Sex is endlessly fascinating (can I get an amen?) and because it is the apex of human intimacy, it’s also a reflection of the intimacy that God, the bridegroom, wishes to have with his bride, the church! For that reason, I believe Satan is especially interested in twisting our view of sexuality!
Watching pornography is something that LOTS of girls struggle with, but don’t feel comfortable talking about, and therefore it stays hidden and taboo. We’re going to air it out today, which will help the readers of this blog who NO DOUBT have wondered about this stuff.
I want to answer two questions. 1) Because using porn in the past has shaped your view of sex, how can you reshape your view in order to prepare for a Godly sexual marriage? And 2) What should you be careful of when you date?
First, let’s look for a quick second on what porn does to change a person’s sex life with their partner. Second, I’ll give some suggestions for what you might do to heal your heart in preparation for the best possible future relationship with your spouse!
Many people don’t realize this, but we’ve been studying the effects that porn has on people and relationships for decades now. (We won’t discuss any other objections to porn or sex work due to the scope of this question!) Two very respected researchers at the University of Alabama studied the effects of porn for over 30 years and found some results that would be quite damaging to those who want a healthy, monogamous partnership. They found that using pornography makes many individuals less satisfied with their own partners’ physical appearance, sexual performance, sexual curiosity, and affection. Even those who view porn while single are affected because over time, many porn users values change and that they are less likely to value monogamy and marriage.  They are also more likely to change their attitudes about sex and become interested in sex acts that they previously would have found violent or repulsive.  Other research projects have similarly summarized studies, showing that porn consumers tend to be significantly less intimate with their partners,  less satisfied with their love lives,  more likely to cheat on their partners. 
The evidence is overwhelming. Porn usage creates disconnected, dissatisfied lovers—the opposite of what God wants for his people. Wow, huh? Heavy stuff! Your future love life is affected by the choices you (and he) are making now!
I wish I had known this in 2003. In 2003 I had just graduated college and was interested in a tall, dark handsome man. As I got to know him better, I found out he was unashamed about his usage of porn. Not wanting to be lame, I didn’t say anything. I wanted to be the cool girl—the one who encouraged openness and experimentation and wasn’t “judgy” like a lot of the girls he knew. I made all sorts of excuses in my mind for him, but ultimately I wasn’t ok with it in my relationship—one of several reasons we didn’t date. While we never became “official,” we were close friends and I wished I had been able to protect his future love life. I cared about him, and still do! We were close enough then that if I had been able to calmly talk about these studies, I might have positively influenced him.
What can you do if you have already observed pornography? What if it wasn’t just once or twice but hundreds of times? What if you have told yourself you don’t want to, but you keep doing it? And what if you have used porn but want to repair the damage it may have done to your love life?
1. Have no fear or shame. The same God who worked miracles in the Bible is still in charge today, and He can give you the power over porn. The most important things to remember are that you’re not alone and that you’re not condemned. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Before there was sin, there was a savior. Before there were captives, there was a deliverer.
2. Stop playing. Don’t tempt yourself or watch/read other things that get you primed for porn. Even kissing scenes in a PG-13 movie can trigger a desire to see more. Steer clear! When you’re trying to eat healthy you don’t hang out near donut shops, and when you’re staying away from porn you don’t need triggers. This is serious stuff.
3. If you know this has been a weak area for you in the past and you want to protect your future, you’re going to need some accountability. Pornography basically trains your mind to use others for personal pleasure—so know that you may be prone to using people and guard against those thoughts. Take every precautionary measure! Your future spouse is going to be so thankful! I would suggest the following:
· Be accountable to other godly people—a counselor, parent or friend who can check in on you regularly
· Give your parent or accountability partner a list of all e-mail accounts and passwords
· Install Covenent Eyes or other similar software on your devices
· Going to bed earlier and taking care of your health (temptation often strikes when your frontal lobe is tired and weak)
· Fill your free time with fun and productive activities like exercise and service projects
Finally, what are some things to look out for, and what can you do now in your dating and pre-engagement stage to heal yourself and protect your heart for your future partner?
1. Just be aware that this is a weak spot in your armor! Gather friends and supporters and commit to praying for strength and healing.
2. Be selective and only date people who are as committed to purity of body and mind as you are! No use getting invested in someone who is not all about that Godly sex life! You want the best. No need to settle. This doesn’t mean that your love interest can’t have made mistakes, as we have all made mistakes, but that they have actively put measures in place to overcome! If they are struggling with sexual sin of any kind, the time isn’t right for you to start a relationship. Let them show you that they are working on it and seeing some success before you consider a romantic relationship. As my friend Andrew Uyeyama says, “there are no small problems, just the seeds of big problems.” And if he won’t work on it before dating you, there is little hope that he’ll address it later.
3. I know this might sound strange, but you’ve got to ask the porn question as soon as possible. This is a mature first/ second date kind of topic. The last guy I dated came up to visit me one weekend when I told him I wanted to get to know him better. We were talking about some semi-serious stuff and I asked “Do you believe porn is ok to use?” He said no. “When’s the last time you looked at porn?” He said that it had been about a year, and I stated my standard firmly but sweetly. “I need to know where you’re at. Be honest with me no matter what—on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the easiest, how difficult is it for you to avoid looking at any kind of nude or pornographic material?” He said a 3 or 4. I said that I couldn’t bear to date someone who looked at porn and he said that it wouldn’t be a problem, which gave me a lot of peace.
I also noticed that while we were dating he didn’t ever take his laptop into his guest room at night. (BTW, don’t fall into the trap of getting details on what kind of porn someone has seen or not seen. All porn is porn and even the discussion of it can be a trigger for arousal or argument. Just say no.)
4. Finally, work on letting God reteach and recreate healthy views on sexuality! I would say to make this the focus of your study and devotional time for at least several months. We are blessed to live in a time where there are HEAPS upon heaps of resources about this topic. Here are some to check out:
· It’s not a religious site, but you must check out fightthenewdrug.org to get top notch research about what porn does physically and psychologically.
· The book Beggar’s Daughter (Jessica Harris) is an honest look at the struggle through porn addiction that exposes some of Satan’s lies and ends with victory. It’s on Amazon.com and will begin to heal your heart!
· I haven’t reviewed this personally, but this study guide has been recommended for restoring purity after porn. https://restoringsexualpurity.org/study-guide/
· The book Dirty Girls Come Clean has testimonies, tools and resources for understanding and overcoming porn addiction. It’s also on Amazon.com
· Podcasts like pure sex radio… http://www.puresexradio.com/ are helpful. Though it seems to be geared a bit more toward men, it’s still really good and focuses on restored relationships.
· It’s deep, but I HIGHLY recommend Exploring Eccleciastes & Song Of Solomon by George Knight (the Song part), because of the profound love explained in the story, which is an example of God’s love for us. Wow, I love this book!
That’s all I’ve got for now. Best wishes as you continue to seek healing and peace.
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 Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M., (2016) Adolescents And Pornography: A Review Of 20 Years Of Research. Journal Of Sex Research, 53(4-5), 509-531. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441 (“Existing Research Has Produced Consistent Evidence That Adolescents’ Pornography Use Is Related To Their Sexual Attitudes.”); Bridges, A. J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect On Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute.
 Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4
 Minarcik, J., Wetterneck, C. T., & Short, M. B. (2016). The Effects Of Sexually Explicit Material Use On Romantic Relationship Dynamics. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 5(4) 700-707. Doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.078; Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48(6), 520-530. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4; Yucel, D. & Gassanov, M. A. (2010). Exploring Actor And Partner Correlates Of Sexual Satisfaction Among Married Couples. Social Science Research, 39(5), 725-738. Doi:10.1016/J.Ssresearch.20009.09,002
 Braithwaite, S. R., Coulson, G., Keddington, K., & Fincham, F. D. (2015). The Influence Of Pornography On Sexual Scripts And Hooking Up Among Emerging Adults In College. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 44(1), 111-123. Doi:10.1007/S10508-014-0351-X; Maddox, A. M., Rhoades, G. K., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone Or Together: Associations With Relationship Quality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9585-4