Is Porn a Reason for Divorce?

This is a hot-button issue we’ve addressed before, and we continue to get questions about it.

Obviously, opinions about divorce are manifold across the Christian spectrum. While recognizing that civil divorces do occur, Roman Catholics and many Protestants don’t believe that Christian marriage is ever truly dissolvable (except by death). For those who do believe there are legitimate grounds for divorce, there are a variety of opinions.

Below, pastor Doug Wilson gives his take on the matter of whether porn use is ever grounds for divorce.

Here are some of Mr. Wilson’s important points:

1. Porneia is grounds for divorce.

Porneia, Wilson says, is a Greek term referring to sexual uncleanness, which potentially includes many things. Matthew 19:9 states, “I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [porneia], and marries another, commits adultery.”

Wilson believes that repeated, unrepentant porn can “rise to the level” of porneia.

In this video, Wilson isn’t clear on when such unrepentant porn use would rise to that level, but that it would be based on the depth of the compulsion and the heart attitude of the man in question.

(It should noted that the meaning of this verse and the term porneia are highly contested and disputed, but it does form the basis of the argument for some that divorce is allowable in some cases of pornography use.)

2. Regardless of whether there is grounds for divorce, no Christian wife should put up with porn.

We hear from Christian women all the time who are pressured to do their Christian duty and accept their husband with open arms, as long as he turns on the water works and shows some sorrow for his sin. Wilson is clear here: No woman should be made to stand for this kind of behavior. Wives in this situation need support from the church to confront her husband.

3. Divorce should never be pursued without guidance.

Wilson follows in the steps of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which states that the divorcing parties should not be “left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.” When a Christian man is using porn continually, his sin is not merely a matter for his marriage; it is a matter for the church to address. This may involve church discipline, counseling, discipleship—all with a goal to push to a resolution.

Too often we notice that women in these situations are left out to dry because her church refuses to step in. She is left to make some of the most difficult decisions she will ever face alone. This should never be.

What do you think? Is porn use ever grounds for divorce? If so, when?