FamilyLife Today®

John Foubert: This is Your Marriage on Porn

with John D. Foubert | October 28, 2022
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Is porn tanking you or your marriage? Dr. John Foubert knows the danger is legitimate. He gets real about taking back what porn steals, kills, & destroys.
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Is porn tanking you or your marriage? Dr. John Foubert knows the danger is legitimate. He gets real about taking back what porn steals, kills, & destroys.

John Foubert: This is Your Marriage on Porn

With John D. Foubert
|
October 28, 2022
| Download Transcript PDF

Ann: Hey, before we get to today’s program, I want you to know that Dave and I were perfect parents. [Laughter]

Dave: —until we had a child. [Laughter]

Ann: Exactly! And we used to think there were perfect parents, but there are no

Dave and Ann:no perfect parents.

Ann: That's why we wrote the book, No Perfect Parents. We're excited because, now, we have an online video course for you. You can go through it as a small group, individually, or even just as a couple. And to get that, you can go to FamilyLife.com/NotPerfect to find out more. Again, FamilyLife.com/NotPerfect.

Shelby: Hey, Shelby Abbott here; just want to give a heads up before you listen to this next program. Today's conversation on FamilyLife Today covers some sensitive, but important, subjects that might not be suitable for younger ears; so please use discretion when listening to this next broadcast. Alright; now, let's jump into it.

John: I’ve heard the saying before that: “When God unites man and woman in marriage, it begins a spiritual battle. Satan wants to get in the middle of that spiritual battle.”

Dave: Oh, yes.

John: Well, Satan wants to get in the middle of this spiritual battle and drive you apart. I think a very powerful force is working, together, to defeat the porn monster.

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: In 30 years of pastoring, and when my assistant would come in and say, “Hey, So-and-so has just called; and they want to meet with you,”—somebody in our church/some guy who I didn’t know—after 30 years, I think I can say this—I didn’t do a study; there’s no science behind this; this is some-guy research—I would bet, 8 out of 10 of the guys, who would come in—anonymously, who I didn’t know, and want to talk to me—they wanted to talk about their struggle with porn.

John: Yes.

Ann: I think that’s true. And what is so interesting is I had many wives coming to me, saying that their husband is struggling with porn and they don’t know what to do. Recently, what’s been happening more and more, is I’m having women come to me, saying that they’re struggling with porn.

John: Yes.

Ann: This is very real in our homes. And now, too, parents are saying: “When do I talk to my kids about this?” “How do I talk to my kids about this?

Dave: Yes, so we’re going to talk about it today.

John: Alright.

Dave: You might want to fasten your seatbelt. [Laughter] We’ve got John Foubert in the studio, back with us.

I don’t know if they call you “The Porn Guy,” but you’re the guy who has—

John: Say: “Anti-porn Guy.” [Laughter]

Dave: —science on porn.

Ann: Yes!—because it could have—[Laughter]

Dave: I mean, you’re the guy, who we go to, to say, “Okay; how does porn harm?” That’s the title of one of your books: How Does Porn Harm? The book we’re talking about today is Protecting Your Children from Internet Porn: Understanding the Science, Risk, and Ways to Protect Your Kids.

We’ve already had quite a discussion, because you—when I say you’re the guy, who is anti-porn, it’s because you have studied it from a brain understanding—the science—the risks. I don’t think we—as parents, and as husbands and wives—understand how it harms us, like we’ve already talked about. As you think about, even what I just said, I mean, I heard you, right away, go, “Yes,” to [eight] guys coming into my office, saying that they struggle with this. Is that pretty normal?

John: I would say it’s pretty normal. I think one of the things the church needs to do a better job of is to say the word, “pornography,” from the preacher’s pulpit; and to have recovery programs in the church for men, who are struggling. It’s such a struggle of shame and loneliness that we need to break open those doors. I mean, if eight out of ten of the guys, who are coming to you, are talking about it, they’re plenty who aren’t.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Oh, yes.

John: We really need to get more on top of this in the church. I think a lot of churches are saying: “It’s not in our church; it’s in other churches.” We really need to recognize that there is no church that is immune to someone, who’s being tempted by sin. The sin that so many men and women are being tempted by is to look at pornography, especially because it is so assessable and affordable.

We need to do a better job, confronting it in the church, because I do believe the church is the greatest hope to get over the porn industry and its impact on our lives. Of course, eventually, when Christ comes back, the porn industry will see its demise; but I’d like to see its demise before then. I think it’d be nice if we could fight it as hard as we can now, while we’re after the Fall and before Christ comes back.

Dave: I’d love to know your thoughts—you wrote a little bit about it on “The Effects of Porn Use on a Marriage”—we’re going to talk mostly about parenting, and with our kids; but what have you found in terms of what we’ve just talked about: “How does it affect a marriage?”

John: It affects a marriage in devastating ways. Men who use porn are much more likely to cheat on their spouse; they’re much more likely to be dis-satisfied with their spouse; the couple itself is less likely to be satisfied with their marriage.

Dave: Some of that’s the way you write about in terms of how it re-wires our brain.

John: Yes.

Dave: Help us understand that a little bit.

John: Well, when you first start looking at pornography, what you get is this huge dopamine hit. It leads you down a very dangerous path; and then, eventually, all that you can be satisfied with is pornography. You can’t be satisfied with a real-life partner, let alone, your wife or husband.

Dave: Now, every guy I know, and every woman, probably hears that and goes, “Oh, that’s not me. I’m not going to go down that road. I’m going to stop at this point, and that’ll be enough.” But that’s not how the brain works; right?

John: It’s not how the brain works; eventually, you get trapped into more and more extreme pornography.

Ann: John, this is so depressing!

John: It is.

Ann: I’m just listening to this, thinking about women, who are listening, some are thinking, “I wonder if my husband is struggling”; and maybe, they’ve never even talked about it. Do you think that’s a good question for a wife to go to a husband and say, “Is this something that you have struggled with?”

John: I think that is a good question, for a wife to go to a husband with; because I think it, sometimes, can open the doors to him getting the recovery resources that he needs. Because a lot of men, who use pornography, think that their wife won’t be understanding at all. I think if you can approach it from both: “This is sin and this needs to go”; but also, “I’m here with you, and I’ll pray with you to see that it goes.” I think that balances the checkbook pretty well.

Ann: So you’re saying, “Enter the battle together.”

John: Yes.

Ann: And it’s not about the wife, personally, who is inadequate.

John: No, not at all.

Ann: I think that is really important, because Dave struggled with it in our early years of marriage. I felt so inadequate; I felt like, “This is me. This must be me.” And then I was so angry with him; because I was thinking, “Why can’t you just stop?”—like: “How hard is it? You just stop.”

John: Right; right.

Ann: You’re saying, based on what’s happening to the brain, it’s hard to just stop.

John: It’s very hard to stop. It’s as addictive as heroin, or cocaine, or gambling, and other behavioral addictions.

Ann: That’s depressing too!

John: Yes, it is; it is. It attacks the same parts of the brain, and the porn industry knows that. That’s one of the reasons why they’re so successful in making money from it: it’s that it is an addictive substance.

Dave: So coach a guy, who’s realizing, “I need help. I need to stop this.” What would you tell him to do?

John: I would tell him:

  • “Stop today; don’t plan to stop and just gradually wean yourself off. I would stop, cold turkey, today.”
  • “I would get one of the porn-filtering accountability software pieces.” There are lots of them out in the market. Covenant Eyes® is the most common one. They can be an app that you use instead of Google® to do searches. They can cover all of your devices.

Dave: Well, how about this?—how does he tell his wife?

John: I think it has to be a decision that he makes, in context with:

  • a pastor and a therapist, to help her understand it’s not her; so that she hears that from someone else besides him.
  • and the person, who he wants to help in this fight, is her, working with him.

I’ve heard the saying before that: “When God unites man and woman in marriage, it begins a spiritual battle. Satan wants to get in the middle of that spiritual battle.”

Dave: Oh, yes.

John: Well, Satan wants to get in the middle of this spiritual battle and drive you apart. I think a very powerful force is working, together, to defeat the porn monster.

Dave: How would you coach a wife to respond? I guess I’m looking at you [Ann].

Ann: I would say the first thing you should do, before you even go and ask your husband this, is pray. I would cover this whole area with prayer. And I’ve said this—

Dave: —like John said, it’s a spiritual war.

Ann: Yes! So don’t think, like, “Oh, this is my problem”; think: “This is our problem.”

I would pray earnestly: before, middle, and after; because even after you’ve had that conversation, I know that Satan—man, I would get in my head, and I would struggle; and then, I would be so fearful—I would feel like: “Oh! I need to be his protection.” And then, I’m constantly asking: “Did you look at anything?” “Did you see anything?” “I saw you look at that girl; what was that about?”

Do you think a husband should ask a wife if she’s struggling?

John: I don’t think it can hurt to ask. It can come across as a little confrontational.

Ann: Yes.

John: I’m not so sure, unless I had reason to suspect it.

Ann: I think a way to enter into that conversation is: “Tell me your history. Do you have any history with porn?”—like: “When were you first exposed to it?” “What did that do?” “What did it feel like?” “Have you ever struggled?”—that kind of approach feels much more palatable than:—

John: Yes, yes; I would agree with that.

Ann: “Do you struggle with porn?”

And even asking our kids that,—

John: Right; right; of course.

Ann: —as you said earlier/yesterday, “Ask our kids: ‘Has anyone shown you pictures of naked people?’”

Dave: You said, yesterday, “Man, this should be something you talk somewhat regularly with your kids.” What about a marriage? Is this something we talk about every month?

John: Well, I would, ultimately, say: “You’re feeding into the hands of Satan when you’re not talking about it,” “We’re feeding into the hands of Satan, in our churches, if we’re not talking about it there.”

I don’t think you have to talk about it every week/you have to talk about it every month, but it should be part of your ongoing discussion with your spouse/with your children; because it’s an ongoing battle. You don’t know when Satan’s going to strike; and he does, with great frequency, with the porn industry. That’s something that I think we need to work, together—arm in arm—to get over.

Dave: I know, as a married man, that we need our wife to know; and we need another guy to know, if not several guys—and like you said—a pastor or a therapist. I know that the small group of men, that I do life with, they knew.

 

I’ll never forget—when I told the guy, who I started my church with, that I struggled—this was not his struggle. I’m like, “Dude, I’m telling you, because I want you to hold me accountable; and I want you to…” It was six months later, when we were in the car one day, he goes, “Hey! You know, just think about this: do you ever struggle with that again?” I go, “Dude, it’s been six months since I told you. You’re not the guy.” [Laughter]

In other words, he’s like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “This is not a once, every six month, struggle. For somebody, it’s a daily thing. I need somebody who understands it’s going to be regular.”

I think there is some of that, but there needs to be an understanding that: “Yes, this is something that if somebody’s ever”—like Ann said—“If you have a conversation—there’s a history—that history doesn’t just end; it’s going to be something that person’s, probably, going to have to wrestle with, maybe, their whole life.”

John: Well, hopefully, it ends, at some point.

Dave: Exactly! But the struggle isn’t just: boom!

John: Right; right. And there’s something that I want to pick up on, that you said there—it wasn’t digital—digital pornography is one of things that was really the game-changer. Once high-speed internet pornography came into play—the number of images that one could see all at once and, then, just click on any type of scene you wanted to see—on an internet website was an absolute game-changer; because it introduced what neurologists call a super-normal stimulus, which is the kind of stimulus that our brains weren’t designed, by God, to deal with.

We have all of these stimuli of naked pictures of people, and we can choose from any kind of picture we want, and look at almost anything that we want, which is very different from your grandfathers, Playboy magazine. It’s something that has affected the addiction rates to a great degree. It’s something that really traps our kids, our adults—all people—in a greater way than the pornography of old used to.

Dave: I mean, that is just scary.

Ann: Isn’t it?

John: It is.

Dave: You hear that and—like you said—"We should be vigilant against/we’ve got to stop this.”

John: We’ve got to be.

Ann: That’s the word that came to my mind, too, Dave, was “vigilant.” We can’t be lazy; we can’t be passive. It’s a battle that we have to enter into.

John: It is; it is. I’m here to rile up the troops. [Laughter]

Ann: Yes!

Dave: We had Ray Ortlund on not too long ago. He wrote a book called The Death of Porn.

 

John: That’s a great book.

Dave: He was fabulous. I had not heard too many people talk the way he did, like, “Let’s end this. This stop this. Let’s ban together and put to death porn.” We want to play a little clip of what he had to say in the studio. I’d love to hear you, John, just respond to it.

John: Okay.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Ray: I use the hashtag: “Starve the beast.” It can’t endure that; it is not as formidable as it appears. It is we, men—and Christian men—who are enabling it and supporting it. What if we didn’t do that?

I want to see a Great Awakening. Yes, I want to see a great movement of God in our generation. What if the next Great Awakening starts inside the porn industry?

Ann: Yes.

Ray: What if the risen Jesus visits, with grace and mercy, the precious people, down deep inside the porn industry, right now? What if ten years from now, the most captivating preachers of the gospel, in this country, are ex-porn stars? What if the best story-tellers for the gospel are ex-porn videographers? What if the most generous philanthropists are ex-porn investors?

The risen Jesus is well-able to do that. Would we not love to see that?

[Studio]

John: Wow; I mean, yes, we would love to see that; there is no question about it.

I’ve talked to people, who’ve been involved in the porn industry, and who have left it. They tell me about stories of them being in poverty and having to make a decision between doing a porn scene or having them and their three children homeless the next day. I’ve never been in that kind of poverty before; I don’t know what I would say.

But even in that situation, there was more trickery. She said that she saw the people, who were raped in the porn industry; and that it’s a horrible, violent, awful industry to be in. It’s not like everyone’s having sex with attractive people, and boys, and fun and exciting. It’s very mechanical; it’s very business-like; and it tends to take advantage of people, who are in poverty, who really feel like they have no other option but to make money this way. And they don’t make a lot of money, for the most part. Most porn stars will live out their welcome within about six months and go home with nothing in their bank account.

Ann: —except the scars that they carry.

John: Well, yes.

Ann: —the wounds, the shame; I can’t even imagine.

John: And those images will be out there forever.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: I remember when Ray was here; it was just this awakening of: “We just tolerate this. ‘This is the world we live in. We’re not going to be able to do anything about it.’” I think his vision was: “Wait a minute; what if God wanted to use us, the church/as followers of Christ, to come together and say, ‘We shouldn’t be the ones supporting this. It exists because we ingest it,’ and ‘We could band together and stop it.’” That’s a whole different vision.

John: It’s a whole different vision and it’s one that has to be sent. I think it is why some pastors are hesitant to bring it up in their conversations in churches because they know so many of their men are using it and they might experience some pushback.

Dave: And they are too.

John: In some of the cases, some of them are too. But not as many as the porn industry says there are; but still, some of them are too.

We need to have an honest conversation in the church about porn.

Ann: As I’m listening to this—and was listening to Ray, as well—I get so riled up, you guys. I get so riled up.

John: Good.

Ann: I feel like, even as you were talking, John, I was thinking, “I want to pull as many women together to pray for our men; to pray for this industry; to be vigilant to pray for our children, who are being exposed to this; because Satan is on a mission to destroy our families, our marriages, our kids.

I think we forget that we serve this mighty God, who is the Creator of all heaven and earth, who has the power and capacity. If we reign together—and we lift our voices up together—and we pray for protection; we pray for freedom; and we pray that God would give us wisdom of: ‘What else can we do?’”

We need to fight alongside of our men, instead of condemning our men and shaming them for what they’ve done, let’s ban together to love, support our men/our children. I think it can be done.

Shelby: I appreciate that encouraging word from Ann. Dave’s got some final words of encouragement for men, struggling with this specifically. That’s coming up in just a minute on FamilyLife Today.

Our guest yesterday and today is John Foubert. His book is called Protecting Your Children from Internet Pornography: Understanding the Science, Risks, and Ways to Protect Your Kids. You can pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

We have FamilyLife’s president, David Robbins, with us today. David, tell us about what’s been going on with you lately.

David: You know, in getting to be in this role of FamilyLife President, one of the greatest privileges and joys I have is getting to hear from people, whether it’s their prayer requests that many send in—myself and a team prays over people—or whether it’s people encouraging or saying, “Hey, I want to hear about these topics…”

We recently heard from Mary Ann, who is a frequent listener. I’d love for you to hear what she shared.

Mary Ann: This is Mary Ann. When I do get to listen to FamilyLife, I just find it so nourishing. It speaks into a different level of family life, for sure. The different venues that you offer for that—whether it be young, middle, or older families—it’s just so fruitful. I love the transparency and the intimate kind of flair that I get from Ann and Dave Wilson.

David: It’s so encouraging to hear from Mary Ann. Thanks so much for calling in and leaving that message.

One of the things that encourage me the most was your encouragement of us ministering to different stages and seasons of life, which is just something our team is really intentional about. Each one of us have friends in different seasons: we know people, who are newly-weds; we know single moms; we know people who are empty nesters for the first time—and everywhere in between those—with young kids in the house.

If you are listening to FamilyLife Today, and someone comes to mind that you think could be blessed by what you’re hearing, I just want  to encourage you: “Pass it on to them.” Tell them when you’re listening to FamilyLife Today if you’re listening on radio; go to your favorite podcasts, or to the FamilyLife app, and send a direct link to the episode you’re listening to. It is our privilege to create biblical practical content that will help you in your marriage, and family, and home. We want to encourage you to be someone who passes it on to someone else and reflects Jesus to the people God has placed in your life.

Shelby: Those are great thoughts. Thanks, David.

You know, I love that FamilyLife goes right at topics like the ones we’ve been talking about today and views it through the specific lens of the gospel. I’m so thankful we aren’t afraid to talk about the real-world stuff many of us are facing, each and every day.

That’s why your partnership matters. Would you consider partnering with us, at FamilyLife, to continue the work of making every home a godly home? You can give, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Alright; here is Dave with some encouraging words for those struggling with the sin of pornography.

Dave: John, thank you for what you are doing.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: You are stepping into a minefield:—

Ann: —a war zone.

John: Yes.

Dave: “I’m going to let you know: what science says what’s going on in the brain,” “…how pornography harms,” and “…how it harms our children.”

John: Right.

Dave: Thank you for that.

But I would also say to the man, who’s struggling right now—to the husband, who’s listening—“You can win this battle.

John: “You can. You absolutely can.”

Dave: “In Christ, you have the power of the resurrected Christ living in you.” I’ve been in that battle; I know the struggle; I know how real it is; I know the burn—that sometimes you’re like: “This temptation is beyond what I can master,”—you can.

John: Yes.

Ann: You’ve won.

Dave: Actually, you can’t; He can in you.

John: Yes, yes.

Dave: Man, if you are living in that—and you’re struggling, and no one knows—you’ve got to tell somebody today—

John: Yes, yes.

Dave: —a brother. And then, it’s going to be a scary step: but tell your wife. I know it’s going to be hard. It may not go well, because it didn’t go well with us. [Laughter] But now, looking back, it led us to a place that’s better than we would have ever gotten to if I would have never said, “This is my struggle…” I think today is a day of a step toward deliverance.

John: Well, the Bible tells us to tell others. In James 5:16—

Ann: —yes, “Confess your sins to one another.”

Dave: —“so that you may be healed.”

John: Yes, absolutely. You took the words right out of my mouth. [Laughter] “…so that you may be healed”; absolutely.

Dave: I think the healing, in some ways, is once it’s out from the dark into the light, God can start to do the healing. Until it’s there—it isn’t like God can’t work—but you’re limiting God to be able to work, because you’re not letting anybody in: your spouse.

John: Right.

Dave: The same thing—we said it yesterday—the same thing is true, talking to your kids about this.

John: Right; right.

Dave: You have to create an environment, where they can come out of the dark, and trust mom and dad, and start a conversation.

Just in case you don’t remember, we have a great resource called Passport2Purity®, which starts a conversation with mom and dad, or mom or dad, with son or daughter about these kind of things. It’s a journey toward a life of purity.

Shelby: You heard Dave mention Passport2Purity. If you want help, talking about these issues with your preteen, this resource will set you up for a win. You can find it at FamilyLifeToday.com, just look for Passport—the number 2—and then, Purity.

Dave and Ann’s conversation continued after today’s broadcast with John. You can hear it on the FamilyLife Today podcast feed. Just search for FamilyLife Today wherever you get your podcasts.

Coming up next week, we have Dave and Ann Wilson talking with Jessica Thompson about how the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something that just relates to pastors, missionaries, or fulltime Christian workers; it relates to you too.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Episodes in this Series

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John Foubert: How to Protect Kids from Porn
with John D. Foubert October 27, 2022
Is porn really that bad? Dr. John Foubert digs into just how destructive it can be and how to protect your kids practically from real & present danger.
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