In this interview on NPR, social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam discusses the effects of pornography on marriages. The facts he reports remind us of the human tendency towards covetousness and discontentment, tendencies that God himself tells us to guard against.
Vedantam explains that the researchers “used high-quality survey research that asked about 2,000 couples about their satisfaction with their relationships and also about their use of sexually explicit media.” He goes on to explain, “By surveying the same couples repeatedly over time, you can see which couples start to use porn, which couples stop and what happens to their relationships.”
According to the survey, married Americans who view pornography are about two times more likely to end their marriage in a divorce than those who do not use pornography. Vedantam proposes that “it’s possible the effects are actually much larger for people for whom pornography is a daily part of their lives.”
Despite the observations of porn’s negative effects on marriages, Vedantam says that this survey alone doesn’t make it “exactly clear what’s happening” that makes pornography so lethal to relationships. Previous research and reports, however, can give us some clarity on this issue. For instance, this 2013 article at The Gospel Coalition outlines some of the biological effects of pornography on the brain.
But we don’t really need all of this science to understand the psychological effects of porn. We don’t need to have a history with pornography to know the dissatisfaction that comes from covetousness. Porn’s unrealistic depiction of romantic relationships results in the “grass is always greener on the other side” mentality that we’ve all struggled with in other areas of life.
Even when we were kids, seeing the bigger and better toys of our friends made us dissatisfied with our own playthings. Too many homeowners also know the struggle to stay content with their own lovely houses after seeing mouth-wateringly beautiful mansions in home improvement shows. We’re human. It’s our nature to lose satisfaction in the good things we have when we let our eyes shift to the supposedly “better” things that we don’t have.
And that’s why God himself commanded his people way back in Exodus, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” God didn’t give us this command to make our lives more boring or to keep us from “fun.” Rather, his command is a gateway to contentment. By living according to this law of our Lord, we can find more abundance in the blessings we do have rather than constantly looking with lust at the things beyond our reach.
Leah Hickman is a 2017 graduate of Hillsdale College’s English program. She has written pieces for multiple Hillsdale College campus publications as well as for BreakPoint.org, ChristianAnswers.net/Spotlight, and the Discover Laura Blog. Read more by Leah at aworldofgrasspeople.blogspot.com.
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Publication date: October 11, 2017