Three Things I (Wish I Hadn't) Learned From Pornography

  1. Share
7 1

When I was a fifth grader, my friend opened my laptop and introduced me to pornography. At the time, I didn’t know what pornography was, but I did know that it was something new and exciting. Years would go by before I rediscovered porn.

In college, after experiencing date rape (my first time having intercourse), I had many questions about sex. My curiosity led me to my reliable friend Google. As I began typing in my questions about sex, I was intrigued. “So this is what sex is supposed to look like.” I truly believed that...

Porn became my sex education. It taught me that sex is never messy, that women have to look a certain way to be loved, and that manipulation is okay. But neither the sex I experienced as rape, nor the sex I was watching on the screen, accurately displayed God’s purpose and design for sex.

If Christians fail to create a safe place for young adults to ask questions about sex, they will more likely turn to internet pornography.

According to a recent study, 25 percent of young adults ages 18-24 years old in the U.S. say that porn is their most helpful source of information about how to have sex.1 This is likely an underestimated percentage because of the shame associated with using pornography. When young people turn to porn for sex education, single or married, they begin to believe that the sex they experience in real life will be like the sex they see in pornography. In the survey, porn was the most commonly identified source for sex education. It rated higher than family, a significant other, and media.

The study, conducted by a non-Christian group, came to impactful conclusions. They explain, "The bad news is that young adults are misunderstanding what porn is there for. Most free, online pornography is there for entertainment and to make money for the creators. It isn't there to teach you what you are supposed to do when you are having sex." Even the secular world understands that pornography should not be our source for sex education!

Here are three things I wish I hadn't learned from pornography:

Porn taught me that sex is self-focused.

In pornography, the focus is all about how to get the most pleasure for oneself. Whether through masturbation or focusing on orgasming quickly, the focus is never on serving the other person. In God’s design for sexuality, sex is mutual (and even better) when you focus on pleasing and serving your spouse.

Paul talked about surrendering your body to your spouse in the marriage bed in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4. He said, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” This does not mean you have to give your body to your spouse whenever they want, but rather that our bodies are gifts to one another in marriage. (To learn more about this idea, read Are You Entitled to (Good) Sex in Marriage?)

Loving and serving your spouse (above your own desires) in the bedroom is one way you display your marriage covenant through sexual intimacy.


Porn taught me that sex would always be amazing.

Sex portrayed on a screen is nothing like sex in real life. Sadly, when young adults look at porn as their sex education, they will be let down when married sex does not always result in explosive orgasms. Real sex requires communication with your partner as you figure out how to please one another and allow time for arousal.

Watching porn trains your body to be unable to respond to your spouse’s touch and can be a detriment to enjoying sex in marriage.


Porn taught me that it's normal for sex to feel abusive.

Covenant Eyes, an online filter software, states that 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression. When young adults see abuse in porn, they are more likely to think aggression is normal and play out what they’ve seen in real life.

Sometimes couples say that they watch porn to learn how to “spice things up.” Porn and erotica actually do the exact opposite. Things may “spice up” at first, but they will eventually erode the trust and communication needed for sexual intimacy and a loving sex life. (Want to learn some healthy ways to spice up your love life?)

The men and women who make porn are also negatively impacted. Porn performers are often high on alcohol or drugs and some are actually victims of sexual exploitation. Covenant Eyes shares that 79% of porn performers have used marijuana, and 50% have used ecstasy. It is normal for the women to be high or drunk when performing, and have eating disorders.


Let’s Talk About It

As Christians, we must stop allowing shame to keep us from asking for help. We need to create safe places for men and women, single or married, to ask questions about sex. We must be a place where women (especially) can confess to struggling with porn, and find help, healing, and encouragement. In order to help men and women reclaim their sexuality, we must begin talking about God’s greater design. Porn is a terrible teacher, but God’s Word has answers to every question—even questions about your sex life. And His Word brings freedom, healing, and purpose to our sexuality.

(Presione aquí para leer en español). 


Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

Community tags

This content has 0 tags that match your profile.


To leave a comment, login or sign up.
  • Valerie Fernandez

    Valerie Fernandez

    ¡Gracias Joy! Thank you for facilitating those safe spaces and sharing His truth.

Related Content

3 Reasons To Invite Women Into Conversations About Sexual Brokenness
by Joy Skarka I opened my door and there she stood. She was nervous. I invited her inside my home, offered her a cup of coffee, and we sat down on my couch. I could see the hesitancy on her face as she fidgeted with her phone. I asked her to tell me a bit about her story.  My new friend was referred to me by another woman who had sat on my couch just last week and cried as she said I was the first person she had ever told about her porn addiction. Every woman who sits on my couch has different details in their stories––different traumas or different types of sexual brokenness, but each story and each face are filled with pain and questions.  “Will my life always feel this empty?” “Will I always be addicted to porn?” “Will my marriage always be this hard?” “Will I always be afraid of men?” “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Can Jesus really meet my longings and desires for intimacy?” After each woman shares her story, I offer comfort with just two little words, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry that she has walked through such a painful experience. I assure her from my own story that there is hope. I’ve been in her shoes. I may not have experienced the exact trauma and experiences as each new friend on my couch, but I’ve walked through sexual assault and sexual addiction, and I’ve found hope and healing. For some of these women, that’s all they need to hear. As they stand up and walk out my door, I can see that they look lighter. Happier. More hopeful. I didn’t fix their problems, but I gave them a safe space to share their stories and they no longer feel alone. I meet women in their brokenness on my couch, and I meet new friends at different events. I frequently share my story from a stage in front of hundreds of people, and afterwards women line up to share their own brokenness and ask for hope. One time a young woman hesitated near the line, waiting for others to leave. I walked over and asked if she wanted to talk. With tears in her eyes she said, “I’ve never even heard a woman, let alone a Christian woman, say the words pornography and masturbation. Thank you for giving me the space to say them too.”  In my doctoral research, I surveyed over 1,000 women on how they experienced sexual shame and if or how they found freedom. Sadly, almost 69 percent of the women said their sexual shame made them feel far from God, and 52 percent said they felt so much shame that they kept their struggles a secret from their friends and family.   In my experience, sexual struggle and temptation are almost always talked about as guys’ problems. This just heaps shame on the many women who also struggle with them. Sexual sin issues are not just topics for men. It’s time we invite women into the conversation.    Honest conversations invite women to know God’s forgiveness. If we continue to ignore the sexual brokenness of women, how will they know the forgiving love of a God who sets them free? Understanding God’s forgiveness is key to helping women find freedom from sexual sin and sexual shame. Anna, a 42-year-old woman, struggled with sexual shame surrounding same-sex relationships, pornography, and masturbation. She also experienced sexual abuse as a child. Anna shared with me that hearing God forgives and loves her is what set her free from sexual sin and shame. Similarly, Andrea, a 37-year-old woman, chose to abort her baby, and the shame she experienced led to her living a life of continued sexual sin. Andrea said that she believed God could never love or forgive her because of her actions, which led to her walking away from God for years. Similarly to Anna, for Andrea to find healing from the pain of her abortion, she said the most powerful thing that happened in her life was hearing from a pastor that God loves her and forgives her.   Honest conversations create a safe place for women to ask questions and share their stories. We need to create a safe place in church to talk about sexuality, and if we fail to include women, they may not feel comfortable coming forward with their issues. Many women believe they have no safe place to ask questions about sex or to talk about sexuality; yet having that safe place is a part of biblical community. Instead of silencing or shaming women, churches can normalize these conversations. You can be an empathetic friend—but don’t stop there. Pray with your leadership and ask God to show you how to create places where men and women can gather and talk about their struggles and share their stories with other believers. One way to offer a safe place is to have female staff members and/or trained lay leaders so that women are able to speak with other women first. Men and women have more in common than we realize. There are important spaces for men and women to heal in their own groups; but we also need to heal together. Including women in conversations about sexuality opens doors for brothers and sisters in Christian community to have conversations with one another. When we categorize sexual sin as a “man’s issue,” we not only hurt women, we also hurt men. Both men and women are sexually broken.   Honest conversations point women to the hope of Christ.  Many of the women who have sat on my couch share that they believe they are “too far gone” or “too addicted” to ever find healing. Other women share that they have gone through too much pain and suffering to have hope for healing. Including women in conversations about sexuality helps them to realize they aren’t exempt from the hope of Christ because of their sin.  Hebrews 10 explains how we can provide hope to men and women. The author of Hebrews encourages us to, “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10: 22-24 NIV). First, we draw near to God. Then we can experience being cleansed from our sins. And through that faith in God and His forgiveness, we can have hope. Why? Not because of anything we’ve done, but because He is faithful. I love the last verse that encourages us to then spur one another on.   We can spur one another on by having honest conversations. This is true for my friend Stacy. Stacy, a 28 year-old woman, found freedom from shame through the vulnerability of a mentor. Before finding someone to honestly share with, Stacy struggled alone. “Growing up it was never safe to ask anyone questions about sex. It would always turn into ‘I had done something wrong.’ I grew up feeling bad about my sexuality and soon turned to pornography and masturbation in secret because I couldn’t open up to anyone about how I was struggling. I didn’t know another woman who struggled with these things or even had sexual desire of her own. I thought I was the only one! Every book or sermon on the subject only mentioned male desire.” Stacy shared what brought her healing. “It wasn’t until a mentor led with vulnerability and shared about her own struggles that I felt safe to share my own sin. She pointed me to the gospel and how God knew the whole time and still sent Jesus to make a way for me to have a relationship with him. This gave me the strength to keep being vulnerable with that mentor and pursue accountability and healing of those deeper issues. Over time, I felt safe enough and secure in God to share my stories with others and help them start their recovery journey.” I wish I could invite you over to my couch to have an honest conversation about sexual brokenness. If you are struggling, who is a safe Christian mentor or friend you can begin sharing your story with? Or if you are a Christian leader, I encourage you that you can begin having these conversations on your couch. Have you led with vulnerability? Are you allowing your own story to point others to the gospel? Think about one way you can begin having honest conversations about sexuality that include women too.  If you would like to hear more about my story or how to include women in these conversations, listen to our episode on Java with Juli #369: Changing the Way We Talk About Porn (Because Women Struggle Too).   Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash
Porn: A Quick Fix But No Solution
I’m thrilled to introduce the Authentic Intimacy community to our new Director of Discipleship, Joy Skarka. Joy brings not only education and experience, but also her own story of transformation from sexual bondage to freedom in Christ. —Juli (Presione aquí para leer en español).  Since COVID-19 the pornography industry has seen a massive increase in website traffic. On March 24th, one major site announced that their premium content would be free to all visitors resulting in a massive increase of 18.5%. The site explained that watching free porn will encourage people to stay home and flatten the curve.  It’s no surprise that many will turn to porn in our current circumstance. I know because this used to be my story. In moments of pain, I turned to porn to escape my reality. Engaging with pornography appeared to be a quick fix for my negative emotions and feelings, but it was never fully satisfying. These negative emotions and feelings could include fear, anxiety, isolation, stress, and boredom, all of which are currently at an all-time high for many of us. In our fear and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we search for things to comfort us and make us feel safe. We watch the news and scroll through our Twitter feeds. We buy all the toilet paper and Clorox wipes off the shelves. We binge Netflix hoping that a little distraction and a quick feeling of pleasure will calm our nerves. The small decision we make to turn to porn for comfort has lasting impact on our brains. Porn rewires our brain by reconstructing our neurological pathways and bonding us to the images. Often we start by looking at simple images, joining a chat room, reading a romance novel, or turning to internet porn. Then dopamine, a pleasurable chemical, is released into the brain. Over time, we develop a tolerance and become desensitized to the images. When the levels of dopamine are no longer high enough to feel pleasure, a person will want something stronger. Just like a drug addiction, a person can develop a chemical addiction to pornography. In the moment when we look to porn, we fail to think about the lasting negative impacts. This is the power of addiction, but the good news is that we worship a God who has the power to overcome our addictions and bring healing to our brains. While in quarantine, we may also feel lonely. Living alone or even with a roommate during a crisis like this one may accentuate the isolation of singleness. You may feel unloved or unwanted when you are stuck inside the walls of your home. And marriage can feel lonely too. When two people are forced to spend time together, conflict can make you wish you lived alone. In our pain, we seek quick solutions to fix our heart problems. (Check out the Marriage Survival Guide: Surviving A Quarantine With Your Spouse.)  Our souls cry out for intimacy and connection. During this time when people are stuck at home, separated from loved ones, and living in fear, it makes sense that we would seek out something to address our longings. We were created for intimacy. We were created to be loved and to want love, yet we turn to things that will never satisfy us. The world often separates intimacy from sex. You can have sex without intimacy and intimacy without sex. Porn is sex without intimacy. While it promises connection, porn will ultimately create further isolation from people, from God, and from the beautiful picture of how sex was designed. Sex is relational. Sex is spiritual. Porn is isolating and will never fill our longings. With one click of a button, we can feel “connected” for a few minutes, but this feeling quickly fades.  If porn won’t meet your needs, what will?  Temptation is an illegitimate way to address our legitimate longings. Your anxiety and loneliness are real. Turning to porn is an easy solution to our fears, loneliness, and boredom, but is it lasting?  The only thing that will fill our heart longings and desires is intimacy with God. God wants to use our present circumstances to allow us to run back to him and experience his intimacy. My prayer for myself and for all of us is that we will use our pain for good during this season. I pray that even in the times we feel lonely or struggle with anxiety, we will run to God for his comfort and not to pornography.  If you sometimes struggle with porn or even if you recently had a major relapse, here are some practical next steps and tools:    1) Turn to God to fill your longings.  Intimacy with God can be deepened through prayer, Bible reading, and worship. Use your extra time at home to spend time in God’s presence. (Check out a devotional by Juli Slattery about intimacy with God.)   2) Turn to God for healing.  Today, during my time with God, I read the story of Jesus healing the woman who bled continuously. For twelve years, she suffered, and even spent all her money to try and get better, but she only grew worse. After reaching out and touching Jesus’ cloak her bleeding immediately stopped.  If you have struggled with porn for years, there is hope. Reach out to Jesus, and he can bring you lasting healing.    3) Find community online.  Join our date night series or our membership community. We need to connect to real people through video conferencing and talking on the phone. FaceTime a friend and pray together. We need God, but we also need human connection. The internet can be a powerful tool to connect us or a dangerous tool that can isolate us from God and others.  You can also join online groups that provide community and support specific to pornography. I am currently leading a Pure Desire group. Join a group today.   4) Check out other Authentic Intimacy resources. Java with Juli Podcast: #300: Christians Struggle with Sexual Addiction Too. Webinar: Pornography: Help for Spouses & Parents  Blog: Breaking Free From Addiction and When Your Kids Look at Porn   5) Learn how to sit in your discomfort. Instead of turning to porn, Netflix, or food, journal your feelings. Give yourself permission to cry, to admit feeling overwhelmed, lonely or anxious. You do not need to deny these feelings, but instead turn to God with them. Cry out to God; he can handle our fears, worries, and insecurities. He is all-powerful and all-knowing and the best comforter. As we practice this act of surrender and sitting in our discomfort, we will exercise this muscle. This action may feel difficult now, but over time this will get easier.    Whatever COVID-19 reveals about our hearts, God can heal. He is our healer. We are praying for you in this season!     Joy Skarka is passionate about creating spaces to free women from shame. Joy earned her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida, a Master of Arts degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Ministries degree from DTS studying how women find freedom from sexual shame. While in college she began writing, speaking, and leading online small groups with the goal of helping women experience freedom from sexual shame. In 2020, Joy transitioned from her ministry to serve as the Director of Discipleship for Authentic Intimacy. Joy married her husband Zack in 2017, and they live in Florida.       You may also find the following resources helpful: Java Pack: Learning to Trust Date Nights In: A series of four online events for married couples about how to talk, fight, and pray about sex. COVID-19 Marriage Survival Guide Don't Waste The Pain (blog) Java with Juli #306: When You Can't Wait Another Day Java with Juli #40: Bonus! What Do You Fear?