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Pornography and the Integrity of Marriage

A man’s decision about pornography is a decision about his soul, his marriage, and his wife.


R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

Rightly understood and rightly ordered, marriage is a picture of God’s own covenantal faithfulness. Marriage is to display God’s glory, reveal God’s good gifts to His creatures, and protect human beings from the inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from their rightful place. 

The physicality of the male and female bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship that is consummated in a one-flesh union. By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share the same bed. Rather, it is mutual self-giving that reaches pleasures both physical and spiritual. 

Consider these two pictures. The first picture is of a man who has set himself toward a commitment to sexual purity and is living in sexual integrity with his wife. In order to fulfill his wife’s rightful expectations and to maximize their mutual pleasure in the marriage bed, he is careful to live, talk, lead, and love in such a way that his wife finds her fulfillment in giving herself to him in love. 

The sex act then becomes a fulfillment of their entire relationship, not an isolated physical act that is merely incidental to their love for each other. Neither uses sex as a means of manipulation, neither is inordinately focused merely on self-centered personal pleasure, and both give themselves to each other in unapologetic and unhindered sexual passion. 

In this picture, there is no shame. Before God, this man can be confident that he is fulfilling his responsibilities both as a male and as a man. He is directing his sexuality, his sex drive, and his physical embodiment toward the one-flesh relationship that is the perfect paradigm of God’s intention in creation.

By contract, consider another man. Directed inwardly rather than outwardly, his sex drive has become an engine for lust and self-gratification.   Pornography is the essence of his sexual interest and arousal. Rather than taking satisfaction in a wife, he looks at dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes without responsibility, expectation, or demand. Arrayed before him are a seemingly endless variety of naked women, sexual images of explicit carnality, and a cornucopia of perversions intended to seduce the imagination and corrupt the soul. 

These two pictures of male sexuality are deliberately intended to drive home the point that every man must decide who he will be, whom he will serve, and how he will love. In the end, a man’s decision about pornography is a decision about his soul, a decision about his marriage, a decision about his wife, and a decision about God.

Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given His creatures out of His own self-giving love. The deliberate use of pornography is nothing less than the willful invitation of illicit lovers, objectified sex objects, and forbidden knowledge into a man’s heart, mind, and soul. The damage to the man’s heart is beyond measure, and the cost in human misery will only be made clear on the Day of Judgment. 

Adapted from Desire and Deceit © 2008 by R. Albert Mohler Jr. Used by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without prior written consent.



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