The Suitor and His Porn

Sharing Options

In these times of ubiquitous porn, one of the unfortunate results is that young women and their parents have to sort out what it all means. In raising this question, I do not mean to imply that young women can’t have a porn problem — some do, but it is not as common, and usually represents a different set of challenges. More on that another time. But suppose a young woman’s father asks the kind of questions he ought to, and the results come back positive. The young man in question has struggled with porn — but what does that mean? It means different things, and so the first thing it means is that the father should follow things up with more questions — not questions about the porn itself, but about other character issues that might be related to it.

This is because the porn use might be a symptom of disqualification or, on the other hand, it might be the chief sign of his qualification for marriage. In the former instance, marriage won’t fix anything for him, and will likely just make things worse. In the latter instance, the young man’s sexual temptations are largely going to be resolved in a very old-fashioned way.

But here are some things that a young lady and her parents should be wary of. If porn use is flagging these sorts of things, then the best solution is to drop the whole enterprise as a bad business.

Misogyny: if a young man has a hostile or contemptuous attitude toward women, then his porn use is a means of justifying his degrading view of them. His hostility would also come out in his attitudes toward his mother, his sisters, and toward women generally. That hostility might be decked out with theological justifications, and might seem to some that he is into uber-headship, and is really “conservative.” In reality, such a man is conserving nothing but his own hatreds. This kind of man wants others to treat him as a head — and insists upon it loudly, jabbing at the text with his finger — but the one person that doesn’t have to treat him as a head is himself. If he did that, then he would know that headship always bleeds for others. Take special note that the theological justification might include the phrase “bleeds for others.”

Laziness: real sex takes real effort. Sometimes it requires two or more jobs — because the children must be fed. If the only effort for the young man’s sexual gratification is the effort his parents put out in getting a wireless connection down to the basement, then the chances are good that he will have come to believe that sexual release is low-hanging fruit, because in his lazy world, it has been. Marriage won’t fix sexual laziness because marriage won’t fix laziness. Marriage often makes laziness worse. But laziness as a character deficiency can be publicly identified. Marriage spurs the right kind of man to work hard, and encourages the wrong kind of man to slack off.

Entitlement: if the young man in question has a sense of entitlement about things generally — grades, employment, standard of living, and so on — it should not be surprising that he is the kind of person who will just “expect” what is his due. If for some reason that drifts away from him, he will still feel entitled. The most common way this happens in marriage is that a man does not treat his wife right, they start to quarrel and drift apart, and this naturally includes their sex life, and he feels just as entitled as he ever did. And the computer is right there. If she is going to take away x, then I will compensate with y — and she can’t complain, because its really her fault. Like laziness, the root problem is abdication of responsibility. Identifying this as a possible problem beforehand should take the form of looking for a young man who seeks out and accepts responsibility, and who doesn’t make excuses.

Habit: sexual identity is far more plastic than people today want to admit. We want to believe, for various reasons, that our sexual proclivities are “hard-wired,” and that is just the way it is. Part of the reason we think this way is because of the full court press that the homosexual movement has been running on us. Many have wanted — and not just homosexuals — to use the “hard-wire” metaphor as a way of rationalizing their behavior. But we are much more affected and shaped by our experiences than we want to admit. This means that fifteen years of daily porn use is a very different thing in a suitor than “three months of temptation, and then a fall, and then back to the struggle.”

But the most common sin, when it comes to premarital porn, is the sin of marrying too late in a corrupt world. In 1970, five years before I married, the average age for men when they married was 23. In 2010, it was 28. That trend is a really bad one, and is one I want to do everything in my power to reverse. Fathers, mothers, and daughters should not reject out of hand a good man who clearly needs a good woman to make love to. They should reject, and promptly, men who despise women, men who are lazy, men who feel entitled, and men who are habituated to two-dimensional sex. Marriage is no help for that kind of problem, and might well prove to be a hindrance.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
42 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Neo
Neo
7 years ago

One of my first questions for a potential son in law for my daughter is what filtering system they use on all of their computers and mobile devices.

Jaquan
Jaquan
7 years ago

I think you may have missed missed one serious reason for porn and that is men who were sexually abused as children. The church really doesn’t address that very much. Girls yes, boys no. That Pennsylvania pastor you linked said that most porn women were sexually abused as kids. How will that affect boys, who usually get no help, because they don’t know to ask for it, as they get older. I don’t know how you can address this in a blog format, but I think that this is worth mentioning.

Nance
3 years ago
Reply to  Jaquan

There are more than one or to reasons men start watching porn. It isn’t just the lazy young man who doesn’t get married soon enough… although that is a good point…This is a problem for men of all ages. If one owns a smartphone..
it’s a potential issue. Porn is everywhere. This NEEDS to be brought out in the open. Accountability, transparency… no more “boys will be boys” attitude.

John Barry
John Barry
7 years ago

Hi Doug,

As a father with numerous unmarried daughters, I appreciate your thoughtful comments here.

Reuben K.
Reuben K.
7 years ago

Wonderful! And very encouraging. But I’m conflicted. I don’t know whether I am more delighted with the sweet encouragement and wisdom here, or if I am simply more delighted that this single article successfully incinerates the entire strawman-regiment that is constantly being marched into battle by Doug Wilson’s thought-foes in discussions on human sexuality. Yes, Doug Wilson believes that human sexual identity is plastic. But it also must be held to fixed standards of righteousness. He might as well say that plants and animals evolve- but they can never unmake their created nature. He might as well say that the… Read more »

DrewJ
7 years ago

On the one hand, you advocate early marriage. But on the other hand, you advocate a system (“courtship”) wherein the father imposes an additional filter that serves to block potential marriages. Most men want to date a woman, not her dad.

Lisa
Lisa
7 years ago

Drew, you clearly missed the point and should carefully examine the potentially rebellious attitude in your own heart. Any godly father who has committed his life to the nurture of his daughters is not going to simply roll over because a potential suitor is annoyed by that father’s reasonable and responsible investigation of the young man’s character.

Mark B. Hanson
Mark B. Hanson
7 years ago

DrewJ,

Early marriage is not incompatible with thoughtful courtship and counselling. And the father’s involvement (filter) need not involve significant delay – we’re talking months, not years. You sound like you want the woman without her family. Remember, you may date the woman, but you marry into her family. To want the one without the other is one of the early marks of the abuser.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Drew, are you really suggesting that the courtship model, father-involvement and all, delays marriage more than the typical system of dating around for X years and then dating one person for maybe a couple more years before considering marriage?

In the courtship-based marriages I’ve known, as often as not the father’s role has, among other things, involved sitting the young man down and asking when he’s going to get to the point, not stringing things out with a series of hoops and tests.

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

Jane’s right. A young woman’s father will push the courtship to an abbreviated end, whether it be the alter or the door. Btw Doug, you should consider an article on courtship and widows/single parents.

David Douglas
David Douglas
7 years ago

Drew,
Using the same reasoning, you should rail against the two-pedal model of driving. After all, we get into our cars to go somewhere, not to stop along the way. No brake pedals necessary.

How does Doug’s point of marrying early conflict with a father helping a daughter not marry an inappropriate suitor early?

(“Two pedal” is a nod to the waning of the manual transmission. At least in my life.)

Andrew Kelly
Andrew Kelly
7 years ago

DrewJ’s point is somewhat valid if we consider the broader culture of courtship within the uber-conservative church. Pastor Wilson’s approach to courtship is very balanced and healthy, but there are sections of the conservative church where you seriously can’t get married until you’re 40 because some Laban-esqe father is abusing his authority. If that is DrewJ’s background then it is completely understandable why he would push back.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

If that is DrewJ’s background then it is completely understandable why he would push back.

Only if we don’t grant him the respect of expecting him to address Doug Wilson as Doug Wilson, by familiarizing himself with what Doug Wilson actually advocates on the topic, and not as some icon of every possible variant of courtship there is.

borgerrf@yahoo.com
7 years ago

Drew says that the “the father imposes an additional filter”. In addition to what? Encouraging early marriage is not a filter, it is advocating removing arbitrary restrictions to the premise of marriage. It is increasing the flow, not filtering it. Because of that distinction, I am unsure of why Drew would not want the father’s protection of his daughter. Does it frighten the potential suitor? If so, why? A potential suitor with that response should question his true motives. If a suitor is going to ask a father for his daughter, and he intends to be her lifelong protector and… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Pastor Wilson, there is a version of this post awaiting moderation because I inadvertently signed in with my email address. Would you kind remove that version. Thank you. ***************************************** Drew says that the “the father imposes an additional filter”. In addition to what? Encouraging early marriage is not a filter, it is advocating removing arbitrary restrictions to the premise of marriage. It is increasing the flow, not filtering it. Because of that distinction, I am unsure of why Drew would not want the father’s protection of his daughter. Does it frighten the potential suitor? If so, why? A potential suitor… Read more »

DrewJ
7 years ago

The additional filter serves as an addition to the wishes of the girl. It is hard enough to get a meeting of two minds. Three is harder. The solution to getting marriage to occur earlier is simply to encourage girls to get married. They should stop focusing on careers, advanced education, fornication, etc. Most fathers are at fault for encouraging alternatives to marriage. They aren’t at fault for failing to interview men about their thought life. Very few girls that I’ve come across have ever indicated any desire to get married quickly. How is putting an extra hoop in a… Read more »

Wesley
Wesley
7 years ago

Drew, your comments come across as being those of someone who’d rather not be subject to someone else’s authority. Perhaps that’s not the case, and I hope to be gracious, but as someone whose father-in-law did require a courtship (which was and is my desire, as well), I can say that having someone more Christlike, knowledgeable, experienced, and wiser than myself was nothing but an aid in getting TO marriage, as the father can make sure that the suitor is not some man-child who refuses to take initiative and responsibility.

Wesley
Wesley
7 years ago

I should mentioned that we were married exactly 22 months after I asked her to lunch for the first time, were engaged for 4 months, she was 20 and I was 23. I admit that we certainly had the uncommon advantage of his being a Calvinist SBC pastor, but I hope that having men of Reformed theology who love Jesus and understand the purpose of marriage directing their daughters and their daughters’ suitors in holiness and righteousness becomes much, much more common.

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

“…it should not be surprising that he is the kind of person who will just “expect” what is his due. If for some reason that drifts away from him, he will still feel entitled. The most common way this happens in marriage is that a man does not treat his wife right, they start to quarrel and drift apart, and this naturally includes their sex life, and he feels just as entitled as he ever did.” So wives, if you husband has failed to treat you right (feel free to define that however you wish) or if you have “drifted… Read more »

MKT
MKT
7 years ago

“So wives, if you husband has failed to treat you right (feel free to define that however you wish) or if you have “drifted apart” feel free to withhold sex until you husband meets your standards of behavior. The bible has addressed when you may withhold sex and this does not jive with scripture.” Unfortunately, this seems to happen frequently. In addition, men who struggle with porn are often viewed as “gross perverts” who need to keep their distance, while a single mothers with out-of-wedlock children are “ministry opportunities” who should be welcomed with open arms. I’m not necessarily talking… Read more »

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

I can say that having someone more Christlike, knowledgeable, experienced, and wiser than myself was nothing but an aid in getting TO marriage, as the father can make sure that the suitor is not some man-child who refuses to take initiative and responsibility. That may well have been your experience, but on what data are you drawing to suggest that this is in any way the norm? Remember, “courtship” is currently limited to a small, highly motivated subset of the population. But if it is to become a general model, it’s going to have to be applied by the trailer… Read more »

Wesley
Wesley
7 years ago

“but even 23 year olds can make their own decisions, and giving the parents veto power is just too much.”

As for early marriage, while I don’t really see what’s so wonderful about it–I was married at 23 and divorced a year later–the reason it has died off is largely because of two things

Wesley
Wesley
7 years ago

Generous supplies of wisdom, grace, and Christlikeness is never a bad thing to have poured into the relationship of two people considering marriage. The fact that there are sinful people who do not understand or live this out does not negate that fact.

I also admitted that my case was perhaps uncommon, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix that.

bethyada
7 years ago

Barnabas, I have sympathy with your complaint but I don’t think it is warranted here. If it is the case that difficulties in marriage often seem to affect the bedroom (especially for the woman) then it is fine to acknowledge this. Further it is not misplaced to ask a man what he may be doing wrong that is contributing to his wife feeling (and acting) the way she does, and asking him to address this; and at the same time saying to the wife that she is not to base her behaviour solely on her feelings nor hold their sex… Read more »

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

Generous supplies of wisdom, grace, and Christlikeness is never a bad thing to have poured into the relationship of two people considering marriage.

Sure, but you don’t need some new model of “courtship” to have this, and it happens all the time in the modern world of dating and all that. There has never been a shortage of people wanting to share their opinions of their childrens’ actions.

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

It seems to me that many of the objections being posted consist of experiential failure. “We must stay away from those infernal flying machines…lots of crashes happen with those things, I was in one and its a long way down, because…gravity.”

Some are opposed in view of their own personal failures, some are opposed for “don’t like some man possibly getting between me and what I want”, and also a side-issue of “not fair!” claims, but I do not see principled logic being used as a reason why the premise, in and of itself, is wrong or ill-advised.

St. Lee
7 years ago

Matt said:

One thing any system will be judged on is its potential for abuse, and courtship leaves the door wide open.

Yeah, especially since the current popular system is to sleep around for or five years, then sleep together for a couple years, live together for five or six more, finally marry and then wonder why they have trouble having children. That system is giving really outstanding results with hardly any potential for abuse. (sarcasm)

DrewJ
7 years ago

“Courtship” is basically an arranged marriage, except without the dad making any effort to do any actual arranging. The dad doesn’t foster anything. At best, he serves no purpose. At worst, he is an obstacle. There is nothing biblical about it. If your daughter is sleeping around for five years then excommunicate her, disown her, etc.

St. Lee
7 years ago

Drew, I have to ask, …what is the biblical model you hold to?

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

“The dad doesn’t foster anything. At best, he serves no purpose.”

That is a steep and unsupported assertion.

“At worst, he is an obstacle.”

So is a personal protection detail guarding someone of great importance. You say that as if it were a bad thing.

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

I don’t agree that courtship equals arranged marriage but an arranged marriage is actually the most biblical model for marriage that we have. It is also statistically much more successful than marriage based on the modern concept of romance.

bethyada
7 years ago

Barnabas, your link is not what Doug is doing here (nor what I suggested). I think Mohler is probably wrong here, but the point is not that the wife should tell the husband to get his act together by her bedroom antics, rather that someone else is speaking into the husbands life. It matters who is doing the speaking and to whom. The basic problem is that we read other people’s mail. A command is given to someone and the other person reads the command and deems more than is being said. A command to obey is not a command… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
7 years ago

Certainly my criticism is of one section of a rather short blog post and it would be easy to read to much into it. I am sensitive, however, to common Evangelical errors based on ideas that men are inherently evil and women are inherently good or that at worst women lack moral agency and if they are in sin then somewhere there is a man responsible for it. I think that Doug Wilson is generally a more able critical thinker than the pastors mentioned in that link.

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

“Courtship” is basically an arranged marriage, except without the dad making any effort to do any actual arranging. The dad doesn’t foster anything. At best, he serves no purpose.

As an absolute, that set of statements is false.

As a general description of anything applicable to what Doug Wilson is talking about when he talks about courtship, it is also false. He has been explicit about this. Your failure to understand (or possibly even read?) what he advocates does not constitute advocacy of something harmful on his part.

Bert Perry
7 years ago

With regards to Matt’s comment, it would seem that he needs to read “Her Hand in Marriage.” Now where could he get a copy of this book…….? Seriously, even if the father were “at worst an obstacle”, have we not all seen marriages that fell apart due to spectacular misbehavior on the part of the husband, and wondered why no father, friend, or brother went to the young lady to express concerns about the husband-to-be before it was too late? Nothing wrong with being an obstacle to a bad relationship in my view. But that said, in a true courtship… Read more »

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

You can recommend anyone you want to your daughter now, you don’t need a special “courtship” model to do it. You can also presently discourage her from doing anything. It happens literally all the time in the decadent modern world. The kicker seems to be that right now, she doesn’t actually have to listen to you and you can’t veto her decisions. I say good, let people make their own decisions, and their own mistakes. There’s a lot about the dating game that makes no sense to me, but at least it gives people the freedom to make their own… Read more »

Jane Dunsworth
Jane Dunsworth
7 years ago

Matt, is your point that you have no objection to the advice Wilson is giving, as long as none dare call it courtship, or write books about it, lest anyone think that the ideas are new? Is that really a point that is important to make?

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

No my point is that all of the purported benefits of “courtship” that have been proposed so far are all regularly-invoked features of the modern dating model, and that adults shouldn’t have to obtain consent from an authority figure to have a relationship or marry. I can’t think of any problem that’s being solved here, but I can think of several that are being created.

Grace
Grace
7 years ago

I understand Drew and Matt’s points here, and I have a few thoughts. First, to state that any model for anything is Biblical primarily because it occurs in the Bible is very dangerous. I am sure that many Christians will agree that certain certain commands found in the Bible were for a specific time period or context, such as, for example, the New Testament command for women to wear head coverings during worship–a command which many, if not most, Christian women do not follow. In addition, every person and ever situation in life is unique, even if there are similar… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Grace,

Two questions:

“…be constantly open to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit…”

Are you suggesting that there is a place to find “guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit” outside of the Word of God?

“…then I personally would question wether she is mature enough to be entering into marriage yet, anyway.”

Well then, who should be the protector in such a case if it is not the father?

Grace
Grace
7 years ago

RFB, Here are my answers to your questions: 1. Yes, I do believe God reveals himself to us in other ways that are in addition to, though never contrary to, His written Word. I will try to explain myself on this, though I understand that I believe contrary to some so I apologize in advance if my explanation causes more confusion than clarification. Simply put, I have seen and heard too many examples of God revealing Himself through dreams, signs, promptings, and the like, both in scripture and throughout history for me to discount His ability to get through to… Read more »