Yes, Using Porn Is Cheating. Here’s Why.

I’ve heard it said that there are men who don’t look at porn, and then there are men who are breathing. If recent surveys are any indication, porn use has become the norm among men, not the exception.

Still, I get a lot of questions from women who are feeling the heartbreaking impact of porn on their marriages. To them, porn feels like cheating, and for good reason.

It is.

I understand why many don’t think this is true (reasons I’ll address below), but first it is important that I define some terms.

By “using porn” I don’t mean merely seeing it. It’s hard not to walk about in public places or go online without seeing something that is at least meant to titillate the eyes of men. When I say “using” I mean intentionally taking porn in through one’s senses with the intention of being turned on and then, most likely, masturbating or at least getting sexually aroused.

By “cheating” I mean that using porn is breaking a vow—either implicitly or explicitly—made to one’s spouse. This is because marriage is, in part, about sexual exclusivity; it is about “forsaking all others.”

The Slippery Porn Slope

Take some steps with me down a morally slippery slope.

Step 1: Let’s say I were to visit a prostitute and have sex with her. That would be cheating on my wife. I assume no one would debate me on this point.

Step 2: However, let’s say that when I met with the prostitute we didn’t actually touch each other: I just watched her have sex with someone else while I masturbated in the same room. (Weird, I know. But just go with it.) Would that be cheating? Both in this case and in the previous case I am seeking the services of a prostituted woman for sexual pleasure—seeking out and enjoying the body of a woman who is not my wife in order to be sexually gratified. Could a man rightly say, “Yes, I pleasured myself in front of a hooker, but we didn’t touch each other. I stayed faithful to you”? I don’t think so. The pretense of no physical contact doesn’t matter because the action still violates the spirit of the sexual exclusivity.

Step 3: However, let’s say I didn’t visit the prostitute in person but only interacted with her online through erotic video chat. Let’s say I masturbated during the chat session while using the video image as the source of my fantasy. Is this cheating? Has the lack of physical proximity suddenly changed the situation that it is no longer breaking my marriage vow? I don’t think so.

Step 4: Now let’s say that instead of engaging in the video chat live, the prostitute recorded herself for me so I could masturbate at my convenience. Is this still cheating? Am I now suddenly remaining faithful to my marriage vows because someone hit the record button? No. That’s just stupid.

Step 5: Now let’s say the prostitute has a business card with a fancy title on it: “Pornographic Actress.” She even has a website with a resume listing of all the films she’s been in. Her pimp—I mean, agent—pays taxes and everything. Totally legit. Let’s say I reach out to this prostitute and pay her to view her recorded videos which she gladly sells me. Is this cheating? Does the change in title and the veneer of professionalism change the nature of the act? No.

Step 6: Now let’s say that this entire enterprise is industrialized so that this woman is part of a large network of other prostitutes who are doing the same thing. Much like walking into a brothel, I can pick the woman I want when I want, pay my fee, and enjoy her body for my lustful purposes. Is this cheating? What about the industrialized nature of the product changes the nature of the act? Nothing.

And on this last step we have arrived at what the modern porn industry is. This is why using pornography is cheating. It is engagement with a digital prostitute despite one’s vow to forsake all others.

Hold On, I’m Not Convinced.

I can hear the screeching of mental breaks right about now. Many are thinking, “Wait a second. Something major has shifted between the first scenario and the last. No one sees porn as digital prostitution. If this was the way our culture understood porn, it might be one thing. But very few people who watch porn go online thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get sexual gratification from a digital prostitute.’”

This is a good objection. After all, motive and intention count for something when it comes to the promises or vows we make. If I sign a contract saying I will not share proprietary information from my employer, but then forward a work e-mail along to a friend, not knowing it counts as “proprietary,” I’m not guilty of intentionally breaking my promise (even if my employer has grounds to fire me). Someone who uses porn might think along the same lines: “I’m just watching video clips made by actors and actresses, not intentionally seeking digital interactions with a prostitute.”

I agree, but motives only carry some of the weight when it comes to our moral decisions. The above slippery slope is not as much about motives as it is about the nature of the actions. Behind the making of pornography are real people really selling themselves for the sexual gratification of viewers. The medium doesn’t change the fact that a prostituted woman was used for her body and sex appeal, no matter the viewer’s understanding of the act.

This is why so many women say using porn feels like cheating: the act of seeking out another woman for sexual pleasure—even if she is hidden behind a veil of pixels and a sleazy acting agency—is not a movement towards faithfulness, but away from it.

Why Cheating Matters (and Why It Doesn’t)

However, by saying that using porn is breaking a marriage vow, I am not prescribing a specific reaction we should have to it. The six-step slippery slope presents six different scenarios, each having their own gravity of the offense. They may all be cheating, but they all show different levels of intensity.

We need to turn the tables on those who ask, “Is using porn cheating?” and address why it matters.

  • For some, when they ask, “Is using porn cheating?” they bring a lot of baggage with the question. They think, “Since porn is cheating, I can never forgive you.” “Since porn is cheating, I have grounds to divorce you—and I will.” “Since porn is cheating, I will lash out and cheat on you.” These dispositions are, quite frankly, completely separate issues to address. To say a man has broken his marriage vow by seeking out porn is one thing. To say that he cannot be forgiven, that he should be divorced, or that he deserves revenge are other matters altogether.
  • For others, when they ask, “Is using porn cheating?” they simply want their spouse to know that when they said, “I do,” they expected a spirit of monogamy. Yes, the world is full of sexual temptations. Yes, they know their spouse is full of hormones and attracted to other people walking about in the world. But they expected to be the focus of their spouse’s sexual energy, attention, and devotion. When they vowed to “forsake all others,” that is what they promised and what they expected in return.

The Heart of the Matter

Two facts lie at the heart of the issue.

First, people often desire the perks of marriage, but marriage vows are not taken seriously. As such, we find ourselves straddling two worlds. In one world, we embrace an idyllic picture of finding “the one,” growing old together, loving and serving another person until death we do part. In the other world, we enjoy the convenience and self-centeredness of solo-sex in front of the computer screen. These two worlds mix like oil and water in our miry hearts. Before long, you will either have to abandon pornography or abandon a genuine spirit of monogamy.

Second, people have been blinded by the sense of distance the digital world places between ourselves and the real world. We believe something doesn’t count as much if it is “online” or “on television” or “just fantasy.” We rename offenses: stealing becomes downloading, cruelty becomes speaking one’s mind, and exploitation becomes entertainment. We have settled for what Chris Hedges calls an empire of illusion. “Pornography does not promote sex if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation,” Hedges writes. “It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.”

So, He’s Cheating. Now What?

If your husband (or wife) is engrossed in porn, you are right to feel like this is cheating. He is defrauding you of something that should be your exclusive domain. You are not a prude for thinking this. You just take your vows seriously, as everyone should.

But where do you go from here? Start by getting educated about the addictive nature of pornography and the steps other couples have taken to take a new direction. Contact us 205-610-9319


by Luke Gilkerson · January 19, 2015


5 Reasons Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

It was disheartening when I read the stats: 7.5 million Facebook users in the U.S. are under 13! I may have even shed tears when I discovered that 5 million of those kids are under the age of 10!

Parents, it’s time we talked about why social media is not smart for middle school kids (and younger).

Learning the hard way that kids are not mini adults

Before we do, I have my own parenting blunder to confess. When my oldest son received his Learner’s Permit, I was so excited for him to drive! As he came out of the written test smiling, I tossed him the key and said, “Take me home, James!”

It took less than a minute for me to realize I had completely underestimated his abilities. He didn’t have a clue how much gas to apply when to brake, or even how to stay on the road. It’s a wonder we made it home that day alive!

The fault was clearly mine. It sounds crazy when I say it now, but at the moment I never once considered how dangerous his lack of experience would be in this real-life situation. (You know, the kind where cars are coming at you from both directions!). In hindsight, an empty parking lot would have been a better place to start.

Give your middle school kids enough time to grow up

If you think about it, it’s really the same with social media. We wouldn’t give an 11-year-old the keys to the car and say take a spin, but unfortunately, many parents are allowing kids to navigate the internet before they are mature enough to do so safely.

Besides puberty, there are a lot of other changes middle school kids have to deal with: a new school, friends, cliques, crushes and more. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable getting used to their maturing bodies and growing sense independence.

Middle school life can take an emotional toll on both parent and child. So, before you toss your kids the keys to Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, please press pause and think about these 5 considerations.

5 reasons why social media is not smart for middle school kids

1. Should kids start their social media experience lying about their age?

The minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik, and Snapchat is 13. Parents may think it’s no big deal to bend the rules and have their kids sign in with a fake birthday —but big data makes it a big deal!

In 2000, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was launched. This Federal law protects children under the age of 13 from having personal information gathered about them online. However, if an 11-year-old register with a false birth date there’s nothing to prevent their personal information from being shared with third party advertisers.

This is more than giving out a name and address. It’s allowing marketers (people you’ve never met) to spend hours a week secretly observing your child. They’ll record how they play, what they say, where they go and who they hang out with. Sounds kinda creepy, doesn’t it?

Ultimately, allowing kids access to social media sites is also a parenting issue. Decide now if you’re comfortable with them lying to Facebook, as it may influence how comfortable they are lying to you down the road.

2. Kids’ brains are highly vulnerable to apps designed to be addictive

From a neurological perspective, the middle school years are incredible. The brain is going through an intense process of pruning, myelination and remodeling. That means that an adolescent brain is deciding now what it wants to specialize in for years to come.

This is precisely why Sean Parker, ex-Facebook president, is sounding the alarm. He’s publicly stated that one of the main objectives for creating Facebook was this: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”

All successful social media apps work on the principle of giving users a hit of dopamine in exchange for new and fresh content. How these hits might affect brain specialization hasn’t yet been documented.

What we do know is that social media is an entertainment platform. In other words, using it early won’t make kids smarter or more creative. A better use of their discretionary time would be to explore a favorite subject, hobby or sport.

3. On social media, kids see a distorted view of reality

As kids enter middle school they start to ask new questions. One of the big ones is, “Who am I?” For guys, hair gel and new deodorant scents suddenly become significant. Whereas girls tend to gravitate towards make-up and fashion trends. It’s about forming an identity.

Ironically, it’s as important to fit in, as it is to stand out! (Think about that group of middle school kids you spotted at the mall sporting the exact same jacket, the exact same shoes, and the exact same backpack, at the exact same time.)

On social media, kids are not only influenced by the peers in their circle of friends; there is pressure to keep up with trendsetters from all over the globe. For an impressionable mind and a developing self-esteem, it can feel like they will never match up.

And it does not just look that matter to kids. Showing off outrageous behavioral trends gets serious clicks too. Every week a new challenge is issued on one platform or another. Some challenges are annoying; others like the Tide Pod Challenge, highlighted in this CBS news report are downright dangerous.

4. Social media exaggerates a child’s tendency to focus solely on themselves

Middle school is a time when kids feel as if the whole world is looking at them (and judging them). Social media can exaggerate the worst of it. That can lead to depression, severe bullying, and to the worst case scenario—suicide.

Jean M. Twenge has been researching the behavioral patterns of young people for over 25 years. Her recent conclusions about the impact of social media on middle school kids are sobering:

  • Eighth graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who spend less time.
  • Eighth graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent.
  • Teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, like making a plan for how to do it.
  • Girls, especially hard hit, have experienced a 50 percent rise in depressive symptoms.

We’ve all heard stories of online bullying. I questioned a high school sophomore this week about her early social media experience. She explained that bullying related to social media use doesn’t always happen online:

“It’s the whispers behind people’s backs, ’can you believe so and so’s post’, where the most damage occurs. Even if you’re not involved, it’s really hard not to get caught up in the drama.”

5. Social media pushes kids into risky behavior to seek affirmation

Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. is adamant the maturity required to use social media appropriately cannot be taught to middle school kids. It’s like trying to dress them in clothes that are too big. You just have to wait and let them grow up.

One of our readers says she is overwhelmed by social media culture influencing young kids:

“My daughter is 13 and has friends that are sexting and sending nudes to strangers on Snapchat. I’m so glad she comes to me with her questions. I’ve been very proactive about addressing these issues from an early age. Still, she feels alone because a lot of her friends are so clueless about these dangers.”

This mom is absolutely right to be alarmed. Social media is a predator’s playground.

Predators are expert at giving kids the attention they are looking for —You’re so beautiful, you’re so funny, you’re so adventurous. When kids find someone who agrees with everything they say, it can be intoxicating. Police will tell you how easy it is to gain the trust of a middle school kid. Even more shocking is how quickly they can be persuaded to participate in risky behavior.

Prepare middle school kids now to get the best out social media

I will tell you one more secret about myself as a parent —I make lots of mistakes. We all do. It’s part of the job description. Plus now we have the impossible task of keeping ahead of the latest tech trends. Just like our middle school kids, we’re bound to have some growing pains.

What to do if your kids are on social media now?

If your middle school kid is already on social media stay calm. In fact, it may cause more harm to cut them off completely at this point. Instead, make sure the ground rules for use are explicitWe recommend you go so far as to write up a contract. For ideas, check out this list at Scary Mommy.

Better than tossing them the keys

Reflecting on the experience with my novice driver, it’s important to help kids get used to social media in a controlled environment for the first little while. Here are some tips:

  • Start with a family account
  • Begin using social media on large devices (not phones)
  • Set time limits and stick to them
  • Follow your kids’ accounts
  • Plan face-to-face time with friends

Eventually, the day will come when it’s time for them to drive on their own. When that happens, you can still have them update you about their online interactions. Kids will thrive when they know their parents always have their back.

By Marilyn Evans

It’s Time to Take the Dad Challenge

There are always things we need to improve on as parents, but before I get to that I want to talk about what we’re doing right. Parents are doing a lot of things right these days, something we may not hear a lot. Fathers, in particular, have improved in their parenting skills in the last 50 years, and this is something to celebrate.

Dads Are Giving More Time

Before we talk about what needs improvement, it is only fair to point out how much modern fathers are doing right. Dads spend way more time with their kids than they used to, taking time out with individual children even from the time a child is born. It is a very common sight in my neighborhood to see a young father pushing a baby or toddler in a stroller, no wife in sight. When I was a kid, I never saw a father pushing a baby stroller, alone or with his wife.

Both parents give more time to their children than in recent generations, but while mothers have approximately doubled the amount of time they spend with children in the last 50 years, fathers have nearly quadrupled the amount of time they spend with their own kids.¹ Mothers still spend more time with their kids than dads, but dads would win the prize for “most improved.”

Dads Are Giving More Depth

Fathers are also willing to be much more open with their children than our own fathers or grandfathers were. Fathers are much more likely today to talk about their feelings with their children and ask their children about their feelings. Dads admit failure in front of their kids. Dads talk with their kids about all kinds of things that most dads in the past would never be open about. Except for one thing, which is the problem I’m addressing today.

What Scares Dads

My son and I wrote a book called Father-Son Accountability several years ago. I bring it to any conference I attend to sell in a booth. When I go to a men’s conference, even one specifically focused on sexual integrity, I sell very few. When I go to a women’s conference, I sell five times as many books, and the book is not for women. When I go to a couples conference, nearly 100% of sales are when a couple visits my booth and the wife buys the books, hands it to her husband, and says, “You’re doing this with our son.”

What’s going on here? Why are the same men who are taking babies on a stroll and talking to their kids about emotions afraid to talk about sex and sexuality with them?

I used to think it was because the men must have their own issues related to sexual integrity and they feared being exposed. I have discovered that this is not usually the reason men back away. Instead, men tell me they are afraid to talk to their kids about sexual issues because no one ever taught them as a child. They don’t know what to say because no one ever taught them. This is understandable, but it doesn’t excuse us men from our responsibilities to prepare and protect our children.

The Dad Challenge

We’ve come a long way in 50 years, and that is great. But it’s time to take the next step as men and prepare our children as God intends for us to do. I know we may not have been trained and have few examples to follow, but that doesn’t excuse us from trying.

I’ve noticed that once men get started, they find it’s not as hard as they imagined talking to their kids about sexuality. Here are a few helpful tips to get started.

  • Pick a time when you will start talking with each child and stick to your plan.
  • Consider starting the first conversation with, “No one ever taught me any of this as a kid, so I’m not really sure what I’m doing. I’ll just do the best I can.” Kids seem to appreciate such honesty anyway.
  • Use a book or video to get started rather than winging it on your own. There plenty of resources and more are being created every day to help parents address issues related to sexuality.
  • When just talking with your children about sex or sexual issues, try talking in the car. That does not require eye contact and makes it a little more comfortable for everyone.
  • Don’t try to cover everything at once. Take on one small subject at a time. This should not be a one-time conversation but a series of many conversations throughout childhood.
  • Don’t parent alone. Ask other parents what they do, compare notes, and try out their good ideas.

Let’s work together as men to inspire each other to be the fathers God wants us to be. We can do this.

For a list of parenting resources from Pure Community, visit our Parent Resource page.

by John Fort · November 16, 2017

Your Wife Has Triggers Too

He picks up his phone to check e-mail, respond to a few texts, and see who’s winning the game.

It’s happened thousands of times before–but this time is different.

He glances up and catches his wife’s eyes. She looks like an angry bull just before it charges.

Now come the accusations: “I know you are looking at one of those filthy porn sites again. After all the damage you’ve caused with that stuff, I knew you wouldn’t quit!”

The defense: “You’re crazy! I can’t even check work e-mail or reply to a text from my boss without being accused of looking at porn again! I’m not going to be treated like a little kid being monitored by ‘mommy.’”

This scenario happens all the time after a wife discovers that her husband has been looking at pornography. Since she discovered it, and that he had been hiding porn for quite some time, she won’t be made a fool of again.

Now she is convinced he is always looking at pornography. Like killing a cockroach, she knows there is a lot more where that one came from–and she is intent on finding them.

Your Wife Has Triggers Too

Maybe it isn’t looking at your phone or tablet. Maybe it is a sex scene on a TV show, a news story about pornography, or another leader caught in a sexual scandal. All of these trigger the pain of finding out her husband has been looking at porn. They trigger the fear of being deceived and betrayed again.

You know the saying: first-time shame on you, second-time shame on me.

As a counselor working with couples recovering from sexual betrayal, I see this every day.

He gets angry and indignant–for once he actually wasn’t looking at pornography, and she gets upset. He begins to think, “Fine, why to bother trying if I’m going to get in trouble anyway.”

Yes, it is frustrating–but that is a cop out.

The husband in these situations feels like his wife is doing this intentionally to punish him. He thinks that all she has to do is not think about it all the time and she will be fine.

“We were having a perfectly good evening until she got triggered by…” If I had a nickel for every time I heard the statement, I could retire in the Bahamas tomorrow.

“Why Can’t My Wife Just Get Over It?”

Let me share the other side of the story with you. Her side of the story. It isn’t as cut and dry as you think it is. This is what the wives in my office have taught me. Whenever I share this–their eyes get big, and they shout, “That’s it! You nailed it!”

First, let’s start with the obvious. Because she has likely caught her husband looking at porn on several occasions, she is hyper-vigilant. Trust has been demolished so he loses all benefit of the doubt–even if she really wants to believe that he isn’t looking at this stuff anymore.

It is safer to assume that he is looking at porn since he has lied so much in the past. This is a way of protecting herself from being caught off guard again–from being devastated all over again.

Wives that I work with describe these thoughts as “invasive,” “tormenting,” and “I can’t turn it off.” Once that tripwire is hit, she reexperiences some of the fear, pain, and anger from past betrayals.

Reexperiencing something is different from recalling something. I have worked with a lot of guys who fought in the Gulf Wars. They re-experience a lot of the horrors from over there when they recall certain events.

They would love to “turn it off” or “just choose not to think about it.”

How to Respond When Your Wife Reexperiences the Betrayal Pain

So what do you do when your wife’s tripwire goes off, and she is convinced that you are looking at porn all the time?

Here are a few steps that have really helped the guys I work with. Take a deep breath and have a bite of humble pie:

Acknowledge that you have given her a good reason to suspect that you are looking at pornography. (This is not pleading guilty). She can’t trust your words, so affirm that her fears are based on what you have done. This will end a lot of these arguments really quickly.

Do not argue with her. You are not going to convince her of your innocence by telling how you are a grown man and deserve to be trusted. Telling her that she is paranoid or crazy will only add fuel to the fire.

Genuinely apologize for lying to her and hurting her in the past when it comes to looking at porn. Check your ego at the door–this ain’t easy.

This will help her brain downshift from panic and anger, to fear and hurt. This one alone can save you hours of bickering.

Wives, Tips for When Your Betrayal Pain is Fresh

Accept that you are afraid to trust anything he says. That doesn’t mean that he is always lying–it means he is like a politician to you. You never know what to trust.

Own your fear and pain. The anger that screams you need to protect yourself, or shutting down to protect yourself from being hurt again are based in reality. That doesn’t mean you can say and do whatever you want when you are triggered. Tell him that it truly feels like he is hiding something and that this sets off all of the alarms.

Accept that you will not be able to police his behavior. You can’t keep him from looking, or catch him every time he does. Accept the risk–you are choosing to risk staying in a relationship with someone you love, who hurt you, and could hurt you again. From that place, ask him for what you need to feel safe: access to his phone, computer, tablet, emails, etc. To not check these when you are trying to enjoy time together as a couple or family. Asking tends to work much better than demanding.

With time as you both are able to respond to each other in these ways, these triggers die down. It is really hard to do when the pain is fresh–so try to give her some extra grace for a while.

The brain is a funny organ. Using these strategies gives you proven tools you can use to get off the “crazy train” where everyone is coming unglued. Give them a shot, then leave a comment below to let me know how it went.

by Carl Stewart · May 2, 2017

Loving Your UnInstagrammable Life |

How do we own our messy, unique, and true selves?

I think most young people can relate to that feeling when you realize you are three years deep into another person’s social media feed. It’s a combination of self-loathing and emotional numbness. For some, it’s as though they can’t stop scrolling down. As if they can’t stop themselves from learning more about this person’s life: what they wear, what they eat, who they hang out with. Sometimes, the fixation can become so intense that we lose ourselves in the process. When this happens, an emotional disconnect follows, where we lose touch with reality and begin to focus on the other person. This is what a Psychology Today article so brilliantly called “the comparison trap”.

I relate to this experience all too well. In fact, I had to recently unfollow someone on Instagram because I was devoting too much of my time checking their feed and what they were doing. Time which could have been spent listening, pursuing, and advancing my own passions, was wasted envying a person I didn’t even know. Researchers call this my a term to define how we tend to compare ourselves with people who are most similar to us rather than those we consider as “superior” (and the reason why Beyonce’s Instagram feed doesn’t perpetuate my self-loathing).

For Lucy Sheridan, a UK-based comparison coach (the first and only, in fact), felt this “comparison trap” was beginning to affect her self-esteem. “I’ve compared myself since I was little. Whether it was school, grades, my body. I am the case study in comparison,” she mentions, “(comparison) was like a warm bath, and I kept going back to it over and over again.” It wasn’t until she was looking at a stranger’s photos on social media (any resemblance to real life is mere coincidence), that she decided it was time to stop. “It was the ultimate wake up call. I knew I wasn’t in a great place and I thought to myself: if I could think myself into this, can I think myself out of it?”

Recognizing your comparison triggers

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We all have comparison triggers, which refer to the themes we seem to envy or resent the most in other people. It can be wedding announcements, career promotions, body image, relationship status, pregnancies, among others. “Comparison is trying to move you somewhere else, but because we are bombarded by envy and fear, we never get there,” Lucy explains. “We need to observe and not judge what that might be.” But where might comparison be trying to lead us? For starters, self-awareness.

When we are faced with something that wounds our ego, we begin to set up a series of defense mechanisms to protect it at all costs. These mechanisms aren’t necessarily bad, but when we fail to become aware of the way (and frequency) in which we are using them, then it can become troubling. Projection is one of them, and it describes precisely what Lucy explains above. It happens when we attribute our own unwanted thoughts, feelings or impulses on to someone else. When I find that someone is constantly irritating me, I need to stop and think what’s really going on with me. When a person irritates you, it can reveal more about you than it can about the person.

According to Lucy, a similar situation applies to these “comparison traps.” These comparison triggers, or the pitfalls in which we keep falling into, may be alerting us to an inner frustration that prevents us from pursuing our goals. “There’s a constant culture of fear affecting us, making us loathe our uninstagrammable life”, she explains. How do we learn to love how “uninstagrammable” all of us truly are? Especially in a time where influencers bombard us with their “instagrammable” lives and who, as Lucy describes it, “have democratized attention”?

Social media cleanse

social media cleanse isn’t only helpful, but also necessary. After I realized that this person made me feel envious due to my own insecurities, I decided to unfollow her. It wasn’t easy. Quite the opposite, it was hella hard (and I admit I occasionally snooped through her Instagram stories afterward). But, it was necessary. I asked Lucy if I made the right decision. “Absolutely! I always tell my clients to unfollow everything that doesn’t lift you up, but not unfollow everything that’s challenging you”, was her response.

Lucy is referring to that sweet spot between the people that make you feel bad about your own life because you’re setting yourself unattainable goals, and the people who inspire you to achieve more. As she puts it, “you want to surround yourself (online and offline) with people who challenge you in the right ways.” So, before you go on to an unfollowing frenzy, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this type of content aspire me to be a better version of myself?
  • Is this type of content relevant to the person I am? Is it relevant to the person I want to be?
  • How does this person challenge me to be better?

When we allow ourselves to answer these questions wholeheartedly, only then can we set a path to our authentic self. That messy, quirky, unique self that is incomparable.

Being okay with your uninstagrammable life

One of the biggest takeaways from my conversation with Lucy was the term “uninstagrammble”. In essence, that is real life, right? Real life doesn’t have the carefully selected filter or properly produced breakfast table. Yet, we are constantly seduced by these carefully curated lives, and forget to remember that social media is not real.

Lucy’s coaching focuses on helping her clients “switch fears, regrets, and drift into confidencehappiness, and action.” She helps clients break free from these comparison traps both personally and professionally, and learn to own their uninstagrammable lives. These are the tips she shared with me:

  1. Be careful how and who you choose to share your ideas/content/experiences with. Not everyone has your best interest at heart, and similar to your online life: surround yourself with people who challenge you in the right way.
  2. Be careful what we put value in. Is it money? Fame or notoriety? Popularity? These are all things that come and go, but deep and meaningful connections stand the test of time.
  3. With love and judgment at the center, reclaim yourself.
  4. Our crappiest lives are some people’s best lives. Always have gratitude at the forefront of each of your achievements. It keeps you grounded and allows others to see your authentic self.

Loving yourself in a time where the media industries profit from your insecurities is a rebellious act. But, it speaks volumes to the authenticity and connection we are so desperately craving. As Lucy mentioned to me, inspired by a quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “when something is special to you make a temple in your heart and don’t let anyone near it.”


By: Lucy Sheridan

Sh is the founder and creator of Proof Coaching and the “Comparison-Free Classroom.” Read more about her story and services here.



Five FACTS About Porn

Today, digital pornography is a hot topic. Very hot.

Beliefs and opinions about porn’s availability, use, and effects abound, but facts are relatively scarce. There are pro-porn factions who think porn is great for sex and relationships; the more the better. At the same time, there are anti-porn factions who think porn is sending us to hell in a handbasket.

Interestingly, both groups want us to believe that porn is taking over the internet and maybe the world.

Unfortunately, neither side of this debate gives sufficient credence to facts when formulating their opinions. Recognizing this, I have culled information about the availability, use of, and effects of pornography from the latest academic and scholarly research, distilling the information into five factually accurate categories. From this, my hope is that people will form their own informed opinions about pornography.

Porn is Ubiquitous

  • There are more than 2.5 million porn websites (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012). This number does not account for the countless number of erotic images on social media, dating sites, hookup apps, etc.
  • 13% of all internet searches are porn-related (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012).
  • Adult male porn users spend an average of three hours per week with porn. Some spend as little as five minutes per week; others spend up to 33 hours per week (Wéry & Billieux, 2016).

Kids Look at Porn, Too

  • Current estimates place the average age of first porn use at 11 (Wolak, Mitchell & Finkelhor, 2007).
  • One study found that nearly all boys and most girls use porn, though boys tend to look at it earlier and to view it more often (Sabina, Wolak & Finkelhor, 2008).
  • In a study of 16-year-old boys, 96% admitted they were porn users, with 10% saying they looked at porn every day (Mattebo, Tyden, Haggstrom-Nordin, Nilsson & Larsson, 2013).
  • Porn use among adolescent males and young men is almost universal. When a Canadian researcher tried to study the effects of porn on this population, he couldn’t, because he was unable to locate even one potential study participant who wasn’t already using porn. Unable to compare users to non-users, the researcher scuttled the experiment (Liew, 2009).

Reasons for Porn Use Vary by Person and Circumstance

  • Motivations for porn use vary widely, with reasons often overlapping. One study found that 94.4% of porn users went online for sexual satisfaction. Other common reasons were feeling arousal (87.2%), achieving orgasm (86.5%), alleviating stress (73.8%), relieving boredom (70.8%), forgetting daily problems (53%), decreasing loneliness (44.9%), and combatting depression (38.1%) (Wéry & Billieux, 2016).

Porn Can Create Personal Problems

  • Not all porn users feel good about their behavior. One study found that 61.7% of adult male porn users felt shame about porn use, 49% sometimes searched for sexual content that did not previously interest them or that they considered disgusting, and 27.6% self-assessed their porn use as problematic (Wéry & Billieux, 2016).
  • Heavy porn use among adolescent boys is correlated with higher levels of risky sexual behaviors, relationship problems, truancy, smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use (Mattebo, Tyden, Haggstrom-Nordin, Nilsson & Larsson, 2013).
  • People who use porn primarily to manage their emotions are more likely to experience porn-related problems than people who use porn to find sexual satisfaction (Wéry & Billieux, 2016).

Porn Can Undermine Real-World Sex and Relationship

  • Increased porn use is correlated with decreased marital satisfaction in both the short-term and long-term. This link is stronger with male porn use than with female porn use (Perry, 2017).
  • Porn use almost doubles the likelihood of getting divorced in the next four years, increasing the probability from 6% to 11% (Perry, 2017).
  • Compulsive porn users often struggle with sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and anorgasmia (inability to reach orgasm) (Rosenberg, Carnes & O’Connor, 2014). One study found that 26.7% of compulsive porn users reported issues with sexual dysfunction (Hall, 2012). Another study identified sexual dysfunction in 58% of compulsive porn users (Voon, Mole, Banca, … & Irvine, 2014).

Professional Opinion

Although digital technology facilitates, encourages, and drives modern-day porn use, tech itself is not a root cause of porn-related issues.

In fact, most people can use porn without problems, just as most people can drink alcohol without problems. Most often, it is individuals who are predisposed to emotional and intimacy-related difficulties thanks to genetics, trauma, and other factors, who experience porn-related problems, just as they might struggle with alcohol, drugs, gambling, and the like. But tech itself is neither the issue nor a root cause of the issue.


Hall, P. (2012). Understanding and treating sex addiction: A comprehensive guide for people who struggle with sex addiction and those who want to help them. Routledge.

Liew, J. (2009). All men watch porn, scientists find. The Telegraph. Retrieved Jan 16, 2015 from

Mattebo, M., Tyden, T., Haggstrom-Nordin, E., Nilsson, K.S., & Larsson M. (2013). Pornography consumption, sexual experiences, lifestyles, and self-rated health among male adolescents in Sweden. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 34(7):460-468.

Ogas, O. & Gaddam, S. (2012). A billion wicked thoughts: What the Internet tells us about sexual relationships, p 8. New York, NY: Plume.

Perry, S. L. (2017). Does viewing pornography reduce marital quality over time? Evidence from longitudinal data. Archives of sexual behavior, 46(2), 549-559.

Rosenberg, K. P., Carnes, P., & O’Connor, S. (2014). Evaluation and treatment of sex addiction. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 40(2), 77-91.

Sabina, C., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2008). The nature and dynamics of Internet pornography exposure for youth. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 11(6), 691-693.

Voon, V., Mole, T. B., Banca, P., Porter, L., Morris, L., Mitchell, S., … & Irvine, M. (2014). Neural correlates of sexual cue reactivity in individuals with and without compulsive sexual behaviours. PloS one, 9(7), e102419.

Wéry, A., & Billieux, J. (2016). Online sexual activities: An exploratory study of problematic and non-problematic usage patterns in a sample of men. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 257-266.

Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth Internet users. Pediatrics, 119(2), 247-257.

by Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Are You a Victim (or a Perpetrator) of Covert Incest?

“Covert incest, also known as emotional incest (and sometimes as psychic incest), is the surreptitious, indirect, sexualized emotional use/abuse of a child by a parent, step-parent, or any other long-term caregiver.”
— Robert Weiss, Sex Addiction 101

In contrast to overt sexual abuse, which involves hands-on sexual contact, covert abuse involves less direct forms of sexuality—sexuality that is emotionally implied or suggested rather than overtly acted out. In this way, a child is used for emotional fulfillment, forced to support the adult by serving as a trusted confidante and/or an “emotional spouse.” Though there may be little to no direct sexual activity, these overly enmeshed relationships have a sexualized undertone, with the parent expressing overly graphic verbal interest in the child’s physical development and sexual characteristics and/or betraying the child’s boundaries through voyeurism, exhibitionism, sexualized conversations, and inappropriate sharing of intimate stories and/or images.

Covert incest often occurs when the parents have distanced themselves from one another both physically and emotionally, or when one (or both) of the parents is addicted to a substance or a behavior. When dysfunctional parent couples distance themselves from each other, one of the parents may focus on the child, seeking adult emotional fulfillment by using the child as a surrogate partner. Or the parent may tie his or her self-esteem to the success of the child. Either way, the child’s developmental needs tend to be ignored, and emotional growth (especially in the area of healthy sexual and romantic attachment) can be profoundly stunted. Amazingly, the perpetrating adult is usually completely unaware of the emotional damage he or she is creating.

Interestingly, most covert incest survivors initially resist the notion that they have been sexually abused because they were never actually touched in a sexual way by the perpetrator. Nevertheless, these relationships are indeed sexualized. Stated simply, a child in these circumstances is sexualized and treated as an adult partner, and therefore the child is deprived of healthy attachment bonds, stable emotional growth, and many other basics of childhood development. In lieu of healthy development, the child is taught that his or her value is based not on who he or she is as a person, but on how much he or she can please, amuse, and/or bond with the caretaker.

Over time, covert incest survivors typically react and respond in the same ways as survivors of overt (hands-on) sexual abuse, with some or all of the following adult-life symptoms and consequences:

  • Addiction and/or compulsivity
  • Difficulty developing and maintaining long-term intimacy
  • Enmeshment
  • Shame and feelings of inadequacy
  • Dissociation
  • Difficulties with self-care (emotional and/or physical)
  • Love/hate relationships, especially with the offending parent but also with others
  • Inappropriate bonding with their own child (intergenerational abuse)

As pervasive and damaging as covert incest is, it frequently goes unrecognized in treatment settings. As therapist Debra Kaplan writes, “The obvious signs are obscured from plain view. It is like the air in the room–it’s here, but you can’t see it.” Thus, it is only when we dig beneath the surface that we tend to see the connections between early-life covertly incestuous abuse and adult-life intimacy and addiction issues, including sexual addiction.

by ·

Survey Shows Why Parents Should Keep Smartphones Out of the Bedroom

Parents have dreams for their children.

The parents I know constantly ask God to guide and protect them, to make their children the saints they’re called to be! They want to protect their children from negative influences, including a sexualized culture that tries to shove itself into children’s faces at a young age. They desperately want to keep pornography from creeping into their children’s lives, but they’re just not sure how to do that.


If you’re a parent, does this sound like you?

If so, then we have good news! Through some survey findings and a bit of research, we’ve discovered a few practical steps that any parent can take regardless of your technical knowledge.

In 2016, a large US Catholic high school anonymously surveyed the majority of their male students on pornography use. The results below are the cumulative percentages for all grades. The survey was administered anonymously during Theology classes. We pray that this information will encourage parents to protect their children from pornography.

(There are several questions where percentages did not equal 100%, possibly due to incorrectly filled out scantrons and quick rounding of percentages.)

Here is the data from the anonymous survey:

1. How often, typically do you view pornography?

  • More than once a day (6%)
  • Daily (15%)
  • Not daily but more than once a week (49%)
  • Once per week or less than once per week (20%)
  • I do not view pornography (11%)

2. What device do you MOST use to view pornography?

  • Smartphone (57%)
  • iPad/Tablet (24%)
  • Home Computer (7%)
  • I do not view pornographic websites (10%)

3. Where do you view pornographic materials?

  • In my bedroom (61%)
  • At my “study space” (6%)
  • Other locations in my house (21%)
  • In my car (5%)
  • I do not view pornographic websites (11%)

4. Which of the following pornography is your preferred to view?

  • Pictures of people in suggestive poses but fully clothed (3%)
  • Pictures of people in suggestive poses but scantily clothed (8%)
  • Pictures of naked people (23%)
  • Video of people performing various sex acts (58%)
  • I do not view pornographic websites (8%)

5. What feeling do you usually experience before viewing pornography?

  • Loneliness (20%)
  • Anger (15%)
  • Anxiousness (14%)
  • Frustration (3%)
  • Boredom (48%)

Here’s what stands out to us at Covenant Eyes about this survey. A high percentage of pornography consumption by high school students happens on smartphones (57%), in the bedroom (61%), and/or when they’re bored (48%). Thankfully, these are things parents can control.

In 2016, the Barna Group published its study The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography In the Digital Age, wherein they state that 88% of most teens (child ages 13-17) have a phone and 82% of teens sleep with their phone in their bedroom. Further, the survey explains that 48% (nearly half) of preteens (children ages 9-12) have a phone, and of those, most (72%) sleep with their phone in their bedroom.

If you’re like the majority of parents, you’ve chosen to provide your children with a smartphone and internet access. Sometimes, this decision is made without fully understanding all of the ways in which our children can access pornography. But the following tips can help limit your child’s exposure to inappropriate content:

1. Protect Your Family’s Devices

Use parental controls, and if a device doesn’t provide or allow parental controls to be downloaded, don’t buy it for them. As another layer of protection, use Covenant Eyes Accountability and Filtering Services on your family’s smartphones, tablets, and computers.

2. No Smartphones, Tablets, Computers, or TVs in the Bedroom

Keep computers in an open room. Don’t allow devices in your children’s bedrooms that can access the internet or cable.

3. Talk to Your Children

Use the weekly internet use reports from Covenant Eyes to strike up good conversations. The aim is to manage small issues before they become big problems. Parents have the biggest influence on their kids’ behaviors–more than their friends, school, or parish church. Put that influence to use. Set aside times to talk to your kids about their God-given sexuality. Also, be prepared to talk to your child or teen on the fly when opportunities present themselves. Talking isn’t preaching. Be willing to listen, too. If you don’t feel prepared to talk to your children on these topics, a great resource to help you is the free Covenant Eyes ebook, Equipped: Smart Catholic Parenting in a Sexualized Culture.

4. Give Your Kids Responsibilities and Encourage Life-giving Hobbies

It’s more and more common that our young people aren’t given responsibilities at home or in the broader life of the community. God has given them many gifts to use and share, so give them the opportunity! Both young and teenage children can really thrive when given responsibilities like folding clothes, drying the dishes, mowing, and meal planning or helping cook once a week. Also, children are just bursting with energy and ways to be creative. Pay attention to what they enjoy and what comes naturally to them and cultivate that in the child. Are they good at drawing? How about the guitar? Does your son enjoy woodworking? Maybe your daughter likes taking photographs? Encourage growth in these areas and other hobbies they have interest in. This will get them away from the TV and smartphone, which decreases their likelihood of ongoing use of pornography.

In the digital age, it’s not a matter of if your child will see something inappropriate online. It’s only a matter of when. Although no plan is 100% safe, we believe that following the steps above will significantly decrease the opportunities for our sexualized culture to have undue influence on the hearts and minds of your precious children.

by Amanda Zurface


Porn: A Gateway Drug

I work with men every day who struggle with some type of sexual addiction, and they all have one thing in common: porn.

For a lot of guys, this is their main vice. The men who also have affairs, go to massage parlors, use escorts, or prostitutes all report the same starting point: pornography.

To be fair, this does not mean if you look at porn that you are guaranteed to progress to these other behaviors. It does mean that you are more at risk than you probably think.

Did you know that 56% of all divorce cases involve one person with an obsessive interest in pornographic websites? Do you think these guys thought it would ruin their marriages when they invited this gateway drug into their lives?

So what makes porn a gateway drug? Why isn’t looking at a few pictures or videos enough?

What makes porn a gateway drug?

The answer is tolerance. Tolerance is when you need more of something to get the same effect. If I stop drinking caffeine for a while, a coke at 7:00 p.m. will keep me up at night. Once my body gets used to caffeine again, I can drink a coke at 8:00 p.m. and be out by 10.

When you look at pornography, it super-stimulates your brain. Basically, a nuclear bomb goes off with all of the dopamine (the brain’s “gotta-have-it drug”) and testosterone released into your system.

When dopamine and testosterone get together, they make the experience more sexualized and aggressive.

At the same time, serotonin levels drop, which makes you obsess about what you are looking at while increasing the experience of sexual tension.

The whole experience is intoxicatingIt makes you want more of that same feeling, so you go back to the same places to recapture the rush.

Somewhere inside, your body figures out that this isn’t really sex. It isn’t emotionally connected sex, so you don’t respond the same way.

What was once euphoric and awesome, becomes a bit dull. You need something…more.

Here is where the Internet becomes a bottomless pit. There is always something more graphic, more edgy, more tantalizing out there. With all the talk of “draining the swamp” over the past year, be assured there is no bottom to this swamp.

Before you know it, you have gone down paths that you never thought you would ever consider. And it happened one little step at a time. In fact, the stuff you began looking at seems boring now.

Tolerance not only desensitizes you, but it dehumanizes others–especially women. Studies have shown that after viewing pornography men minimize rape or violence perpetrated against women.

What else makes porn’s grip so strong?

The 3-A’s that strengthen porn’s grip kick in Available, Affordable, and Anonymous.

Available: Everybody has a smartphone these days. Elementary aged kids have phones, iPods, or iPads. (Think of letting your child take a bag of chocolate chip cookies laced with crack to his room–what do you think will happen?)

We all have multiple access points to porn at all times. The days of having to go to the store for a magazine are long gone.

Affordable: Beyond access points, there is so much free porn available on the Internet that Playboy stopped publishing nude photos for about a year. Their product wasn’t profitable anymore. (Let that sink in for a minute).

Anonymous: It feels anonymous. A little hit on your phone at work. Some time on the iPad at home. No one knows, right? Everything we do online is traceable. Just ask the folks who signed up for Ashley Madison.

Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering services help you overcome porn by removing anonymity from the equation. Our services monitor your online activity and send a report to a trusted friend who holds you accountable for your online choices.

Sign Up for Covenant Eyes today

Mitigating Factors of Addiction

Research has provided several clues to show who is more vulnerable to addictive behaviors, and who is more likely to recover.

Risk Factors–Are certain backgrounds at higher risk for addiction?

1. Statistically speaking, if you have a history of verbal, sexual, or physical abuse, then you are more susceptible to addictive behaviors. In fact, this is the best predictor for addictive behavior.

2. But to tell how tenacious and persistent that addictive behavior may be, the best predictor is neglect. Neglect could be not having food, clothing, or shelter while growing up. More often, it is emotional neglect. This is not simply, “I didn’t get the big wheel when I was 5.” Neglect is when you don’t get what you need–for example, a lack of boundaries. Did your parents let you run wild or raise yourself? You didn’t get the guidance and protection needed.

3. Being shut down, criticized all the time, or consistently told you aren’t good enough–these leave an ache inside that begs to be medicated.

4. If you have an anxiety disorder (O.C.D., social anxiety, etc.), ADHD, or any history of trauma, then you are a prime candidate to self-medicate by using porn or other addictive behaviors.

5. I have worked with a lot of soldiers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan who learned to use pornography to self-medicate for PTSD.

Resiliency Factors–What indicates an ability to overcome addiction?

One of the best predictors of being able to recover from using porn, or avoid it in the first place, is the connection.

The quality of your close relationships is a huge factor in undoing the effects of porn. This is more than hanging out with the guys talking about football, work, or the weather. Close connections (technically called “attachments”) have a huge impact on how your brain works. It is one of the best antidotes to an addictive behavior you will find.

(For fun, check out attachment, oxytocin, and mirror neurons in your spare time.)

Invite a close friend into your porn recovery journey with Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability.

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Pornography is a formidable enemy, but it doesn’t have to win the day.

By detoxing from looking at porn, your brain re-calibrates and you can enjoy a life that isn’t dominated by seeking out porn and fantasizing about what you have seen. (Learn more about neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to re-calibrate.)

Dopamine withdrawal can be brutal for a week or so as you detox, but it is worth it. That is where connecting with friends comes in. Simply letting someone know what you are thinking and feeling (not even problem solving) releases oxytocin. It’s like taking a Xanax with no side effects.

Rest assured, pornography is a gateway drug. Fortunately, the gate swings both ways. That means you can get out even if you’ve been sucked in.

The best way to make sure the gate stays closed is to have strong relationships with friends and family. Sometimes we need someone to help us keep the gate closed.


By Carl Stewart

How a Little “Harmless” Entertainment Can Affect Your Husband

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.

by Noah Filipiak