Pornography and the Sacrament of Marriage

Many rationalize that they are not physically hurting their spouses
By Stacey Rodriguez
Images of women, men, and children in various states of undress have been created throughout history. Many of these creations, such as Michelangelo’s marble representation of David, or Cezanne’s painting, The Bathers, are works of art on public display.
Pornography is not art, it is printed or visual material produced to arouse sexual excitement. There are those who defend pornography by calling it art. Are we meant to gain sexual excitement from looking at ancient Roman statues or 18th century paintings? Of course not.
We do know, however, that there is a plethora of pornographic material available to us today that is meant only to “arouse sexual excitement.” We also know viewing pornographic material goes against what the Bible teaches us. Matthew 5:27-28 tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
You may justify in your mind that, because there are no physical boundaries crossed, the marriage is unaffected if viewing pornographic material, but consider what we just read from the Book of Matthew. You are “lusting” after another person. You are also spending time and energy on an activity that does not bring you closer to your spouse and is likely causing you to feel ashamed.
Even though you may never touch another person, the marriage is damaged when you seek sexual pleasure outside of the marriage. Such behavior is often kept secret and, when discovered, shatters trust and faith in the relationship. You may become addicted to the pornography as a method for handling “stress” and further justify the “need” for it, despite the damage being done to your self and your marriage. It is not uncommon for issues, such as depression, to also be affecting those who struggle with sexual addictions.
Recall what the Bible tells us about marriage: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29).
It is up to you to decide you want assistance with stopping your painful behaviors towards yourself and your spouse. Change often is more permanent when we seek it ourselves, rather than being forced in to it. In addition, your spouse may need help to understand how the behavior developed and continued. You will both, hopefully, work together to repair the damage done to the marriage and return it to the condition it was in when you both swore before God to forsake all others.
Rodriguez is a licensed therapist at Catholic Charities’ Community Counseling Services and attends St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Need help with a pornography problem?
If you find yourself or a loved one struggling with pornography, you may seek assistance from your priest or call Community Counseling Services, a program of Catholic Charities, at 263-6941.