By Joe Leavell
Nothing about indulging in pornography backs up the sentiments of a husband who tries to express to his wife that she is beautiful and that he is indeed in love with her.
“If I am so attractive to you, why am I not enough?” His empty words of affirmation of her beauty and his undying love only reinforce the broken trust. What she is hearing from him in those moments is essentially, “I think you’re attractive, but not beautiful enough to keep me faithful. If you looked more like those other women who don’t have stretch marks and leftover baby weight, maybe I wouldn’t be tempted. This is your fault, really. How could you ever satisfy me?” So not only does she not believe him, but by his actions leaves her to struggle with her inner voice of guilt and self-blame for his own selfishness.
Why the Disconnect?
If I put a pornographic magazine on one end of my desk and asked a husband to choose between his spouse or the porn, which do you think they would choose? Of all the men I have counseled, not one would dare choose the porn in that scenario. When their devotion is questioned, men are quick to express their wiliness to lay down their lives for their wives and sacrifice everything for their happiness. So why would a man who would give up his life for his wife, someone that he affirms he loves and is beautiful, completely disregard her by indulging his lusts?
No one looks at porn thinking they are rejecting their wife. Few think they are making a consequential choice at all. As difficult as it may be to comprehend, in those moments of decision, men believe that they can maintain both. In the same way an alcoholic believes he can manage his addiction, the porn addict believes that, as long as his addiction is kept out of sight, he can buy himself enough time to kick the habit or indulge himself without having to make a hard choice between his wife or his addiction.
The reality could not be further from the truth. He is actively choosing the porn.
Why wasn’t God Enough?
At man’s creation, God had given Adam everything a man could want! He had literally placed Adam in a blissful paradise and had given him the perfect companion. Here was an intelligent, beautiful, naked woman who he was free to be with forever. She was so beautiful that, when he saw her for the first time, he instantly broke into free verse. Not only had God given Adam a wife to live with in perfect intimacy, He had given Adam the greatest gift of all: Himself.
But God, paradise, and his beautiful wife were not enough.
Adam was tempted by the notion that he could have his eyes opened and he could become like God, knowing good and evil. If only he could eat that fruit, he could have everything.
Adam literally traded in paradise, his relationship with God, and his intimacy with his wife for a piece of fruit. Yet he wasn’t thinking of what he was giving up, but lusting after what he thought he would be getting in addition. He foolishly believed what the enemy told Eve, “You will not surely die!” Sound familiar? It’s the same lie every porn user tells himself: “This won’t cost you much! You don’t have to choose between your wife and porn! You can have both!!”
Why would he want both? Why indeed! The same reason Adam chose the fruit is the same reason your husband desires you and porn at the same time.
Like Adam, we are all good Polytheists, thinking we can serve God and maintain another deity on the side. This is called spiritual adultery. It should come as no surprise then that physical lust and adultery follow shortly behind. Once a man is willing to cheat on His God, the idea of cheating on his wife comes much more easily. Any act of sexual betrayal then is merely a physical reflection of the spiritual adultery that has already taken place in the heart.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:14-15
When a man indulges in pornography, he is indeed making a choice to cheat. He is not only choosing porn over his wife; he is choosing porn over Christ. The porn addict is saying with his actions that Jesus is not enough. He is declaring that God is holding out on some good and that he should be free to have both God, his wife, and be able to indulge in his lust freely, without consequence.
In other words, he’s OK with God, but he also wants sovereignty over his life…he wants to be free to both worship porn and to be worshipped by porn. He, like his father, Adam, wants to stay in the Garden of Eden and still be his own god. It doesn’t work that way.
In relating the idea of worship to money, Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:24,
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
If Jesus is not Enough, a Wife Never Will Be
When a person trades in worshipping God for worship of self, he begins to shop around for worshippers to recognize him as a deity. The closest place to look for an adoring disciple is his spouse. Here’s the thing about marriage. God designed spouses to make wonderful companions, but they make horrible gods.
Many wives may think that the answer to their husband’s unfaithfulness is to compete directly with the porn. In reality, he would only be exchanging one false god for another one: you. These women try tirelessly to keep up with their husband’s pressure for worship but ultimately, sin only brings death. Because lust is insatiable, the wife inevitably becomes exhausted at his demands for more. Meanwhile, the husband becomes more demanding, and begins to resent that his wife cannot keep up with his ever-growing list of needs. He still wants his wife, but now he wants both. The intimacy slowly dies, and he begins to look elsewhere to feed his fleshly cravings.
At this point, some wives either give up, or give in and simply accept his sin as normal. They either just stop asking about it, or participate with him out of desperation to not be excluded. He has become a self-seeking, lust-filled, Ebenezer Scrooge-like miser. Yet, rather than collecting gold, he is hoarding more and more images to fuel his lust.
But lusts and false gods can never be satisfied. There is always one more dollar, that next drink, or one more image to see.
Porn is designed to give the illusion of being worshipped – designer women of choice who will fulfill any fantasy at his beck and call. When you regularly feed the lie of being hailed as sovereign lord for whom the subjects want nothing more than to fulfil your desires, the idea of dying to yourself to live for Jesus seems impossible. This is crude, but given the topic, I hope you will forgive me. “How can Jesus be better than porn?” the porn addict wonders. “Jesus doesn’t have breasts!” The porn addict is trapped in a prison of his own making.
You see, it isn’t just the wife that is competing for the affection of her husband, it is God Himself who is being passed over for false gods. Literally, the porn user is choosing to walk in death over walking with Christ. His sin is a rejection of the goodness and kindness of God. His rejection of fidelity to his wife, is ultimately a rejection of God’s character and His blessing on his life.
This is why David, after his adultery with Bathsheba, says to God in Psalm 51:4,
“Against you, you only, have I sinned.”
While the fight against porn is multi-faceted and is not an easy addiction to overcome, at its root it is the same battle for worship that has been going on since the beginning. This is a fight that every person fails at in one way or the other, which is why Christ had to come and die on the cross on our behalf. He is the only one, man or woman, who has purely looked to God, seen Him as completely beautiful, and experienced doing His will as absolutely enough. Because He had a perfect relationship with the Father, He was free to love us purely and completely through His work on the cross and in His resurrection.
In this way, to find lasting freedom, husbands must look to Christ and repent of their choice of self-worship over Jesus. To experience lasting change, they must relinquish their lust for worship and turn their eyes back to Christ and His beauty. Only then will he be able to accurately see the beauty of his wife as a blessing of God’s goodness, rather than an object to fulfill his lust. When a man finally sees Jesus as enough, he will finally be free to put his lust to death because in Christ He already has everything He needs. He will finally see that Jesus is better.
How Should I Take This?
Wives, why are you not enough? You were never created to be enough for him. You are meant to be his companion, not a false god who will satisfy all his desires for worship. Jesus refuses to function in that role and you are contributing to his idolatry when you try. The battle then is not first for his eyes. The battle is for his heart.
When Christ has won his heart, his heart will again belong to you and his eyes will not stray. In the meantime, my hope is that you will benefit in knowing the real battle for worship that your husband is facing. I pray that you will rest and will see yourself through Christ’s eyes that perfectly sees and loves the beauty in you that He put there.
Husbands, if you are struggling with your eyes, today is a good day to stop blaming your wife and your God and do business in the heart. You are lying to yourself to think that you can choose porn, God, AND your wife. Porn is a terrible master and it will destroy you.
Today is the day to find freedom through the Gospel of Christ.
We are here to help and walk alongside of you to victory through Christ. Please contact us today!
For Further Study:
Passions of the Heart: by John Street
Finally Free: by Heath Lambert
What’s the Big Deal? It was Just…: by Joe Leavell
Flanked by the Enemy: By Joe Leavell