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Why Porn and Marriage Don’t Mix

Why Porn and Marriage Don’t Mix

Even the non-religious world is coming to understand that pornography is not good for anyone. In the [TED] talk The Great Porn Experiment, Gary Wilson presents studies and images of the brain to clearly show how damaging it is. In spite of these revelations, it’s being promoted in unexpected circles as a good thing for couples in a committed relationship.

For instance, The Huffington Post, a popular news source, ran an article that promoted pornography for couples. “Before we consign it to the relationship deal breaker dustbin, perhaps we should re-examine our prejudices about porn to see if it's really as bad as everyone says it is,” the reporter stated. Several psychologists were then quoted claiming that since pornography is very popular, perhaps it’s not really so bad. Their conclusion was that watching pornography together could be good for marriages.

Harms Marriages

Dr. James Link, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Bismarck, N.D, noted in an interview that he differs with a lot of his secular colleagues who claim pornography in marriage is fine. He is a husband and father of seven young children and also has a Master's in theology. “The majority of counselors would say pornography is not a big deal if it’s not causing a problem in your marriage,” Link said. “I disagree.”

It’s not always just a male problem, according to him, and sometimes a couple does not want to give it up. “I don’t force them to talk about it, but I let them know that at some point, it’s probably going to cause problems,” he said. “What I find is that, sooner or later, frustration sets in because it ultimately reduces people to objects for pleasure. Pornography, and from what I’ve heard about 50 Shades of Gray, looks at sex as just something you indulge in so it distorts sexuality.” In such cases, Link asks: “What is your view of sex?’ If it’s only about pleasure, then it’s about lust, not love.”

Peter Kleponis, assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA, has been a clinical therapist specializing in marriage and family issues and pornography addiction for 18 years. He is the author of a new book, Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography, and the website Integrity Restored, which helps people overcome pornography with a Catholic perspective.

“Even for spouses who think viewing pornography together is okay, it is still wrong because both are using other people (porn stars) for selfish sexual pleasure,” he said in an email interview. “In addition, the way women are portrayed is exploitive which can lead to husbands using their wives in sexually aggressive or violent ways.” In his experience, Kleponis said that women often consent reluctantly simply to please their husbands.

According to him, since men are more visually stimulated than women, they are more likely to become addicted and experience problems associated with addiction. “The pornography consumes the husband’s life leaving his wife and children feeling rejected, neglected and abandoned,” Kleponis explained.” Wives also often end up feeling compared and the men come to judge beauty by what they see in porn, according to Kleponis. “They are unable to appreciate the true beauty of their wives at every age.” He pointed out that pornography cannot be good for a marriage because it cannot strengthen the self-giving, intimacy or chastity in a marriage. “Instead of growing in love and intimacy, one or both spouses will simply end up feeling used.”

Experience also tells him that it is very difficult to keep pornography use a secret, so children often discover their parent’s pornography “stash” and become addicted themselves. “Teenage sons come to believe that viewing pornography and using women is okay. Teenage girls come to believe that in order to be considered beautiful and desirable to men, they must look and act like porn stars,” he said.

Church Teaching

The Catholic Catechism (CCC) warns against pornography regardless of one’s state in life.

“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense” (CCC, paragraph 2354).

Teresa Tomeo, EWTN radio and television host, has done a series of programs on the harm of pornography to individuals and society. Recently, she has particularly called out the insidiousness evil of the sadomasochistic movie Fifty Shades of Grey.

“I continue to hear from women across the country; women who have had their marriages or relationships greatly impacted by pornography,” she said in an interview. “I don't think enough of us, especially in the Catholic Church understand as one listener said ‘the vise grip' type of hold porn addiction has on one's life and the life of those around the addicted.”

She said the same listener shared with her, the painful story of her husband's struggle and the affect it had on her; It is not only the addict that is in pain and bondage but entire households.”

Woman that have escaped from abusive relationships have called Teresa’s radio show and commented on her Facebook page, warning people not to take the make-believe story of Fifty Shades lightly. “Many of these women were involved with men who were entrenched in the world of violent porn, and the way their stories played out was anything but make-believe. It was a real-life nightmare.”

Below are resources to Counter Pornography and specifically Fifty Shades of Grey:

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Art: Das Ehesakrament (The Sacrament of Marriage), circa 1755, Pietro Longhi, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Patti Maguire Armstrong

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's Amazing Grace Series. Her newest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, a collection of stories to inspire family love, and Dear God, I Don't Get It and the sequel, Dear God, You Can't Be Serious, children's fiction that feeds the soul through a fun and exciting story. Patti's Blog http://www.pattimaguirearmstrong.com. Facebook. Twitter.

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  • LizEst

    Great stuff, Patti! Loved all the links. The TED lecture was a great add-on, too. God bless you!

  • Patricia

    Thank you for the resource list. It is important that Catholics inform our present culture with something of value that counteracts what is happening in today’s society. The swell of mainstream “Everybody is going to see the new blockbuster movie” gives the idea that it is ok. Just another sneaky way, the devil works to undermine all that is beautiful and good from God in the gift of human sexuality.

  • David Matias

    I’m probably biased in my point of view, but I think this is one of the most important issues facing us today. Besides the obvious harm of pornography in general, I think the easy access to limitless pornography via the internet is what scares me. It seems unstoppable.
    I have struggled and to be honest continue to struggle with an addiction that I only came to recognize fairly recently after years of self-abuse via these vices. I’m 35 and when I first saw porn as a child (the first exposure is always traumatic and sears itself into your brain) it was a magazine I found in my older brother’s room. Later, in high school there were magazines and video tapes that were passed around. Now I can go online in one second and in one sitting consume more pornography than I did in my entire adolescence.
    My parents did not warn me very strongly against these dangers. I don’t think they were so naive that they didn’t know about porn but if my parents generation ever encountered porn it would have been at a seedy shop or theater in a bad part of town. There’s no way they could have predicted the internet and that one day all the evil filth in the world would be in the palm of my hands via a “smartphone”.
    I am hopeful that I am seeing a lot of awareness of the harm that porn does to all who come in contact with it. I am hopeful that because of this awareness we can save the next generation and reverse the trend. I am about to become a father and I vow that I will do everything in my power to protect my children from this great evil.

    • Vallerie

      Thank you for sharing. Perhaps you should investigate all the work Matt Fradd is doing to combat pornography. Also, regular trips to confession will be a valuable weapon for you. Will pray for you and congratulations on becoming a dad.

      • David Matias

        Thank you.

  • Kathy

    If you need to talk with someone who does not see the problem, here’s a simple question you could ask them: what would you think of your spouse if he or she made a habit of regularly peeking in the bedroom window of your attractive new neighbors, or invited you to come along and do so together? Would you want them peeking into your window?

    Human beings in pornographic movies or pictures are just as real as your new neighbors. It doesn’t matter that they have invited you to attend.

    The best comment I ever heard about pornography was from Radix’s video of “The Passion of the Christ”….we now pay to watch other people sin.

    Thanks for posting this article! May the Holy Spirit find a way into the hearts and minds of those for whom we pray, on both sides of the “window.”

    God bless you.

  • Renee C

    Thank you for the sane point of view and the resource list. This behavior has become so accepted that Al Roker and Matt Lauer on the Today show wore leather garments in anticipation of the release of Fifty Shades. It was an attempt at humor but abuse isn’t funny. Those who have urges toward this type of behavior need psychiatric help, not encouragement. NBC would do better to educate about sexual abuse instead of normalizing and promoting sadism.

  • Gloria Deleon

    I can’t begin to thank you for posting this article. Thank you. I have sent it to friends who have problems with it or who are experiencing this in their relationship. Sometimes you’ve just got to hear from other sources instead sounding like the only one who knows it’s intrinsically evil to marriages and relationships. Praise God!

  • BarbT

    I appreciate this article. Too many people think porn is ok in a marriage. I was married for 20 years to a man who enjoyed porn movies and on the computer. This destroyed my confidence in who I was as a wife and a Christian woman. I felt I was turning my back on my faith and intimacy became a dirty game. At first I went along out of love for my husband, but it eventually escalated to the point I became fearful. My marriage was later annulled for many reasons, but the effects of such perversion has caused me to shy away from any relationship that has the potential to become intimate. Spiritually, I believe God has restored my innocence, but I really guard myself. My question is, how does one have a pure loving relationship with the opposite sex and not get into premarital sex and other worldly influences.

  • Pingback: WHY PORN AND MARRIAGE DON’T MIX | PagadianDiocese.org()

  • Patti

    I strongly encourage people to watch the TED talk. It is powerful. I’ve done several interviews with psychotherapists and spiritual directors who tell me this is probably the biggest problem of our time–internet porn. It’s everywhere, even homes where young children stumble into it. The seminaries deal with it head on because these young men come from our culture and our as human as the rest of us. So many marriages are suffering from it too. Dr. Kleponis makes an important point in his work and book–that God is important in healing but people should be willing to seek outside help too. It is humbling but too often people end up beating themselves up when they cannot overcome an addiction on their own.

  • Pingback: Why Pornography and Marriage Don’t Mix | thehonanchapelnewsletter()

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