Your Boyfriend Is Using Porn. Should You Break Up With Him?

(Pastor John Piper answered my question about pornography a few weeks ago. The audio and my bullet-point summary of his response are at the end of this post.)

Warning: Mature content.

For nearly every man who regularly views pornography, there is likely a wife or girlfriend experiencing the fallout resulting from his choices. —

Over the past several years, I’ve been on the receiving end of more than one confession from a man about his addiction to pornography. As my understanding of this complex issue has expanded and matured, Christian women whose boyfriends have recurrent porn addictions have confided in me about their struggles as well:

  • Will my future husband compare my body and my actions with other women’s bodies and actions every time I make love with him? Will he pretend that I am someone else when his eyes are closed?
  • Will my future husband continue to commit adultery through pornography after we’re married—perhaps even on a regular basis?
  • How will I learn to trust my husband? How will porn impact our unity as a couple?
  • Will my future husband ever be truly physically satisfied with me? If I was more beautiful, would that help my husband to stop fantasizing about having sex with other women?

I’ve asked the same aching questions many times. Before I learned about the prevalence of this problem several years ago, almost everything I knew about sex came from the Song of Songs. I took it as a given that my husband and I would enjoy beautiful, shame-free intimacy after we were married. When the world of pornography was first opened up to me, my visceral reaction was deep compassion for the many Christian men ensnared in this sin—and my second reaction was fear of marriage.

Porn is the new normal. Although the effects of a husband’s addiction to pornography are broad and devastating, this is the sobering refrain I’ve heard shattered girlfriends repeat:

Every Christian man fails here. I think it’s just something we have to understand and accept.

As we think through this topic biblically, we need to understand that we all stand on equal ground at the foot of the cross. We have all been forgiven much (Luke 7:36–50), and those of us who do not have a history with porn are not better than those of us who do. If the gospel is true, then there is no room for self-righteousness in this conversation.

Marriage is a sacred covenant, designed by God to be a breathtaking portrait of the gospel (Eph. 5). If He calls us to marry men who have sinned with pornography in the past, we should seek to drench them with the same grace that God has drenched us with—and we should recognize the power of God to restore what has been broken.

But when your boyfriend has a current, habitual lust/porn problem, there’s a ball in your court. It isn’t in the past yet. You aren’t his wife. You have a choice.

As I have grappled with trusting God and grown stronger in faith, He’s gradually given me freedom from each of my fearful questions about the possibility of regular adultery in my future. Although I’m currently single, I want to be well prepared to approach this difficult choice compassionately when it arises in my own life or in the lives of women God brings to me for counsel. So I emailed Pastor John Piper the following question, speaking on behalf of many other single women who desire to navigate the dating years ahead with both grace and realistic wisdom.

Should the present presence of pornography in a man’s life be a marriage deal breaker for single women like me?

Pastor John answered my question with power, discernment, and hope. His answer made me cry toward the end, and I believe that you will be similarly encouraged by his answer.

The full audio is well worth your time.

Click here to listen

I’ve written my recap of his response below in a bulleted format.

What is pornography?

  • Pornography is looking at or fantasizing about nude women other than your wife.

Why is it wrong?

  • To use pornography is to hate women and enjoy their degradation. It is unloving.
  • Pornography endorses, helps, and approves of behaviors that destroy men and women.
  • Pornography is adulterous. It pursues physical pleasures designed by God for marriage.
  • Pornography is destructive to a man’s capacity to love a woman purely for herself rather than for her body.
  • Pornography trains a man’s mind and body to be less content with the body of the real woman God gives him.
  • Pornography withers trust. A woman needs to be able to trust her husband, and pornography profoundly compromises that trust.
  • Pornography is destructive to a man’s soul. His capacity to see and worship God in His glory is shriveled.
  • While he is in bondage to this sin, he cannot see God, delight in God, and treasure God the way God should be seen, delighted in, and treasured.

Can a man have regular triumph over pornography?

  • Yes. We’ve set our expectations for men too low.
  • Christian men are not victims or dogs in heat. They are created in the image of God and they have the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, and self-control. The word for self-control in Galatians 5:22–23 usually refers to sexuality.

If he doesn’t have regular triumph, should this be a deal breaker?

  • When Jesus is a man’s treasure—not just a doctrine, but Lord and Friend and Savior—he will not continually demean and hate women and confirm their destruction through his choices.
  • He will not continually shrink his soul’s ability to savor God.
  • He will not continually defile his capacity to love his present or future wife.
  • He will not be continually committing adultery in his heart.
  • Yes, this should be a deal breaker. A man who is walking closely with Jesus cannot simultaneously be in bondage to lust. Don’t lower the bar.

Thank you so much, Pastor John, for your discernment and encouragement. Friends, let’s press close into Christ’s love and trust God to be in the process of purifying the hearts and minds of the men we will someday choose to make our vows of faithfulness with.

About Author

Lindsey Lee

Lindsey Lee's greatest passion is to see the glory of Christ, cherish Him unreservedly, and assist others in doing the same. She makes her home in Toronto.

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