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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. fingers

    I like jackin off

    February 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  2. Quagmire

    Giggity

    February 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  3. E

    Just watch it together and enjoy the fantasy. Hiding from it and pretending it doesn't make you tingly is what causes all this drama and doubt.

    February 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  4. Brad

    If Jesus had had a Mac back in the day, I'm sure he'd have taken a gander once in a while.

    February 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  5. SlapStick

    Sometimes you need a little lighter fluid when your forced to BBQ alone.

    February 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  6. someoneelse

    SHOPPING ADDICTS cause more divorce than sx addicts.

    February 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Matt

    Sounds like the real problem is his wife's insecurity. Or perhaps she's a bit dull in the sack.

    February 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • pirate

      takes one to know one...

      February 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  8. Bubba

    Why the frack are you arguing about God? We're talking about whether or not you should be married and looking at pr0n? You could believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the same thing would apply.

    February 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • bored

      I'm a little scared of the flying spaghetti monster.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Bubba: It's not just about being married and looking at p0rn. Religion is the reason these two people are so confused about their se-xual experiences and their expectations of what marriage is. They have complicated the issue of marriage and p0rn, by adding the element of religion to it. Now it's an all or nothing situation because they have to fight with the issue of what their religion will allow before thinking about what their marriage or each other needs.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  9. Mere Christianity

    I think many people posting comments here would benefit from reading a book called 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis. He is an incredibly smart man who was once an atheist and came to believe in God and Jesus for his salvation. The book paints a clear picture of what the bare-bone beliefs of Christianity are. Beliefs that I think are commonly misconstrued or are lumped together with our bad experiences with other Christians, leading to a skewed understanding of the religion.

    Also, I hope that you (I'm speaking to anyone that is able to read this) do not let one or even hundreds of bad experiences with "Christians" affect your view of or affinity to Christianity. Christians, just like all people, make mistakes, hurt people, lie, cheat, and steal because they are just that, people who are imperfect and flawed. The only difference is that a true Christian will seek forgiveness through Jesus and aim for repentence. But that repentence, however well-intentioned, doesn't guarantee that they won't give in to temptation again. Even now as I type this, I have to think with much humility and care so as not to offend any of you or create hostile feelings, because these words I offer are imperfect, and I am imperfect. Christianity, however, is of God and Jesus, who I believe to be perfect. And if you wish to know the truth or have gripes about the world or just want to know what Christianity is supposed to look like, I ask that you would talk to them and not to rely on your perceptions of Christianity given you by crappy believers. And if you sincerely do try and speak/pray to God and/or Jesus and nothing happens, then you can go on thinking I'm just another Jesus freak that doesn't know what he's talking about. But if something does happen or if you are just curious, I highly recommend the book Mere Christianity as a good place to start finding answers.

    February 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Brin

      That is a great book 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Bubba

      I've read it, but that was Lewis' experience, not mine, and did you convert to Anglicanism after reading it? Lewis would be really disappointed if you didn't. I read Screwtape Letters, too, and most of his other stuff. I read his friend Tolkien's stuff too, and actually Tolkien makes a better case for a Supreme Being than Lewis. None of it made me want to worship something I found in it, god or elf. They are just books.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Reading about things experienced by someone else won't make me believe what logic and observation have shown me is not true. I don't believe in god, I also don't believe in alien abductions or cattle mutilations. I do think that there is a good chance that there is other intelligent life in the universe and maybe they've even visited this planet, but without proof I certainly wouldn't call it a fact.

      February 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  10. Chang

    LOUD NOSIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    btw get it while its hot.....

    February 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  11. t

    Christianity has pagan DNA
    given that then "My invisible friend is stronger than your invisible friend"

    February 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  12. the monsingor

    Optimuuuuuussssssss Priiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • lisa

      The 'e' in 'prime' is silent. Therefore, it shouldn't be extended like the 'm', or even the 'i'.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  13. Howie

    I don't get it. What, exactly did the guy do wrong here? Why does he carry so much guilt for looking at pictures? So long as he was using the excitement aroused by the pics to then go and 'get closer to his wife', what is the problem?

    February 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Jim

      He did nothing wrong, Howie. His guilt is a by-product of the Victorian-era morals that were and still are so pervasive in our society. What is sin? Webster defines it as an archery term meaning "to miss the mark". But the heavy hand of the Church wants the members to think that they are constantly sinning, that by being born they have sinned. And this is all supposedly done by a "loving God". However, it is all in their minds, as long as they continue to let themselves be led around like sheep.

      February 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  14. M7887

    I thought the answer was pretty clear: Don't believe in fairy tales, then you won't feel guilty for normal human urges and pleasures. I'm not going to pity this person because he choose to view himself as a groveling, unworthy, sinner. Tough s**t.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • christjones

      yours was the best answer

      February 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Jason

      Yes!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  15. JfBK

    Congratulations, you are both insane.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Honest Communication

    I rarely post anything or my comments since I see it as "who cares wat I think?", but I do want to comment on this (and before u say anything, yes my grammar is terrible 🙂
    I like the female body, I like engaging in intercourse, I like it all, I am an extremely physical person who has gotten into some pretty deep things, and I always think to myself: "y is that the more we get... the more we want?" I understand that it starts with the fantasy which moves into the knowledge and learning more about that fetish and then once u "dip ur toe into it", if it something u like... then u go full blown into it... until... one day, it stops being enough, and u want more and different.
    The best relationship I had was with a woman that I told everything too... and I do mean EVERYTHING, all my fantasies, desires, wishes... and guess wat? some of them we shared and explored and enjoyed, and others, we disagreed on... but, it was enough... I found that u can't be "doing it" 24/7 as much as u are attracted that person as much as ur mind wants to go to different places, but I was (for the first time in my life) satisfied in "that sense". And we discovered something else that was amazing... We discovered (together) that we could actually make ourselves "wait", days... even weeks sometimes to build up anticipation, desire, longing... and then.. the simplest most "borring" act turned into fireworks and explosions.
    I can honestly say I have been 100% satisfied in that desire, and the reason y.... is we talked, we talked talked talked... communicated every thought, desire and fantasy.
    There was work, issues, family, dinners, skool, movies, shopping everything else in a normal life... and there would sometimes be hours that there would be no arousal at all, but then, a text, a call, a note a touch, a look... and it would all come rushing back and "fan the flames"
    I say all this becuase I was raised in a strict christian enviornment were i was taught that it was pretty much all a sin... thru years of self discovery i felt betrayed at seeing so many "leaders in the church" say one thing from the pulpit and then 10 min after church was out they would act ... "un-christianlike"... eventually I gave up and held on to only the 1 truth I believe in: Salvation thru Jesus Christ. All else is fluff and junk, I dont care about it all unless my heart and spirit tell me its wrong. The partner I found did not believe the same way I did, but we didn't allow it to be an issue, we talked... we talked about it and talked about it, never tried to convince the other to believe something else... just talked.
    And thats where I end and sumerize... if u talk with ur partner if u just talk, and communicate everything, dont hold back at all... u find that u dont need anything else, just that person, and together u can satisfy everything, because... at the end of the day, all we truly want, is to not be alone.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • I like to write words words words

      Words Words Words

      February 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • yeti37

      too....much....to.....read.....ugh!

      February 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  17. Ryan

    Also, Doc, just to let you know – faith in nothing is still faith.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • 13monkees

      I really don't get why you religionists keep trying to say that atheism is based upon faith like christianity is. Yes, we cannot prove there is no god at this time, but we have mounds of science that contradict the bible so it's not blind faith like religion is. We have facts, you have a book written thousands of years ago by people reporting on events they were not there to see. You believe in a magic man that lives in the sky, talking snakes, and magic apples without any evidence to support your claims. Atheists do not believe in nothing. We simply lack a belief in any of the gods men have claimed exist. We simply require some form of proof that something exists.

      February 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Student

      Yep, Atheism is a faith. Agnosticism is the only purely logical position to take. It states that we don't know whether or not there is a god of some sort.

      That said, I'm an atheist. Agnosticism felt too much like fence-sitting to me when I tried it. I believe that there is no god, or god-like creature, or flying spaghetti monster. It's faith, there's no proof.

      There is no solid evidence to back up my position. It's a feeling, based on my understanding of the world and my personal beliefs of what a god should be, could be, and would be. It was a faith I arrived at after studying several religions, talking with friends and relatives and various pastor-equivalents. Much the same way any of my friends picked their various religions, though with a markedly different conclusion reached.

      That said, if someone presented me with solid evidence of a god, then I'd be willing to change my mind. Unfortunately, there are lots of religions out there that can't or won't update to reflect proven facts until the overwhelming majority of people can grasp those basic facts and call out the religions on it. Like that whole "the earth is the center of the universe" fiasco, or the "condoms don't prevent STDs" nonsense, or that "slavery is sanctioned by god" debacle.

      The current myths that are prevalent in a lot of religions, that make me really angry, are the "women are inferior" drivel and the "gays are evil" nonsense. Heck, if a major religion came along that didn't tell me that I'm inherently inferior because of my genitalia, and didn't brand my gay friends as deviants, I'd give deism an honest try again.

      February 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Ryan, you really don't get it, but I don't think you really want to get it.

      February 22, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  18. Gwen

    This almost exactly describes my own life. However, the Christians are quick to shoot the sinner and not very intelligent about healing the sinner. I eventually castrated myself and now live as a woman, so that no further offense can occur. It was absolutely devastating to everyone who knew me, and to myself. It may have simply been better to have done away with myself. Until the people of faith learn to heal and not be punitive, they willl continue to draw the fire of the unbeliever.

    February 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  19. neighborlee

    @doc,
    That you cling to describing 'religion' in this case the abrahamic one as 'mythology' , is far more indicative of your ire, than anything I have expressed. Your ire is very misplaced. given I have done nothing but try to find some common ground here via logic, and all you do is throw hyperbole.

    Not so much into science , and the rational thinking of scientists ?

    February 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My choice of the word "mythology" does not indicate vitriol, but rather a straight up dictionary definition.

      From Thesaurus.com
      Main Entry: religion
      Part of Speech: noun
      Definition: belief in divinity; system of beliefs
      Synonyms: church, communion, creed, cult, denomination, devotion, doctrine, higher power, morality, MYTH, MYTHOLOGY, observance, orthodoxy, pietism, piety, prayer, preference, religiosity, rites, ritual, sacrifice, sanctification, sect, spiritual-mindedness, spirituality, standards, SUPERST.ITION, theology, veneration

      February 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  20. Mark

    Gentlemen...please.....let me settle this.

    The is that was, wasn't before the was. The evidence plainly shows that the up needed logic without verifialble-ness. Therefore, in light of the something, the nothingness never shows something even though the somethingness couldn't account for the light in the darkness. However, it's plain that the obvious denies the obvious and that all the somethings weren't so.

    Got it? Now, tuck your big brains back in.

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

      Got it.......No, wait....no I dont got it.

      February 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • JRS

      what the heck was that??? nonsense...

      February 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Jone

      That is deep, man...

      February 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Mark

      Yeah, that was kinda the point.....duh!

      Some of these blogs go on and on and on trying to be philosophical. All the negative arguments and "one-up" posts. Makes me wonder........what are they saying (or trying to say)?

      February 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • rick

      Whatever Mark is smoking, I want some.

      February 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • nyles Cota

      @RICK Hashish

      February 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jack Handy

      If your keys fall into a river of molten lava, forget 'em dude, they're gone.

      February 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Soulcatcher

      And now I have a craving for green eggs and ham...thanks Dr. Suess.

      February 22, 2011 at 8:43 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.