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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. kaiser roll

    Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.
    Genesis 38:8

    February 22, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  2. sparky

    gimme a fuggin break... self righteous clowns...

    February 22, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  3. neighborlee

    Oh yes, fear drives many things, but as long as we're discussing honesty, how about the one where we decided to scapegoat our own fears and weaknesses, and blame someone else for them. The devil made me do it, my wife caused it, our dog did it, the neighbors fence was too tall blocking my view, shall I go on ? 😉

    We all have responsibilities to ourselves and to each other in life, and no amount of scapegoating is going to alleviate any of it.

    Buck up and learn to face them , instead of blaming that which came about , out of love for us all.

    It's so easy to blame someone else, and the shape society is in atm doesn't help .

    If you look at Jesus teachings [ Oh, but it doesn't ( name thy prophet preference ) exist does it o_0 ], they are based on love , not hate , like so many here are expressing. Learn your history, before bashing it, therefore making you look extremely silly and hateful. Look at the man in the mirror for a change.

    People like Hugh Hefner make me wonder who took his toys away as a child,[ because love doesn't deserve the face of filth attached to it ; our bodies are our temples , lovingly given to us by god's creation ] and are indicative of whats wrong with society. Love used to stand for something real and honest, and when we interject someone phony, shallow and dishonest into it, we should not be horribly surprised at the results . Love brings people together in real, time tested ways, not lust, and the sooner we see that the better off everyone will be. You can call that ideology stupid or unrealistic, but someday those that cling to shallow lustful things now, will see in themselves years later, something yearning for a deeper commited relationship, one not too dissimilar to the one their parents enjoyed, and their parents before them.

    The 'bible' does say to be fruitful and multiply; it says nothing about treating gods creation as junk.

    No one is perfect, but that doesn't mean we can't strive for better things, and through achieving a few of them, lead happier , more content loving lives, affecting everyone around us, and leading to a brighter, more productive and less stressed life for us all.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • BR

      @neighborlee-Xtians are fond of talking about this supposed "shape society is in" and "good ole days" rhetoric. When, exactly, is this time when love had this special meaning...disconnected from lust? Certainly not in the OT or NT.

      Your repression screams loud and clear with the black and white references to s@x. Our bodies are either "temples" or "attached to the face of filth". More often than not, lust brings people together...that lust settling down into something more sustainable leads to longevity but rarely does it occur in a different order than that.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  4. Brendan

    Look this isnt a debate on christianity it should be "can p/orn cause problems in a marraige, Civil or Not". look if your going behind your partners back with ANYTHING it is probably wrong. If you feel the need to hide it and not talk about it its probably not going to streangthen your relationship so it can and is a BIG problem in a lot of relationships. 40% of Amaricans are in s/exless marriages. FACT. we as human beings should look at that and understand why that is instead of saying that p/orn is or isnt a problem.

    PS IM MORMON. so call me whatever you want to.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • KELLY BAUM

      right on? my thoughts exactly!

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

      @Brendan-First, you're right that secretive activity can cause problems.

      Second, the article is about how their xtian beliefs on s@x, specifically, influenced the situation so criticism of xtianity as a whole is perfectly valid. Their understanding of s@xuality was skewed by the belief that there are supernatural forces that hold, not just an opinion on the subject, but holds their eternal soul at stake for this notion of sin. This led to an unhealthy understanding of how to deal with the issue. If p0rn is unacceptable to the wife then that is basis enough to stop the activity. Viewing s@xually explicit images is perfectly normal but it isn't for everyone. When we are made to feel guilty for something as integral to human nature as s@x then the squelching of those urges is harmful to individuals and couples alike.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  5. YammaYamma

    With a body like that, how could the guy not go for it? My girlfriends always end up getting fat because they get "comfortable" I need to start slapping them around.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  6. RL

    I hate that so many people in the world don't believe in God. You who don't are simply lost.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  7. Sam

    @teremist Your last comment was well put.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  8. YammaYamma

    I hated Church, sitting in a hot room with some trouser stain talking about invisible people and telling me to pay him. I would rather pay Iggy Pop to talk to me, he has more interesting things to say. I also didn't like the fact that church was just a place to compare clothing.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  9. Sal Voce

    Hey, if she's the chick in the pic and not getting any, be glad to helpout there... 🙂

    February 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  10. Kikii

    You're missing the point- http://www.p0rnhamrs.com

    February 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • f16bmathis

      We get the point. Thats a totally different issue.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  11. Kikii

    http://www.p0rnharms.com

    February 22, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  12. pilfro

    Please, this is so silly. I dont even understand how this is something to feel guilty of. If anything it helps men that might actually have a relation with some other "real woman"

    That said these athiest need to stop getting so offended by religion. The Ex soviet union and Nazi german and China didnt/dont allow religions to be free. Christianity and Jewish religions are soft targets. Even athiest live in a fantasy world. They believe their lives matter and its important to respect ones self etc...None of this is scientifically true. The randomness of the world and your eventual death don't matter. Stop trying to tell others not to believe in Santa or Christ or whatever it is you always say. They are living no bigger fairytale then you are with your independent thinking. If religion leads to suffering who cares, there is no point to life, stop believing that there is Atheist.
    You will live and die and in 100 years forgotten by everyone. You dont matter, your ideas dont matter.
    Leave people alone to do as they want.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  13. BR

    A 3000 year old understanding of s#xuality has no place in the 21st century. Just another example of why religion has outlived its usefulness. The idea that this couple had any delusions that who they are, fundamentally, changes in any way just because they recited some incantations and signed a marriage certificate shows how flawed their perception of reality is. If the husband had problems with this adult activity he should have worked on it beforehand instead of praying/hoping that the spirit world would fix him. But ultimatly he/they should have learned a little more about s&xuality from professionals who don't pretend to have some other-worldly stamp of disapproval.

    How does the couple in the article feel about 'self-love'? That's a big no-no in the b|ble too but I would be willing to wager that they both take care of themselves in that way....deny it though they might. The husband obviously does.

    All theists decide for themselves which rules to follow and which to ignore or treat as parable or allegory from the OT & NT or there wouldn't be thousands of flavors of xtianity muchless thousands of other religions. Morality comes from ourselves. Everything else is just control and manipulation from ancient men in a decrepit book of fairytales.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  14. Craig

    P0rnography didn't do anything to this marriage. P0rnography is comprised of nothing more than inanimate objects which are incapable of doing anything. Lack of self control and ridiculous emotional insecurities was the cause of marriage strife. They were both at fault. Her for being r3tarded about p0rn and being an emotional train wreck and him for marrying a woman who couldn't deal with his issues.

    sorry about the numbers...the filters on these boards are idiotic

    February 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  15. t.t.

    he should have gone inti the priest hood

    February 22, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Learn from life

      A cowardly and cheap comment.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  16. YammaYamma

    Church sucks

    February 22, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • trumantiger

      some people say that and then they changed their minds on the death bead......Better hope you are right....

      February 22, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • YammaYamma

      Don't worry I wont.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  17. YammaYamma

    I have to say things like "god is great" for my comments to not be deleted.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  18. David

    If that's all it took to cause them both to question the very core of their faith in their belief in their God and their trust in their marriage to each other, they should be single. There is nothing wrong with attraction, masturbation and lust. Of course, being Agnostic, I have the luxury of being able to be honest to myself and my partner 100% of the time and have no reason to hide the fact that from time to time, I rub one out to a girl and her pole of chosen desire. Maybe they should introduce a little role playing into their intimacy to help them both see that there is such a thing as healthy lust.

    I realize this may offend someone, and if so, congrats on your belief, and since I choose not to condemn your own, don't preach to me about mine. I offer only constructive reassurance that honesty is the only way. However, that being said, if two people feel that masturbation is unhealthy, good luck with the remainder of your days. They will be missionary and chilly.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • caitlin

      the smartest comment on this topic i've seen posted as of yet 🙂 i like the way you think

      February 22, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Frank

      Good post, David. If someone finds that offensive, they're just a prude.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Madox

      Amen!

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

      I have no need to add my own comment, because David already summed it up perfectly.

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

      Excellent point David... you put it perfectly as did other commenters. P0rn isnt the issue here yet they are trying to use it as an excuse. I guess sometimes the truth hurts

      February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  19. Frank

    This is stupid. His real problem is his guilt and his wife sounds insecure. They both need to just get over it. I'm a Christian. I have a high s#x drive and I watch p0rn and jack off. Who cares? You're as God made you and there's no reason to feel ashamed about it.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • umopapisdn

      All the problems in the world and they're worried about pr0n?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Frank

      Exactly.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • CalltoRightAction

      Jesus said if you look upon a woman and lust after her you have committed adultery with her. You DO need to be ashamed and you DO need repentance. Don't give the world the impression that God will simply gloss over this kind of thing. I know we are all broken, but there is no way to justify sin by faith.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Tim

      Oh yeah, and the murdering psychopaths and Hitlers and Stalins and rapists and kleptomaniacs should keep on doing what they feel compelled to do because that's the way God made them. Who cares?
      Terrible, terrible theology dude.

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

      CalltoRightAction:

      Well, I lust after men, women and various sorts of transgendered people. Guess I'm going to hell because God really cares about me fancying someone. Oh, please. Get a grip. That's just one verse out of many. I have more important things to matter about. Take your shame and shove it. I've been down that road and it's a dead end. I choose to embrace my natural s#xuality.

      Tim:

      You're really comparing normal expressions of s#xuality to mass-murdering tyrants? REALLY?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Frank

      *worry about

      February 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  20. YammaYamma

    This is so wrong.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
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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.