“I don’t understand,” Tim said to his wife as they sat across from me during their first counseling session. “I didn’t sleep with anyone. I was watching porn. Since when is that considered adultery?”
He shot me a look seeking my support in confirming his belief that Cheryl was overreacting to his behavior.
Unfortunately for Tim, such support was not to be found, at least not in my counseling office.
Just as I asked Tim to do, let’s take a moment and look at what’s involved with pornography and what could be the rationale that leaves Cheryl and many other women to believe it’s a form of cheating.
Is looking at porn the same thing as cheating?
Let’s think about three things we’re really doing when we’re watching porn:
1) We’re lusting.
We are becoming aroused as we watch other individuals engaging in sexual acts. When we commit adultery what are we engaging in? Lust. When we make a commitment to another person to be involved in a serious relationship or marry, we are promising to not lust after others.
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil?” Job 31:1-3
We accept the duty to honor our partner by not allowing our sexual desires to wander beyond the relationship. When we view pornography, we are wandering sexually and dishonoring our partner.
2) We’re planting seeds of doubt in our partner’s mind.
In a large majority of cases, when a woman discovers her partner watching pornography – whether she expresses it or not – she feels a sense of unworthiness. Our pornography use crushes their self-worth. She believes she can’t compete or measure up to the fantasy women we lust after, and it creates a sense of shame within her. The women we betray begin comparing themselves to the graphic images and feel they are “not enough for us.” Our pornography usage creates self-doubt in their ability to mentally and physically satisfy us. This ultimately creates a wedge in our relationship.
3) We’re engaging in solo sex.
There is no denying masturbation is heavily involved with pornography watching.
But when we do that, we are robbing our wives and our relationships of the opportunity for both emotional and physical intimacy.
Our bodies are not our own, and our desire to engage in sexual pleasure was meant to be shared with our wives and not in isolation.
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-4
Chronic masturbation also can lead to sexual dysfunctional issues including impotency, leaky erections, or retarded ejaculation. All of these conditions can cause tension and stress in a marital relationship.
We can attempt to justify our pornography use by claiming it’s harmless and that we can do what we wish with our own bodies.
Is looking at porn the same thing as cheating? The truth is: pornography is a betrayal that objectifies and dishonors women, so yes, it’s a form of cheating. And our partners deserve better than that from us.
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