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Ask A Pastor: What If Your Significant Other Is Viewing Pornography?

Question:

What are you supposed to do if you figure out your significant other is watching pornography? I know marriage is not an option while this is happening, but it feels wrong to leave, I feel like I should be trying to help them get through it.

Answer:

This question is difficult to answer fully without more details. For instance, does your boyfriend (usually boyfriend, though pornography is an increasing challenge for women as well) know that you know? And what does it mean that he is “watching”? Does he view it only on occasion or is he routinely consuming pornography? Also important here is: has he admitted his stumbling and falling? Is he seeking to be delivered from it? Is he reaching out to others to help him fight against and overcome the temptation? Or is he indulging his lust without care? Something else to think about: Are there accompanying patterns of sin – eg., alcohol abuse, habitual deceitfulness, short temper, or proneness to fits of rage, etc.. These questions and more help to give more nuance to the situation and thus to the potential answers.


In general, if he is watching pornography, that ought to be a signal at least to pause the relationship until he admits his sin and seeks help. This is a problem that in the vast majority of cases won’t just go away (e.g. he’ll stop if we get married; no, he most likely won’t).  It’s a scourge and a curse that is ruining men and marriages, and crippling our society and the church as well.  While pornography is in many ways mainstream in our society – so accessible and so normalized – hardly blinked at – we should never let ourselves be conditioned by the culture into accepting its availability and its use as inevitable and therefore legitimate. To view it, to seek it out, to engage in it, is in essence an expression of sinful selfishness and prideful rebellion against God, and in terms of your relationship it is outright unfaithfulness and betrayal. It is a huge crack and chasm opening up at the very foundation of your relationship. He is showing he is not a one-woman man. Nor does he have any self-control over his heart and lusts. These are fundamental problems. If they are not overcome in your boyfriend’s life, they will at the very least severely strain your relationship, and more than likely destroy it – if not now before marriage already, then no doubt for sure after you become married.


As for helping him through, here you need to be very careful. It is not generally a good idea for you as the girlfriend to help your boyfriend overcome his consumption of pornography. What he needs is to be open and accountable to other male friends and mentors who will understand him as a man and who will speak the hard, blunt truth into his mind and heart, in love of course. The only right way you can effectively help him in that (apart from prayer for him) is to encourage him and to insist even that he seek out that male mentorship. Challenge him to visit his pastor or his family elder or else a trusted male friend. Only when he has taken these steps and is actively, earnestly and faithfully seeking to live porn-free is it safe to continue the relationship.


So in essence, confront him and issue him an ultimatum. If he won’t respond positively, you have no choice but to leave today.

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