How can I have a porn-free marriage?

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Candice Watters

How can I have a porn-free marriage?

Nov 18, 2014 |Candice Watters
Question

I'm approaching engagement to a wonderful, godly man. We've talked through our values and faith and are doing our best to approach marriage prudently. But one of my fears is beginning to surface.

While many women have no idea about the dangers of pornography or its prevalence, I have the opposite issue. I know all the stats, research on addiction, and likelihood that my boyfriend may at some point become a user. We've discussed it, and I've asked all the right questions about his history and use. But no matter how he reassures me, I'm still afraid I'll end up living my married life as the porn police.

I want to trust God. How can I as a woman be more balanced when it comes to the issue of pornography and accountability versus trust? What is my role going forward?

Answer

Thank you for your question. This surely must be a common anxiety among Christian women, wondering if their boyfriends and future husbands will be susceptible to the porn culture we live in. Once married, you will not be your husband's conscience. The Holy Spirit alone is given to convict us of sin. That doesn't mean you enter marriage totally blind to a person's character. You should be observing the patterns in his life as well as his fruit. What is the measure of his character?

Paul writes,

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:5-7, 12-14).

Jesus said they would know His disciples by their fruit. What is the fruit of his life? What is the fruit of yours? Paul says, "For when you were slaves of sin [prior to salvation], you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death" (Romans 6:20-21). The fruit of an unredeemed life will result in death, both in the form of consequences in this life and eternal punishment in the next. But we are not without hope. Paul goes on to say, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life" (Romans 6:22).

Being set free from sin doesn't mean that we never sin, but that we are not slaves to it. The presence of sin persists in this life, but in Christ, the power of sin is broken. Is your boyfriend consistently having victory over sexual, and other, sin? Are you? Are both of you grieved by sin in every form and quick to repent for it to God and to each other and quick to turn away from it? Better than assurances that this or that sin will never be a problem in the future is the evidence of how he handles sin in the present.

I do not advise that you confess the details of your sin, especially sexual sin, to one another in graphic detail while you are dating. That could stir up even more temptation. I do believe, however, that you should confess sin to a faithful fellow church member, preferably an older believer who is in a position to counsel you in your relationship and exhort you from Scripture to grow in Christian maturity. Before marriage is the time for clear-headed thinking, spiritual discernment, and much input. Ask for help from older, wiser married believers in your lives who know both of you well.

Being accountable to other believers is vital to lifelong Christian faithfulness and growth. It is essential for dating in a God-honoring way as well as for making wise decisions about whom to marry. Then, after the wedding, accountability within a biblical church will be key to having a healthy marriage and family.

In marriage, you will not be his parole officer when it comes to sexual sin. But you will have important roles to play in cultivating a marriage marked by sexual purity, integrity and delight. In marriage you will be called to be a:

Prayer warrior — Ours is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces. We need to put on the full armor of God for this battle (see Ephesians 6). Steve and I read our Bibles every day (taking up the sword of the Spirit) and pray together every morning before he heads off to work and every night before we fall asleep. But also, we are called to pray for each other, especially in the area of sanctification (see Paul's prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21 and Colossians 1:9-14).

Companion — There are many practical ways to guard your relationship from sexual immorality. One of the most commonsense but often unnoticed is the physical presence of husband and wife. Spending time together every day is a vital part of the hedge of protection necessary for a healthy marriage. For example, Steve and I talk about each other's days while I cook dinner; we eat lunch and dinner together with our kids, and we go to bed at the same time each night. Conversely, isolation is companion to immorality (see Proverbs 18:1).

Church member — In addition to being present with each other in marriage, we are called as believers to be actively serving in a local church body. This is where we hear the Word preached so that we may grow in Christian maturity. It is also where we can get help when we need it and accountability throughout all stages of our lives (see Ephesians 3:9-10, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Wife — Your husband will need you to be sexually available, as you will need him to be to you. Paul says,

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

Wives are not merely called to be available, but also to delight in their union (see Song of Solomon). God tells husbands in the Proverbs to delight in the wives He has given them, "a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love" (Proverbs 5:19). There will be times when you don't feel like being the source of his intoxication. But it is a good gift in marriage to embrace God-honoring, other-centered, kind and gentle sexual delight.

Christian husbands, likewise, are commanded to "live with your wives in an understanding way," and this "…so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7). How we relate to one another in marriage, and especially in our sexual expression, reflects greatly on our relationship with God.

Sexual fidelity begins now in how you conduct your dating relationship, and even more, in how you view and respond to sin in your life, and how you pursue your relationship with God. These are the things you should be paying close attention to. You can't know what temptations will appear, and you will never be able to control his responses to it. If you marry him, it will be your job to pray for him, to help him, and to exhort him in godliness as his sister in Christ, but it won't be your job to keep him from sinning. None of us can do that for another. But we can say with Paul, "… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

I pray that both of you will be steadfast in Christ, pursuing holiness in the power of the Spirit, to the glory of God.

Sincerely,
CANDICE WATTERS

Copyright 2014 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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