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Our church recently offered a course on marriage. There were sessions on communication, conflict resolution, sex, and even the topic of pornography.

Because neither my husband nor I struggle in the area of pornography, I figured this session would just teach us how to better counsel those who do. To my surprise, the class helped us realize that just because we don’t struggle with porn doesn’t mean we don’t need to discuss it in our marriage.

Why talk about pornography with your spouse, even if you aren’t struggling with it?

First, pornographic images and videos are all around us, even when we’re not seeking them out. It’s naive to think we won’t ever feel tempted to pursue lust when pornographic images pop up on social media, in movies, and on billboards.

Second, we’re sinful people who still have the propensity to struggle with this particular sin. Temptation abounds around us, and sin still dwells in us. It seems wise, then, to discuss a plan of action in our marriage as a sober-minded safeguard against pornography. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).

Our Motivation: A Greater Pleasure

To be clear, we believe the fleeting pleasures of lust must ultimately be defeated by a greater, eternal pleasure: God (Ps. 16:11; 27:4; 36:7-9; 73:25-26; Matt. 5:6; 6:21; 11:28). He is infinitely more valuable and enjoyable than our deceitful lusts (Jer. 2:13; Is. 55:1-3; Hos. 2:7-8; Matt. 13:44). If fellowship and delight in Christ isn’t our pursuit, our treasure, and our hope, then we have no lasting motivation to truly walk free from the snare of sin.

Our Hope: Good News

Furthermore, we know that the gospel—not behavior modification, not self-help—is the power of God to save and keep us (Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:1-6). God has provided forgiveness and freedom from sin in his Son Jesus who took the punishment for our sin and rose in victory (Is. 53:5-6; Rom. 3:21-26; Rev. 1:5). Christ has freed us from the penalty of our sin (Rom. 6:23; 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21) and the power of our sin (Rom. 6:1-4, 14). One day, he will free us from the presence of our sin (Phil. 1:6; Jude 1:24; Rev. 22:14-15). I can’t wait for that day to come!

Our Weapons: Divine Arsenal

Until then, we’re in a lifelong battle against sin (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Thankfully, we aren’t left to our own devices (Eph. 6:10-20). “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).

God has given us his eternal, powerful Word—the Bible—which reveals his heart and his plan to rescue us through Jesus (Luke 24:27; John 5:39; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). As we spend time learning (Acts 2:42), studying (Ezra 7:10), memorizing (Ps. 119:9-11), discussing (Ps. 105:2), and praying his words (Neh. 9), we find our growing appetite for holiness spoils our dwindling appetite for sin (Ps. 1:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; James 1:21).

When we place our trust in Jesus, we are blessed with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to kill our sin and live holy lives (Rom. 8:1-4, 13). He’s our Helper who convicts us, comforts us, helps us pray, and shows us the glory of Jesus (John 14:16, 26; 16:13-14; Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:18).

Even more, God adopts us as his beloved children when we turn to Christ (John 1:12; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). He places us in his family—the church—where we’re called to love, serve, forgive, encourage, and confess our sins to each other (James 5:16; 1 John 1:5-10).

As we walk with God through prayer, his Word, and his people, we fight our sin with the weapons he provides. We have sufficient grace and unshakable hope in our struggle against sin, even the sin of pornography!

No Spouse Left Behind

All that being said, not everyone may take the same approach to discussing pornography as we did in our marriage. Depending on the couple’s history, this may be a topic of discussion better approached with the help of a counselor or trusted pastoral figure.

For us, it was essential we were on the same page on the discussion points below. It’s disheartening to hear from spouses who feel left behind in one way or another because this type of discussion hasn’t taken place in their marriage (or hasn’t taken place peacefully).

Five Questions

Because this is a heavy and sensitive topic, my husband and I set apart time to sit down together with minimal distractions, food in our bellies, and no other pressing and unresolved marriage issue. We both tried to thoroughly answer the questions below. When discussed with loads of grace and gentleness, I think these five questions can serve as springboards to further conversation in your marriage.

1) How would you define pornography?

2) When are we agreeing to confess this sin to each other? Will we be confessing to each other every time we see a pornographic image and lust (e.g. passing by a billboard and letting the mind wander into lustful thoughts; seeing an unexpected scene in a movie that led to lustful thoughts; seeing a Facebook ad or Instagram post and then lusting)?

Or will we be confessing to each other when one of us goes out of his/her way to seek out pornographic images?

3) What do you want the plan of action to be if I fall into looking at pornography? Do you want me to confess to you first, or at all? Why or why not?

4) If I fall into watching porn, I’m thinking I will confess that sin to ______ and ______, and receive prayer, accountability, and help from them. Do you agree with these people knowing? Let’s agree on our designated people.

(Note: my husband and I designated an older man and older woman, as well as a man and woman around our age. We felt there was value in having someone older helping us if one of us should fall).

5) If you fall into watching porn, and I need help working through the hurt and the emotions, I’m thinking I will reach out to ______ for help. Do you agree with this? If I fall into porn, and you need help working through the hurt and emotions, who will you go to for help? Let’s agree on our designated people.

This way, the spouse who fell into sin isn’t worried about random people knowing about it. But the offended spouse still gets the needed emotional support and encouragement. Again, we felt that the designated person(s) to help the offended spouse should be an older woman in my case, and an older man in my husband’s case.

We felt that this will protect us and our friends—most of whom are also in their first few years of marriage—from feeding into each other’s bitterness if our spouses are all struggling in the same way. (Titus 2:1-5 really came to mind for us here).

Would you add any other questions to the discussion?

Quina Aragon is a wife, mother, and artist who enjoys writing, copyediting, and creating spoken word videos. She writes at her website QuinaAragon.com. She also writes intermittently for The Witness BCC and The Gospel Coalition. Quina lives in Tampa, Florida, and serves as a small group leader at Living Faith Bible Fellowship. Her first children’s book is set to release in February 2019 by Harvest House Publishers.

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