Understanding the Pull of Pornography on the Men We Love

Most of us women know that men are visually stimulated. For some, that aspect of male wiring has us confused, annoyed, or deeply hurt. Why is the visual stuff so very powerful? What is the big pull? We may think: Why can’t men just have a little self-control?

I may have more knowledge/experience in the realm of men and pornography than you might think, or I may have less, but that is not important. I would like to share with you a perspective I have gained and how it has helped me to be more understanding and more helpful in this area.

Side note: If you are thinking it is horrible that a guy would even mention a struggle with this temptation, especially a Christian, please keep reading. I believe pornography/sexual temptation is the single largest way the devil traps men in our culture, and we women need to help fight that battle, rather than beating up our warriors.

We women also were created with a built-in stimulus response, only ours tends to be with touch or emotionally-charged words, rather than photoshopped women in lingerie or real-life women in tight or revealing clothes. Thinking of that, and thinking of all the opportunities there are for men to look and look again, I want you to walk through an average day with me, only let’s make their struggle ours:

You get dressed and head for work. You check your phone for messages and see a pop-up that says you are beautiful and desirable. You stop to pick up a biscuit, and the man behind you plays with your hair while you are in line. You get to work and your co-worker drops over to say hi, and as he is telling you about his wife and kids, he is rubbing the soft skin above your knee. You go to lunch, and the man across from you says your eyes are beautiful, while the man beside you keeps his arm around your shoulder, rubbing your arm as you talk. You drive back to work, passing billboards that say you deserve a man who will romance you and never expect anything in return. You leave work and stop at Walmart, and as you stand in line, the man in front of you turns and touches your cheek and tells you that you are everything he has ever wanted.

Once you get home, you turn on the computer, and there are three pop-ups in your email of men asking to take you to dinner by candlelight, their treat. (I do not know about you, but I am already exhausted at this point.) You shut down the computer and turn on the TV, but every commercial is full of more statements about your beauty, your worth, your desirability. You get ready for bed and your husband says, “You know, you looked nice today,” and you want to cry, because you want to tell him how hard it was to avoid all those opportunities today, not because you did not love him, but simply because they were offering things you wanted and they made it so easy and so available. You ask your husband to play with your hair for awhile and he tells you what a rough day he had and how tired he is. You understand, but still. You get in bed and try to sleep, try to keep your mind pure and focused, praying for help because you know tomorrow will be a repeat of the same.

Perhaps I have exaggerated. Perhaps not. A good test would be to have the man you love read this and let you know if this is really what it is like. Ask him what it is like and listen (without freaking out) to what he says. I know it is hard to hear about this struggle at all. It feels so very, very, very personal. If the men we love know they can never talk with us about this, it becomes a problem, as it is a secret they have to keep—and secrets can grow to destroy marriages.

I am not saying that if a man is giving in to the temptation of pornography, we should just be understanding and let it go. Not at all. This post is for the women who do not want to think about it or talk about it because they do not want it to exist, or for those who think any man who struggles with it deserves our condemnation.

If you read my previous post about the donuts, you know that I am regularly faced with the temptation of something very appealing that I must refuse to keep from sinning. I guess that is why I long to understand what our brothers go through, and to help if I can.

The best way to help? I have gone too long already, so we will hit that next week.


Originally published here on January 21, 2014. Adapted for Thrive.


Question to consider: What have you found is “the best way to help” the men in your life in the battle against pornography?


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