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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. Catholic MOM and Wife

    Guys, guys, all 'Gods" are really stemmed from Alien visitation. Jeez, have any of you ever watched the history channel?

    February 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  2. C'mon now

    @neighborlee>>My turn to jump in on this discussion: 1st of all the Big Bang was not a reaction it was THE action. Secondly, like so many others you decry something you do not understand. The Big Bang is first and foremost a THEORY, a hypothetical explanatin of an observed phenomenon. When hubble, in the 1920's discovered the visible universe was expanding, and doing so at an ever increasing rate, he reversed the direction of the expansion and theorized the Big Bang. A simple challenge to the theory is that the universe is not expanding away from a single point in space, which is what would be observed were the Big Bang a fact, and not a theory. Science is loaded with other examples: why does gravity not work at micro-cosmic levels; why do mammals not all produce consistent litters of 10 or 12 offspring; how can the harmonics of string theory "prove" the existence of multiple dimensions.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Meh

      And religion is different how exactly?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  3. Ummm

    WOW...a healthy story for anyone to admire has turned into an opportunity for some opportunists to spout off their beliefs or rather non-beliefs. Well, gooooood for you.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Holy Man

      I edited the grammatical errors in my Biblical parable and I tacked it onto your post because you'll appreciate it most since you are an angry religious guy.

      As long as John doesn't commit the sin of Onan. The Bilble relates that when Onan's brother Er died , Onan by law had to marry his brother's wife Tamar to produce an heir to preserve the family name. But every time Onan was about to climax, He withdrew and spilled his seed on the floor. God was so displeased that he punished Onan with death.

      So I hope that for John Buckingham's sake that his wife Rachel's sister is a hottie.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • MEH

      @holy man
      Is the wife hot?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Rock

      Woot for pulling out!!
      My Snooki loves it when I baby-batter up her teats

      February 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ummm

      no i'm not "religious", i just don't understand why an article about a married man's addiction and his battle to save his marriage has become some huge "religious" debate. follow?

      February 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Ummm: Is this a healthy story? It seems like it's a fantastically unhealthy one. They were deluded by unachievable expectations, hurt each other in the process, and seem to want to do the same but have a different outcome. They are setting themselves up for a very nasty fall. Especially since Rachel now has to act like his mother checking up on him to see if he touched himself in the night. John has to treat her like his confessor instead of his wife. And they both live in fear of something that seems relatively harmless. This is a caveat. A warning of how not to approach marriage. And how not to let religious fervor turn a molehill into a mountain.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  4. Holy Man

    As long as John doesn't commit the sin of Onan. The Bilble relates that when Onan's brother Er died and Onan by law had to marry his brother's wife Tamar to produce an heir to preserve the family name. But every time Onan climaxed, withdrew and spilled his seed on the floor. For that God punished Onan with death.

    I hope that for John Buckingham's sake that his wife Rachel's sister is a hottie.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Fred

    I'm always amazed at how many anti-religion 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 1:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You would be shown why you are wrong, just as us atheists are trying to show you why there is no basis for religion, other than childish tribal myths and books that say "I am the truth 'cause I say I am the truth..."

      February 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Barney

      So that isn't you who always does that?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • PMS

      Evolution isn't a "theory" in the sense you use the term. It's a scientific theory, and there is a big difference. Now, instead of looking absolutely uneducated, how about you go learn a little about what a scientific theory is. Then go do a little research into evolution. You are another example of how 1gorant most Americans are and how our educational system is failing.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • joel

      So, Fred, gravity is a "THEORY as well but it seems to work just fine. Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the word 'theory" before you post such nonsense again.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Fred

      Nevermind. I just wanted to say that I like boys and I like them young.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  6. nonamedave

    I don't understand why a wife would care. I assume my wife knows I watch p or n and appreciates that when she doesn't want to have me p or n will. Why would that bother her?

    February 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  7. ScottK

    "But his confession left me with two questions:"

    1. if he went "four months after getting married, Buckingham says he succ umbed." but we don't get any info on how active their s ex life was, as a person who was married to a Christian prude myself, I just wonder how he went four months and still considers himself an addict.

    2. "it's my fault he strayed" Seriously? Strayed? He was within arms reach the whole time... and he didn't cheat on his wife unless she is a total basket case freaking out when her husband accidently glances at another woman. Confidence is far more s exy than jealous self deflating whining about "he doesn't find me attractive; I'm not beautiful; I'm not s exy; I am a horrible wife; I'm a failure".

    February 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Catholic MOM and Wife

      She probably is some fat slob with an obsession for crucifixes, precious moments, cats and gaudy makeup.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  8. test

    God killed him

    February 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Andy M

    This story should be named "What Religious Guilt did to a Marraige"

    February 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • MEH

      no kidding lol

      February 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Happy

    Interesting article. My wife wasn't too excited about the whole topic in the beginning either. Once she started picking out some movies herself, it has really become a relationship enhancer..... not something viewed as bad. Now it's usually her idea to pop in a DVD. Never thought I'd see the day. lol

    February 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  11. Mac

    Believe whatever you want to believe. Just don't jugde others for what they do or do not believe We will never all agree. Don't force nonbelief or belief on anyone.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  12. Curt

    To answer her two questions at the end. Yes and Yes.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  13. Jennifer

    I am an athiest. What always bothers me most is that while I have respect for anyone else's beliefs, the second they learn that I do not think the way they do they suddenly do not feel the same way about me. I volunteer in my community, treat my neighbors well, am happily married with 3 grown children. I am exactly the same good person they liked and respected until they find out I'm not drinking the kool-aid on my way to the pearly gates.I don't need (or want) their prayers. I am happy with my life here and now and when I die I will be ashes in a box and I am good with that.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Ummm

      And this is about you why? hmmm...someone is looking for attention, good or bad.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Chark54

      But what if there is more? Wouldn't you want to spend eternity with God than just be ashes in a box?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • nonamedave

      Well sure who wouldn't? Now please present to me some proof that exists and we can all get there together! It's a pointless debate, the two sides will never understand the other's position.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  14. CanBear67

    @Kiki : I have 2 questions for you

    First, who decides what qualifies as "p0rn"? Are you saying all explicit material should not be watched by married couples? What about artistic er0tica? Or is anything OK as long as both parites in a marriage watch it together?

    Second, are you saying that m@sturbation is an unhealthy act in a married relationship, and that neither men nor women should perform this acitivity once they are married?

    Please expand on your position.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • HEANN

      Masturbation is good for the prostate and...oh yeah.. it feels good
      Its always good to rotate some stock

      February 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • nonamedave

      I'd like to expand kiki's position.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Respect

    Wow. This guy is really brave and obviously has an immense ammount of respect for his wife. Bravo.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  16. Horse Crap Detector

    life isn't for everyone....some people just can't handle it.
    if you're one of those people......do us all a favor......just end it now.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  17. Daughters

    The girls in the Por nos are someone's daughter that is being taken advantage of and/or abusing themselves. That's a turn off in itself.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • nonamedave

      You're not watching the right ones. If the storyline is good enough you really get pulled in and forget how pathetic they are. Then, at that point it's just fun to watch the football coach's daughter get triple penetrated.

      February 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • CanBear67

      Pro athletes abuse their bodies for the sake of their sport. Does that mean we shouldn't watch sports either?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Beautifully Damaged

      Hi Dadddyyyyyyyyyyyy

      February 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Frogist

      The girls in the p0rnos are taken advantage of and abusing themselves, but never the guys, right? What tripe.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  18. tommas

    P or n, saving prostates from christianity daily

    February 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  19. better

    I don't watch por n because I have better things to do. Like my wife.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Horse Crap Detector

      do you have any naked pics of your wife?

      February 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • O

      LIAR!!!!

      February 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • MEH

      Whats his name?

      February 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  20. Matt

    Remember, without the Crusades, we would not have Robin Hood.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.