Is Porn Cheating?

I recently posted a poll on social media asking a question that often comes up when discussing pornography addiction:

Is porn cheating?

Here are the results from Twitter:

The results from Facebook were 68% YES and 32% NO.  Facebook is mostly people I know personally, so I’m not surprised the numbers are skewed one way.

It’s a complicated question.  It involves a lot of emotions and different perspectives.  

So, let’s dive into the arguments for each answer.

First, porn IS cheating.

The argument is that you are looking with sexual lust at another person who is not your spouse.  By engaging in pornography, and probably masturbation, you are fantasizing that you yourself are having sex with that person in the video.  So of course, it’s cheating!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart

The vast majority of the time, porn is consumed in secret, without your spouse knowing about it.  And when they do find out about it, there is hurt, feelings of betrayal, and can lead to many problems in a marriage.  Porn without a doubt is a betrayal of the trust and intimacy of a marriage.

Second, porn IS NOT cheating. 

The argument here is that you are not engaging in an actual physical relationship with another person outside of your marriage.   Porn addiction is a betrayal of trust and certainly not healthy in any way, but does it classify as actual adultery?

Going back to the same passage in Matthew, we notice that Jesus says, “has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.  Emphasis on “in his heart”.   Not actually committing adultery.  The heart is what is being considered here.  Jesus is saying that the man’s heart has already gotten to that point of sin where he is capable of committing adultery, but yet, he hasn’t actually committed adultery.  

A few verses later in Matthew 5, Jesus talks about divorce:

But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery.

Now, the sexes are flipped here, but the point remains the same.  “Unless she has been unfaithful.” He’s referring to the actual act of adultery, not to the sin of lust, as being grounds for divorce.

If lust itself were grounds for divorce, we’d all be divorced.

We’ve all committed lust.  Does that mean we’ve all committed adultery?  Certainly not.  

Third, it depends:

Whether porn is cheating or not can depend on the circumstances.  A man who watches porn regularly and neglects any sort of sexual relationship with his wife may be considered to be cheating. Men for whom porn consumes their life often spend hours and hours a day looking at porn and masturbating. There are men who are unable to have an erection without looking at porn.  They need to first look at porn before having sex with their spouse. Men can also look to porn to live out sexual fantasies that their wife would never engage in. They then have to seek out more intense and “kinkier” fantasies in order to satisfy themselves.  

But there are also many men who have a porn addiction and still have an active and healthy sexual relationship with their spouse.  I was one of these men. My addiction had nothing to do with my spouse. It wasn’t that we were lacking in sex or I was getting something from porn that I wasn’t from her.  It certainly had nothing to do with how attractive she is.  

Many addictions to pornography are not rooted in sex.  It is not the sex that men are seeking through porn. It’s the dopamine dump of an orgasm that they seek.  They become addicted to the dopamine release, not the porn itself. The porn, and in turn the dopamine rush, become the coping mechanism for a much deeper emotional wound.  In this case, porn is just the drug of choice. It could manifest as an alcohol addiction, or a drug addiction, or a gambling addiction. The difference is that porn addiction can be kept secret, even for years.  Major alcoholics or drug addicts can’t hide their addictions. Porn addicts can.  

Conclusion:

The topic of porn addiction is a divisive and controversial issue.  There are many emotions involving both the person using porn and their spouse. 

The one thing I believe everyone can agree on is that pornography is sin.  It is an act of lust towards someone to whom we are not married, and that is sin.  Porn is sin. It is hurtful. It betrays trust in a marriage. It causes major emotional damage that can take years to resolve.  It is often done in secret and creates lies upon lies. It is a gateway drug that leads to many other sinful sexual behaviors including adultery, homosexual behavior, and other debaucherous sexual desires.  

But does it constitute cheating?

If you define cheating as a betrayal of the trust and intimacy of marriage, yes, it is cheating.

However, if you define cheating as the act of adultery, I do not believe that it is cheating.

The next question becomes is pornography addiction grounds for divorce?

By my Biblical studies and my own personal beliefs and experience, I do not believe that pornography addiction meets the Biblical qualifications for divorce. Pornography is lust, yes, but not adultery.   Lust itself, while sin, is not grounds for divorce. 

If pornography were grounds for divorce, where would the line be drawn?  Do fantasy romance novels count? What about masturbation without the use of pornography?  The lines become even murkier.

Marriages marred by pornography addiction can survive.  In fact, they can be repaired and even flourish. My wife and I are a perfect example of this.  I committed unspeakable sins far beyond pornography, yet by the grace of God, a forgiving heart, and the determination to never give up, we made it through.  In fact, on our tenth wedding anniversary, we renewed our wedding vows, re-establishing our commitment and love for each other.

Porn is sin.  And like any other sin, we are forgiven by the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross.  He has erased the stain and made us white as snow.  

Jesus told the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8:

Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Let us flee from the sexual immorality of pornography, repent of our sins, and “go and sin no more”.


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I Offer One-On-One Coaching

If at any point you feel like you need a brother to come alongside you and support you, I’ll be there.  I’d be happy to get on a call with you to provide personal guidance to create a plan to fight your addiction and accountability to keep you on track.  I’ve already helped dozens of men overcome their addictions; all who thought they were helpless.  I’ve discovered that every battle with porn shares the same few threads that, once unraveled, release you from the chains of addiction.  I’d love for you to be the next success story!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at timothy@intothewildernessblog.com or Direct Message me on Twitter if one-on-one coaching could help in your battle to live Porn Free.

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