September 5, 2009

Pornography in Marriage

Is pornography in marriage considered lust when one partner doesn’t agree with it and does this create a reason for annulment or separation of the marriage if this was not known about the partner before the marriage? Is the partner obligated to participate in sex because there is a marriage vow? If the partner does participate, is this also lust for the partner?


Hi, thanks for writing. The deeper problems would seem to be that sex doesn’t have the proper place in marriage, serving primarily as a means to pleasure for one spouse at the expense of the other. Sex in marriage is supposed to be an expression of the mutual love, but can be the use of one partner by the other. If one spouse (or both) went into marriage with the idea that it would be a way of having a “sex slave”, then possibly no marriage exists, but that would be a matter for the annulment process. Each of us has to follow our conscience. The use of pornography is against the Gospel, and so is having sex with a spouse while fantasizing sex with someone else. If a spouse finds this use of pornography disordered and wrong, but participates out of respect for their spouse, it certainly isn’t lust, but it isn’t right, either. And in time, the spouse being pressured into pornography or deviant sex acts will probably become angry and resentful, and the marriage will probably not survive. At the very least, the frequency of sex is going to decrease so that the usual outcome of a dead sex life after 10 or 15 years of marriage will be the result. I don’t usually recommend counseling, but it would probably be a good idea, provided the counselor respects the sanctity of marriage as a Sacrament. If you are Catholic, a visit to a priest would be a good start. Confession is a good start as well, even if you aren’t the one doing wrong in this area. It is possible that you will go to a priest who believes pornography is acceptable (they exist in quantity), but keep searching until you find one that really follows Catholic teaching. If one or both are not Catholic, I’d still recommend a priest, as the Catholic teaching on sex in marriage is still the strongest without treating sex as a “necessary evil”. And you can write to us (my wife and I) here at any time. Personally, I’ve struggled with sex in marriage, because the temptation to seek the pleasure and forget the purpose is very great. Our own use of Natural Family Planning (not using artificial birth control) has been a great help in this area, because it builds self-control into the sexual part of marriage. Sex is a wonderful, pleasurable and life-affirming part of a healthy and Sacramental marriage. I hope some of this helps. For further reading, I very much recommend reading Ephesians 5:21-33 together. Here is a link: Also, the Catechism can be of help:

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