Morning friend, I will be speaking at the Lighthouse Christian Church on October 23rd. If you’re local, come join me. I’d love to meet you. We’re talking about recognizing healthy and toxic relationships and how to heal from destructive ones.
Today’s Question: Is viewing pornography and or masturbation biblical grounds for divorce?
My husband and I reached out to a couple that are leaders at our church for godly help. They stated that they do not believe that viewing pornography is biblical grounds for divorce because a physical person is not involved. The couple quoted the scripture Matthew 5:28. Can you provide some insight?
Answer: Sadly, today men (and women) struggle with pornography, masturbation, and sexual addiction. Satan has a foothold into people’s hearts and homes and the church hasn’t done a very good job at validating the devastating effects this habit has on one’s mind, body, spirit, and marriage.
I’m so sorry your church has not taken a strong stand considering the well-documented damage pornography has on a person’s mind, sexual abilities, as well as intimate relationships.
I believe church leaders are often reluctant to come down hard on this problem because they fear what might happen. According to surveys conducted by Barna Research, a sizable percentage of pastors also struggle with pornography problems. If they accept that repeated and unrepentant porn use is Biblical grounds for divorce, many marriages will end.
Even secular research and brain science speak about the damaging effect of habitual porn use. Here is an article and TED talk that every adult and ministry leader should watch. It’s sobering.
Jesus takes this issue of pornography seriously using the very passage your church leaders referred to. He says, “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye – even your good eye- causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand – even your stronger hand – causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:27-30
Jesus says, don’t mess around. He tells people to take decisive action if they have this problem. Gouging out your eye or cutting off your hand will not keep you from lusting, but what Jesus meant was, DO what it takes to deal with this problem NOW. Sadly, many men don't listen, and even more sad is Christian people helpers don’t confront it seriously.
But they’re wrong. The Bible is full of warnings about sexual immorality and the consequences of unbridled lust.
For example, Paul writes, “there should be no sexual immorality among us and that such sins have no place among God’s people.” He goes on to say that “we should not be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.” And later he tells us to “expose the worthless deeds of evil and darkness.” (See Ephesians 5)
Does this mean porn is the same as adultery? Jesus says it is, as does Peter (2 Peter 2:14). And if it’s repeated and unrepentant, I believe it is Biblical grounds for divorce as in adultery. The important question that determines what happens next is what is your husband’s response to his problem of pornography and lust?
Does he hate it? Is he repentant? Is he doing everything within his power to stop and eliminate this habit, this sin, this pleasure, even when it costs him? For example, is he willing to be without Internet access? Is he willing to put controls on his computer? Is he going for help with his thought life? Is he honest and open with you and others about his struggle? Is he willing to be held accountable? And, is he grateful for a wife who holds him accountable for his behaviors so that he doesn’t burn himself and his entire family down to the ground with his own foolish fantasies or actions?
If so, then your initial response would be gracious and forgiving, coupled with an uncompromising stance against allowing such evil in your home and marriage. No woman in her right mind, Christian or otherwise, would allow her husband to bring another woman into their home to have sex.
In the same way, if your husband is not repentant or desiring and willing to change, you should not turn the other way, or close your eyes to your husband ogling other women or watching pornography. It degrades you, diminishes him, and demeans the women he ogles.
It’s time all women draw a line in the sand for the wellbeing of other women, their marriage, family, and their spouse and say, “No more. If that’s what you want I can’t stop you, but I won’t live like this.”
I won’t be in a marriage with a man who prefers a fantasy life to real life, who uses pornography as a prop to deal with his own inadequacies instead of facing them. (For more on this watch my YOUTUBE video on Why Men Watch Porn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7duUV7CJjOc&t=142s)
This is a tough stance, but Jesus and Scripture call us to take a tough stance. If your husband or church won’t, you must. If you don’t your husband will continue to behave as if he can have his cake and eat it too. He can enjoy all the perks of home, marriage, and even family but still live treacherously and lustfully. You can choose. Don’t let him.
Remember, this is not just his life it’s your life and your children’s lives. Your strong stand may be the one thing that will get his attention and hopefully motivate him to face his issue. If he refuses, then it’s time you quit enabling his habit to destroy you and your children.
Friend, when have you had to take a strong stand on this issue? Has your church supported you or enabled him?