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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. Jesus

    I want to punish your pee pee.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Hitchens

    Any scientist knows there's no empirical way to prove the nonexistence of something. However, the origin of religion comes from man's attempt to provide an explanation for various phenomena around them. Ancient people worshipped the moon, prayed for rain and a good harvest, and made sacrifices in order to improve their fertility and bear children. Science has come up with explanations for just about everything that early man couldn't explain, so therefore he needed to believe in magic to explain it.

    Hey, prove to me that aliens don't exist. Prove to me that the real Harry Potter is not actually a wizard with wondrous powers, living in seclusion in Louisville, Kentucky. Prove to me that life on earth did not originate from an ancient race of people that were transported here on spaceships resembling DC-9s.

    March 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  3. Gaius Julius Caesar

    Christianity is a lie, Jesus died on a cross, not for mans sins, but because he was aggravating the Jewish establishment with his new age teachings, as such the Romans crucified him, he stayed dead, didn't rise again. The christian God is a lie, it does NOT exist. Jupiter Optimus Maximus father of the gods laughs at all christians, and will send your self righteous and false souls to Pluto where they will roast in Tartarus.

    March 3, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  4. becca

    one way to overcome it is to flee temptation. don't surround yourself with it and you'll be much better able to stop looking at it or lusting. changes like that can save a marriage.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  5. John, Redox

    Did anyone know that the True North has been shifted due to the recent South America and Pacific Earthquakes? Just a thought about what is the natural way to look at things.

    February 24, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  6. Seriously

    I married my husband because we share similar spiritual and philosophic views, among other traits like a great sense of humor. I feel sorry for couples who allow religion to make them feel ashamed for things like what this article describes. Free your minds people and lighten up. Even God has a sense of humor (I believe).

    February 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • die

      you said it!

      February 25, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Faleela

      Thanks for your openness 🙂

      February 25, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  7. Jonas

    The original articles in Relevant were very good, very well-written. Don't just skim through this put-together article via CNN; actually go to Relevant and read them.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  8. kelsey

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12889662 Here is my recorded response to this article. I am way to lazy to tyoe it all out....

    February 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • ben

      nobody wants to watch your video bro

      February 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  9. Mark

    Wow, this conversation has went out to left field. The article is about insecurities that wives have when their men look at other women...naked womem at that. Hey, men are visual creatures...some women get it, some don't...but it bothers all of them when thier husbands gaze at others. I say that BUT...women look at other women much harder and longer than men do. They do their looking out of judgement, and we do ours for entertainment. Entertainment is not cheating.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • kikii

      Mark, you're just plain stupid. Glad I don't know you. Have a good relationship with your hand. That'll be the only one you'll have. Do you hear yourself–idiot.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • chelsea

      women watch pr0n too, bro

      February 24, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • ben

      if the problem is looking at other women than you could always get into animal pr0n

      February 24, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  10. Justina

    "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)

    Christians, you are combatants for Christ's honor. Fight on! Never give in.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Tom

      Earth to non-sensible weirdo.. Im not sure who christ is.. i dont know of anyone in biblical history that called themselves christ.. i do of a non-violent man named jesus.. whom would detest violence in any way .. well.. except at churches when people try to introduce money to the mix.. so to say these mindless fools are combantants is already contradictory.. AND the last time I checked .. he had a good relationship with God.. The Almighty.. you know create a earth and animals in like 7 days..

      he REALLY dont need you to fight for him... LIKE.. really he doesnt

      WATCH PR0N!!!!

      February 23, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Justina

      Jesus commanded us to fight against evil. Read Matthew 5-7. Tom, you must be another victim whose manhood have been screwed by obeying the toxic culture of today. Read the Bible and go to church to know Jesus. Pray to Him for help.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • RevLama

      Justina – it is better to give those men your virgin daughters than to let them watch pron.

      But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them." Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof."

      March 1, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  11. Pat

    Evangelicals wrote similar articles decrying the death of marriage because of birth-control pills. Truth is, p0rn liberated men much the same way The Pill liberated women. Men are no longer no longer obligated to lifetime economic contracts merely to tend to unavoidable bodily functions. Men are free to pursue their dreams, untroubled by any mental torments of s3xual starvation, even in the most-isolated female-free environments. Being compelled to think about s3x constantly is a torture (as anyone who's lived with man-sized testosterone levels can tell you), but p0rn liberates men from that, and we will Never Look Back!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  12. Lance DeHole

    I don't want to marry a good ol' girl like mom, I want to marry a good ol' girl like Nikki Benz! WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

    February 23, 2011 at 5:43 am |
  13. john

    how long can you stay alive without breathing.

    February 23, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  14. AJD

    Let me provide you with a brief warning:

    God is now re-aligning the Middle East – The Church Age is about to close. All those who scoff regarding Almight Godand DO NOT turn to God in this, now limited time, are about to see for themselves what happens when His wrath is poured out.

    Then, it will be too late for you.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • kelsey

      Exactly which god do you refer to? There is yaweh, Molech and a whole lists of Hindu gods. The list of gods can fill a book. As for what is happening in the Middle East: There are real flesh and blood people who are revolting against thier leaders and governments. Many have given up thier lives for thier cause. No hand of a mighty god there. For if there were such a god why would he have allowed 40 years rule by such individuals to begin with? So your god needs man's help in getting his job done? Might as well just get the job done myself and forget about that god that needs my blood, the blood of his son and my money to boot..... http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12889662

      February 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • myklds

      @kelsey...because God give us free will, the agency to chose between good and evil. He also allowed people to commit mistakes, just as He allows you to misspell thrice the word "thier", I mean...their.

      See, how good is God for ALL of US?

      February 24, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Joe Rioux

      Hilarious post! Love it. Great entertainment. Please keep this post in mind, AJD, when, yet again, no Apocalypse arrives. You folks predict the end of the world more often than Michael Jackson sleeps with kids.

      March 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  15. Gia

    I'd hate to be on the other side of Doc Vestibule in any argument. Excellent use of logic in the rebuttals to 'lord of teapots' neighborlee. Then again, someone who thinks adding 3-4 wink emoticons to his/her argument is a surefire way to win the debate isn't much of an opponent, either.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  16. Garet Z

    Haha, just loving all the comments from the atheists. Of course marriage isn't a Christian ceremony, but all these atheists rebuttels make you guys sound so insecure of yourselves.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • nerve9

      Keep telling yourself that bud. I think I see the Easter Bunny behind you!

      February 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  17. Justina

    By the way, Christians, everything we do is recorded physically in about the space of 100 light-years around the Planet Earth because light has certain speed. Whatever we do, say, or view is stored in that range and retrievable and unerasable. Jesus is right when He said nothing will be hidden, though I have no idea how much of what we did will be revealed and to whom. If this thought helps you. Gallant fight will be honored for sure. Just let's never, never, never give up. Holiness is one-click away, too.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Chris

      It cracks me up that people like you exist

      February 23, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • justaperson

      Did you fall out of the stupid bus and get lost honey?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Ben

      Your comment was about as coherent as this ridiculous blog post.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • kelsey

      I only have this to say about this thing and I say it here http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12889662

      February 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Magic

      Ah, Justina, don't you know that it is all remedied by a tin-foil hat?

      February 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • richard meisler

      Justina, The hole in a donut is a holy thing.Someone stole your mind;

      February 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Todd

      Just, why is touching my hand ok, but touching my penis a sin? Grow up loser.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Justina

      You guys just proved my point. My lifetime dream is to talk with a nice-natured atheist with a functioning brain and clean vocab. An impossible dream.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Heartsleeved

      And my dream is to talk to a rational and forward thinking christian who has the force of will and strength of character to rise up above the screaming idiots that are the face of your "faith" and do some good for the world. They are few and far between. Mostly living their lives, trying to do good things on a more local scale and disgusted by the likes of you.

      March 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Joe Rioux

      Dear Justina,
      I am not religious, but am more of an agnostic, an "undecided believer in something bigger, which probably is unknowable by the limited human brain." I disagree wholeheartedly with what you wrote in your original post, but was tickled at your response (stamped 1:44). You are so right about that! Atheists are often like ill-mannered ex-smokers. *They've* quit religion, so it makes them angry that some folks are still into it. You made me smile, there.

      March 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rational Adult

      Wow. Religious folks are by definition pretty dumb, but Jesus H Christ these two idiots are matched only by you, Justina. Look, it is obvious to us all that you were home schooled on the dangers of science. That's cool, you have a right to make your children as stupid as you want. But to lecture us on science in such a nonsense way...wowzers. Let me guess, you believe both that Noah's ark held all animal species that ever lived, and also you don't believe in evolution. Am I right?

      When I think of how many of the world's problems would be solved by stupidity being painful...

      March 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  18. Bob

    This article is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in its rambling, incoherent prose was it even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this board is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    February 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Mary King

      Wow, that was a really intelligent response, Bob.

      February 23, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • Sardonicus

      Give Bob a break. He's typing with one hand.

      February 23, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • mememe

      Relax people, it's from Billy Madison. 🙂

      February 23, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      lmao

      February 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • davidOfNazareth

      a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.

      March 2, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Joe Rioux

      Hilarious, Bob. WTG. 🙂

      March 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  19. mofo

    Here's the point >
    Here's where everyone is >

    February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  20. Heywood Jablowmee

    Whats the big deal about looking at some boobs on the internet?

    February 22, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Bb

      Dunno, it's the religious people and their weird guilt trips...

      February 23, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Notta Chance

      Same as with any other addiction – does it interfere with your life?

      February 23, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • Tom

      Right... this is about the dumbest marriage ive ever heard of.. when cheating is watching pr0n.. then people have some silly priorties..

      Jerk like atlanta voting.. early and often

      February 23, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • buffoon

      Yeah, what's the big deal when we all beat off! 🙂

      February 23, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • kelsey

      Here is my response to this article: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12889662 It was easier for me to speak it instead of typing it.....

      February 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • otherone

      At least he isn't going out and actually cheating on her...

      February 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • InFormed

      Seetheway:

      'Your' should be Your'e which is a contraction for 'you are'

      As it is written it implies that you are his evil pig.

      Go back to the south.

      February 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • hyemi

      Informed: did you mean "You're"?

      apostrophe between 'u' and 'r' NOT between 'r' and 'e'??

      wow.. there are some stupid people commenting on this.

      February 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • william

      When someone starts getting on others for minor grammar infractions do you know what that means? It means they have no other point to make. That wife is insane, then again, aren't we all.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Joe Rioux

      This article is a ridiculous waste of words. Keep your awful guilt-ridden existence to yourself, please.

      March 3, 2011 at 3:57 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.