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What porn did to a marriage
February 22nd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

What porn did to a marriage

The blog begins with a startling confession:

Hi, my name is John, and I was a sex addict. I’m also a believer in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and am married to an amazing and beautiful woman of God.

Church leaders have long struggled talking about sex, much less pornography. But Relevant magazine made a daring move this month when it printed a blogger’s confession about how his addiction to pornography affected his marriage.

The blogger is John Buckingham, and he is an English teacher, Relevant says. Buckingham said in the story that his addiction to pornography started when he was 12. He thought it would end after his girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal in early 2010.

Yet four months after getting married, Buckingham says he succumbed. He started watching pornography again. Burdened by guilt, Buckingham said he told his wife what he had done.

She was devastated. All the love and trust and intimacy we had worked so hard to build for the last four months was called into question and our marriage was shaken to its very core. I feared it wouldn't stand, and I wouldn't have blamed her in the least for walking out altogether. She had every right to do so.

She didn’t, and as Buckingham suggests later in his article, he didn’t give up either. He says he talked with other Christian men about their struggles but felt that they were using “softening rhetoric” (“I messed up;’ “I stumbled”) to minimize what they were doing.

He writes:

The sin of lust isn’t just a mistake, a mess-up or a problem…it is no less than an act of sin that is reprehensible to God and nothing short of honestly confessing and repenting of that sins is good enough for God.

Rachel Buckingham, John's wife, writes a follow-up blog explaining how she felt after hearing her husband's confession.

I no longer felt safe or loved. I was suddenly bombarded with lies—he doesn't find me attractive; it's my fault he strayed; I'm not beautiful; I'm not sexy; I am a horrible wife; I'm a failure; he is stuck with me; he doesn't love me ...

Buckingham writes more about his struggle. I’ll leave it to readers to decide if they think he has overcome his addiction.

But his confession left me with two questions:

Is pornography now such a pervasive problem in the church that leaders need to talk more openly about?

And can people of faith like Buckingham actually learn how to overcome their struggles while living in a sexually-charged culture where lurid images are just a mouse-click away?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Faith • Sex • Sexuality

soundoff (1,043 Responses)
  1. KDawg

    Wow, who cares? Guy wants to fire off a few knuckle children at the TV..let him. Beats firing them off in a hook er named Candy Cane. It's natural, primal instinct.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  2. Catholic MOM and Wife

    Throw the stones, look for the smoking gun. I'll keep the marriage, the fun, the kids, oh and by the way, the Husband will be a Catholic Deacon soon, so I guess I'm not too far off.

    @Jack – sorry. My hubby thinks I'm hot and s e x y and has yet to scream the wrong name. I have no idea if others travel through his mind, however, I can tell you where my husband is every night. Do I like the way things are? You bet your white tightys I do! I have the best marriage ever. And factoring that I am now beating today's odds of how long a marriage really lasts, I think we are doing pretty well.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Catholic MOM and Wife

      why this didn't reply to the thread I started is beyond me.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  3. christopher

    Speaking as a christian I understand that this is a sinful behavior but I think our society makes too much of it. Specifically christians. I'm not saying it shouldn't be taken seriously but I also don't understand why it is met by spouses and family with such disgust toward the flawed individual who fell into it. Yes it's sin but it's no more sinful than the obese housewife who eats bonbons and sits around all day damaging God's temple (her body) If people would be more accepting then it wouldn't be so hard for men to get help. There are men who struggle who would gladly tell their spouses because they want freedom from the addiction but they are afraid (and rightfully so) that they will be met with anger and judgement instead of understanding, love and support. Most men struggle with this (look at the stats I ain't lyin) yet you'd never know it. Not because they don't want to stop and come out to their loved ones for help but because they know they won't be helped. They will be met with anger and outrage. Men, get help. Don't accept this horrible sin as just another part of your life but don't tell your wife, girlfriend or other immediate family members. Tell only men that you know who have or have had the same struggle and hold each other accountable. They are the only ones who will understand this problem. You're only other option is to potentially have your life ruined.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Ed Weirdness

    I removed the Computer and Internet from my home when I realized that other people would not respect the home/work boundaries that non-internet connected employee's enjoyed. Suddenly all the angst, aggravation and inconvenience and the frustration of never being left alone disappeared. My job remains intact, but I still have time to do what I want and need to do at home or whenever I'm out of town. If it's that important, they'll call me and as if I can help instead of assuming and presuming on my own personal time. I work with computers 10 to 12 hours a day. They are a tool and not an entertainment device. Once you put this human/technology relationship into perspective, you'll be surprised how much control you get back over your life and other relationships.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  5. addicts

    Lame that PEOPLE have to slum down to WATCH people having se x to get off.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • AL

      What is your wise suggestion for single people? Unless you are a p.imp and can provide women, we will wax the carrot.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • OcTears

      Dont knock till you try it.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  6. First Last, Last First

    You all better get your stories straight, as the world will be ending in 2012.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  7. ponchoandy

    It amazes me that, even with all this bashing and bickering, God still has such a deep and unfathomable love for each and every one of you. And there is nothing any of us can do to change that.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • JD

      Yes he does, but they will still go to hell, if they don't submit to God and ask God to give them the faith to believe that Jesus is Lord.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • OcTears

      Oh my goodness. Here is a simple history fact, your "Hell" was stolen from the Norse mythology of "Hel" whom was a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Christians even had the gall to rename Christmas which was originally "Winter Solace" which was a pagan and Norse holiday. Skinheads have the same mentallity by reading only what they want to read and believe. Open your damn minds.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • OcTears

      Sorry it was "Winter Soltice" for anyone who wants to know the truth. Not what was brainwashed to you when you were born.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Madtown

      "JD
      Yes he does, but they will still go to hell, if they don't submit to God and ask God to give them the faith to believe that Jesus is Lord."
      ----
      "Hell" does not exist, in the way JD purports anyway. It's a concept meant to scare sheep like JD into obeying the desires of the human organizers/creators of organized religions.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  8. addicts

    ALL THE MEN COMMENTING ON HERE TODAY ARE POR N ADDICTS THEMSELVES AND FEEL THE NEED TO DEFEND IT. HILLARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PER VS!

    February 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • OcTears

      You got me. Im sorry but I love, and respect all women no matter what color, faith, or country of origin. I was created to procreate.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • AL

      Count me in.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • AL

      Is there a beautiful woman out there to help me kick the habit.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • christopher

      Men, quit watching it. You know you are doing it so stop. Women, if your man is watching it doesn't mean he doesn't love you and isn't faithful. It just means he is flawed and has a problem just like the rest of society. Meet him with love and understanding if you find out. If you don't know if he is or isn't. Don't worry about it.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  9. Atheist Idiots

    I swear there are 30 bored, ignorant atheists that can not WAIT to jump on the chance to rip on religion every chance they get. It's getting old. I'm going to laugh a little when I see their face after they die and go to heaven. Or hell, whichever place they end up.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • OcTears

      Ive never seen an athiest protesting at an American soldiers funeral. If it wasnt for religion America would never go to war. We call ourselves civilized but yet we still go to war and believe in religions created centuries ago by humans who were ignorant to the world. They thought we would sit on clouds and play harps when we died, come on.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Stevo

      That doesn't sound like a very "Christian" viewpoint. In fact, it exemplifies the fact that the "holiest" people are some of the worst. If you are a representative of your religion, I'll go hang out with the sinners.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Marvin

      LOL!!! Thats a riot!!

      Ya know what? If there IS a god, I refuse to believe that he/she require that I spend my life in worship of him in order to enter the pearly gates. If he/she really is as all good as he/she is is reported to be, living my life the best way I know and treating others the way I would want to be treated should be quite enough.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  10. OcTears

    More like Steve Wilkos..."and our next guest is an ex Catholic priest who wants to admit to his underage victim that he watches Po rn."

    February 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  11. AL

    I am single and really frustrated because I cannot get any s_ex. And I blame church for it. So I am going to CHOKE THE BISHOP.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  12. Madtown

    CalltoRightAction
    "Jesus said if you look upon a woman and lust after her you have committed adultery with her. You DO need to be ashamed and you DO need repentance. Don't give the world the impression that God will simply gloss over this kind of thing. I know we are all broken, but there is no way to justify sin by faith."
    ---–
    Utter nonsense. Denying your normal, biologically based characteristics is due only to your self-repression.

    Appreciate the beauty of God's creation...the human female!!

    February 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  13. sam

    this just sounds like a story about two insecure people. their religion has nothing to do with it. there are relationships from all religions and non-religions that will go through this same phase if the participants are both insecure enough. the man who thinks he's cheating and the woman who thinks she's not good enough.

    but no matter which religion or non-religion you subscribe to, i believe it is better for both people to overcome their insecurities rather than just running away from the problem. and yes, forcing yourself or your partner not to look at dirty pictures counts as running away from the problem. it is tantamount to admitting that your relationship is so fragile that any stray panty-peek will shatter it to pieces.

    if rain is leaking through your roof, you don't ban rain; you fix your roof.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  14. Nan

    This whole "religion blog" is a waste of bandwidth.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  15. s

    CHRISTARDS

    February 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  16. sd wilson

    this article is not true, there IS a true Bible, always has been. Check out all the info and proofs that the Bible is the Word of God @ http://www.allabouttruth.org/

    February 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • OcTears

      So which is the "true bible", the "new" testament or the "old" testament.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  17. vonspoo

    shaken to the core? THIS is why we have a divorce rate over 50%. what happens when a REAL crisis strikes? like the death of a child? or serious illness? people like this lack one massively important thing, HONESTY. they are not honest with their spouse nor are they even honest with themselves. how pathetic. how are you supposed to "till death do us part" if you're lying through omission or outright? slapping a jesus band-aid on a gushing wound isn't going to help unless you actually TRY to stop the bleeding.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Marvin

      Totally agree. 99% percent of the drama we have in life is self-inflicted. If we would all stop taking ourselves so damn seriously, life would be alot less dramatic.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  18. Josh

    Why is everyone arguing with these christians? It's pointless. Arguments are about logic and reason while faith is believe without reason.

    So debating with a christain is about as useful and interesting as anything else with a christain.

    The chinese will inherit the earth if the christains get true control of the USA.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • s1owens

      Belittling other peoples faith just makes you look small.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • AL

      Well said, Josh.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Blain

      Your premise is invalid as your definition of faith is wrong. The Greek word for faith means to “trust”, in other words what do your place your faith in and why. There Christians and non-Christians including scientists that have blind faith while others have faith (trust) with reason. Reason is a tool but depends on the validity of its premise, which is a different discussion concerning valid and invalid logical sturcture. Hypocrisy does not invalidate the truthfulness of what someone is saying…it just means that they are a hypocrite (which at some level we all are).

      February 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Phillip Campbell

      Based on the evidence that He raised Himself from the dead, It makes much more sense that Jesus is Omnipotent and that He created the Universe, than it does to believe that the Universe was created by nothing and by no one. I mean I would have a hard time believing that the Europeans came to American and found my Chevy created by no one from out of nothing, let alone finding that the entire Unvierse was created by nothing and no one. If every being in the Universe is made from material, it only makes sense that there must be some immaterial being that exists outside of this Universe that created all of this material. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed- it is a scientific law of conservation. It is illogical to say that matter created itself out of nothing.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Catholic MOM and Wife

    Sorry, not buying into this mess at all. I've been with my spouse for more then 22 years. S e x helps a marriage. Do I mind p o r n, no, I do not. Do I have an issue that my husband *looks* at others? No I do not. I look at other men. It's a twisted way of strengthening our bond because he knows he can tell me WHATEVER is crossing his mind and I the same without flicking off over something as retarded as a *thought*. Human fact: whatever you are not getting at home will lead you to fill that void somewhere else. It's 2011, last I looked, this really shouldn't be an issue. For those that are about to spout whatever about p o r n, remember who Mary M. was, is all I have to say. And those of you who are without sin, please start casting your stones at me. I dont really care. Because what really matters is what my husband thinks, and when I die, what He thinks – and the only rightful person to judge.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • I am an Orthodox Christian Jew

      Lol, sounds like someone is just making excuses to justify a failed marriage and faith.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Catholic MOM and Wife

      I've been with my husband for 22 years and still going. How is that failed? Read much?

      February 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • I am a Catholic

      ........and I agree with the Jew.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Gertrude

      I completely agree with what you say! I do not think that it is NEARLY as big of a deal as people have made it out to be. I am on a diet, but I can still look at chocolate and think about it. That doesn't mean that I am getting fat! Similarly, just because my husband looks at images doesn't mean he is actually going through with the act. People, calm down!

      February 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • JackoB

      It doesn't bother you that he's not thinking of you when you're in the sack?

      February 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • SJ

      I completely agree with Catholic MOM. Nothing in her statement points to a failing marriage. Too many people and faiths look at s e x like it's evil and wrong. I was raised that way, and I believe that is a wrong and unhealthy way to teach someone about intimacy. I find all kinds of s e xual outlets healthy. That is as long as, in a monogamous relationship, they are faithful to one person. Looking at a video or pictures is not adultery. Whoever thinks it so is sorely mistaken or misguided.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • CanBear67

      Cmon, Jacko! Do you really think that the only way to tell whether or not your lover is thinking of someone else while "in the sack" is whether or not they're looking at P0rn??

      February 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Catholic MOM and Wife

      Throw the stones, look for the smoking gun. I'll keep the marriage, the fun, the kids, oh and by the way, the Husband will be a Catholic Deacon soon, so I guess I'm not too far off.

      @Jack – sorry. My hubby thinks I'm hot and s e x y and has yet to scream the wrong name. I have no idea if others travel through his mind, however, I can tell you where my husband is every night. Do I like the way things are? You bet your white tightys I do! I have the best marriage ever. And factoring that I am now beating today's odds of how long a marriage really lasts, I think we are doing pretty well.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Catholic MOM and Wife

      Just because you have faith doesn't mean you have to be a prude........... There can be a happy medium.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • I am an Orthodox Christian Jew

      ...and he'll start raping little boys.

      Dem Catholics....

      February 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  20. Lauren

    For all those who have made comments about Christians being judgmental or performing terrible acts against humanity, please take a look in the mirror. I will admit that I have a life and only read a small portion of the many comments on this page, but I did not see one Christian writer attacking anyone on here for any reason. Sure, Christians may promote their belief that there is a God–that is because we are obligated to spread that belief to those who feel otherwise. But I failed to find a post by a Christian (and there were not many) that bashed anyone else for their beliefs or alleged actions. On the other hand, I have seen numerous posts from atheists ranting that Christians are judgmental, horrible people. If you can't have a discussion without attacking others who may have a different belief than you, that is pretty sad.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • cov

      Thank you for your response Lauren...well said!

      February 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • AL

      Then you should know the 11th commandment. "THOU SHALL KEEP THY RELIGION TO THYSELF".

      February 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Christians may promote their belief that there is a God–that is because we are obligated to spread that belief to those who feel otherwise"
      --
      No, no no!!! If you really believe you're a worthy child of God, then treat all God's other children with the same degree of caring, compassion, and respect that you would expect to be treated with. You don't have all the answers, no one does. There are other logical, intelligent people on this earth that don't share your opinion. Respect them. Do not push your opinions on others, your opinions are your opinions alone. Believe what you wish to believe. Allow others to believe what they wish to believe. Live in peace. Enjoy your life. Be humble. Recognize that you do not have the answers, only opinions.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • mike

      Keep reading sweetheart

      February 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.