Pastor John Piper, minister and founder of Desiring God, detailed the damage that pornography inflicts on a marriage in a no-holds-barred response to a young man trying to overcome his compulsion to view pornography.
What are the details?
In a viral Sunday podcast, Piper tackled one man's struggle with pornography.
The man, a listener named Ben, told Piper, "Beginning as a 10-year-old, I became addicted to porn videos. It was my primary battle for the next seven years."
"There have been wonderful victories along the way, but I also know these videos are unrealistic and perverse," he added. "God's design for sex must be a lot different than what I've seen. But what I have seen is the only model I know. As I look forward to marriage, I fear that what I watched has already patterned my expectations. What advice do you have for me? Is there any hope that I will experience loving, godly, healthy intimacy in marriage? And what can I do now to ensure it?"
Pulling no punches, Piper responded that Ben's "wonderful victories" simply aren't enough, and that God's mercy via a "cluster of miracles" taking place in Ben and his future wife is Ben's only hope — but Ben is solely on the hook for pursuing those miracles.
"One of my concerns in even addressing Ben's question or talking to him directly in this way is that I can't tell from his question whether he has gotten victory over this or not, because he says, 'There have been wonderful victories along the way.' That doesn't sound like ... the pornographic videos are behind him, but that he keeps returning to them, perhaps with less frequency," Piper insists. "That's not going to do. You can't set your sights that low."
He continues, "Here's my suggested path toward hope, Ben. First, humble yourself by admitting that, for the rest of your life, those seven years of poisoning your mind are going to have consequences that you are responsible for and that will require unusual self-abasement in relation to your sexual expectations and your wife."
Piper also implores his female listeners who are considering marriage at any point in their lives and emphasizes the importance of confronting their future partners about pornography.
"And you should insist on victory, never to look at pornography — not simply infrequent exposure," he adds. "Too many people today think that pornography is just inevitable; it's a given, and marriages should just cope, just adapt to it. I think that's like saying, 'Poison is inevitable, and I'm just going to get used to taking poison.'"
Piper says that Christians' bodies are not their own, but belong to God.
"If you are a Christian, your perversely distorted brain belongs to God," he says. "He bought you. He knew what he was buying. He bought you, body and soul, by his blood. You are not your own. He bought you so that he could indwell you. And the one who indwells you is explicitly called holy. And that is your calling: Be holy, because you are bought to be holy and indwell by the Holy One."
Piper explains that it is up to Ben to speak frankly to a future partner about his past misgivings and indiscretions and be willing to be open and vulnerable to what comes with that.
"She will need to know all about this ahead of time so that she can decide if she's going to take a risk on you," he warns. "Don't you dare hide this from her, spring it on her after you're married, and know then that there's no way out. That would be very disingenuous, dishonest, evil of you to do that."
Trust and a dedication to brutal honesty, he says, will only further build intimacy in a relationship.
"I think it would be fair to say that every mature, healthy woman in marriage wants to enjoy her husband and wants to be enjoyed by her husband, but not used by him," Piper says. "So, what's the difference between your wife being enjoyed by you and being used by you? I'll put it in one sentence as best I can, and then mention three ways to make it a reality."
Three ways to cherish a person
Piper writes, "A woman will feel properly enjoyed by her husband, rather than used, if she can tell that he is delighting in her body and her person as one. If physical enjoying and personal cherishing are united, it will be crystal clear when and how the husband is enjoying her body."
"But," he warns, "it needs to be made clear that in this enjoyment he is cherishing her person. In other words, it's pretty obvious to a woman when he's enjoying her body. It may not be as obvious to her that he is cherishing her person."
Those ways include using words, eye contact, and a dedication to protecting and preserving the sacred intimacy that only God can build through trust, honesty, and respect.
"He may not be a poet, but he can say to her in the moment, 'I love you. I want no other. My eyes and my hands go after no other with the desire to do what we are doing now. You are precious to me. I cherish you,'" Piper says.
He continues, "Don't either of you give the impression that, as you move toward the height of delight, you lose personal contact and float into some dream world abstracted from the person in your arms. Open your eyes. Look as deeply into your spouse's eyes as you can, down into the very soul, and say with your eyes, 'You, you only, you only and forever — you.'"
Piper adds, "Finally, and this is true for everyone, but especially, Ben, for people with your background. Through all the communication and experimentation, build that beautiful garden of pleasure with a hedge around it made out of her glad desires and permissions."
He concludes, "So, set your face, Ben, in these next years to pursue holiness and purity and deep transformation, and there will be hope for you."
Has Porn Already Broken My Future Marriage? // Ask Pastor John www.youtube.com