Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Welcome back to the Ask Pastor John podcast. Once again we are going to address a sensitive subject today that is not suitable for younger listeners. And sadly this is a question we get a lot — a lot more than you might think Pastor John — somewhere around 30 times over the years. It comes to us sometimes from men, but mostly from perplexed women. Most recently the question comes from an anonymous listener who simply asks: “Pastor John, is it sinful to watch pornography with my spouse before sex?”

Yes, it is. It is sin. And it is a revolting sin. And what makes it so revolting is that, in that very sacred moment — I wonder if our questioner even has a concept of sacred sexuality — in that sacred moment, corruption is abounding in three directions: toward Christ, toward the spouse — which I assume is a wife here being asked to do this — and the marriage, and toward the people in the pornography. In other words, in so many directions, defilement is happening in the mind that carries those sinful images all the way through life, day and night. This act of sexual union between husband and wife is the apex of marital pleasures that represent the pure and holy pleasures between Christ and his church. That is the meaning of sexual intercourse.

When the Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25), it is inconceivable that the pleasures Christ has in the church would be awakened and stimulated by his imaging a prostitute to get his juices flowing. This act of marital sexual union is one of the most intense expressions of the very meaning of marriage; namely, the truth of the words — and I mean words spoken, I pray, in the sexual embrace with your eyes six inches from hers — “You have I chosen above all others. You alone are the one where I feast with pure and unsullied pleasure. I have eyes for no one but you. I do not run after other women in my mind or in my body. I am utterly devoted to you with my mind, with my eyes, with my body. You alone are my pleasure.” That is marriage. That is how the Lord Jesus relates to his bride. That is what you vow at the altar. He has eyes, Jesus has eyes for no other.

“Sexual union is the apex of marital pleasures that represent the pure and holy pleasures between Christ and his church.”

What does it say about Christ and his love to his church if you feed the moment of sweetest, purest union with the poison of putrid food from pornographic sexual sin? And make no mistake, the performing and filming of pornographic acts is sin. What they are doing is sin. They are not acting for the glory of God as you watch them. They are not acting in step with the gospel. They are not pursuing holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). They are not acting from faith in Christ, and whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). They are not putting to death what is earthly (Colossians 3:5) and setting their minds on Christ and the things above (Colossians 3:1–2). They are not inspiring righteousness and purity and self-sacrificing love in anybody. They are modeling selfish indulgence, bondage to the flesh, rebellion against God, and the desire to suck as many people into their sin as they can. And this is the wine you would drink to resist in the sacred enactment of the purest, Christ-exalting, marital pleasures.

“What does it say about Christ and his love to his church if you feed the moment of sweetest, purest union with the poison of putrid food from pornographic sexual sin?”

I do not know if you are a husband or a wife who asked this question. It is difficult to imagine a wife urging this on her husband. So, let me say to the man: This is a great insult to your wife. Husband, if you have tempted your wife, cajoled her, lured her, persuaded her, seduced her into this pornographic delusion of marital love, you should be ashamed. You should repent now to God, and you should tell her how sorry you are for contaminating something so pure, so tender, so deep, so holy with something so vile. And yes, you should say “vile.” You need to have a word like “vile” in your vocabulary. She is not honored by this practice. She is debased. And a husband who insists on this is acting like an animal, not a husband.

So yes, this is a sin, a revolting sin. Revolting because it blasphemes Christ as if he needed sin to help him love his bride, because it celebrates the sickness and sin of the pornography industry, and because it insults the preciousness of a wife’s heart and body by the one above all others who should cherish and nourish her soul.


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