By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
After years of counseling women who struggle with pornography, I can tell you first hand this sin is NOT exclusive to men! If you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with this particular sin, you might have a hard time understanding the motivation behind it. After all, we’re told that women are disgusted by pornography.
Perhaps you have a woman in your life who does struggle with this sexual sin and you’ve found yourself asking, “Why do women turn to pornography?” I can’t answer for every woman out there, but I can share the reasons I’ve been given from women I’ve met with.
If you’re a woman who does struggle with pornography, I pray that reading this will give you insight into your motivations, that you are convicted to repent, and that you are encouraged that there is hope for you to leave this sin behind.
Why do women turn to pornography?
1. Women, like Men, Are Sinful
Were you looking for a more complex answer? Don’t worry, those are coming, but the bottom line is, women are sinful. We know, according to Romans 3:23 that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. While we may not all have the same sin struggles, women, like men, were created to find pleasure in the opposite sex and women are also prone to distorting and abusing the gift of sex.
We’re all familiar with Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This verse is not just for men. Women need to apply this to themselves as well and know they are committing adultery in their hearts when looking lustfully at a man.
Women need to be reminded that we are tempted when we are lured by our own desires (James1:14-15) and viewing pornography affects every aspect of their personhood and romantic relationships (Luke 11:34-36).
2. Women Were Created as Sexual Beings
You can read the Song of Solomon and be reminded that women, like men, were created to enjoy the opposite sex. While there are many women who claim they aren’t visually stimulated, there are many, many others who are. For these women, the struggle is just as real and intense as it is for men.
While it’s taken the church a long time to acknowledge this, a quick look at all the buff, shirtless men in movies will tell you the world has known this truth for a long time!
Many Christian women steal glimpses of skin from shirtless men in the summer months, or from any number of advertisements, but allowing themselves these little “cheats of satisfaction” often leads to a desire for more. More skin. More everything.
These women need to be reminded that their sexuality is a gift that should be treasured until they are married. Once married, their sexual desire is meant for their husbands, and their husbands only. These women should strive to memorize Psalm 101:3-4: “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.”
Most women will tell you that they love to hate themselves. We tend to compare ourselves to other women already, but once we know our husbands are looking at pornography, the self-hate skyrockets! Many women will search for pornography knowing that these images will only bring self-loathing, but what women don’t expect is to be lured in the same way their husbands were.
Regrettably, many women seek out pornography because they’re angry and curious about the images that capture their husband’s interest. These women start out with innocent intentions but end up ensnared by the same sin they hate. In these situations, women are less likely to confess this sin because they feel like hypocrites.
These women need help processing their husband’s sin as well as their own. These women need to confess their sin and not struggle alone for fear of hypocrisy. Psalm 32:3-5 is a good scripture for these women to meditate on. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
4. Past Abuse
There are exceptions to every rule, but women who are sexually abused tend to lean in one of two directions: Either they don’t want to have anything to do with sex, or they become sexual addicts. Either of these paths can lead a woman to pornography.
Imagine a scenario where a woman has been assaulted and no longer trusts men. However, her desire for sexual pleasure hasn’t disappeared. Looking at pornography and engaging in self-pleasure is a safe way to fulfill that perceived need.
At the other end of the spectrum, you might find a woman who can’t get enough sexual pleasure. However, she’s a Christian and is determined not to be promiscuous as a single or married woman. Yet, even for the married woman, regular sex doesn’t seem to fulfill that desire. So, she finds herself turning to pornography because it seems less harmful and therefore less sinful.
First, these women need help dealing with their past abuse. Then these women need help finding healthy ways to deal with their sexual desires. They also need to be reminded that they are relying on pornography instead of God to fill a void, and relying on anything other than God is idolatry (1 Cor10:14).
5. It Seems Safe
This excuse is particularly common among single women. Sex before marriage is not only sinful, but it comes with many risks like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Looking at pornography and engaging in self-gratification seems safer, less risky, and somehow seems less sinful.
The danger here, especially for the single woman, is that habits aren’t easily broken. A single woman can convince herself that once she’s married, she’ll leave this sin behind. That’s rarely the case. In fact, the most likely scenario is that these women have trained their minds and bodies to respond to images, which can make it more difficult to respond to their husbands when the time comes.
These women need to be reminded that viewing pornography is anything but safe. Besides the scientific studies that show how pornography can actually rewire the brain, the biggest concern is rebelling against our Holy God. We are told as God’s people that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality among us. (Ephesians 5:3)
6. Pornography Is like a Drug
Studies show that pornography use activates the same underlying brain networks as using drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. In other words, viewing pornography can give a person a “buzz” just like drugs or alcohol can.
There was a time when these studies were thought to show dramatically different results between men and women. New studies, however, are showing that men’s and women’s brains react the same to sexual images. The bottom line is, sin feels good and our brains tell us we need more of the thing that brings us pleasure.
Women who are addicted to pornography need help and accountability as if they were addicted to drugs or alcohol. A good verse to memorize is 1 Cor 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Why Do Women Look at Pornographic Images of Other Women?
An interesting element to women looking at pornography is that many women actually look at images of other women, not men. The women we’re talking about consider themselves to be heterosexual, so why look at images of the same sex? There’s a number of reasons:
- Married women think their husbands would be more hurt if they were caught looking at images of other men. Therefore they look at women because it feels safer and they can still get the sexual arousal they’re craving.
- It’s easier to explain away. If a husband catches his wife looking at a naked man, what excuse can she offer? But, if a husband catches his wife looking at a naked woman, the excuses are endless.
- Many women, married and single, convince themselves that looking at the same sex is less sinful. They convince themselves that the arousal is coming from a place of appreciation, not sexual lust.
- Think back to the woman who has turned to pornography because she has been abused and doesn’t trust men. It makes sense that for this woman, looking at other women feels safer. Watching a man and woman engage in sexual activity could be a PTSD trigger. However, looking at an image of a woman or watching two women engage in sexual activity feels safe and secure.
- Women have also explained that, when growing up, they were taught to look away at images of men who were “indecent” (such a man’s underwear ad, for example). But these same women weren’t taught to look away from an ad for women’s underwear. The result was, these women were taught that looking at undressed women was okay. As they experienced puberty and wanted to explore their sexuality, turning to images of women seemed safe and natural.
Help and Hope:
Any woman who is struggling with pornography needs help. She needs prayer that her heart will be convicted and that she will turn from her sin and come to true repentance. She needs help in understanding the depth of God’s love and the depth of her sin. Until she hates her sin, she will not turn from it. Pray for her. Point her to Scripture. Point her to Christ.
Encourage her to put to death anything that is earthly in her (Col 3:5-10), and to run from anything that stimulates youthful lust (2 Tim 2:22). Hold her accountable (2 Tim 2:21-22, Gal 6:1-2). Remind her of God’s faithfulness to forgive (1 John 1:9) and that through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit, change and healing can happen.
Point her to 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
If you or someone you know needs help being freed from sexual sin, Biblical Counseling is a great option. Through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, you can search for a Biblical counselor in your area.
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a freelance writer and author of the novel, Sister Sunday. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression, and OCD. Beth has a heart for women’s ministry and is in the process of becoming a certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.
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