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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. Ms. Magoo

    I was once married to a man who became a severe p0rn addict. In the beginning the box of magazines didn't bother me, make me feel threatened, or cause any problem whatsoever, in fact we put it to good use together at times. We had a wonderful, passionate, trusting s-ex life. But when his/our life became stressful for other reasons he turned to p0rn as his drug of choice. He got fired for surfing p0rn at work (which he lied about). Already financially stressed, this forced us to move into a little used relative's house. Then his "problem" really picked up speed. Since I didn't know that he was fired for surfing p0rn, our s-ex life wasn't affected, in fact it seemed to get better for a time. What "Frogist" said in an earlier post, that it isn't the p0rn, but the lies, secrets, betrayal, etc that are toxic is true to a point – but there is something about p0rn, triple X chats with strangers, and eventual preference for anything that doesn't require true intimacy that is particularly more difficult in my experience than drugs or alcohol. When, even after I had told him that the chats and cruising dating sites was not acceptable, he couldn't stop. When I realized that it was all connected to the p0rn, and after trying every other way to deal with my feelings, I told him that it was a serious problem, he said, "it would be like cutting off my arm". This isn't about religion, or the definition of cheating, but about someone who, despite losing everything, could not give up the behavior. It, along with the deceit that comes with any addiction, destroyed my marriage. I know that the idea that behaviors can be addictions is hotly debated these days, but I'm telling you, they are real addictions. These behaviors release endogenous substances into a person's brain (such as dopamine) that reinforce the behavior as well as the need to escalate in order to overcome the tendency of the brain to become tolerant to anything that drowns receptors. There is a huge difference between someone who "looks at p0rn" occasionally or even regularly, and someone who cannot give it up despite the loss of all that they care about.

    March 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  2. usmc5

    pastormelissascott.com
    drgenescott.com

    March 15, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  3. Connection to Christ

    Non-believers, there are attacks aimed at us Christians in the harshest way. On one hand it astonishes me that there is such a hatred toward the Christian religion that doesn't seem to pop up on other religions blogs that I've gone to. On the other hand, Jesus spoke about this through out the gospels. Perhaps as Christians we are not doing our job informing people of the love of Jesus. We can argue forever about the source of the Bible, whether it was just mans invention, or whether it was (as I believe) divinely inspired, but that's not going to get us anywhere right now. One truth we all can agree to is one day we will all pass on from this earth and in that moment we'll know the truth. Are you comfortable in that knowledge? Have you truly stopped to consider what would happen if you were wrong and the Bible was true? If (as I believe) it is true then there is no "I'm sorry, I didn't know" or "I just didn't have enough proof" when we meet the father. As stated by someone previously, the entire old testament is filled with prophecy that predicts EXACTLY who Jesus would be and what he would do. No denying it. The New Testament confirms this and also includes a ton of prophecy about the Last Days. When I am asked by a non-believer (of the Christian faith) to show them proof. I believe it is more simple now than ever before to show proof, all I need to say is "turn on the TV." Turn on CNN or any major news station and then go into the Bible and read what Jesus and the prophets said about the Last Days. There are book in the OT that talk about the Last Days as well. Read Daniel, Ezekiel, the Gospels and Revelations. Everything that is occurring in the world right now is predicted in those books. The entire situation in the Middle East, the unexplained famines, floods and natural disasters (Especially earthquakes!) the financial instability of the whole world, the death of thousands of fish in the sea and birds from the sky, without any scientific explanation, it's all said to be signs of the Last Days. These are said to increase in frequency after Israel was predicted to become a nation again, which happened in 1948. (That might be the biggest piece of proof... against all odds Israel returned to it's land and became a nation again after 2000 years just as the prophecy said) So, if you want proof just turn on the TV and then read the Bible. There are also a load of great Bible prophecy forums and articles out there. Raptureready.com Christconnection.net and Prophecyinthenews.com are three great ones. We are living in the end times. We are on the brink of something big, the whole world feels it and it's not just Christians, but while many are searching for the answers, I'm reading the answers in the book that predicted them, the Bible. There have always been mistakes made from people from all walks of life and from every religion, Christianity is no exception, BUT just because a group of people or even an army does something horrible and says it's in the Lords name DOES NOT mean they are acting on what GOD's Word says or have his approval. It's not GOD that is wrong, it's humanity and that's what brings me to my last point. Jesus came to save and not to condemn. Of course there are good moral people who are not Christians (the Bible never says otherwise) but God's standards for living are far above ours and we can NEVER live up to them... that's just something you have to accept. When you accept that you understand why we live in sin. It's been genetically passed down through the generations since mans first rebellion in the Garden of Eden. The beauty of God is that even though in his eyes we deserve death as a penalty he loves us so much that he sent is son to die in our place and pay the price for what we deserve so that we could be glorified and not have our sins held against us on Judgement Day. The ONLY condition is that you have to believe and accept who Jesus is and what he has done. If you believe it with all your heart and confess it with your mouth to God you are saved and heaven is a done deal. You are changed from the inside at that moment and God sees you as he sees Jesus, outwardly you will still struggle with sin in life because we are still living in the human body, but that will change at death. God is patient and wants all to be saved, but time is running out. The signs of the end are all around us and in the news and on TV every day. We all have free will and God will not force you into what you don't want but there are consequences for our choices in eternity. The good news is God has provided the easiest way out of those consequences by believing in his son who he sent to die for us and who he raised from the dead so that we too may have everlasting life with him. What have you got to lose?.... Don't let it be your soul.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • My eyes!

      If only the week were eight days long, God might have had time to invent paragraphs.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Anony Moose

      War! Natural Disasters! Large Scale World Problems! Sounds like every single day of human history. Glad your evidence is utterly incontrovertible.

      March 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Connection to Christ

      Ya he really missed the mark with that one, too bad. I guess The Beatles were wrong when they said "I ain't got nothing but love babe, eight days a week." Maybe you should write a letter to Paul McCartney and let him know. But it's so cute that even though you obviously hold God in contempt for whatever he's apparently done to you, you still choose to capitalize his name.

      March 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  4. William Hagerman

    Looks like everyone here is judging many by the actions of a few. We all have our own beliefs. There is no one on earth that knows for a fact the truth behind creation or can prove it. Any biology teacher will tell you the same. There are theories and that is it. Name calling and other childish behavior does nothing to sway any argument. It only shows a side of you I am sure that upon further reflection, and without anonymity, you would surely think twice about sharing.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  5. James

    I think there is something to be said about people's relationships.
    We must all come to terms with what we go in to a relationship.
    This seems less of a act of infidelity and more of an act of deceit.

    March 15, 2011 at 5:19 am |
  6. InterestingQuote

    "I really learned a lot from this religious discussion on a blog."
    – Nobody Ever.

    March 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  7. JP

    Christians and their petty little hang-ups about human sxuality. Having grown up Mormon I can assure you that the suppression of the most basic of human desires leads to nothing positive. People race into marriage, just so they can consummate it. Divorce rates are just as high in religion as outside, so to hide your head in the ground and claim the this originally pagan rite is somehow certified by your God, but don't push your views or theology on others.

    March 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  8. JUSSAYIN

    YOU ALL NEED TO GET LAYED...HALLA-LU-YA

    March 14, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  9. Sal

    Ah, I remember trying to have logical, rational debates over trivial issues with religious sheep. Big mistake. It's absolutely impossible to apply REASON or LOGIC in an argument with an irrational person of faith. People that want to believe in their delusions for a false sense of security shouldn't be allowed to interact with rational people. I can pick and choose excerpts from any of your man-made "holy books" and use them to justify any action whatsoever. I wonder how much more advanced our civilization would be without religion. Apparently "God" is against any kind of scientific progress whatsoever. Something tells me the kind of creator that would put his creations into a situation where they were doomed to fail is not the kind of creator I'd care to spend eternity with. The funny thing is that there is no way the majority of these "Christians" have ever even read the bible. The most homicidal and deplorable maniac in any work of fiction is this being you call God.

    March 14, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  10. Victoria Flintstone

    Sounds to me like a couple of real goofballs.

    March 14, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  11. Amesian

    Oh, speaking of pagan rituals (someone here mentioned it) here is my take on god and religion. Think about the similarities between god and Santa Claus.... Santa Claus sees you when you are sleeping/awake... god is all knowing/all seeing. Santa Claus knows if you've been bad/good. God knows if you have been sinful/righteous. Children tell Santa what presents they want. "Children of god" tell god what they would like whenever things don't go their way. Similar story, right?

    The way I look at it, as you see more and more people in this world leaving religion behind, it's like this - more and more of us are big kids now and understand that evolution and our ancestors put us here. We know that it wasn't a big (white) guy with a white beard sitting on a cloud shooting lightning bolts from his finger tips. So, let our brothers and sisters, who still believe, have a little more dream time before they come to reality. No need to be mean to them and call them names. They will figure it out... eventually.

    March 14, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  12. tfbuckfutter

    My wife and I watch dirty movies together and then bang super hard. And we probably have the best relationship on the planet. So.....I guess those of you who don't know how to use it properly are just stupid.

    March 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Atilla Denzihan

      I like, tooooo muuuuchh....high fiiiiiveeee!

      March 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  13. Dudesdad

    Thou doth protest too much.

    March 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  14. Dudesdad

    Terry Sciavo is alive!

    March 13, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  15. Allison

    You know what's funny? In Ancient Egypt, all a couple had to do to be considered married was move the woman into the man's home. Very rarely, unless the marriage involved political or monetary gains, did anyone ever write up a marriage contract or have any kind of ceremony. Much simpler than today where you have to get a license, find a registered Justice of the Peace (not a minister/preacher/priest), sign a contract, change your finances, and change your name on your taxes and all of your accounts. We really are ridiculous huh?

    March 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  16. Heinz M

    Amazing, just amazing. Rarely have I seen or read a bigger bunch of crap.
    So the guy's hormones are raging and both he and his wife are idiots to make that much ado over this. But then they are religious. Well there is the problem. They can't even consider thinking about this rationally. Not in their vocabulary. Because their religion gets in the way. How sad, how stupid (how preventable).

    March 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  17. shedsomelight

    post my comment from 5 days ago cnn staff.

    March 12, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • shedsomelight

      ii think you need more people working on your staff cnn

      March 12, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  18. tanea tomio

    Smart people don't get married!!!!!

    March 12, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • Sixteen

      *DING* Got it in one!

      March 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • BJ Bear

      That's just something lonely people say.

      March 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Diana_512

    He feels guilty because of what RELIGION has taught him. His wife feels betrayed because of what RELIGION has taught her. The headline should read "Marriage destroyed by RELIGION."

    March 12, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Bladerunner

      Diana_512 gets it. Why doesn"t everybody?

      March 12, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • reality

      I see there is a place for reality!

      March 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jon

      Thank you! Finally somebody has some reason.

      March 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Michael

      He feels guilty because of what SCHOOL taught him. He feels guilty because of what his PARENTS taught him. He feels guilty because of what a BOOK taught him. He feels guilty because of what a POLICE OFFICER taught him.

      Down with guilt!

      March 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • sri

      Finally some sense!

      March 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  20. metatron

    all these comments and nobody questions the obvious. In the first place, What"s wrong with letting the little guy out to play? The baby jebus never said nuttin about not spaking thy monkey. And secondly, Maybe they should face it that if they humped around before they decided to get married they would have at least know that somebody isn't making the team this season. Sucks to be them I guess with all that guilt for no reason. Wierdos...

    March 12, 2011 at 12:59 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.