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Is Your Fiancé Addicted to Porn?

Last Updated: April 15, 2015

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

A recent article from Boundless Webzine caught my attention the other day: “My Fiancé is Addicted to Porn.” The article responds to a letter from a young lady who is concerned how her future husband’s porn addiction might impact their upcoming marriage. She asks for practical advice on how to prepare for potential problems.

Candice Watters, co-founder of Boundless, offers a hard-hitting but gracious response. She urges the young lady to ask her fiancé to talk to a pastor or their pre-marital counselor very soon about his sinful habit, and if he does not want to do this, to postpone the wedding. She even urges her to end the engagement if he is not willing to take drastic measures to end his sin. Watters believes, based on this girl’s e-mail, that the fiancé thinks his sin is something he merely needs to “control,” not overcome. Though he has given lip-service to repenting, no change has happened yet.

I applaud Watters for seeing the big picture. As she writes, “A man who professes Christ but continues in this sin is not ready to take on the role of husband. If he were to try, his marriage would be a lie.” More is at stake than merely an issue of addiction or sexual purity: it’s about a husband’s ability to spiritually lead his marriage in godliness.

I wish more engaged couples would air their dirty laundry for each other before they stood at the altar, especially on sexual issues. Single men and women need to know how pornography consumption can impact a marriage.

What do you think? What level of “freedom” should a woman expect from her future husband in this area?

  • Comments on: Is Your Fiancé Addicted to Porn?
    1. J on

      Spot on advice from Candice.

      I believe and know there is Biblical support that every Christian woman should expect total victory and freedom from this sin. I don’t believe that is holding any man to any standard that is too high either. Not only should it be expected, it’s required. I’d even venture further and say that someone who continues to carry on in this lifestyle could definitely be questioned as to if they are even a Christfollower. The Bible is so clear as to the fact that we should be fleeing from sin and for us not to even to even sit at the same table as the sexually immoral. According to Paul, they won’t even inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. I think that’s about as hard hitting as it gets.

      I think girls today put so much pressure on themselves to be married by “x” age and have kids by “x” age and live in this house by “x” age to keep up with our “culture” that they totally drop any sense of discernment they have. Hopefully they’ll see God can provide them with a husband who honors God with his body and mind.

      Reply
    2. Carrol on

      This letter is so close to the bone for me – it is so sad. It sounds like my son’s situation. He rang us yesterday morning and told us his new fiance had discovered he had accessed porn on the internet. I am not too aware of to the extent of the problem. He said he thought he had control love it through prayer and concentrating on his Bible. Somehow he let that go for 2 weeks and fell into the trap that pornography can become. As his mother I am ashamed and upset and question everything I did in the past. However it is too late to undo what has gone by. I know he accessed such stuff a few times as a young teenager but I had no evidence of it since then.
      They have pretty much put the relationship on hold and right now things are pretty dismal. I know he has spoken to his pastor and she to a close Christian women friend and her father who is rightfully angry.
      My son feels he has destroyed his life with this but I believe that the advice given above is good. He needs to take responsibility and become accountable for his actions.
      I do know also that he will do better if he has her support but I can not expect her to give this while she is so hurt. . In the long term I hope that it is better that he has been caught out. This certainly needs to be sorted before the relationship becomes permanant.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Carrol – Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s situation. His fiancee is right to be concerned, and I’m encouraged to hear how they’ve leaned on the mature Christian men and women around them for support. While this might be a major upset to their relationship now, it is good to get these matters out into the open. It always feels so much worse when the information is “discovered” rather than confessed voluntarily.

        Please direct your son to some of our resources if he wants some encouragement. He and his pastor might benefit from the webinar I did back in December. We also did an interview with Joe Dallas a while back geared towards husbands who have fallen into the porn trap. While it might not pertain to him directly (not being married) Joe offers some great advice.

        His fiancee could also benefit greatly from learning more about how this temptation affects men. While Christ promises us freedom, we still live in weak flesh surrounded by a fallen world. She might like listening to our podcasts with Dr. Bill Struthers, author of Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain. She might also like to read over the post “Six Reasons Why Guys Like Porn (and how to break free).”

        If you feel it would help, pass any of these resources on!

    3. carterxiii on

      To remain free of pornography is God’s desire in our lives. Not only that but should be our desire as well.

      Just trying to please a fiancee or wife is not enough unless backed by repentance and acceptance to God’s will, as well. However, I want to thank CE for the continued stories posted from the women’s perspective. When I was a young man addicted in porn, I thought this was a victimless sin. God revealed that it was also a sin against my own mind and body. Further more, it is a sin against my future wife.

      Reading the stories of women whose husbands are entrenched in porn is gut wrenching. Their pain is so vivid and frankly there is not enough support out there for them. I commend CE on the recognition of their pain and the continuing support to encourage these women. However, these stories are not just to benefit them by giving them a voice. They have also allowed me to see the pain my own future wife would suffer if the struggle is not overcome. Praise God, I have been free of the addiction for a few years now. While there are still some struggles, God has used these stories to remind me that my sin hurts not only me but the woman I love.

      May God bring restoration to all you sisters who have felt so much hurt. May God strengthen all us brothers, so that we can be the husbands God wants us to be.

      “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.”

      Ephesians 5:25-30

      Reply
    4. Bob on

      This story and the comments touch a soft spot in my heart. Not entirely too long ago I was in a relationship that I was very excited about, we seemed to have a great connection and excellent opportunities for shared ministry. Based on some comments that had come up in some of our conversations, I decided that I need to be honest about the struggle I had faced with pornography and its continuing ramifications on my life. Perhaps I tried too hard *not* to brush it off as something minor or insignificant, but the result was that after a few hours of reflection she called things off, saying she couldn’t be in a relationship with a sex addict, and essentially not wanting any future contact. I never felt like I had a chance to explain what steps I had taken and was taking to keep myself on the straight and narrow. She admitted that her decision was partially based on her own background, but this left me with a series of questions: Is any Christian woman willingly (and knowingly) going to enter into a relationship with someone with a background in pornography? At what point in a relationship should one open up about such an issue (perhaps I shared before she really understood that there was more to me than that one issue) and what should be said? Honestly I’m frightened about getting into another serious relationship. I neither want to ignore the issue altogether (which is very tempting) nor go through the heartache again of having a relationship end in that way.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Bob – Great questions, though not easy ones to answer. I’ll refrain from giving you hard and fast rules about these matters. Some women simply do not want to date or marry someone who has struggled with pornography in the past. Other women are more willing do consider this (my wife being one example). Of course, I think any woman should know the corrosive effect porn can have on one’s mind and what this might mean for future intimacy. That being said, the world is filled with thousands of trophies of God’s grace in this area, thousands of people who have been entrenched in porn in the past and yet cleansed by the Holy Spirit.

        I am so sorry to hear about your heartbreak. In the future I strongly encourage you to continue your openness with the women you date, but keep in mind the timing of your discussions. There is something to be said about frankness and honesty upfront, but remember this is an intimate topic. It also might be wise to make use of some resources the future, listen to what the church-at-large is saying about these issues. I commend to you a couple articles from Boundless Webzine: “He’s Using Porn, Part 1” and “He’s Using Porn, Part 2.” Also the PureIntimacy article, “The Effects of Prior Pornography Use on Marriage.” is quite good.

      • Simple on

        Timing should be done before feelings are involved. When you leave it to late its manipulation of a person’s feelings. It’s harder to let go. Also, all women have the right to not date a porn user. Porn is the same as adultery. And the reason why anyone falls into sin is because they loved the sin more than God. It’s quite basic really and how do you overcome sin quite basic too … love God, love what He loves and hate what He hates. Romans 12v1&2. You can give all the reasons why someone is addicted to sin, you can even give all the scientific proof but the reason and solution for sin always remain the same.

    5. shea on

      Thank you for this opportunity to blast the enemy! I applaud the young man, and men out there, for being honest about the issue of porn. I would say better to disclose the truth now than later on in marriage. Unfortunately, my three children and myself are victims of the pornography “beast”. My marriage of fifteen years ended in divorce in 1999. I’m not proud of the decision, but it was one that had to be made. I never really discovered how deeply involved my husband, at that time, was until after marriage. See I remained a virgin until marriage, because God’s Word stipulates holiness. So during our marriage comments conversations, attitudes and suggestions were exercised. I was extremely uncomfortable….Let me just say pornography is damaging to any marriage! The straw that really broke the camel’s back for me was when I discovered from a maze of incidents that through his business he was having an affair with several women. The youngest was six months pregnant, and carried his baby. The sad thing is that neither woman knew of the other. The devil had deceived – including myself.

      I know God is a merciful God and that he forgives ALL our sins and I don’t want to sound like a weeping prophet either, but because of that experience it has really caused some wounds. But he’s the acid truth: Prior to marrying I was disobedient. I was warned NOT to marry this individual and continued the relationship in spite of the numerous warning signs. Couples read the warnings and don’t compromise during dating. This will only intensify during marriage. Seek God and break off any relationship now that seems discolored. Hear God for yourself. Blessings for your future and meeting the “ultimate” person.

      Reply
    6. Becca on

      I’ll just say, having known about about my husband’s porn addiction before our marriage, I wish he had taken more drastic measures to overcome his addition before we were married. It has definitely wrecked havoc on our family.

      Had I known what I know now, I would have definitely put off our wedding or ended our engagement until he got his addiction in check. The role of my husband in our marriage and our family is so important and he is incapable of leading our family while living in his sin.

      He is currently in counseling and has joined a LIFE group. Please pray for us. We still have a long road ahead of us.

      Reply
    7. Monica Lee on

      I too am struggling with an identical delima. My fiance, we’ve been togther 2ys & engaged almost 1, has in the past ur developed a very serious porn addiction. It is so hard to even talk about. It makes my stomach hurt & my heart break. No matter what anyone says from our perspective what is going on with our men is such a betrayl & altho my fiance INSISTS “its not personal” you bet your bottom dollar it IS extremely personal. My advice to ths girl, get out! Unless your fiance at least does MORE than TALK abt getting help then ur better off with a man who will love, appreciate & respect you. I wish I was strong enough rite now although even as I type this he has snuck off away to “look” at other women naked & I’m angry & sick & hurt & I’m ready to leave now! Time to pray I guess.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        @Monica – Certainly there is need for discernment here. Sometimes these struggles are a clear indicator that the engagement at least needs to be put on hold until the issues are resolved and the fruits of repentance can be seen. Sometimes it is right to get out altogether. In one sense you know it isn’t “personal” because he’s probably had this problem long before he met you. But in another sense it is personal: a man who is not willing to work his integrity and purity by pursuing pornography is choosing sexual titillation over relationships and intimacy. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to seek out some personal counsel from those you trust so you can sort out these issues about your fiance. I am so sorry for the pain this has caused you. Please, have you fiance stop by our blog to read some of our resources.

      • Simple on

        Leave! In all honesty because he makes excuses for his sin, he is not in the place he needs to be. Heavenly Father give this precious lady the strength to trust you with her future. In Jesus name amen.

    8. staffaction on

      Hey Luke,

      you say: “Single men and women need to know how pornography consumption can impact a marriage.” I have seen that many times and believe it to be true, but have never seen it described.

      -What are the ways it can impact? (I am thinking of my own situation where I have repented of it and marriage is in my future.)

      -Are there ways to eliminate / preempt these impacts?

      Thank you.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi staffaction, great questions.

        For those who have been wrapped up in pornography and have walked away from it, there are several words of warning I would give them as they approach marriage.

        1. Be prepared for unveiling your past. Some women have come to expect that men get trapped in this sin, so a confession about it will not be shocking to them. Other women may have a hard time dealing with that confession. Nevertheless, coming clean to a fiancee or girlfriend is important. They need to know where you’ve been, what ways you’ve defiled your mind. Their prayers for you and support of you for your future obedience will be critical.

        2. Be aware of the false security of marriage. Many men white-knuckle their freedom until marriage and believe marital intimacy will cure them of their desire to look at porn. Marriage is the domain where a godly sex drive is satisfied, but marriage will also irritate the flesh. The flesh wants nothing more than to be autonomous. Marriage calls men and women to die to themselves and serve another. The flesh wants variety. Marriage calls us to monogamy. The flesh loves porn because it is a powerful outlet of selfishness. Marriage calls us to selflessness.

        For some men the promised “utopia” of marriage will only frustrate them when they get there because of their wrong expectations, and for some men this is a trigger that opens the door for pornography temptations to resurface.

        3. Old images die hard. For men who’ve been entrenched in porn, their standard of beauty has been shaped by countless images of pornographic actresses. This is especially true for Internet porn which gives men seemingly unlimited options, allowing them to browse from one woman to the next looking for the “perfect” woman, the perfect sex scene, the perfect sexual experience. In marriage, however stunning your wife is from any perspective of beauty, she is still only one woman. When our brains have been turned on by variety, men may find if hard to be turned on my the image of their wife. For these men, it will take time create new habits of thinking and feeling.

        Can these problems be lessened? Yes. A man who learns self-control over his body and thoughts will be build up for his future marriage a mind ready to learn what real beauty is, a body ready to serve, and a heart undivided.

        Does this help? Hope I’m answering your questions.

    9. staffaction on

      Luke,
      Your answer is very helpful and the best I’ve seen on the subject before. Thank you so much!

      Feel free to put more up on the CE blog about how porn can mess with a marriage and how to deal with it (even years after the involvement in the sin is done).

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Glad my answers were helpful!

    10. FireLed on

      Thanks for the input on this subject. I have been reviewing this site for some time and began utilizing CE for the first time this summer. Using CE began directly after sharing my struggle with my girlfriend. It was very tough, but making radical changes in my life, seeking to learn about my triggers, and having difficult, ongoing, conversations with brothers has been helpful.

      My struggle with porn began at age 9 and it was common around most men I knew. Recently, using CE and taking a step of transparency has been helpful. There were moments when I was against tools like CE, because it just seemed like I was placing my trust and purity in my own effort rather than trusting in God. Thankfully, I have noticed that CE is a great tool to live my struggles as an open book, resulting in greater perspective (avoiding the delusion that porn will be beneficial) and awareness of my sin before it externally manifests itself.

      As a single who is dating, I sometimes feel marginalized by American Christianity’s strong focus on families and marriage as if it is the ‘ideal’ and those who are married are on a different level. However, as one who is in a relationship with marriage as the goal, resources such as these can be extra helpful.

      I have felt free as I ever have from porn. One concern I have, is the idea of ‘total freedom’. It seems as if some endorse ‘total freedom’, and I wonder what this really means when we say it. This concerns me because I am passionate about my own purity and I do not believe I will ever be comfortable enough to say that I am ‘free’ from it because I haven’t done it in a few months or years. I do believe that Christ grants us freedom by his grace, but I also know that the gospel is a daily lifestyle: our freedom comes as we embrace it every day. I feel as if I will never place a check mark by sexual purity, with the idea that it is dead and gone. Rather, through God’s grace I will have to stand guard against sexual purity for the rest of my life.

      Is the idea of ‘total freedom’ this something that we should clarify in our journeys?

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        I believe the phrase “total freedom” can be easily misunderstood. I believe it was J (one of the commenters) who said something about expecting “total victory and freedom from this sin.” But even he says this means “fleeing from sin.” If what we mean by “total victory” is never struggling or never feeling tempted, then fleeing would be unnecessary.

        I prefer to speak, instead, of freedom from the power of sin while we still live in the presence of sin. Romans 6-8 offers a great picture of freedom from sin-slavery while at the same time acknowledging the reality of sin still present in the members of our body. I preached a message about this a while back.

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