self-pity. I’ve been wasting so much time being hyper-focused on this issue.

    I’ve decided to stop praying for God to take away my desire for my husband. I am going to try to squash my appetite when it gets too intense, just like I have learned to squash cravings for junk food. I need to redirect myself.

    Honestly, I’m not sure if this is totally what I’m supposed to be learning about this, but it sure feels like a step in the right direction. And it sure beats feeling ugly and worthless all of the time. And my husband has been much more relaxed and happier the past couple days. I guess he can sense my more pleasant demeanor.
    ==============================

  14. “Brenda Stoeker is the author of this article and she was a co-author with her husband Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn along with Mike Yorkey of the book “Every Heart Restored”.”

    I discourage Christians from reading any book authored or co-authored by Stephen Arterburn. IMHO Stephen Arterburn has not demostrated by his life choices that he should be teaching or counseling anyone. I am not saying he is not a Christian, but I am saying that he does not have the life history of making wise choices that would warrant him being a Christian leader or teacher.

    Arterburn has been divorced twice and married three times. Arterburn brought a public lawsuit against another Christian instead of handling the matter privately as mandated in the New Testament (I Corinthians). Arterburn advised his daughter to delay with her current boyfriend and date around, delay marriage and not consider marriage until age 28. No one can wave a magic wand at age 28 and instantly find a godly man to marry. Arterburn’s advice means that many Christian women will be in their thirties before finding a good man to marry. Delayed marriage means fewer healthy children.

  15. @PornSavesMarriages,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think that your story shows why it’s so disastrous to teach that sexual fantasies about other women are just as bad as physical adultery.

    However, I do have some comments to make about this statement:
    “For many years I bought into this traditional teaching that God meant for marriage to monogamous and men were only meant to be attracted to one woman which was their wife. But at the same time I struggle with my own attraction to multiple women. In my youth group I was definitely attracted to multiple women and I can say for sure if polygamy was allowed I would not have gone with just my wife. I realize that sounds really unromantic to any woman here (and would to my wife if I ever told her that).”

    I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with you desiring multiple women or wishing that you could have asked multiple women to marry you. However, I do have to wonder how likely it is that you would have gotten your wish as a young man in a youth group even if polygamy had been allowed. In fact, I have to wonder if you’d have even been able to marry your current wife in a polygynous society.

    I understand that men have polygynous fantasies, and I don’t wish to shame them for it. I just have to point out to them that a polygamous society might not work out for them the way that they hope that it would and that a monogamous society where they can still satisfy their desires through sexual fantasy and porn might very well be better for the majority of men. Indeed, as strange as it may sound, polygyny wasn’t banned in the Roman Empire for the sake women; it was banned for the sake of angry men who couldn’t get married because richer men had married all of the single women.

    Ultimately, that’s the problem with the idea of widespread polygyny. There simply aren’t enough women in the world for it to be good for men in general. If there were 2 or 3 times as many women in the world as there were men, then of course it would work, and I think that both men and women would want a polygynous society. As the population is now, though, there’s no denying that polygyny would favor the wealthiest at the direct expense of the non-wealthy. Now, I’m not saying that men who can’t or won’t support a wife and family should be subsidized to be able to take a wife. But the fact of the matter is that a young man and a young woman can get married, have a place to live, have enough food to eat, and have electricity and water and means to preserve food and cook without a lot of money. They can get married young before their desires get too strong to control, and they can still work together to get to the point where they can support a family while their eggs and sperm are still young and healthy. (Yeah, I know that aging isn’t as big a deal for men hoping to reproduce, but sperm does degrade in quality and motility if it’s produced in men over 40.) However, in polygynous society, women and their families will be motivated to go for richer men who can afford a second or third or even fourth wife because those men will be able to do more for the women, their families, and their future children. Men who are hardworking but haven’t made it yet (or indeed who might never be rich but would make sure that their wives and children would have enough) would be more likely to get left without a wife in a polygynous society than in a monogamous one.

  16. @AnnaMS,

    As with any other topic in Scripture we have to look at the entirety of Scripture when coming to conclusions on various matters. I agree that our vows in any area(including marriage) are very important to God and Numbers 30 shows us that:

    “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” – Numbers 30:2 (KJV)

    But Christ also talked about making vows that would cause us to sin:

    “10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

    11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

    12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

    13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” – Mark 7:8-15 (KJV)

    What Christ was talking about here was a situation where the Jewish leaders would allow a man to vow all that he had to temple failing to realize he was still responsible to support his family including his parents when they needed it.

    They allowed people to vow to do things that would result in sinful behavior(in this case neglecting to care for one’s family).

    There is a general principle of Scripture that while God holds us to our vows if the vow we made was made in ignorance of the fact that such a vow would lead to sin we are freed from such a vow.

    This is why I hold the position that any vow made to anyone that would result in sinful activity on the part of the person making the vow should not be upheld.

    The next question I know you will ask is “How would could NOT watching porn lead a man to sin?” Here is how. Some men have higher sex drives and other men have higher polygynous drives. So for some men with a high sex drive but a lower polygynous drive if their wife gives them sex it is not very tempting or difficult for them not to look at porn. But for men with not only high sex drives, but high polygynous drives – if you completely block them from any exercise of their polygynous nature(not even to think about it or fantasize about it) it can lead to exactly what happened with the story that was just posted here by PornSavesMarriages.

    This is why I maintain that any vow that would lead to sin is not valid before God just as if a man went to his church and vowed to give all his paychecks for the rest of his life to his church that would be sin because he has a family to support.

  17. @AnnaMS,

    One other thing I would add on vows and I probably misstated my view on the issue of men’s rights. Might there be some right a man could give up and it not lead to sin? Perhaps. If someone can think of it let me know. But I know if a man makes it part of his wedding vows to not exercise Biblical headship that is an invalid vow. If a man were to take vow of marital celibacy as some false teachers in the early church had married couples make that would be an invalidated vow.

  18. BGR

    curious – have you written a post differentiating the different kinds of ‘poly’ and what the Bible says about each? i get a bit lost in all of them, esp when you seem to use polygyny and polygamy in similar ways. not criticizing – just trying to understand as this is very new to me. thank you.

  19. Ame,
    Polygamy refers to one man having several wives or one woman having several husbands. Polygamy is distinguished from polyamory in that polygamy is always a one to many relationship where polyamory is a group marriage with possibly multiple men and women all have sex with one another.

    Polygyny refers to the type of polygamy where a man has several wives and polyandry refers to polygamy where a wife has several husbands.

    The Bible only allows one type of polygamy and that is Polygyny. Polyandry and polyamory break the biblical model of marriage that women was made for man and that a woman can only have one husband at a time. If she were to attempt to marry a second husband she would be committing adultery against the first unless her first husband was dead or she was justly divorced from him.

  20. It is obviously true that a vow of sin is not something God requires us to keep. But a vow of having sex with one woman only is not a sin. Do you really think that a man who has polygynous desires and no way to fulfill them (as his only sexual outlet is his wife) has no choice but to sin? The entire idea that a man might be in a sucky situation seems to have become totally foreign (and this is not a gender thing for me…if you will remember, I had the exact same response to Hope’s situation in the last post). If you were to show your wife the door if she requested that you only see her naked, I believe that would be a grave sin on your part.

    As to a right that a man could give up without it being sin, I’d have to ask what you think a man’s rights are. Personally, I think the Bible teaches more of a concept of human responsibility vs human rights (this is VERY unpopular in American thinking but please hear me out!). On the most basic level we have what people would call a right to life. But is that actually true? If so, death of any form (miscarriage, old age, cancer) would seem to be a violation of a human right. But that is of course not what people mean. Is it not possible that instead people might have a responsibility not to murder? The Bible does not teach the concept of human rights, but rather of human responsibility. This should not surprise us as Christians as the concept of rights makes it all about us, but the concept of responsibility makes it more about growing in Christian character. People might say that a married man and woman have a right to sex but the Bible never says that. Rather it preaches the responsibility each spouse has to the other in sex. So whenever people start talking about not giving up their rights, I tend to get rather skeptical.

  21. BGR – i’m reading thru some of this stuff again as i try to flesh it out in my own brain … i’ll be running it by you in a comment when i get it all written out to make sure i’m getting it right.

    however … this that you wrote here reminded me of something i read in a Christian marriage book before the internet was common (i think we had just got our first desktop in our home). i cannot quote, but in essence what these authors said was that in times in a marriage when one partner wants sex more than the other, or when one cannot for any number of reasons – health, traveling … they said it would be a ‘gift’ for the one to masterbate rather than nag/beg/long for what the other cannot (perhaps even will not) give. i don’t remember them saying anything about whether or not to let the other spouse know. i would think if we were in that situation, and i couldn’t be there for my husband, i would just want to know he’s okay. i don’t think i’d want or need the details.

    ==================
    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2016/04/07/10-hard-truths-that-christian-wives-must-accept-about-their-husbands-and-porn/comment-page-1/#comments

    “So there are many legitimate reasons that a man in some instances choose to masturbate rather than wait to have sex with his wife that in and of itself is NOT sin.

    Where sin comes in is when masturbation(and by extension porn) replaces one’s desire for sexual intimacy with their spouse. Even in the case of a wife who grudgingly gives sex it still needs to happen(but maybe it won’t happen as much as it could if she were enthusiastic). Because a husband and wife need to have sex even if it does not always happen under the best of circumstances.”

  22. AnnaMS,

    On the issue of rights I think there is difference between “giving up a right completely” and choosing not to use it. In some churches Paul did not use his right to take support as all preachers of the Gospel have and in others he did take support.

    “3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?…Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.” – I Corinthians 9:3-7 & 12 (NASB)

    So yes a husband could choose not to exercise his right to polygyny or porn use but that is a determination HE must make. A man may be convinced in his heart that these things are not wrong (polygyny or porn) but choose not to exercise his right to these things as he has a lower polygynous drive. He may be able to focus only his wife because of this low polygynous drive.

    I know this is a hot button issue for you and while some women and men can accept what I am saying some cannot. We will just have to agree to disagree.

  23. Ame,

    I agree that masturbation when used correctly is a gift to us from God as part of our sexuality. It is a way for us to process both mental and physical needs that we have that sometimes our spouses can’t fulfill because of illness or separation or even because they may simply be unwilling to fulfill certain requests. Again as long as masturbation does not replace our desire for our spouse but simply acts as a supplement to our desire for them there is no sin in this – it truly is a gift from God. And no we don’t have to tell our spouse about everything we do in private as long as it is not something immoral or wrong to do.

  24. What I am saying is not that he shouldn’t exercise that right, but that he doesn’t actually have that right to begin with. The Bible presents responsibilities from which rights are derived. But rights do not stand alone by themselves. For every right, there must be a causative responsibility. Else that right does not exist. So a man has a right to sex with his wife only because his wife has a responsibility to provide sex to him. God does not give man a right to sex. He does give the wife the responsibility. And if people are going to argue that since God created the cause, He must have created the effect than please explain how God did not create evil since He created Satan.

    Because of this, a man does not have a right to polygyny because there is no responsibility for multiple women to marry him. Similarly, a man does not have a right to porn because there is no corresponding responsibility for porn to be created or given to him. Just because a man can do something and just because that might not be wrong does not mean it is his right. I can go to Olive Garden for lunch (something I dearly love to do), but that is by no means a right to me.

    We’re not just disagreeing about whether or not porn is good or not. It’s what a man and woman actually have a right to and why. Really think about that.

  25. @BGR,

    I’ve been thinking about this, and I have to wonder if God ever really intended for polygyny to be widespread or many men to have strongly polygynous designs. If He did, then one has to ask why he didn’t design us so that women conceive girls at least twice as often as boys. It seems unfair to make most men desire multiple wives and then not create enough women who could marry them.

  26. BGR –

    biblicalgenderroles
    APRIL 9, 2016 AT 7:32 PM

    is there a book that correctly interprets the SOS that you’d recommend?

  27. Joe,

    Yes I think it is ok for a wife to watch porn as long as it follows in the same guidelines for men. It must only be the type of sex God designed us as human beings to desire(normal heterosexual sex as opposed to homosexual sex, orgies, bestiality, rape, sex with children) and it should never replace her desire for sex with her husband and she should watch it at inappropriate times and places or let it control her life. If she can watch it moderation following these principles I think it would be ok.

    But there is a caveat to this for a woman. Her husband is her spiritual head. So he sets the boundaries and rules for their home. If her husband forbids her from watching porn then she should not watch it in obedience to him. A wife however cannot forbid her husband from watching porn as she is not his spiritual head but is instead under his authority.

  28. Wow! I wrote a post on my site (not as thoroughly researched as yours) about porn being a marital aid. After I posted it, I received a lot of negative feedback and unpublished it. I believe I will republish it with a few edits.

    As I reread my post, I realized I did a lot of passive apologizing for being a man. I need to change that before reposting. Your “Hard Truth” number 7 was most of my basis for writing the post. Men, even by proxy, want to feel desired sexually and porn is one avenue to drive down.

    I have a section on my blog to highlight favorite web pages. I am adding your site. I’m amazed at your knowledge and the simplicity you use to make your points. Thank you. I try to be the same, but you’re much better at it.

  29. This might come across as kind of sarcastic, but I’m genuinely curious. So, the husband can watch porn himself, while forbidding the wife to do so because he is her spiritual head?

  30. Taylor,

    Your Question:

    “This might come across as kind of sarcastic, but I’m genuinely curious. So, the husband can watch porn himself, while forbidding the wife to do so because he is her spiritual head?”

    I think you are asking this question in response to an answer I gave to another commenter on my position of women looking at porn:

    “Yes I think it is ok for a wife to watch porn as long as it follows in the same guidelines for men. It must only be the type of sex God designed us as human beings to desire(normal heterosexual sex as opposed to homosexual sex, orgies, bestiality, rape, sex with children) and it should never replace her desire for sex with her husband and she should watch it at inappropriate times and places or let it control her life. If she can watch it moderation following these principles I think it would be ok.

    But there is a caveat to this for a woman. Her husband is her spiritual head. So he sets the boundaries and rules for their home. If her husband forbids her from watching porn then she should not watch it in obedience to him. A wife however cannot forbid her husband from watching porn as she is not his spiritual head but is instead under his authority.

    I will answer your question with another question then fully answer what you are looking for.

    Can a parent forbid their child from using foul language(cussing) while they themselves continue to cuss? Certainly they can. But should they? Of course not.

    I don’t think watching porn(using the guidelines I have previously mentioned) is sin for a man or a woman. However a husband may feel that watching porn is a sin while his wife does not feel it is a sin. She however is bound by her husband’s spiritual authority so if he forbids it she must obey his authority. Now this same husband who feels porn is a sin and forbids his wife from looking at it may hypocritically look at himself while at the same time believing it is a sin to do so.

    But a husband can forbid his wife from doing a variety of sinful activities that he himself does. His authority over her is not based upon his performance. His hypocrisy or sinful lifestyle does not invalidate his authority over his wife.

    Should Christian husbands and fathers strive to be examples for their wives and children? Absolutely.

    It makes it much easier for a man’s wife and children to follow his spiritual leadership if he is living a life that is a good example.

  31. Alright, I understand what you mean. So basically, sex is the only area where the wife has equality in the marriage. For a woman with a higher sexual drive, can her husband dictate how often they have sex because he’s her spiritual head?

    Also, regarding oral sex. I know its not the topic of this post, but you’ve alluded to it in other posts and comments, and here seems like a good place to ask about it. I don’t understand why it would be considered a sin or ‘as not submitting’ if the wife refuses to give oral sex. You’ve explained that sex is what is required as the duty in marriage, so if a wife never denies her husband and has regular and enthusiastic sex with him, would her refusal of oral sex warrant discipline from the husband? Could a husband follow your ‘8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal’, and bring her before their Christian counsellor or Pastor, because of no oral sex?

  32. Taylor,

    Your Statement:

    “Alright, I understand what you mean. So basically, sex is the only area where the wife has equality in the marriage. For a woman with a higher sexual drive, can her husband dictate how often they have sex because he’s her spiritual head?”

    Well I would not say that a wife has complete equality in the area of sexuality in marriage.

    The Biblical principle that “the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife“(I Corinthians 7:4) must be understood together with the Biblical principle that “the husband is the head of the wife“(Ephesians 5:23).

    I Corinthians 7 is teaching that husbands and wives have a right to have sex with the other. Husbands have a right to sexual access to their wife’s body and wives have a right to sexual access to their husband’s body. But how this “sexual access” plays out is governed by the principle of the headship of the husband over his wife. The wife may request sex with her but she cannot dictate that he will do it at a certain time. A husband because he is her spiritual head can dictate and alter his wife’s schedule accordingly because he is her head.

    So yes both a husband and a wife should be able to request sexual access whenever they feel the need and they both should do their best to accommodate the other. However the husband’s “request” comes with the authority of one who is that master of the other. A wife’s request comes in the form of a servant to her master. It is her right to ask – make no mistake – and he has a responsibility to meet that need but he is her authority as well and for various reasons could tell her no at that time.

    However if he makes it a pattern of saying no and he rarely if ever has sex with his wife then she may have a case to divorce him for sexual denial. Even when it comes to a man – I would not tell a man that is getting sex once or twice a week and he wants it five times a week that he has a case for divorce for sexual denial. It may be a case for discipline, but not divorce. But if a man comes to me and tells me he gets sex twice a year from his wife – that is when I would tell him he has a case for sexual denial – and I would say the same to a wife who has the same issue with her husband.

  33. Taylor,

    Your Statement:

    “Also, regarding oral sex. I know its not the topic of this post, but you’ve alluded to it in other posts and comments, and here seems like a good place to ask about it. I don’t understand why it would be considered a sin or ‘as not submitting’ if the wife refuses to give oral sex. You’ve explained that sex is what is required as the duty in marriage, so if a wife never denies her husband and has regular and enthusiastic sex with him, would her refusal of oral sex warrant discipline from the husband? Could a husband follow your ‘8 steps to confront your wife’s sexual refusal’, and bring her before their Christian counsellor or Pastor, because of no oral sex?”

    While it is a lack of sexual submission on the part of the wife to deny her husband oral sex I do not think it rises to the level of him having to take those steps I outlined for sexual denial. It is not a complete sexual denial as is the case of men whose wives will not let them touch them at all. I believe the bare minimum a wife must give her husband is vaginal sex if she is medically able to do so. If for some reason a wife was permanently unable to give her husband vaginal sex only and she refused to help in any other way(such as orally or manually) over a great length of time then he might have a case for sexual denial.

    I think that if a woman is giving her husband regular vaginal intercourse but denying him other types of sex(like oral sex, hand jobs, or boob sex) there is still sexual denial going on but it is not complete sexual denial, but rather partial.

    Make no mistake many women who deny their husband’s these other forms of sex are in rebellion and are failing to fully submit.

    Now some women may not be purposefully rebelling and have a desire to do these things for their husbands but they have some psychological hangups that are holding them back. In these cases I first recommend a husband exercise patience and approach his wife gently about it. Perhaps there was some sexual abuse in the past or some other issues she is facing. He needs to offer ways to help her work through this whether through sexual counseling with a sex therapist or other things.

    However if she has not real desire to these things and completely refuses to face the issues stopping her from fully submitting he may have to take other actions. He may need to use correlation methods as to she likes or desires whether inside the bedroom or outside the bedroom to help her see the importance of full sexual submission.

    A small example may be that his wife likes to receive regular foot massages – he might pull back on this and not do this anymore until she fully submits. And again as I have said in previous posts this is not a matter of manipulation or repaying evil for evil. It is a matter of discipline. In this exact example it is the use of correlation. The husband is trying to show his wife “if you do what is required for me and full sexually submit to my needs, then I will do what is not required of me and give you foot rubs”

  34. As a woman, I have to say that I firmly believe there are large numbers of women who feel the same as a man. I am often attracted to other men and quite enjoy seeing good looking men with strong bodies. What would you say to this? You believe a man is visual so that gives him a right, and a woman is not visual so a woman does not have the right? Well, if I told my husband I wanted to watch material that he found offensive to him, do you believe I could still do so?

  35. Natalie,

    Your asked:

    “As a woman, I have to say that I firmly believe there are large numbers of women who feel the same as a man. I am often attracted to other men and quite enjoy seeing good looking men with strong bodies. What would you say to this? You believe a man is visual so that gives him a right, and a woman is not visual so a woman does not have the right? Well, if I told my husband I wanted to watch material that he found offensive to him, do you believe I could still do so?”

    First of all I don’t doubt many women enjoy seeing well built men. My wife enjoys movies with Chris Hemsworth and Hugh Jackman because she thinks they are well built men. But just because many women can appreciate a well built and attractive man does not mean women have the same visual/physical based sexual nature of men. Are there some rare women that have a a more visual/physical sexual nature similar to a man’s? Absolutely. But they are the exception, not the norm. I am not saying women don’t desire sex.

    But for the vast majority of women they are primarily sexually aroused by first being emotionally stimulated by a man while the vast majority of men are sexually aroused by the mere site of a beautiful women whether they have any relational or emotional connection to her or not.

    So to answer your question more fully – if a woman has a more masculine sexual nature see no sin in her watching erotic media IF her husband allows her to.

    The difference between the man and woman is position. A man is his wife’s spiritual head. That means if he restricts her from something that he does not like or does not agree with she must obey him. But if her husband engages in watching materials his wife does not like she cannot restrict him because she is not his authority, but she is under his authority. Biblically speaking husbands and wives are no equals. Yes they are equal in their humanity, but they are not equal in their positions.

    If your husband is watching things you wish he would not then you should practice the I Peter 3 principle found here:

    “1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
    2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear…
    5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
    6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
    I Peter 3:1-2 & 5-6 (KJV)

    So if you feel your husband is doing something sinful then pray for him. But still love him and submit to him regardless. But also pray that God will either change your heart on the matter or his. You might just be wrong in what you are thinking is wrong.

    There are women who are much more visually aroused than the average man. You might be one of them but there is no evidence to suggest there is any large majority of women that are like you otherwise the porn industry that is targeted to women would reflect that. Having said that I don’t at all discount that there are women like you and any man who finds himself married to a woman who has more of a masculine visual/physical drive

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