7 minute read

How a Little “Harmless” Entertainment Can Affect Your Husband

Last Updated: December 31, 2019

Noah Filipiak
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.

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?

Related: If you’re watching Game of Thrones, you’re watching porn.

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.


  • Comments on: How a Little “Harmless” Entertainment Can Affect Your Husband
    1. Daniel

      Great article, couple of thoughts:

      1. You look like Paul Walker, **trigger warning for some of the women reading the article!**

      2. Article is true for all females over 25. Less than that, they are all addicted to porn too likely, so some of the viewpoints about women not lusting after a sex scene: probably untrue.

      Check out the PornHub 2017 stats. Women love porn more than ever, and search for some nasty stuff, more nasty than the men do, according to the sitea data. It’s time we stopped speaking in ways more heavily weighted towards this being a mans problem.

      Church is too tender. Dances around this issue. Time to fight it for what it is, an all out war. It’s not some people’s problem. Too late for that..

      • Bree

        Pornhubs stats are based on what people WANT the internet to know. Many men sign onto sites as women. Not saying some women don’t like it, but majority of the ones I know don’t. Or they do it in hopes to gain favor with their husbands. So many women I have heard say “I don’t want him to ..it makes me feel terrible, ugly, ignored..etc..but if I ask him not to and he doesn’t stop watching, What then? I would feel cheated on” This is a very big reality. Also trying to be the “cool wife” among the group is a reality too. Just look at the ones who speak up who get accused of insecurity or jealousy. So instead they try and prove their security and DTP nature by letting it happen. Side note for the rest of this article. It is obvious the author himself struggles ..just by the way he describes the images of women. I will say outright I have never, will never like, watch, read, romance, or watch nudity (even borderline). It makes me physically ill..it triggers me due to my past. I met my very Christian husband and thought he was the same. (At one time I’m sure he was) Nope, he had 86 hours of porn on his computer after 7 years of marriage to me, used my babysitting money I earned for the family to visit sex stores and strip clubs while away on business. He hid this(not well, but I never wanted to believe it), for 4 years. Like the article said ..it warped his view of me. I was a very in shape and attractive person back then. Men would stop me and ask for my number and I would proudly say I was married. I was a good wife and didn’t even bat my eyes at others. I was paid back with porn addiction, lies, and him saying “I felt I deserved better than your body” I’m still married to this man. I’m still crushed inside when this haunts me. Magazines on racks, half dressed women in yoga pants..sex is all around us..and it is truly ruining the bonds and connections of marriage. We are two strangers in the same house raising our kids together..with no trust between us, no love and no connection. God is in my life..I am strong because of it. But my husband closed the door on God long ago, and only he can open it. I also feel that in this article not enough credit goes to men having the ability to not be effected by urges, or to fight them. Don’t take the responsibility out of men’s hands. When we make excuses like they can’t help it, it is in their nature, boys will be boys..it diminishes their own belief in their own control right off the bat. I am a highly addictive personality and was exposed as a child to a nonchristian home full of pornography and terrible things. I am also an extremely visual person. I didn’t say I’m perfect, I said I know better and self regulate because I know what it would mean to delve down that rabbit hole. So the thought of it now, turns my stomach. Because for me, I am intellectual enough to equate these types of images with pain, sadness and lies. Men are just as capable.

      • Good Sense American

        Friend, you couldn’t be more mixed up on the issue!
        While I strongly recommend that people avoid both commercially-made porn and porn from any source that portrays violent, potentially harmful, degrading sexual activities, you have to realize that with puberty beginning several years earlier than it did 50 years ago, people needing far more education than just a few decades ago, and people requiring a few years to establish themselves in their jobs or careers, abstaining from ALL sexual release, including with oneself, is so miserable and difficult that very few men are actually able to be non-sexual until marriage.
        To make matters worse, MOST marriages become virtually non-sexual within 2 to 4 years, except for deliberate attempts to produce a child.
        This leaves most men, Christian or not, sexually deprived, miserable, confused, conflicted, and, if devoutly religious, ashamed and angry.
        NO wife should be made to feel obliged to “put out” sexually for her husband FOR ANY REASON. Apostle Paul was WRONG when he stated in Corinthians that a wife’s body is no longer her own once married. Marriage is not a license to own one’s spouse like chattel. It is a solomn commitment to live, honor, cherish, and be emotionally supportive of and sexually monogamous with one’s partner in marriage.
        But here’s where real life collides with religious, especially Christian, doctrine: neither Jesus nor religious doctrine can possibly substitute for emotional, let alone physical, needs. Trying to teach people that they do is viscous and a lie.
        The safest and wisest form of sexual release, both before marriage and during marriage, when one or the other spouse cannot or will not participate in partnered sexual activities, is masturbation without the use of commercially made or violent, degrading porn.

        The tragedy of religions everywhere is that most of them associate so much shame and revulsion with sex that they believe that only when sex is used to produce a baby is it morally ok!
        Resolving one’s sexual needs does not have to involve partnered premarital sex or adultery.
        It is high time that we as Christian and non-Christian Americans employ some common sense towards this subject and utilize this approach (masturbation) to stop the misery of sexual deprivation without the risks of producing an illegitimate child or betraying one’s marriage.

    2. NS

      Thank you. Until you have experienced the pain of pornography in your home and marriage, you truly don’t understand.

    3. Christine

      Comparing romance novels to the depravity of porn is ludicrous! Wife’s of porn users are not at all inclined to force or insist their husband watch nude scenes on TV. This author doesn’t understand the experience of a wife who is married to a sex addict or porn user.

      • Kay Bruner

        Thanks for speaking up, Christine!

      • Steve

        But I have known a few Christian couples who try to use various types of porn, and there are way too many to choose from, to help “spice up” their marriage. It usually doesn’t end well. Couples compare themselves to what they are watching or reading or whatever. Intimacy in marriage is a private and unique thing to that marriage alone. No two marriages are exactly alike because no one is exactly like anyone else. The odds are that the husband has been exposed to porn since he was an young teen and it’s always been there in the background. Maybe his wife knows it and then she feels like she’s helping and can maybe learn something by watching it with him, maybe just about what he might like, so they can be closer. But the third party of porn will be there which makes it not private anymore. There is a reason that Proverbs says to rejoice in the wife of your youth. But for lots of men, self included, sadly, the wife of their youth is porn.

      • A woman with some sense

        Actually, Christine, what he DOES seem to understand is the fact that rolling around in any form of pornograpic filth whether it’s hardcore porn or an “innocent romance novel” is not good for the human soul, our relationship with God, or our relationship with our spouse. And he also isn’t afraid to point out that women aren’t all perfect, angelic, innocent victims that some people try to paint them all to be. I think an awful lot of women use the excuse that the forms of pornography they indulge in have a “plot”, a “romantic” storyline, it is just a book, and so on. There are some Christian women in my family who indulge in shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander and those shows are just pornography with more of a plot. And at least one of these women in my family has a husband who I know struggles with lusting after women in the media. But she still watches these shows with him and seems to be completely oblivious to the havoc it is likely wreaking within their relationship (even if neither of them can see the damage now). And she seems to be pretty open about finding certain men on these shows attractive. The point I am trying to get across is that, no, not all women whose husbands struggle with lust are innocent and not all of them know the damage they are causing with their own indulgences. And as a side note, I’m pretty sure the romantic novels he is referring to are the ones that include detailed descriptions of sex scenes. Not books like Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre. When I was younger and before I was married I regrettably read some of the “sex scene” type books and I can honestly say they are just as bad as porn. The image may not be on a screen, but it is in your mind just as vividly as if it were. Again. Pretty sure he isn’t saying books like Pride and Prejudice are just as bad as porn. And if he was, THEN I’d say he was nuts.

      • A woman with some sense

        And for the record, I am the wife of a man who used to struggle with lust and pornography and somehow my pride was not the least bit offended by this author pointing out that some women out there have their own faults/weaknesses/problems.

      • Robin

        I agree. Mine ex was addicted and I’m sure still is and I never read romance novels and he didn’t watch romantic movies with me. I didn’t see romantic movies for years. He wanted to watch sci-fi crap all the time. I will die happy never seeing alien or predator again!

      • Sarah

        Absolutely. As much pains as they take at the beginning to point out it’s still a amn’s fault if they fall into sexual sin, the writer then goes on to blame the wife. Really????guess what? I never liked to watch movies with nudity and I never read a romance novel and my husband still watched porn and cheated on me. How about blaming the real source of the problem – satan??

      • Kay Bruner

        Another alternative is for each individual to honestly take responsibility for themselves. Any type of blame game, including blaming satan, detracts from our individual responsibility and derails us from going forward into the healthy choices that are available to us all. No blame, just personal responsibility. That is the way to healing and wholeness.

      • Patricia

        For years I tried to address this issue with my husband…when I brought it up, I was ridiculed by he and his friends as being simply, “jealous” or “insecure.”
        Truth was, I was insecure…I felt sexy when intimate with my husband, but over time – with all the MTV videos, increasing promiscuity in movies, and ever present Playboy magazines – my self assurance and self image declined because I felt I could never measure up to the perfect images he sought. We both believed it was my short coming, so he would try to hide his viewing of magazines, porn movies, etc. from me.
        Eventually, it got to the point that I could walk by him in a negligee and he wouldn’t notice. Sadly, our intimacy dwindled over time during our marriage of 28 years. We continue to love each other out of respect and maturity, but no longer shared physical intimacy.
        Blame is inconsequential, but society’s acceptance of pornography as a whole, and Hollywood’s misleading interpretation of what a “real” woman looks like are greatly to blame in my opinion.

      • Kay Bruner

        In addition, the fact that men are taught to deny, repress, and ignore their emotions means that sex is seen at the end-all and be-all expression of intimacy. Combine sex=intimacy with the cultural insanity around physical appearance, and you’ve got a nightmare. Sadly, hardly anyone is taught that emotional intimacy is built by turning toward your partner.

    4. Jim Franklin

      Your declarative style, come across as though your judgments are straight from God, are bit off putting. You paint yourself in a corner when you declare “The answer for all of us is that our primary intimacy always needs to come from Jesus.” Is Jesus the mother and father of your three children? I assume they were procreated as the result of your “primary intimacy.”

      • LDBarr

        Um. I think the problem might be with your definition of the word “intimacy.”
        All intimacy is not sexual intimacy.
        If your intimacy with God (Father, SON & Holy Spirit) is of a sexual nature, you’re probably doing worship wrong.
        So, intimacy with Jesus is not sexual intimacy. This is so obvious it shouldn’t even need to be said.

    5. joe

      sadly Jim, you miss the whole point of the article.

    6. A wife seeking His Truth

      A woman with some sense, thank you for your declarative comments. What you say here is so true, and being a pastor’s wife who has been in many mentorships and “pastoral counseling” sessions through the last 20+ years, I have seen this truth played out with my own eyes. If the description and rebuke concerning romantic novels weren’t true, then, someone, please, explain to me the 1.25 million copies sold in the FIRST printing of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” second printing bringing it to 2.1 million and the trilogy bringing in over a staggering 125 million; pornography stats being out the roof; and more marriages having deep pornography issues than ever before in history… 2 + 2 always equals 4. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a book or on screen, if you’re getting sexual descriptions given to you about someone other than your spouse, then, you need to re-evaluate your source of entertainment, and if “this type entertainment doesn’t effect you,” you might need to re-evaluate your honesty… and furthermore, why would you call it “entertainment” if it wasn’t entertaining you? Please, understand this is not a note of condemnation. It is more a note of warning. What CE authors give on this site is vital information for all parties to help you not end your marriages with disasterous results that could have, sometimes, been avoided just by changes some harmful habits that you might not even realize are bringing death to your intimacy. Many thanks to this author, and all at CE, for fighting the battle against pornography and for helping those crawl out of its deceptive and disastrous pit. You are to be commended.

    7. Distressed

      So many problems here and first of all let me point out that in most Christian homes, it is the husband who is choosing the TV show or movie for viewing and it is the wife who is sitting there feeling disrespected as he obliviously feasts his eyes on nudity and vulgarity. She often dislikes speaking up because he then accuses her of being a killjoy and a prude, and storms off to his room to watch things alone on his laptop. As far as romance novels…it would have to be pretty far out to even come CLOSE to falling in the same category as porn. I think this was written by a man who is clueless about how women really feel about their husband’s entertainment choices.

      • Kay Bruner

        It does have a flavor of victim blaming, you’re right. This is very common with folks who are violating their own personal values–they like to find someone else to blame their choices on… Thanks for speaking up.

      • AFsingpraise

        You are incorrect about “most Christian homes”. If that’s the case, it’s most likely not truly Christian. And porn is porn whether it’s being viewed or read.

      • Puzzled

        Yikes! I hope that doesn’t describe your home life. If so, you sound pretty miserable.:-(

    8. Grace

      I liked the article, just want to add some information about betrayal trauma. Yes, the husband has triggers and watching something alone or with his wife will cause him to sin, so be diligent in not watching/reading/listening(music) to things that are sexually suggestive. Even if the husband says he is doing better dont because it will come back. For wives of porn addicts, once they discover their husbands’ issues, then they themselves become triggered by these things as well, but not into sexual sin. They are triggered into anger, fear, criticism of their spouse, sleepless nights, feelings of worthlessness, low self esteem, etc. So they both have to go into therapy and learn about how it has affected them both, how to healand how to stay pure.

    9. Creation Desautels

      The primary issue here is not the comparative debasement if porn when measured against the debasement of romance novels. The question is closer to something like, does reading a romance novel, and not the Jane Eyere variety, align with the vision of radical fidelity espoused by Jesus in the Bible. For example does it align with the Sermon on the Mount? I do not generally read romance novels that take their content past a kiss goodnight. I do this, because a well-written scene can produce a physiological arousal response even if I do not want it to be. My close women friends have admitted that when reading say the 50 shades series, they have become turned on by what they read. What is that if not lusting after? One reads and then becomes excited perhaps because they desire such a thing to be done to them, perhaps because they don’t but enjoy visualizing others more bold doing such a thing. Either way, I believe that both porn and romance novels achieve the same ends through different means.

    10. Roxi Oldham

      While I believe the aim of this article is to lend spiritual value, there is zero eveidence (not one scientific study or sighting) to back any of this opinion up. If you are going to talk about brains being re-routed, etc…. you’re going to have to give some evidence. This reads like one big excuse. And believe me, I’ve heard them all. Twice.
      What it comes down to is maturity. To pass it off as anything else lacks spiritual wisdom. To even *hint* that it’s sometning wives are doing wrong is just an insult, and, if they are not already believers, they sure won’t be after that article. It’s a real turn off unless the reader is super spiritually grounded and been in the trenches.
      No offense intended…I really want the author to think about this from a women’s perspective.
      Since you’re a guy….please, find a GROUNDED WOMAN to give you some feedback. While a guy is going to relate to this stance, you’ve lost every woman.

      • Kay Bruner

        Thank you Roxi. Any hint of blaming the wife is a clear sign that the husband is not taking responsibility for himself. Thanks for seeing that so clearly and reminding us.

      • Janel Thomas

        Not every woman, apparently. I found value in the article. My husband is in recovery, and I hold him completely responsible for his recovery. However, why would I want to put temptation in front of my husband in the form of nude scenes in a movie? That makes me a jerk. I’ll also agree that erotic novels are the equivalent of porn, and women should not try to defend reading them.

      • Rebecca S.

        Hey Roxi. I just had to reply that I’m a woman, and this article did NOT lose me. It was right on point. I thank God for people that are willing to stand up on this topic of how inappropriate and damaging it is watching sex and nudity on screen AND reading it in “romance” (lust) novels.

    11. Get it right

      I hope none of you all go outside the house, because it is impossible not to see skin, or tight clothing, or a fully dressed but beautiful man or woman. This is some of the most absurd stuff I have ever read. For the author to even attempt to place blame on someone for the actions of another is ludicrous. If a grown man, a HUSBAND cant view his wife in a manner better than he would ANY OTHER WOMAN, regardless of how great that other woman looks, there is way more wrong in that marriage than just looking at some pornography and lusting after someone else.
      P.S. there is nothing wrong with finding other people attractive. Its NORMAL.

      • But it’s not impossible to turn the head and look the other way, or look down, or up….. even to confront the seductress and suggest they start dressing modestly. Even ‘christians’ in churches are afraid to confront these people and this needs to change. Refuse to accept them and they will get real uncomfortable and many will change. Of course, strangers won’t change, but they should still be told they are inapropriate.

    12. Susan E Thomas

      Some great points, but I think you’re confusing romance novels with erotica. There’s a big difference. Not all romance novels involve sex scenes, especially Christian ones.

    13. Jennifer

      I cant believe that looking at and reading nudity/sex scenes is considered a sin. We are human and this disallows humans to be humans. Man is put here to procreate, he is always thirsty to plant his seed. The fact that he can look, watch, read and imagine other things outside of the marriage, but then only bring the real deal home – is the love. As for porn and addiction, completely different thing. Any addiction is a mental illness. Drugs/chemical, cigarettes, exercise, alcohol…treatable illnesses. Human sexuality is natural. I think this article is way outdated and wont grab attention of any modern day marriage.

      • Stephanie

        One of the most helpful things I have learned about the Christian life is that all sin begins in our thoughts, which the Bible often calls “the heart.” Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23). No one commits these outward sins without first having committed them in his mind. If we want to grow in godliness, we must win the battle over sin on the thought level.

      • Janel Thomas

        I guess it depends on what your source is for defining sin. If it’s the Bible, then yes, looking at or reading sex scenes in order to be sexually aroused is definitely a sin. This is not outdated advice for anyone seeking to honor God in their marriage.

    14. Drina Beattie

      My husband changes the channel when a Victoria secret commercial comes on tv thinking it was for me but I understand more now it is also for him. That’s great though, it keeps him closer to God than that is a greater love that we should all have for our Father. I believe that Saran is also tempting wives with these male dancers and the movies pushing the envelope with male nudity. We all need to see Satan’s hand in it all. Be strong in prayer .

      • Tammy Watson


      • If every man would do this stuff, and teach other men to also, it would be such a good thing for marriages, because so many so called christian men (and often even women) will sit and look at that – not just Vic’s secret stuff, but any images that show women (or men) scantily clad or naked. And when you say something, you’ll get accused of being crazy, paranoid, just jealous, insecure, controlling, jezebel, etc, etc. It’s sad that this has became such an accepted thing.

    15. Daenerys Targaryen


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