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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 • Evangelical • Faith • Sex • Sexuality

soundoff (1,043 Responses)
  1. Leroy MM

    Hey! Fellow Atheists, listen up!

    Let's all go to read the "belief blog" and show how insecure we are about our beliefs by making childish comments towards Christians!

    Get a life people. If you don't agree with Christian beliefs, don't read a thing called the belief blog. Just because you don't understand, doesn't mean it's wrong.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Madtown

      "Get a life people. If you don't agree with Christian beliefs, don't read a thing called the belief blog. Just because you don't understand, doesn't mean it's wrong."
      ----

      Oh, ok Leroy. And, just because you think you understand, doesn't make it right.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  2. T

    I can certainly understand her being upset if this was something completely unknown to her at that point. However, it shaking her marriage to the core? What a delicate flower she must be–get a divorce, it won't last. I know this great guy named Tiger she might be interested in.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Kikii

      Not asking for much– not a prude- happily married- spent the day with my husband in bed yesterday!
      Pronographyharms.com

      February 22, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • KELLY BAUM

      I believe that communication is the key to any relationship. If you can not work up the nerve to talk to the person you have comitted the rest of your life to thatn something is massivly wrong. If you can not talk about anything with your soul mate than who else is there. Why would you do something that you could not openly talk about with the person you have supposidly comitted your entire life to?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  3. Brooklyn

    Don't be selfish, watch it together!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • KELLY BAUM

      why is watching it together any better? Now you both see what the other wishes you where? If you are not satisfied with your partners ability, tell them and try and work it out. Don't say, " come look how this asian 19 year old bends this way and moans like a who re. Do that" That is you getting some strange and triing to convince your self that you are not cheating

      February 22, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  4. Me

    Asking that final question is the same as asking, "Can a food addict actually recover in a world where fast food and unhealthy options are both readily available and cheap?" The answer: YES. Is is hard? Yes. Still it is possible.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  5. carlie

    Shame is good. You should not ignore your conscience. Despite the world telling you that shameful behaviors are 'healthy', they are still very harmful. Especially to your soul. If sin didn't feel good, it wouldn't be tempting would it? I applaud this man for recognizing his sin and working on it. For others out there dealing with the same or a similar shame, believe me, confessing to the Lord is freeing. Sin keeps you in captivity and the enemy blinds you to your bars. Confessing your sin and your weakness to your creator is a great first step. Don't worry, combating your sin is very difficult, but when you have God on your side, you are destined to succeed. All Christians speak from experience. We all screwed up somewhere and we made it, so can you. Please, don't remain in captivity. Accept the gift of forgiveness offered through Christ.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  6. rylan

    Nothing wrong with a jerk circle

    February 22, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  7. booger

    this article is retarded.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  8. Todd Morrison

    Great article.

    Don't focus on the 'type' of religion, or the age of the people involved, but focus on the conscious decisions made.

    Imagine that you are confronted with a puzzle: the rules are ambiguous, contradictory, and seemingly impossible to make literal.
    Both people, having a roughly communicable understanding of the rules, are attempting to create a social agreement out of what typically would be disparate behavior.

    For instance, the wife is working with the illusion that she was "no longer felt safe or loved" and "was suddenly bombarded with lies" when she found out that the behavior of her husband was not that of her understanding of their unspoken rules.
    This already makes the story relative to their situation only, since nature is far from safe, loving (in the human sense), and one must literally seek out truth.

    In a beautiful act of belonging, which could be derived from the best purposes of our race, the man attempts to change his inherent behavior to achieve 'synthesis' with the wife's values.

    This story could be about any religion, any age group, and still carry its value.
    It is not a story of absolute right and wrong, but of relative progress in a couples 'frame-of-reference'.

    It is amazing how many misunderstood, ambiguous things we all do to keep up with the social contract, and belong....
    (like commenting to anonymous people, i guess)

    February 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  9. GrowUp

    I a hate posting on this, you can never track your post.....or find it...

    February 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  10. Pusser

    He admitted to a weakness...I suspect she has weaknesses as well. He can stop, and she can get over it. She didn't catch him doing anything-he simply admitted to a matter he struggles with. The wife's reaction seems over the top.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  11. Jonathan

    I commend John Buckingham and others like him for their courage and transparency. It's easy to view p0rn, but it's hard to leave it. When we bring these issues to light, God can heal and restore. John showed self-discipline and a commitment to his wife by leaving the addiction behind. It's not easy, but it's so worth it. I know from experience.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • carlie

      I also commend you. I find it so sad that so many people believe the lie that the enemy feeds us that these destructive behaviors are healthy and that they should ignore the feelings of shame brought on by sin. If only because i also have had the experience of being freed from sin captivity by God. Makes me wish everyone could have the same freedom.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  12. YammaYamma

    SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM

    February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. rylan

    Me and my dad and my boyfriend have been having a huge jerk circle since 2005. I was 12 too. I have had no problems with my relationship with Robert. (My dads marriage might be at risk if mom finds out he's watching gay videos.)

    February 22, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  14. Rizzzod

    Yammayamma, you are so very right and its so very very obvious. trumantiger and Learn from life, Yammayamma is talking about you! So upgrade to a flatscreen and grab your remote.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  15. Darrell

    True Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not a set of rules of do's and don'ts. It is a intimate love relationship between us and a God that loves us infinitely. We are to be devoted to Him only. This is our example in marriage, our devotion, love, thought and desires should be toward the one we marry only. Yes the church is full of hypocrites. I am one. We are not perfect, but we are forgiven when we give our lives to Jesus. But we still live in this world with all its temptations. We are not perfect and true Christians would not make that claim.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Sam

      Exceptionally well put.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • D

      I agree with so much of what you say, but God didn't put us on this Earth without His true gospel. It's out there, and if it is something we truly care about then it's up to us to find it, He will lead the way.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  16. Fred

    I'm always amazed at how many trolls show up every time religion is the topic of discussion!
    I wonder what the reaction would be if I chimed in on every science-related story and said, "Evolution is a
    big fat lie. There is no incontrovertible proof of it. That's why it is referred to as a THEORY."

    February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Scientist

      There is proof. The fossil record. This is not a debatable "theory". Go to the smithsonian museum or study something other than the bible.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • JV

      And there is proof of god and the like? Wow, say hello to the walking hypocrit...

      February 22, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • booger

      A theory and big fat lie, are not the same. Nothing is ever definitively proven true using the scientific method, only shown to be the most probable explanation given present experimental data and technology. So every idea is challenge-able and may be proven to be false in future experiments. That's the beauty of it!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Edumacation is good

      Of COURSE evolution is "only" a theory and not a fact. A theory provides an explanation of a specific observable, empirical (data-based or fact-based) phenomenon. Evolution is the best scientific explanation for a set of observable, biological facts. The theory itself is ever evolving (there's that word again), with new refinements coming with better research tools and methodologies. So evolution continually gets stronger and stronger as people test it again and again. It is entirely possible, however, that there might be a better scientific theory out there some day. But that does not invalidate the theory today.

      Your faith in your god is an intuitive sense of truth, fundamentally different from empirically tested theory, but related in some ways. The word "theoria" (the Greek basis for the word "theory") is used in Christianity to describe the process of coming to know god. It is intuitive (looking inside oneself) and, like faith, involves an adherence to an explanation that is neither supported by empirical data or testable. (Please don't say that, because you can't test the bible's claims, it can't be refuted. That is intellectually lazy, even dishonest.) So when you impugn "theory", you probably damage your own Christian tenets, as well.

      I am not a person of faith. I am a person of observation. So, once you can show observable facts that support your own, unscientific "theory" (Genesis) and that theory stands up to rigorous testing, I'll listen to you. Until then, enjoy your faith, but please stop refuting theories because they are not facts. It just makes you look ignorant.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  17. SeasonedGoods

    I heard he was also filming himself banging his wife and posting that...anyone have a copy?

    February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  18. David

    Jesus died for your sins, so if you don't sin, Jesus died for nothing.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • sparky

      you're already forgiven... play ball!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Frank

      You just lied....that's a sin.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • booger

      like

      February 22, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  19. sparky

    marriage, the original bait and switch...

    pron doesn't get tired, have a headache or get fat

    February 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Rasmirez

      I'm with you Sparky!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Tyreal

      @Jane.....Rephrase that statement. not believing in god makes JANE'S life meaningless, lol dont speak of the meaningfulness of others lives based on something so trivial

      February 22, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  20. Kevin

    Hell is going to be a busy place...you know...not beleiving in God makes one a very lonely and sad person with lots of time to angry blog.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • sparky

      at least there will be plenty of priests there to preach the good word...

      February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Rizzzod

      I notice you have plenty of time to blog.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Shaggydog

      No, I'm sure Hell will be the same completely non-existent place used to scare gullible sheep that it is right now.

      And to the original article, any marriage will fail horribly if it's based entirely on following silly arbitrary laws that deny human nature. They're not keeping kosher like the bible told them too right? They're just ignoring that part and fixating on an interpretation of a different part of a book intended mostly to collect family lineage and tribal customs of long dead people. Who cares about them.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • jane

      Not believing in God just makes your life meaningless

      February 22, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Lol

      Kevin, funny that you took the time to blog a ridiculous statement. Must be waiting for your pron videos to download?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • jane

      You just lied....that's a sin.
      ============
      It is? Please show where that is stated in the bible

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • JV

      Kevin, first of all please take an English class. Second I am an Agnostic and a very happy one at that. I have an amazing daughter and wife. Do I need "god" and "Jesus" in my life to fulfill me? Absolutely not. You see I am a leader not a sheep. I take responsibility for any wrongdoing instead of going to church and asking for forgiveness to a piece of wood. I believe it is ridiculous to assume you need god otherwise you are sad and lonely. It is that thinking that made my decision an easy one. If being a good father and husband is not good enough then I welcome "Hell". SO please everyone continue to preach and pretend you are above the rest of us, because you all look silly and pathetic when you do...

      February 22, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Shaggydog

      No Jane, the majority of the world has gotten along just fine for its entire existence without believing in your religion. Or any. They have engaged the world without the using the threat or reward system of a giant invisible man. They've used logic and philosophy to determine how to treat one another fairly and morally, and they've found their own meanings for life. It could be experiential. It could be to make other lives better (without the threats and rewards of non-existent benefactors). It could be any of a vast number of interesting reasons that all make more sense than " 'cause the guy with the book told me so, so I have to do this or that."

      February 22, 2011 at 11:49 am |
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About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.