I do not sit with deceitful men,
Nor will I go with pretenders.
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 26:4-5

Keep in mind this is a blog about what couples need to do to thrive.  The concepts shared are out of my work helping couples work through their problems.  We’ll hit the problems right between the eyes.  An occupational hazard, of course, is that I talk to distressed couples and individuals every working day.   I’m seeing couples that are dealing with difficulties so bad that it drove them to look for someone to discuss it with.  It’s often pretty humbling for folk to feel so desperate that they need help.  This goes against the American value of being a self-starter and having the fortitude you need to solve your own problems.  If you are so bad you need help, there’s something the matter with you.

Oftentimes, the clients I see have never been to counseling with anybody before and the fear they have is apparent.  Who is this guy?  Will he judge me?  Will he scold me?  I’m so embarrassed.  Why can’t I solve my own problems?  It usually doesn’t take them long to relax.  I simply ask them what their concerns are.  Each gets a turn.  The other isn’t allowed to interrupt.  I take notes.  If I ask a question it’s for clarity.    But look: Couples don’t come to see me because everything is just fine.

So I’m sorry I keep coming back to this porn thing.  I promise I won’t write about it all the time.  But it is a recurring issue.  I’m guessing if I’m seeing it in therapy it’s a common problem out there in everyday life.  I want enough information about it on my blog that someone whose struggling with it can click on the “pornography and marriage” button and find help to get them started on the road to healing whether that’s figuring out how to stop using it or figuring out how to quit being so angry your spouse got into it in the first place.  The third issue is how can we work together on this as a couple in our marriage and once we’ve dealt with it, reinvent the marriage so the poison of porn doesn’t keep affecting our lives.

Look at our verse for today (see above):  the Psalmist (King David) says he doesn’t seek guidance from pretenders and deceivers.  The words pretenders and deceivers describe pornography perfectly.  Porn is a fantasy that can never fulfill.  It promises heaven but delivers hell on a platter of a succulent feast and when you eat it it turns to dust in your mouth and your soul gets more shallow and empty and soon you will be starving for something real.  Only you won’t know it because when you are doing it you will be in a zone and all problems and time and fears and worries and relationship issues disappear.  It’s a heady thing to not have to face your problems.  Besides, it feels good, so what’s the big deal?

It only feels good for a short time, and then sooner or later you have to stop because you have to go to work or be responsible or make dinner or pay the bills and you better hurry because you just ate up 2 to 3 hours and how are you going to look like you actually were doing something productive when you were fritting away your life thinking about certain private parts and getting lost in a digital world that doesn’t exist?  But the image is imprinted in the brain and you gotta wonder what’s going to become of you if you keep planting seeds like that and what’s gonna grow in your garden?  The short answer is, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

This doesn’t make for a great way to feel good about yourself, so now you also have to figure out how to not look like you feel like the crap that you feel, so you have to fake that, too, which isn’t very easy, but if you’ve done this for awhile, lying about how you feel to your loved ones is becoming easier and easier and your need for them to be perfect like the imaginary world you’ve been feasting on grows and their shortcomings become more irritating and you wonder how come they are always trying to make you mad and push your buttons and so you let them know they disappoint you, because you don’t want to be phony, which now is a complete joke, but they have no idea other than watch out for dad today.  He’ll bite your head off.  For no reason.  And your wife will ponder these things in her heart, but it won’t be nice thoughts she’ll be pondering.

Those that do therapy with people who have committed crimes talk with their clients about developing empathy.  Most of us refuse to perpetrate a crime just because it is wrong and who wants to go to jail, but another major reason we don’t is that we wouldn’t want to be treated like a victim of a crime is treated.  You wouldn’t want to be beat to a pulp or have the fear of a robbery or the terror of a near death experience or the shattering of security of someone breaking into your house or have your money stolen or your body violated by a rapist, so we don’t, as a general rule, entertain thoughts of ruining someone else’s life just to make ours better for a time.  That’s called empathy.  This isn’t a strong suit for criminals.  Maybe they would have compassion sometimes, but certainly when they do the deed, they are thinking about themselves, not the victim.  As the saying goes:

Criminals have shorter memories than victims.

I don’t know who said that or where I found it or I’d give the person credit, but it’s really true.  If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a crime, you know how long it sticks with you and it traumatizes the brain and plays tricks in your head for way too long to be comfortable.  But the perpetrator says, “Sorry, sorry, sorry” or doesn’t say sorry at all and just moves on looking for someone else to devour for his own pleasure.  Or as the Bible says:

A prostitute eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done nothing wrong.

Proverbs 30:20

But she can’t lie to herself forever.  The whole point of that verse is that she did do something wrong and to not think she did she has to lie to herself and to her family and friends and johns and society at large and this whole sex industry lies and says it’s fine, and right and left, the people inside of it and out are drying up like shriveled plants in a garden that is never watered and is trampled underfoot by men with no life in them at all, but it looks glamorous and it looks fun, but that’s all it is: Just looks.

Which leads me to the purpose of this blog today.  In researching a book I’m writing on pornography, I came across a web site titled: thepinkcross.org.  This web site is developed by people who used to be in the pornography trade, who have been delivered from this bondage by their faith in Christ.  The site has personal stories of the abuse suffered by women (and a few men) who ended up being (so-called) “porn stars.”  Their lives are horrendous, and the lives they led are anything but glamorous.

I’m not going to retell their stories here.  I don’t know enough about that end of the spectrum to speak authoritatively, but in a nutshell, most of the women in the porn business were sexually abused as children and, in fact, the acts they do now before cameras, are a re-enactment of their trauma and most of them hate it and are just acting like they want what’s happening to them, and to deal with it they zone out and think of paying their bills or hum a tune in their head to escape the gross humiliation of sex outside of marriage before a camera with a person they can’t stand for a few bucks and a toke and most of them can’t do it unless they are seriously drunk or high, and that they view the people who view their streaming video online the same way they viewed Uncle Harry, who sexually abused them when they were 5.

If you struggle with porn I’d suggest you sit down with your spouse and read some of these stories out loud.  It’ll give you some compassion for these people, so you can empathize instead of being tempted to victimize.  It can be an added arrow in your quiver to help you fight this battle.  You’ll need all the ammunition you can get.

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