BY ZACH DOUGLAS RELATIONSHIPS / LIFE May 18, 2015

Pornography is destructive. It’s that simple.

For years, we have seen sexual images integrated into our everyday media—from advertisements, to TV shows, movies and even books. Seeing porn has come to be seen as just a “normal” thing that all consumers of media will use.

But studies regularly explore the negative sides of viewing porn, and the results aren’t pretty. Even Russell Brand recently put out a video warning people against porn. As a guy, I know the temptations involved with pornography, but I have also heard of countless stories about the effects pornography has on people’s actions and the way it affects those around them.

The consequences of pornography can be seen in many different areas of life, but here are some of the relational consequences of being addicted to porn.

1. Porn Teaches Viewers to Objectify Their Partner

A recent study found that though porn objectifies and dehumanizes both men and women, elements of gender inequality are frequently at play, with men’s faces going unshown in many cases, but women depicted more as objects.

Another study analyzed hundreds of scenes in popular porn, and found that 88 percent of them depicted violent behavior toward women.

Porn can deceive viewers into looking at every person as though they were an object available to them specifically for their own pleasure, and not as a person who is created in the image of God.

Sex is meant to be enjoyed by a couple who love and respect one another. A healthy, romantic relationship is cultivated through physical, intellectual and emotional connections. If one is removed, the entire relationship will crumble.

2. Porn Sets Unrealistic Standards

Men are more than twice as likely as women to use pornography (73 percent vs. 32 percent, according to one study), but even if they’re not the majority using it, women are still affected by porn use.

Some women are put in a position where they feel they must compete for sexual and emotional attention with the women in the porn their boyfriends or husbands watch. The “fantasy women” in pornography are portrayed as unrealistically sexually attractive, often because of plastic surgery, stage makeup and digital editing. It is impossible for a real woman to match up to these fantasy women, which can make her feel inferior and insecure.

Genesis 2:24-25 shows us that God designed sex to be within marriage as a way for a husband and wife to become united as one flesh. Shame was never supposed to be a part of marriage. Once pornography and sin enter the process, shame can easily make its way into the lives of both the husband and the wife.

Porn also depicts unrealistic sexual scenarios. In the real world, sex is a way for husbands and wives to show their love and to serve one another—it’s not always exciting. Studies show that watching porn decreases sexual pleasure. Some porn addicts even desire porn more than they want to be intimate with a real partner.

Ephesians 5:27 calls men to love their wives sacrificially. For those who aren’t married, this process starts now. The desire to view porn doesn’t just disappear once you get married. It will only become a harder habit to break once it becomes a regular habit. Prepare your heart now.

3. Watching Porn Can be a Slippery Slope

Once intimacy in a marriage is cheapened, the addicted partner can begin looking for other ways to satisfy their sexual fantasy. This could include online chat rooms or even having an affair. The addict quickly builds up a tolerance for what they are watching until it begins to no longer arouse them in the same way. They could then move on to hardcore pornography or even begin to try out what they have watched online with other sexual partners.

4. Porn Destroys Trust

Trust is the core of any relationship, and it has to be consistently grown to maintain a healthy relationship. It takes a long time to build trust, but it is easy to destroy it quickly—and then extremely difficult to rebuild it.

Porn is one of the easiest ways to completely break trust, because it violates the intimacy of the love relationship. There is an extreme level of hurt caused by finding out your partner is addicted to pornography because it can feel as though your partner has been cheating. Studies have shown that porn use is a large contributing factor to about half of all divorces in the U.S.

5. Porn Leads to Isolation

Because porn use can lead to less interest in real sex and contribute to divorce, it can frequently lead to isolation. But even for those that want to get help, porn can also have an isolating effect because of the guilt and shame associated with using it, which might make a porn user avoid seeking help because it might be embarrassing to admit that he or she has a problem.

David wrote about this in Proverbs 6: 32 “A man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself.” Adultery is not just having sex outside of marriage, it also includes imagining having sex with someone other than your spouse (Matthew 5:28). David knew firsthand what adultery could do to a man because of his relationship with Bathsheba. That mistake led to problems for not only David, but also all of Israel.

Pornography can have devastating effects on both the person viewing it and those around him or her. If you’re struggling with it, reach out to a trusted friend, an organization, counselor or program that can help you.

ZACH DOUGLAS

Zach Douglas is currently studying Psychology at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. He aspires to support the church and help high school students to know God through organizational ministry.

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