Trying to help Christian couples through intimacy issues brings the inescapable reality of having to deal with the Big P. So I thought I might as well get it over with and add my few cents worth, and having experience sort of "on both sides" of the camera probably gives me a slightly different viewpoint than what one might expect of a Christian.
Porn has entered a new Age in these modern times where so much material is not being made from the exploitation of others, nor is in anyway exploiting viewers in an economic sense anymore. Vast amounts of material is being made available free of charge by more-than-willing participants to on-line repositories for free viewing at large over the Net. So, within this new context then, this new Age of Porn, I absolutely cannot see anything wrong with porn in the socio-economic sense. Scandalized? You shouldn't be. You should be pleased. The traditional "commercial" porn industry is reeling under the pressure of all this free porn, so much so that some begin to wonder if the industry will collapse altogether--and that is not a bad thing.
The days of vicious exploitation of both performers and viewers are slowly disappearing, muffling--or at least taking some of the wind out of--many of the rallying cries from social groups at large. Porn now becomes a matter of personal freedom of expression (and we all know how the average person feels about their freedoms), not sexual-economic slavery to cruel commercial interests--and this is not a bad thing, either.
All that being said, in a secular sense, I am even able to see some benefits to porn and, also in the secular sense, with the growing loss of victimization, porn is ceasing to be immoral.
But I don't live in a secular sense any more.
With morality being characterized as the behavioral norm of rational beings to minimize harm/maximize benefits within a specific social context, it is then easy to see how nowadays porn is becoming "acceptable" in secular society. Be that as it may, however, the social context I chose to live in is Christianity, and within this particular context, spiritual well-being is paramount to our long-term survival. And those of us within this social context have willingly accepted and proclaimed through baptism that the "norm" for maintaining that spiritual well being is found in God's Word to us through the Bible.
And when considering porn, just one example of what that Word tells us is:
"Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy."--Romans 13:13 (AMP)
"Not in sexual promiscuity" outright eliminates performances by unmarried couples (it would be either fornication or adultery). But even when the performers are married to each other, unless the viewers are also married to the performers, what is supposed to be a Godly, loving, expression of affection degenerates into nothing but a lustful act (action with intent to promote erotic feelings in others outside of the marriage bond). Same goes if a third party is present to record the act, because that one-flesh communion is exclusive to those involved in the marriage, and could even now be argued to be fornication because the recorder, just by his presence, can be said to be involved in, or directly influencing, the act.
How about "single" performances? Well, unless the viewers are married to the performer, these are also, at the least, lustful acts (refer to the cameraman, above.)
That about covers making porn. Do I really need to also explain viewing porn? Or is the term "lustful act" self-explanatory enough?
And I would also caution against so-called erotica. Do not fool yourselves. It's main intent is just that: Arouse the reader. That, by definition, is pornography.
So, here we have Jehovah lovingly informing us what kind of behavior is sinful, i.e. spiritually damaging. Which means porn has now regained that old tendency to victimize (harm) both those performing and viewing it and therefore becomes immoral to Christians.
And yet, we have a growing prevalence of porn among Christians.
From scurrying-in-the-dark-ashamed to the in-your-face-screensaver-proud users, porn retains a strong hold on many Christians and is a lure for many others. A standard term that I have noticed is "porn addiction," which, although, I think is thrown around too much (I prefer "porn habit," which I believe is more descriptive of most of cases) I recognize that there are such individuals.
Yet Proverbs 26:2 always comes to mind:
Like it or not, porn fulfills a need in the viewer.
You must realize that there are reasons for a porn habit (although these are not excuses). Kicking a porn habit is much easier than you'd think, but can still be the most difficult thing you can do. A trained counselor or experienced elder can help. But you can also kick the habit on your own, if you are willing to be completely honest with yourself and really want to change. To start, the next time you watch porn, ask yourself while you're watching:
"Why am I watching this stuff, anyway?"
Now, don't go and watch porn just to answer the question (your answer will be obvious--and wrong.) But the next time you find yourself doing it "naturally," sort-to-speak, ask away. The answer might surprise you. I don't mean the superficial stuff, like "they have such big ___." I mean dig deep inside yourself and get to the root of the problem. Why are you watching, anyway? Feel lonely? Curious? Angry? Resentful? Rejected? Jealous? Pray, truly pray, for insight into your habit (ref 1 John 5:13-15), because without it, you won't be able master this obstacle for good, and it will keep dragging you back into its clutches.
Not all porn is created equal.
You can tell a lot about a person from the porn they watch, or didn't you realize the porn industry is as targeted as any other industry? From genre, performer's appearance, story line, feature length, etc., all for a specific audience. Just saying someone watches porn is like saying they eat lunch.
Pay close attention to what is being watched and gain insight into the habit. Do you watch (regular) soft/ hard/ extreme porn? (I hate to mention these, and some are illegal) Do you watch kiddie porn or "fake" kiddie porn or bestiality or same-sex? Water sports? True BDSM?
There is much you need to learn about your habit.
Not all viewing habits are equal.
Determining if you have a true "addiction" can be difficult. So when, where, how and how often can also be good indicators to the extent of the problem. Are you secretive or blatant or just private? Do you watch by yourself? Do you masturbate (sometimes, always, never) when you watch? Do you want your spouse to watch with you? Do you watch the same videos over and over? Do you watch the whole movie or just the sex scenes or just the "money shots"? Do you watch before, during or after sex with your spouse? Do you watch basically "anytime, anywhere?"
All these are clues that need looking into. Once you have a clear picture of your habit, you will more than likely start to see where the "need" is. Then you will have to deal with that. And suck it up: There is a good chance your spouse will be involved or need to be involved. If not, so much, so good. You can spare them some pain, although at some point, you should tell them about it. Keeping secrets is not that good--eats away at your peace of mind. You might also discuss with your elders--they are usually quite happy and supportive of those kicking a porn habit. And there is that "worst-case-scenario" where you might determine you need professional counseling. Get it. As soon as you can.
For those suddenly discovering their spouse has a porn habit.
First of all, my heart goes out to you. But if self-righteous anger is all you want to gain from this blessing, then ignore what follows. And, yes, I said Blessing. I think we could safely apply 1 Corinthians 7:16 in this case as well as James 5:19-20: You have the chance to bring your spouse back from the "dark side" if you are up to healing your spouse (which is in effect what they need).
If you are well grounded and your faith is up to it, you can try to handle this within your marriage first. But if you have any doubts, please, by all means as soon as possible, seek assistance from an elder or counselor.
It is mostly the same advice: Pay close attention to what is being watched and gain insight into the habit. Honestly and frankly discuss with them what they find so appealing. Many see porn as "victim-less" and do not stop to consider a spouse's feelings. Do not let anger creep in; they will see it as jealousy. Do not say things like "dirty", etc. That is judgmental and we are not supposed to be judging each other plus it will make them defensive. Focus on your feelings, how you feel about their habit. Calmly let them know the porn habit is not acceptable, won't be tolerated, and that they must strive to eliminate it within a reasonable length of time, and that you will do all you can to help
Realize this, however:
1. Praying to God to change your spouse will not work. Why? Jehovah has granted all of us free will. He will not intervene in that way.
2. Since God will not change your spouse, do not think you have the right to, either. They must change themselves.
3. Remember: When this system of things comes to an end, not everyone will have a happy ending. And porn puts one on the short list for the "not happy" side.
4. You should not be angry at your spouse. Be angry at what is causing them to watch porn. Feel sorry that they have a weakness that could end up costing them everlasting life.
5. Porn addiction can be overcome. Once it has, though, it might put much more sexual demands on you. You cannot then cry "they need it too much". You will have to find a compromise.
6. You cannot compete with porn. Except with these vital exceptions: Love and presence. When you are intimate, make sure you show up. Give them your undivided attention and show them you love them and want them--words will not get through. You have the advantage here: you know them intimately well--or at least you will by now.
7. Keep your perspective. Many of the posts in the various marriage blogs bring tears to my eyes. If all you have to deal with is a porn problem, you might want to consider yourself lucky.
And remember to keep praying. God is your biggest ally and he wants you to have a happy marriage.
My prayers go with you.