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Myth Busters: “I’ll stop looking at porn when I get married”

Last Updated: April 18, 2019

Noah Filipiak

Noah Filipiak is a pastor and the author of Beyond the Battle: A Man's Guide to his Identity in Christ in an Oversexualized World (Zondervan)He also hosts The Flip Side Podcast. If you desire to be free from lust, porn, and fantasy, you can join Noah and his team in an online small group at Beyond the Battle, or get the leader guide to run your own group.

The TV show MythBusters is known for taking popular myths and showing if they are true or not.  More often than not, true to the show’s name, myths are “busted,” shown for the falsehoods they really are.  I hope this article serves as a buster for two popular myths single men and women follow:

  1. I’ll stop looking at porn when I get married.
  2. My porn and lust aren’t harming anyone because I’m not married.

Often singles believe because God gave them a sex drive, it means they must be sexually active.  If being sexually active isn’t feasible, or they’ve made a decision to wait until marriage, porn seems like a natural replacement. In fact, porn can almost feel like an act of righteousness for some singles—their way of making sure they aren’t having premarital sex. A Christian single man recently told me he has to look at porn because it’s his way of making sure he doesn’t have premarital sex.

Underneath this mindset is the idea that if and when a single person gets married, they’ll be able to simply turn off the porn switch since they can now have sex with their spouse.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Sex in Porn Is Much Different Than Sex in Marriage

I’ve written about this extensively before, so I’ll sum it up in a nutshell here: the sex in porn (and lust) is of a totally different substance than the sex God designed within marriage. Porn is a smorgasbord of unlimited, perfectly-shaped bodies who have no problems and who “want” you. Your spouse is not going to be a smorgasbord; they are one person.  They will not have a perfect body, even if they have one when you get married. They will have problems. They will not “want you” every second of the day. In other words: they are a human being.

Porn conditions us to be attracted to something that isn’t human. Stop and digest that for a moment. That fact alone ought to make us flee from porn as we know in the depths of our being that we are created to be in sexual union with human beings, not objects of any kind.

God’s sex and porn’s sex are apples and oranges–two totally different substances. If you’ve created an appetite for oranges, apples aren’t going to satisfy you. This shouldn’t shock anyone as millions of married men and women continue to struggle with porn, so why do you think marriage will be unique for you? It won’t be. Your spouse will be a human being, and you need to condition your mind now that sex is about human beings, not objects. Not only for your future marriage, but for yourself and all those around you.

What If You Don’t Get Married?

In addition to this strange infatuation with non-humanity, porn conditions us to turn people in real life into objects.  Here’s where the rubber really hits the road: you may never get married.

If marriage is your Plan A to stop looking at porn, will you simply look at it endlessly if God decides you will remain single your entire life? The myth that such a life doesn’t do any harm to anyone is destructively flawed. While you may never get married, you are called to be in community with other believers.

If you’ve been conditioned by porn to turn other human beings into sexual objects for your consumption, then by no means do I want you around my wife or my daughters! Honestly, this is a scary situation to be in as a man when you can’t be around women in your church because you can’t stop yourself from lusting over them. And this is absolutely true for single women interacting with men in community as well, the lust knife has no gender preference.

The Stakes Are Too High

Sure, the stakes with porn are high in marriage. You can break the heart of the one you love, and sometimes, lose your entire marriage and family as a result. But those high stakes by no means diminish the stakes single men and women face every day. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and. The situation for single people is different than for married people, but we all serve the same God who designed sex and humanity the same way for all of us.

The irony is, both married and single people alike look to porn to give them what only God can give. Too often, the advice given in porn conversations is “look to your spouse to satisfy your sexual desires, not to porn.” Or single people are told, “Look to your future spouse and save yourself for them.” Both of these bits of advice are flawed. They are flawed because they put a spouse (or a hypothetical spouse) in the place of God, assuming a spouse can give us what only God can give. This is called idolatry. At the end of the day, no one needs to have sex. It’s true. You won’t die without it.

What we all long for from sex, porn, and romantic relationships is to be told we are valuable, approved, and desired.  No one, married or single, will ever truly find these things from another person (or a depiction of a person in porn), but the great news is that every Christian has already found these things from Jesus.  When we each live into these truths in the specific context we’ve been given by God, whether that be singleness, a bad marriage, or a good one, we’ll find we need nothing else to satisfy us.

  • Comments on: Myth Busters: “I’ll stop looking at porn when I get married”
    1. 9thof11 on

      While I agree in theory with everything else in this article, your premise is is dead wrong when you say looking at porn is not like being with real people. They are real people, with real hurts and real fears, and real pain, and real lives, and real names, and real value in God’s eyes, just like anyone else. Lets not dehumanize them any more than they have already been.

      Reply
      • Noah Filipiak on

        Hello 9thof11, can you show me where I said the people in porn aren’t real people? I don’t recall saying that, so want to see what I wrote that may have communicated that to make sure I word that differently next time. The main point in the article I was trying to communicate is that the sex in porn is of a different substance than the sex of a marriage. By different substance I mean one requires nothing of me and the other requires everything of me. One discards the person/image when I’m done, the other has no discarding but only a continual commitment through all the ups and downs of life in every aspect of life. One is a bunch of perfect bodies that never grow old, the other is an imperfect body that will only get more and more “imperfect” as it ages.

        Also, just as a heads up, saying “dead wrong” is a bit harsh. I love interacting with people about my blog posts, but I like to keep things loving and respectful.

        -Noah Filipiak, author of the post

      • Lill on

        What I believe you are saying, 9thof11, is something that has concerned me, as well, as to what I hear and read about the problems with pornography. It does seem that not enough is said about the women and men who are being exploited in the industry. While the things Noah said comparing sex in porn with what God intended in marriage are true, it is also true that the people being watched are real people, and the effects of porn on their lives is very real, and very harmful, indeed.

      • Gunny on

        BINGO!! Porn dehumanizes…dehumanizes everyone involved and that is the enemy’s ploy. When looking at or watching porn, you are dealing with an image, period. True, there is a human behind the image, and that is a part of the big lie the enemy uses to deceive us that somehow this will satisfy.

        The author is not dehumanizing any human behind porn, it is the representation of and big lie behind porn that it can somehow meet our God-given desire for intimacy through an image or some fantasy. There is no life in porn. Life is found only in God and He alone can satisfy our deepest desires. Don’t miss the big idea!!

      • Natalie Cruz on

        Amen.

    2. 9thof11 on

      Bold print ” Porn conditions us to be attracted to something that isn’t human”, then, “we are created to be in sexual union with human beings, not objects of any kind.”, later, ” in addition to this strange infatuation with non-humanity…” I don’t know about you, but I find all of those statements to be dehumanizing. As long as we keep refering to these people as ‘objects’ we promote the lie that we aren’t hurting anyone with our pornography usage. Even if we lived in a vacuum, with no Godly moral compass, every time we view porn we are hurting someone. It breaks my heart to see how often they are overlooked, while trying to make a point.

      I’m sorry I hurt your feelings with my “dead wrong” statement, but this is a real sticking point for me.

      Reply
    3. Stewart on

      Hey, @ 9thof11 I think what the author was trying to convey when referring to the ” non-human” parts in the article that you referred to is a mental condition. I didn’t get the impression the author was demoralizing the porn actresses, but instead he just meant that watching porn mentally puts us in a state were we are more like animals and not human. Animals are driven by what feels good and what feels bad, not reason.God created us to be reasonable. So it makes us less human when we watch porn and start to like it, because that selfish demoralizing sex in real life doesn’t exist.

      Reply
      • 9thof11 on

        Hey Stewart, I agree with what you are saying completely, but I do not believe this is what Noah was saying.
        I also believe Noah is capable of defending his position on his own. It is his article. He knows better than anyone what he meant. I don’t think he needs us to put words in his mouth.
        I responded to a question he posed to me regarding clarification of my original response. He now has the choice to do with that response what he pleases, including responding back or not.

      • Brian on

        Thank you Stewart and I agree that is what the author is trying to convey. Thes actors and actresses are sadly in an industry that could far less about them especially there moral compass! This is definitely Alan industry of a fallen word and not of an almighty God. I have view porn I’m sad to admit because of the very fact I’m saving myself for marriage but the could hard truth is I have committed adultry in my heart because of my eyes view said images. The author hit the nail right on the head! All I can say is thank you God for second chances and patience!

    4. stand4christ on

      Hey @9thof11,

      Thanks so much for being very passionate about retraining your mind to see all people as valuable. But, please make sure what you are saying is in love, the same sin of “dehumanizing women” that you feel so passionately about because it takes away from us being image bearers is the same as pridefully attacking brothers we disagree with. Let us show humility and grace in our speech. All of it put Christ on the cross but in the same spirit I defend the article in Love to you. The word you think y’all are disagreeing about is the word “real” you are saying that the people are “real” people as in being flesh and blood and I don’t think the author disagrees with that. He is saying “real” as in real sexual experiences such as intercourse instead of just being in your mind. You imagine the situations with those women or men. Unless you have physically been with the person, you are viewing, you are creating the event in your mind. It is imaginary. Yes they are humans with souls and have been affected greatly by participating in porn but you cannot be physically with them because the picture or movie is in the past. I know what you are saying though that we need to view them as God does and renew our minds, but in the instance, where we are viewing porn, it is dehumanizing the humans in the pictures and videos. What I read, though, is that the author was not saying this is ok and we should view it this way but this is what sin does to us.

      Direct Quote:
      “If you’ve been conditioned by porn to turn other human beings into sexual objects for your consumption, then by no means do I want you around my wife or my two daughters! Honestly, this is a scary situation to be in as a man when you can’t be around women in your church because you can’t stop yourself from lusting over them. And this is absolutely true for single women interacting with men in community as well, the lust knife has no gender preference.”

      And then gives the answer being found in Jesus Christ freeing us!

      Direct Quote:
      “What we all long for from sex, porn, and romantic relationships is to be told we are valuable, approved, and desired. No one, married or single, will ever truly find these things from another person (or a depiction of a person in porn), but the great news is that every Christian has already found these things from Jesus.”

      I greatly appreciate the passion you have for defending being made in God’s image. That is so true we are all made in God’s image and we all have great value thank you for calling us to remember that. I know that the author can respond if he desires but don’t believe he has to and I have no association with him but I enjoyed this article and your response. Just wanted to help shed some light on the topic.

      Reply
    5. terry on

      Good job Noah. I can attest to what you are saying.

      Reply
    6. Jessica on

      I’m in the middle of healing from my husband’s 30 year porn addiction. Your article and especially the statement in your response that “one requires nothing of me and the other requires everything of me” really resonated with me. Thank you!

      Reply
    7. Robert on

      I was wondering what you thought of 1 Cor. 7:9 “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”? I’ve never been able to get much of an answer to this text. The apostle isn’t saying nothing. What is he saying? Can we rule out the possibility that marriage is a help against lust (which would seem to go against the text)? Maybe this is in reference to something other than porn (i.e. serial sleeping around)? Maybe it is just a cultural exhortation, not applying to today? I confess, I don’t know and would like some clarity on this, because otherwise, it just seems to be an encouragement that is there in the bible for no reason.

      Reply
      • restored on

        Read it in the KJV. If they can not contain let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn.” This verse is talking to a committed couple who needs to go ahead and elope because they can not contain their lust. Anyone who uses this verse to talk about porn addiction is woefully ignorant of the english language. Porn/masturbation is about a single person. This verse is talking to more than one person (they).
        Furthermore If you go to verse 25 and 26 in the same chapter you will find paul encouraging single people to stay single until the present distress is dealt with. That is the reason why he is encouraging singleness. The church of corinth has a sin problem and until that sin is dealt with dont seek marriage, but if you are already in a relationship and you are going to have sex go ahead and get married but you are going to have problems because you havent dealt with your baggage yet.
        If you are a single and you are struggling with this addiction go to my website singlevsporn.com I have come to some very different conclusions on how the unmarried are to deal with this sin than any other christian porn addiction website. Generally because I focus totally on the unmarried.

    8. Cameron Armstrong on

      I agree with this article, but at the sametime Paul suggested to get married rather than burn in lust. Therefore, marriage cannot heal a porn addiction alone, but it can certainly be a part of a foundation to help defeat porn addiction. Plus, you have to have wisdom. Knowing that pornography will only leave you feeling guilty no matter how good it feels in the moment. People will not always want or be attracted to their spouses, but that isn’t an indicator that you married the wrong person neither is it an excuse to seek pornography or gratification from someone else. Because God created sex to be exciting and enjoyable, but it isn’t the center of a marriage.

      Reply
      • derek waterfield on

        exactly correct cameron…..vs 9 reads in the KJV……. ” but If they can not contain let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn ……….. the “they “part is defined in the previous vs 8….” I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.”……so vs 9 actually refers to two different groups fo people, “unmarried” and “widows”..there is no identification whatsoever that it is strictly for couples. The plural form “widows” are a group of people, not a opposite sex couple

        the 2nd part of vs 9…”for it is better to marry than to burn.” is a godly principle with old testament roots and found in the gospels. the sentence structure does not limit the principle to those 2 groups. The word “for” connects the reason of what the author just said

    9. oldishgent on

      I think the premise that looking at porn is not like being with real people is actually pretty accurate. The author’s statement in bold print, ” Porn conditions us to be attracted to something that isn’t human,” is an excellent point. I realize 9thof11 is offended by this statement, and I do appreciate the concern for the people who are being exploited by the producers and consumers of porn, but these exploited people are people; they are not porn.

      A co-worker once told me that his wife didn’t like the fact that he enjoyed porn and he didn’t understand why, especially because his wife was just as pretty as any of the subjects in his porn magazines. What I told him is pretty much what this article is saying: His wife is real and porn is not. His wife will catch a cold and have a runny nose. She will perspire and need soap. She will age, but porn will not. His wife cannot complete with porn because porn is not “real people.” The fact is, porn stars cannot compete with their own porn because porn stars are not porn, they are people.

      Reply
    10. Brandon Person on

      I agree with Robert, Noah. What is Paul saying in 1 Cor 7?

      Reply
    11. Pureminds on

      Thank you Noah for the courage, articulation and excellent skill you have in dealing with a very pervasive but not spoken about problem that ruins many thousands of committed love relationships.
      Question, would you say that much of the content in your articles also applies to mental affairs, entrenched ogling habits (with real people) then fantasizing, etc?
      Thank you and may the Lord protect and bless you as you take a stand for Him and the sanctity of God’s marrige model.

      Reply
      • Pureminds on

        Hello Noah, would you kinfly give a quicj reply to the question posted by Pureminds, Nov 23 at 12:18pm ?
        Thank you for you very important ministry!

    12. restored on

      God did not design humanity to be content with just a walk with God. When God made adam he said it was not good for man to be alone. He did not say it wasnt good for man to be unmarried. One of the major factors in my porn addiction was that I did not have a right fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact I needed to leave my church and go to a totally new one to finally have a right relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Nearly every book in the new testiment deals with this subject. God did not design us to have all of our fellowship needs filled by Him and Him alone. In fact that kind of preaching kept me from obeying God and kept me in porn addiction. As christians we are a body. If there is a scism in the body it leaves us vulnerable to addictions like porn. As an american it is culturally correct to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and be a self starter and say I got so close to God I licked this addiction. But as a Christian I must say I eventually humbled myself and obeyed God and developed a right biblical relationship with those around me and those relationships really helped me overcome my addiction.

      Reply
    13. Helena on

      I completely disagree with your sentence that a spouse cannot make you feel valuable approved and desired. Why would you encourage us to be with a spouse that doesn’t value, approve or desire us?

      Reply
    14. Gio Laures on

      2021 and we still need this article. I am trying to overcome an addiction myself. Its been the worse experience of my life. I absolutely hate how its affected how I see women but more importantly my relationship with God. I’m single but its become evident to me that it bt no means is less impactful on my present and future relationships. There are no loop holes to living a sanctified life thinking we can get away without it affecting us now in the present. I pray i finish my race well. I can hope its not too late to make a difference. blessings

      Reply

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