How to Have a Porn-Free Marriage

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.

 

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