Many husbands and wives of pornography-users experience the relational fallout of their spouses’ seeming inability to see them as a person rather than a thing to be utilized. I’m not talking merely about objectifying your spouse in the bedroom—though this is also a fallout. I’m saying that an inability to understand that your spouse is a whole person (with emotional needs!) can be an indication of a pornographic style of relating. Lacking empathy, being harsh, showing impatience, and being emotionally stunted are all signs of a pornographic style of relating.
Have you ever wondered why you struggle with your particular sins? Why does one person struggle with anger and another with crippling shyness? What about sexual struggles? Many women I’ve counseled lament why they look at this type of porn or why they’re attracted to that guy or girl.
At Harvest USA, one of the ways we conceptualize the complex interrelated factors—or the “why” behind our patterns of life—is the tree model. Luke 6:43–45 says,
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good fruit, and the evil person, out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
This passage is teaching that the heart of a person is what produces the outward behavior. The good news is that those who are in Christ have received a new heart (Ezek. 36:26–27). Though you may see very little good fruit on your tree, take heart! Any godly affections such as hatred for sin, love for others, and a desire to live in the light is evidence of that new heart—even on days when you feel crushed by the weight of your sin.
Deeper than Outward Behavior
In our ministry to those who struggle with sexual sin, we seek to bring the deeper issues of the heart before the light of Christ for help and hope. Jesus saves. His salvation and rescue extend beyond mere outward behavior. He changes his people from the inside out.
With habitual pornography use, it is no small thing when a man or woman turns from that outward sin to Jesus in the time of temptation. God is pleased when his children cast off things like pornography and using others sexually. There’s great freedom in being able to say, in full transparency, “I don’t look at porn.”