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Pornography is an ever-present reality for many people. With the prevalence of the internet and the lowering of society’s moral standards, porn is becoming more popular than ever before. Even some Christian couples wonder if pornography can have a redeeming factor if it is viewed with a spouse as part of their private relationship. Many couples feel the need to switch or spice things up in the marriage and have discovered that watching porn together increases their enjoyment of their sexual relationship. But how does God view pornography in marriage? We know that lust is condemned in Scripture (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28), but if the sexual relationship is limited to a husband and wife, is it wrong?

Watching pornography is a sin for many reasons and can present a lot of problems in your marriage, even when viewed with one’s spouse. First, porn takes a sacred, intimate union and makes it a spectator sport. Pornography involves people engaging in an illicit sexual behavior in front of a camera. God designed intimacy for a husband and wife only. Sex is a special gift from God designated to unite a couple in marriage. When God creates something, He creates it with purpose and design. The Genesis account of creation makes it clear that God’s creation is “good” (Genesis 1:31). But mankind has a history of distorting what God has made, whether out of ignorance or stubbornness. The golden calf (idol) of the Israelites is a great example. Gold is beautiful to look at, but God clearly does not want His people worshiping it. Sex, which was designed by God, is no different. God created it, and therefore it is reasonable to expect that it is good. But when man distorts it by ignoring God’s specific standards, it becomes harmful and destructive.

The kind of intimacy that God desires between a married couple cannot occur between one person and several others; it can only be experienced between one man and one woman. God specifically said “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That is, do not have sex with someone who is not your spouse. Obedience requires that sex be reserved for one’s spouse. The kind of intimacy that God desires between a married couple cannot occur between one person and several others; it can only be experienced between one man and one woman. God specifically said “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That is, do not have sex with someone who is not your spouse. This is also a call for us to not engage in watching the sexual acts of others in our marriages. Sexual acts are, by nature, private. Those who harden their hearts to such a degree that they can commit such private acts in front of spectators are abusing God’s design.

Another problem with watching porn with a spouse is that it invites strangers into your bedroom. It is a form of virtual adultery. They are inviting someone foreign into their marriage, even if it’s on a screen. Nothing about this is pleasing to the Lord. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Pornography taints marriage.

But one of the most obvious reasons why watching porn is because the motivation is lust and this is a sin. Lust is an overwhelming desire for something God has forbidden (Proverbs 6:25). If seeing the nakedness of other people is requited to desire sex with one’s spouse, then that is lust. To watch pornography is to invite sin into our bedrooms. It allows the enemy to infiltrate our thinking, damage our hearts and turn dirty what God calls “very good” (Genesis 1:26-31).

The desire to watch porn together with your spouse may point to deeper rooted issues in your marriage. First, it’s a clear sign that priorities have gone awry. Sexual excitement has become more important than spiritual intimacy, emotional connection and honoring each other, which is a major part of God’s design for marriages. Often, the idea of watching porn comes up when the spark in the marriage is beginning to sizzle, but there are much better ways to reignite that flame than turning to it. There are healthier ways in which to reconnect with a spouse than to invite porn and sin into your marriage.

A great verse to look at when exploring this question is 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 which says, “It is God’s Will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” This was not only a call for those in Thessalonica, but a call for us, a call that we can apply to our marriages. God calls us to holiness and pornography is unholy.

If you engage in pornography with or without your spouse, the results of these actions will show up again in your marriage. Simply stated, there will be major repercussions. Going against God’s good design is not in your best interest and though God does forgive if you ask Him for it, you and your spouse will have to work through anything that begins to show up in your marriage.

Despite the prevalence of porn and the curiosity you may have about it in the context of your marriage, casual sex is not worth exploring. God designed sex to work best in the context of a committed life-long marriage and this is not to be taken lightly. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing to be gained by exploring. There is great joy in discovering sexual intimacy for the first time with someone who is committed to you and continuing to share God’s design in your marriage. Sex within marriage is the most beautiful and freeing expression of sexuality, despite what others may tell you.