I remember when celebrity and actress Jennifer Lawrence was the victim of account hacking, and a variety of pictures of her in various stages of undress were downloaded and then distributed without her permission. When asked about why she had these pictures, her response was, “Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or you.”
Many of us warn our children about the dangers of sending nudes. We regale them with horror stories of said photos winding up shared across multiple devices and then suddenly through the whole school. We point out the very real and scary facts: no one is truly safe from getting hacked and there is very limited digital privacy.
But sometimes when we feel our relationships are threatened by outside influences such as porn, we don’t always listen to the sound facts and we get lured into thinking if we just do “this” or “that,” we’ll be keeping our spouse safe from the clutches of pornography. But what are the risks in sending nudes to our spouse? Here’s some food for thought before you press “send.”
For Your Eyes Only?
In this day and age, there is simply no way to guarantee that photos will stay private. Yes, there are apps that you can download in order to store and lock your photos, but is this something you really want on your spouse’s phone? And if you don’t immediately have your spouse store these photos (or for goodness sake, if you send them while s/he is showing someone else something on the phone), they really are fair game for others to see.
For example, there’s the stranger on the subway who happens to glance over at the wrong time, or the child who grabs the phone to take some fun selfies of herself and then looks back on her art (only to find…). And yes, what happened to Jennifer Lawrence can just as easily happen to you. Hacking and stealing your photos could be a phishing scam or phone number spoof away. In addition, if your spouse uses Covenant Eyes’ Screen Accountability, his/her Ally may see a blurred version of these photos.
But, honestly, this isn’t just about you. The ramifications of sending nudes far surpass others seeing your nudity (and your ensuing embarrassment). First, your spouse could get in big trouble if these photos end up on any of his company devices. Many corporations and small businesses have strict guidelines on how their hard and software are used with correlating punishments for when that property is misused.
Secondly, if others happen to see these images, you must ask yourself—will they be tempted to look at porn? The world has enough triggers with billboards, television commercials, and even ads on gaming apps. Let’s not add your photos to the list.
Uncovering the Real Motivation
I want you to know—I deeply understand the desire to keep your spouse from porn. I am married to a recovering porn addict. I have walked in your shoes. Our circumstances may vary, but I have felt the shame. I’ve felt the humiliation. I’ve felt less-than, hopeless, and defeated. And I’ve had to ask myself some of these questions I’m going to ask you to ponder.
1. Are you trying to compete?
You, most likely, are not a porn star. As such, you, most likely, do not have a porn star’s body. While you may have filters, filters can only take you so far. (And, your spouse already knows what you look like!) Becoming more physically alluring than a porn star will not keep your spouse from looking at porn.
Remember, porn is about escaping reality into fantasy land. You are real. If you’re trying to answer the question, “Am I as attractive as…” by sending nudes, you’ll never find a satisfactory answer. Instead, consider taking time to evaluate who you are and what you offer. Allow Jesus to answer the question, “Am I enough?” with His truth about who He says you are.
2. Are you possibly triggering a relapse?
Have you thought about asking your spouse if s/he even wants these pictures? As people recover from addiction, they begin to recognize they are using a substance to replace a genuine, authentic need. In the case of porn, users substitute porn for true intimate relationships. They seek the quick high to numb the need to truly connect. Sending nude images of yourself may actually be triggering a return to old behaviors, even though it’s you in the image.
Porn-addicted people have brains they are trying to rewire. Why send them a stimulus that has the chance of triggering a jaunt down an already well-worn neural pathway? Instead, consider using your energy to be sexy in the flesh.
3. Does this make your relationship more well-rounded or more one-dimensional?
These pictures do have the ability to add spice to your sex life. If your spouse is deployed for months on end or travels extensively for business, it can be a way to keep the “spark”alive. But what drives a healthy sex life through the years is not just physical spice. It’s also emotional, mental, and spiritual intimacy. Consider what it might take to spend time and energy working on those three areas and see how it impacts your sex life.
If you’re apart often, it might take some extra creativity on your parts, but know that God fights for your marriage and He can make a way if we allow Him in. The truth is, when we’re not in sync with each other—in close proximity or not—we typically try to numb the pain from disconnection. The numbing behaviors can turn into an addiction. Remember, the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. Figuring out how to stay connected physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally will go a long way to keeping love alive, pictures or no pictures.
4. If you looked back on this five years from now, would you do the same thing?
Sometimes, just taking a step back from the here-and-now allows us to gain a different perspective. And if your answer is “I don’t know,” best to put it off until you do.
Whatever you decide, I urge you to be cautious and make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. And if you’re not (because maybe your spouse is asking for these pictures), it might be good to ask God what His desire is about this. He can see far beyond what we can and knows the potential roadblocks and consequences these things can have on our lives.