Pornography has a damaging effect on many kinds of relationships – within families, among friends, and especially between romantic partners. To talk about how pornography harms couple’s relationships, we need to have a vision for what a healthy, happy sexual relationship involves.
Sex is the biggest distinguisher between a close friendship and a committed romantic relationship. While people can have emotional and social needs fulfilled through associations with family members and close friends, true sexual fulfillment can only be found in an exclusive, permanent romantic relationship. For this reason, a fulfilling sex life is one of the most important barometers for a meaningful romantic relationship. A deep desire for many is to find true sexual fulfillment through a physical, emotional, relational, and potentially spiritual experience that brings wholeness to the individual and the relationship.
However, popular culture neglects sexual wholeness by disregarding intimacy. Intimacy is the key to enjoying the emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of sexuality that comprise sexual wholeness.
Intimacy comes from a shared vulnerability that results in truly knowing someone as a whole person, loving someone completely for who they are and who they have the potential to become.
Our culture tells us that amazing sex is just a few learned positions away. Magazine headlines, Hollywood, and sex manuals tend to portray sexuality as something easy, and instantly gratifying. Most sources tend to promote technique, novelty, spontaneity, physical sensation and an unrealistic, idealized body image as the primary ingredients for a fulfilling sex life.
Nothing is wrong with technique, novelty, spontaneity, physical pleasure, or attraction to a partner. In fact, each of these ingredients can play a part in bringing fulfillment to a sexual relationship. However, the popular messages we receive about sexual relationships is incomplete and often incorrect.
Pornography’s objectifying nature is one of the biggest threats to intimacy in the sexual relationship, as objectification is a separation of individuals’ sexual function and body parts from his or her identity, emotions, and relationships. Understood in this way, objectification is the direct antithesis of intimacy.
While pornography itself damages intimacy, sometimes the way we address pornography problems also creates distance and distrust in relationships. Many of us have been so unprepared and uncomfortable talking about our concerns about pornography that we have unintentionally created a culture of fear, shame, and silence surrounding the issue. These destructive conditions stem from myths and misunderstandings that convince us that pornography use can never be overcome and someone who struggles with pornography is damaged and unworthy. We cannot fully love someone for who they are and have the potential to become if we believe they are forever tarnished because of a problem with pornography.
There is hope. Human connection may be the single most important factor for healing a pornified culture. Reach 10 seeks to counter pornography’s culture of fear, shame, and silence. The time has come for a movement not only against pornography, but a movement to restore a culture of connection, empathy, and understanding that can reestablish the intimacy that enables sexual wholeness.