Author’s note: I originally wrote this article as a 21-year-old single girl. I deeply desired a biblical marriage but was disheartened by what culture presented as the norm in relationships. Nearly three years later, I’m happily married to a wonderful, godly man, who, by God’s grace, has sought after purity of heart and mind. I’m deeply thankful for God’s work in my husband and the convictions He has given him in areas of sexual purity. When I first told him that I daily prayed for a man who would guard his mind and eyes, he thanked me and said, “Never stop praying.” Sin is a ferocious lion always seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and we must never assume that we are above being tempted or let down our guard or cease actively pursuing holiness. Whether pornography is a current struggle for you or not, I pray this article encourages you in your pursuit of holiness and spurs on your prayers for others who may be battling sin.
We’ve all heard the statistics.
65 percent of young men watch pornography every week. 40 million US adults are regular porn users. Every second, 28,258 users are active on porn sites. Even 64 percent of Christian men report watching porn at least every month.
I recently came face to face with these statistics and they made me ask myself a question that pummeled my heart.
What if my future husband is part of the 65 percent?
The thought crushed me. I felt betrayed and wounded by the very idea. As a single girl, I want to get married. I want to experience marital intimacy as God intended. Yet with statistics like these, I can’t help but wonder if it’ll be possible to find a man walking in purity. The numbers call me a fool for desiring it. The statistics mock at my hope that my future husband will one day only desire me instead of looking for a thrill on a screen.
Is it too much to hope? I’ve wondered. Should I just resign myself that my future husband will commit adultery regularly in his heart and mind? Will he compare me to what he sees online? Will we be able to experience all the stunning beauty God intended intimacy to be within marriage or will it be tainted with the shadow of pornography?
I’ve cried over thoughts like this, heartbroken because I know the fears in my heart are a reality for many women. Countless marriages have been broken apart or deeply wounded because of porn addictions. Pornography has led to sexual abuse, adultery, and rape as a huge amount of porn today depicts violence and abuse. Many couples struggle to have intimacy because their bodies and desires have been rewired and conformed to an impossible thrill on a screen that a real person can’t measure up to. Our perspective of sexuality, body image, and human value has been cheapened, degraded, and distorted and God’s original design attacked and denigrated by the sin of lust.
Some call it hopeless. Porn is just a part of our society, they say. It’s pointless to try and fight it.
I refuse to believe that.
Even in the midst of our porn-saturated, sexually distorted society, I know there is a better way—and that porn does not have to rule our lives or ruin our relationships.
A Word to the Guys
Pornography isn’t just a guy’s struggle. Many girls battle it too. Though I’m writing from the perspective of a single girl wondering about the effect porn may have on her future husband, I don’t want to single out young men as if they are the only ones who can sin sexually, because that’s absolutely not true. But before I dive into talking about pornography in general, a brief note to any young men reading this: I write this only in the hopes of giving you a glimpse inside the heart of a Christian young woman and her hopes, fears, and prayers regarding the topic of pornography. I’m so sorry for how culture encourages you to run toward it, rather than away. Culture exploits how God has designed you as a man and throws countless images and temptations your way everywhere you go. I’ve heard from numerous guys how even a trip to the mall, passing larger-than-life posters of barely dressed models, can be an incredible temptation. I’m so sorry culture exploits this struggle and purposefully places temptations in your path. Living out purity in our sexualized society isn’t easy—for men and women alike. I simply have one plea: Please fight for purity, holiness, and freedom.
From the bottom of my heart, I beg you to intentionally engage in this fight, instead of passively succumbing. For the sake of your own walk with God and personal holiness; for the sake of your wife and marriage (present or future), please be vigilant and purposeful in your fight against porn and any form of lust. As 2 Timothy 2:22 challenges, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
I believe God has called you to be a man of greater honor. He has equipped you to rise above the counterfeit, sexual idols of our culture and pursue holiness and righteousness. He wants you to be, as Jonathan Welton says, “A protector of beauty.” In a society willing to exploit and objectify God’s beautiful creation of woman, you are called to counter that mindset and protect and cherish her beauty by honoring women in your heart and mind. This is my prayer for my future husband, and I pray the same for any brother in Christ reading this.
Experts at Justifying Sin
There are numerous objections that I hear both men and women using to justify their use of pornography. Let’s look at a few.
I use porn to satisfy my sexual desires instead of having sex…isn’t that something?
We often measure sexual activity in terms of “sin-degrees.” Fornication (intercourse outside of marriage) or adultery weigh heavier on the scale. Watching porn and lusting in our hearts—well, we know we shouldn’t, but surely, it’s not quite on the same level, right?
If this is your objection, remember that Jesus sets a higher standard, placing even fantasies and imaginations on the same level as the acts themselves. “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
Watching pornography instead of engaging in illicit relationships might sound like the noble, self-sacrificial decision to most of the culture, yet according to Jesus, it’s no different. Porn is destructive to healthy relationships, true intimacy, and a God-glorifying vision of one-flesh covenant marriage.
Marriage will cure me. I’ll stop once I can experience marital intimacy.
Many couples naively think pornography could never be a part of their marriage—even if it was a part of their single lives. Countless women have rationalized, “He’ll stop watching porn after we’re married” only to find themselves five years into marriage committed to a man with an addiction. Many people think as soon as they can be intimate with their spouse, the struggle will fade away. And in fact, it often does for a time, even in the early stages of dating.
Yet that’s the problem with sin. Its grip on us is tenacious. No external thing (such as marriage or a new relationship), can cure the sin-bent nature of our hearts. Only repentance and the power of Christ’s shed blood can break those chains. Marriage won’t cure what you’re not willing to repent of. Those who battle porn ultimately do not need another 12-step program or new internet filter (though that might be a helpful addition). What they ultimately need is a new heart. A heart that is cleansed from sin and made new through the power of Christ.
When David sinned with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, for a time he thought he could get away with his sin. But finally, it caught up with him and God confronted him. Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance and plea for mercy. In that psalm, he recognizes his deepest need: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). A clean heart, made new through Christ’s shed blood, is what we all need. Fighting against any sin without a heart transformed by the grace of Jesus will only lead to a surface-level kind of moralism with no authentic change.
It’s impossible to live without pornography! You shouldn’t expect that from anyone.
Our society has normalized this behavior to the point that students are now being taught “porn literacy”—“how to recognize what is realistic and what is not, how to deconstruct implicit gender roles, and how to identify what types of behavior could be a health or safety risk.” The message is clear—it’s unrealistic to discourage porn use. Let’s just make it more ethical.
The pull of pornography is so strong that many think it’s impossible to live without. Yet where does Scripture say that there are sins impossible for us to overcome with Christ’s strength? It doesn’t. Instead, God’s Word encourages us that we are “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” It tells us to “not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:11, 12). Along with the apostle Paul, we can declare that the power of Jesus “has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). We have been given “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
This doesn’t mean we can merely quote a few Scripture verses and never feel the pull of temptation again. We still dwell in sinful flesh. Yet we do not have to be held captive by temptation. Being free from porn may be a battle, but it’s one that can end in victory—not because of our strength, but because of the power of Christ.Being free from porn may be a battle, but it’s one that can end in victory—not because of our strength, but because of the power of Christ. Click To Tweet
Steps to Freedom
To the man or woman struggling with porn, I believe you can be free. You don’t have to be a part of the 65 percent.
Turn to Christ in humble repentance and cry out, like David, for a clean heart. Confess your struggle to a godly mentor and ask for accountability. Take steps to create hedges of protection, such as installing internet blockers, allowing a trustworthy friend or family member full access to your devices, or if necessary, even ditching your smartphone or laptop. Seek God for grace and strength every day to guard your eyes and thoughts.
And lastly, to my future husband, I’m praying for you every day. Please fight for purity…because I’m not giving up hope.