Sexual activity between a husband and wife can be compared to fire in the fireplace. Fire by nature is extremely dangerous. It destroys, but used in the proper place it cooks your food, can be used to make tools, and warms your home. Sparks from that fire sent outside of the fireplace can cause untold damage if left unchecked.
Using profane erotica in all its forms is a fire ignited outside of the fireplace. Done often enough, the habit of starting the fire outside the fireplace is formed and damage will inevitably occur.
We still need sexual stimuli to become aroused with our marriage partner. Over time, that original infatuation boost we had from falling in love and first being married, fades as we move into the more subdued relationship phase of our marriage. Male and female porn would appear to be a quick and safe boost to jump-start our sexual engines, but they are artificial and train our minds to rely on them rather than our spouse for sexual arousal. This leads to not being able to become aroused or reach orgasm with our spouse unless we first self-medicate with porn. It can also result in dissatisfaction with our spouse.
Male and female profane erotica are both relationship separators. A woman who reads romance novels before sex, and then calls her husband wicked for watching profane erotica before sex, is living a double standard.
Turning your attention to your spouse or trying to visualize your spouse in place of the hero or heroine after indulging in male or female profane erotica is an insufficient justification for using it because of the programming that takes place in our bodies and in our minds. The artificial stimuli replace the natural use of and desire for the spouse. Chemicals such as delta FosB and dopamine that are released in the brain while watching or reading profane erotica can “permanently alter brain chemistry.”
If actions like masturbation are introduced, profane erotica addiction is reinforced – “Neurons that fire together wire together.”[i]
To understand what appropriate sexual stimuli are, we need to understand the difference between intimacy and lust. Intimacy is not lust, but intimacy is sexually stimulating.
Lust is a feeling of being out of control, covetous, possessive, obsessive, and jealous or angry if one doesn’t get what they want. Lust is rebellious.
“There is a great difference between love and lust. Pure love yields happiness and engenders trust. It is the foundation of eternal joy. Lust will destroy that which is enriching and beautiful.”[ii]
Intimacy is two people being close, affectionate, unselfish, and willing to gain a deep understanding of the other person’s emotional and sexual wants and needs. It can be very sexually stimulating when a married couple works together to develop intimacy. It will edify and strengthen the bonds between a husband and wife. This is what God intended for marriage to be since the days of Adam.
Why don’t more people work to build intimacy if the outcome is so great?
The risk or threat of rejection or pain in the real relationship drives people to the “safer” and “easier” haven of profane erotica. It’s ironic that people will spend hours indulging in profane erotica when the same amount of time (or less) could be spent in intimacy-building activities that give much more rewarding results.
If care is taken to meet each others’ needs, a husband and wife won’t need external sexual stimuli to be aroused to each other. There are good books written that help a husband and wife explore their sexuality with each other. In the process of practicing these intimacy skills, sexual arousal will happen. We can trust that our bodies and our minds will function the way they were designed to. If they do not, seek medical attention or other appropriate professional evaluations.
But she/he is so different…I don’t know if I’ll ever understand her/him…
Thomas Moore, the author of “The Soul of Sex” said “the idea of having a sex partner is having someone who’s different from you, and that means if you’re a man and you’re with a woman or vice versa, to try and get to know what it’s like to be this other gender.”
Marriage is a journey of sexual discovery and it’s meant by God to be taken together as husband and wife. [iii] If a man or a woman has a sexual or emotional void that should be filled by the spouse and is not, that person is most vulnerable to the draw of romance novels or profane erotica. To the disillusioned spouse, the romance novel or sexually defiling video seems to fill that hole in their intimate relationship. That’s a symptom that the relationship needs to be addressed and corrective steps need to be taken so that that emptiness is being filled by the spouse and not by the male or female P.E.
“But my spouse absolutely refuses to work with me…”
“If every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion, there would be very little, if any, divorce. Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness.”[iv]
The emotional void can be filled if the spouse is willing to communicate and help, but if the spouse is unwilling to learn how to fill the other person’s needs, then some stronger decisions may have to be considered, but all I can offer is this advice from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Marriage is beautiful when beauty is looked for and cultivated. It can be ugly and uncomfortable when one is looking for faults and is blinded to virtue. As Edgar A. Guest once remarked, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” (“Home,” in Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest, Chicago: Reilly and Lee Co., 1934, p. 12.) That is true. I can show you throughout this church hundreds of thousands of families who make it work with love and peace, discipline and honesty, concern and unselfishness.
There must be recognition on the part of both husband and wife of the solemnity and sanctity of marriage and of the God-given design behind it.
There must be a willingness to overlook small faults, to forgive, and then to forget.
There must be a holding of one’s tongue. Temper is a vicious and corrosive thing that destroys affection and casts out love.
There must be self-discipline that constrains against abuse of wife and children and self. There must be the Spirit of God, invited and worked for, nurtured and strengthened. There must be recognition of the fact that each is a child of God—father, mother, son, and daughter, each with a divine birthright—and also recognition of the fact that when we offend one of these, we offend our Father in Heaven.
There may be now and again a legitimate cause for divorce. I am not one to say that it is never justified. But I say without hesitation that this plague among us, which seems to be growing everywhere, is not of God, but rather is the work of the adversary of righteousness and peace and truth…You need not be his victims. You can rise above his wiles and entreaties. Get rid of the titillating entertainment, the pornography that leads to evil desires and reprehensible activity.
Wives, look upon your husbands as your precious companions and live worthy of that association. Husbands, see in your wives your most valued asset in time or eternity, each a daughter of God, a partner with whom you can walk hand in hand, through sunshine and storm, through all the perils and triumphs of life[v]”
Remember that the Lord is the third party in your marriage as well. We all come across inflexible situations of one kind or another in life, and in marriage. It’s your decision whether or not to leave, or to manage the situation. Turn to the Lord for help, and use the Spirit to determine the right course of action for you to take to improve the situation. Outside sources of advice can sometimes only take you so far.
Turning to profane erotic material to “keep the peace” and avoid discussing the emotional need only becomes a facade to cover deeper issues. It can also lead to deeper problems such as addiction and adultery. Nowhere have studies shown that it improves a relationship over long-term use.
This is part of the adventure of being married. It is a journey both take together to learn about each other. Relax and take your time; it is never a race. Filling each others' needs is also something that can only be learned through communication and time spent together.
Appropriate romantic entertainment (i.e. plays, books, videos, etc) is that which helps you have a greater appreciation for your spouse and family. It will depict life and morals instead of a moral vacuum without consequences. Whether meant for men or women, profane erotic material is harmful and should be passed up. Married couples have the opportunity to turn towards and be grateful for each other, rather than indulging in P.E. and encountering dissatisfaction - wishing for a spouse that was “that way.”
[i] Miller, Max. “Is Your Brain Addicted to Porn?”, Big Think, 17 September 2010. http://bigthink.com/ideas/24030
[ii] Scott, Richard G. “The Sanctity of Womanhood.” Ensign, May 2000
[iii] D&C 49:15-17, 1Cor. 7: 2-5, D&C 42:22
[iv] Hinckley, Gordon B. “The Women in Our Lives” Ensign, Nov 2004
[v] Hinckley, Gordon B. “What God Hath Joined Together”, Ensign, May 1991