The Mailbag: Should Christian Couples Watch Pornography Together?



My husband (he says he’s a Christian) wants me to watch pornographic videos with him to improve our sex life. Is this something God would be OK with? The Bible says I’m to submit to my husband. Should I submit to him and watch the videos?

No. Nononononono. Just all the way around- no. Could I be any clearer? NO

But perhaps I should expand on that just a bit. Let’s start with some Scriptures, shall we?

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4
“sexually immoral”: πόρνους (pornous)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:19
“sexual immorality”: πορνεῖαι (porneiai)

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. Romans 13:13

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 1 Corinthians 5:11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 1 Corinthians 6:9

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Ephesians 5:3

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

Viewing pornography is a sin. Period. There are no circumstances whatsoever under which it could be construed as biblically acceptable, and no Scriptures that even hint that it might be OK. (Notice above that our English word “pornography” comes from the same Greek root that is translated in these verses as “sexual immorality”.) When Scripture addresses sexual relations it always teaches, both explicitly and implicitly, that all sexual activity – what you do, what you think about, what you touch, what you look at, what you listen to – whatever you experience sexually is to be within the confines of the husband-wife relationship. The people you’re watching perform sex acts in pornography are not your spouse, so pornography is outside the Bible’s parameters for sex.

Additionally, when you view pornography, you are not loving the people in that video the way Christ commands us to love others. Christ laid His life down to save us out of our sin, and we are to follow Him in that kind of self-denying, Great Commission love for others that calls them out of sin regardless of the cost to us. Christ would never have watched someone committing sexual sin for the gratification of His own flesh. It’s unthinkable that we who bear His name could do such a thing and see nothing wrong with it.

No, you should absolutely NOT submit to your husband’s sinful request to view pornography. (If you are concerned he may become violent over your refusal, get somewhere safe.) There is a hierarchy of submission, and in that hierarchy, God and His word always come first. We obey Him before anyone else. As Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” If you’ll notice in the 1 Corinthians 5:11 passage above, Paul instructs the church not to have anything to do with someone who claims to be a Christian, yet is guilty of sexual immorality. If God said the church shouldn’t even break bread with someone like that, how could He want you to join your husband in his sexual immorality? You are not sinning by refusing to submit to your husband in this, he is sinning against you by asking you to submit to this.

The best way to handle this situation is outlined in 1 Peter 3:1-2:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 

and Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Walk uprightly before your husband, graciously submitting to him whenever possible, and living in obedience to Christ. Be a godly witness to him in both word and deed. “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?”

In addition to being a godly example to your husband, this is a situation that calls for pastoral counsel if your husband persists in this behavior without repenting. Ideally, the two of you should go in for counseling from your pastor together, but if your husband refuses, you still need to go without him.

Since your husband claims to be a Christian (and I’m assuming if you both claim to be Christians you are active members of a local church), your pastor should also determine whether any formal church discipline should be imposed on your husband, and, if so, what that should entail (resigning leadership positions, meeting weekly with an elder for discipleship and counseling, etc.). This is not a punishment, but a restoration and reconciliation process, because your husband has not merely sinned against you as his wife, but also as his sister in Christ, and, therefore, against the church.

Any husband who pressures his wife to watch pornography with him is not only revealing the sinful lust of his own heart, but is also sinning against his wife by urging her to commit sexual immorality, by dishonoring her, by failing to live with her in an understanding way, by putting her in the excruciating position of having to choose between submitting to and pleasing him and submitting to and pleasing the Lord, by failing to love her sacrificially as Christ loved the church, and by caring more about gratifying his own flesh than encouraging his wife’s holiness.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28

I would caution any husband who can unrepentantly and unremorsefully sin against his wife in these ways to seriously examine his heart against Scripture to discover whether or not he is, in fact, saved. The Bible is quite clear that habitual, unrepentant sexual immorality is an indication that a person is not saved.

For any husbands who have committed the sin of indulging in pornography or even pressuring your wife to watch it with you, I would encourage you to get alone with God and feel the weight of your sin against Him and against your wife. Think about the cross and how Christ suffered God’s wrath for your sin of sexual perversion.

Feel guilty. Because you are guilty.

And let that weight of guilt drive you to your knees in repentance, knowing that there is no sin so great – even this one – that God will not forgive it. Christ loves you. He wants to make you clean and set you free from slavery to pornography.

13559041_1293402180700713_6171936886458828507_o_kindlephoto-12071229My husband and I have been discussing this question, and he wanted to add the following thoughts, man to man, for husbands.

Scott says:

I am appalled that any man who calls himself a Christian could treat his wife in such a way. This is disgusting behavior that has no place in any man’s life, especially one who claims the name of Christ. This man is pressuring his wife to sin! I call on any husband sinning this way to be a real man, repent, and be the godly husband his wife needs.

Men, we are called to lead our wives toward holiness, so we have to strive toward holiness in our own hearts, words, and actions. If we lead our wives toward sin, we are not leading them, or loving them, the way God wants us to.

Think back to Ananias and Sapphira. Although it’s not the main point of their story, we can still learn from their marital example. We don’t know whose idea it was, originally, to hold back part of the money and lie about it, we just know that they were in agreement about it. If it was Ananias’ idea, he was setting a sinful example and leading his wife to sin (like the husband of the reader who wrote in). If it was Sapphira’s idea, Ananias still had the responsibility to love his wife enough and care enough about her holiness to put his foot down and say, “Absolutely not. We are not going to do this.”

And what about Adam and Eve? If Adam had stepped in and biblically led his wife by saying, “No, we’re not eating that fruit,” and chasing that serpent away with his garden hoe, we wouldn’t be in the mess of sin we’re in today.

God places an enormous responsibility on us as husbands to lead our families to be godly. I fail at this all the time, and I know the other Christian husbands reading this do, too. But God promises to give us the strength and the wisdom we need to lovingly lead our wives and children. And when we fail and turn to Him in repentance, He promises to forgive us.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:21-22

Additional Resources:

Is it a sin to watch pornography with my spouse? at Got Questions

Hey, Porn Addict, Stop It by Pastor Gabe Hughes

When We Understand the Text podcast episode 315 Q&A on repenting for pornography (beginning at 23:13) by Pastor Gabe Hughes

God Over Porn

Slaying the Lust Dragon by Todd Friel

Finally Free by Todd Friel

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.