Numerous Christian men I’ve counseled have shared how their Christian wives read romance novels and watch movies and shows that contain nudity in front of them, even asking them to watch with them. Ironically, these men are trying their hardest to remain sexually pure for their wives, while their wives are putting pornographic images right in front of them.
This is not a wife-bashing article, believe me. I pray this article will bring freedom to wives in unexpected ways and bring wholeness to their marriages.
When a guy sins sexually, it is his fault. He is held accountable and responsible before God. “Eve made me do it” didn’t work in Genesis 3 and it still doesn’t work today. A man’s choice to sin is on his head. At the end of the day though, I believe most Christian wives do not desire for their husbands to sin sexually, and if they knew of things they could do, within reason, to help with this, they would.
I also want to acknowledge off the bat that the majority of women aren’t visually stimulated the same way the majority of men are. So while I would never watch a movie with a naked sex scene in it (and likely, any sex scene), many women can watch this without it leading them to sin. It’s also important to note that most nudity in movies is female nudity. While a women’s bare breasts in a movie will definitely affect me, it unlikely tempts the majority of women viewers to sin.
I hope what I provide below gives women a guide to navigating what might be an unknown or confusing subject.
Sensual, nude female skin on the screen can easily tempt your husband to sin.
While there may be some rare exceptions out there, this is generally going to be true for men, whether they admit it or not. I think some men want to think they are mature enough to see on-screen female nudity without lusting, but this is generally not true. Sure, there can be debates about female nudity in classical works of art, etc., but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about Hollywood shows and movies that sensually expose a woman’s body.
As a wife, you may be able to watch this without it affecting you. But ask yourself if it’s worth the risk of your husband’s temptation. There’s a high chance these images will stick with your husband. He may masturbate over these images later, think about them throughout the day instead of about you. He may begin to downgrade how you look physically because these fake, done-up scenes will be embedded into his brain, and he may even dwell on them while he’s having sex with you.
Most of this is not happening because he wants to, but because these images are beating down the frail door in his mind he’s tried to put up to resist them. You can judge him for this, but you have to remember God never designed men to be exposed to this sort of rampant visual stimulation on a screen. God didn’t design men to have unlimited numbers of naked, sensual, perfectly shaped bodies streamed in front of them, giving such a false picture of what sex and the value of a woman is. Such stimulation can’t simply be erased from the system. Once it enters, its damage remains. It needs to be kept out of the system altogether.
Please don’t pressure your husband to be “mature enough” to watch these scenes with you. It harms him and harms your marriage.
“Well, if she can look at it, I can too.”
A wife’s indulgence in sex scenes, nudity, and I’ll throw romance novels in here, also convinces a man that if she can look at porn, so can he. When a man tries his hardest not to look at porn, especially when he’s doing it for his wife, it usually doesn’t take much to convince him to stop trying so hard.
When your husband watches the latest Netflix show, with its now standard Netflix-share of sensual sex and naked breasts, it embeds these scenes in his brain, as well as encourages him to look at more porn later. If his Christian wife is okay with these things (and is asking him to watch with her), why shouldn’t he be okay with them on his own time as well?
It makes him feel inadequate.
The reason I’m including romance novels in an article that thus far has been about on-screen nudity is because it falls into the same pornographic/fantasy category. For many women, romance novels produce the same type of fantasy that a man will get from visual pornography.
Ask yourself this question: why do you not want your husband to look at pornography? The answer to that question is probably the same reason your husband doesn’t want you reading romance novels. Romance novels make your husband feel inadequate and they harm your sex life and overall intimacy. They give you a picture of romance and intimacy that isn’t real and isn’t your husband.
What happens to your reality when you invest your time in these types of fantasy relationships and fantasy sex? What happens to the grass under your feet when you’re always watering the grass on the other side of the fence? Exactly. Your reality withers up and the grass on the other side of the fence gets greener and greener. Who wants to live like that? I did for many years and it is absolutely miserable.
When Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28 that lust is the equivalent of committing adultery in our hearts, he is talking about this. Lust isn’t the act of merely viewing a body and wanting it, it’s the thought of wanting the body, the person, the relationship, the acceptance, the validation, and the intimacy that you can create in your mind about that person. You may not be getting these things from your husband, but trying to get them in fantasy will only make things worse. What would happen if you only ate fantasy-food? Exactly: you’d die. The same thing will happen to you spiritually and relationally if you try to live off of fantasy-intimacy. This is where Jesus comes in.
Finding an intimacy that lasts.
Our spouses don’t always give us the intimacy we need. That shortcoming is something that’s between them and God. When we expect them to meet all of our needs, we can easily turn them into an idol, expecting from them what only God can ultimately give us. A lack of intimacy from our spouse doesn’t give any of us, man or woman, the license to find this intimacy through sinful avenues. And for married folks who currently find themselves in this boat, you have to ask yourself, “What do your single brothers and sisters do?” They don’t have a spouse to get intimacy from to start with!
The answer for all of us is that our primary intimacy always needs to come from Jesus. Ephesians 5:31-32 tells us that Jesus is our husband and we are his bride. It’s the same metaphor used throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s relationship with his people. When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, it not only allowed you into heaven, it sealed your value as his adopted son or daughter. It reconciled you back to the source of all love, intimacy, acceptance, approval, and validation.
The next time you hunger for intimacy, either because it’s lacking in your marriage or simply because you want to indulge in some “eye candy” or “mental candy,” go to Jesus instead. Sit at his feet, listen to his voice, and let him tell you how much he already loves you. He is the intimacy you need and his strength can and will pull you through the dry seasons of your marriage or your singleness.