porn's not funny

Praying as I write this post that my words will be carefully chosen and full of grace. I don’t want to hurt or offend. And I desperately want God to be glorified.

Deep breath. And dive.

So I’m writing another book about sex. And this one’s for the husbands. I’m going to tell you what I originally envisioned and explain what’s putting a kink in those plans.

I like funny. And I’m semi-gifted at making people laugh. My humor is a large part of what sells my books, brings people to my blog, and motivates people to invite me to speaking engagements. I’m sure I’d still be fairly likable without it, but it would really change the core of who I am.

There are a lot of books out there about sex. Is That All He Thinks About? is just one of them. What “sets mine apart,” if you will, is the humor (and perhaps my transparency). And I wanted that same thing for the Guys’ Book. Funny, light-hearted, candid, poking a little fun at both sexes, using humor in a sneaky way to convict husbands to love their wives a little better than they’re doing now.

And then I conducted a Husband Survey. And asked a question about porn. Specifically, “What is your relationship with pornography, and how has this affected your marriage?”

And the floodgates opened.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the Survey-Takers were in no way whatsoever an accurate cross-section of American Husbands. For one thing, they’re probably mostly Christians (or at least married to one). For another, any guy who takes 5-10 minutes to fill out a survey like that is pretty swell (or is at least trying to appease his nagging wife).

And still. STILL. 42% of the 125 guys who took the survey said they either a.) view porn occasionally (26%), b.) are working with their wife and/or others to overcome an addiction (10%), or c.) are addicted to porn right now (7%).

An additional 40% viewed it in the past (10 of those 50 guys said they were addicted).

Only 18 of 125 guys said, “I don’t mess with it (and never really have).”

And while a couple guys’ responses made my blood boil, for the most part, I could hear a lot of discouragement and hurt and a longing to be free in their words. And in many cases, the hope shone through. Hope for recovery and restoration and beautiful intimacy with their wives.

Nearly all of the men recognized that porn has a negative effect on their marriages, and they were very good at pinpointing what those effects are.

For a little while there, I was feeling really good about the section of my book that deals with porn. Where I had originally laid the smack down with very little mercy, I felt a nudge to shower my words with more grace, to put myself in the shoes of some of these really good guys who were in the middle of a struggle they desperately wished was not a part of their lives.

And then.

E-mails and facebook messages started coming in from women whose marriages (or friends’ marriages) have been devastated by porn. A couple of them specifically asked me if I was going to go easy on guys or if I had any idea that some men out there are arrogant and prideful and refuse to admit that they’ve destroyed their families’ lives.

Man.

Here’s the thing.  There are lots and lots of books out there specifically for men and sexual addiction. I have no desire (or the knowledge/experience) to reinvent that wheel.

And here’s another thing. I learned this with Is That All? I can’t write a book that will appeal/apply to everyone. I had women ask me why I didn’t write more about what happens to your sex life as you age. And women who were angry that I suggested making love to your husband happily (“You have no idea how bad my husband has hurt me!”).

I can’t write a book that’s going to work for all husbands either.

So here’s the one I’m going for:

A good guy who loves his wife and wants an intimate relationship with her. He struggles with lust, sure, but he wants his wife to be enough for him, and he reeeeally wants her to want him in bed. He loves Jesus (or if he doesn’t, he’s got him on his radar) and wants to live a life pleasing to God. He’s often discouraged and frustrated by his wife’s lack of desire for sex, and he wishes she knew how much her rejection hurts him. He’s willing to go the extra mile to make their sex life better. He just needs someone to tell him what that entails. And preferably using short paragraphs and small words. And possibly pictures.

But I really, really don’t want to make light of something that has hurt so many women (and men) so deeply. And I don’t want to write with such a happy-go-lucky tone that completely ignores the complicated, complex issues that plague so many marriages.

Maybe I’m just asking for permission to write a funny (and God-honoring) book about sex without any dear soul getting her feelings hurt.

I would really love your prayers for wisdom and insight. I’ve had some really amazing discussions with some of you (in real life and online), and Gabe and I have talked more about it in the past week than we have our whole marriage.

And if you have another take on this thing (or something that really concerns you), please feel free to leave a comment (or e-mail me if it’s private).

Thank you. For real. Thank you.

32 thoughts on “porn's not funny

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » let’s make an e-book!

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  3. meghan@Spicy Magnolia

    Oh, dear Marla, what a task you have ahead of you! I’m excited to see how the Lord brings it about and gives you the words as you depend on Him. And I’m also glad I’m not the one writing it, because I would not know where to start! 🙂

    Without revealing too much personal info in a simple comment, this topic touches a tender place in my heart. IMHO, I think it would work well if you have a chapter that takes a more serious tone than the rest of the chapters, if you think it’s necessary to give the topic its due tone. But again, I don’t know much about putting a book together.

    Driving from FL to TX the other day, I noticed an adult superstore off the highway with the name, “The Lion’s Den”. Oh the irony, the painful irony. I hope the Lord uses your book to bring a healing balm!

  4. Sharon W

    Wow MarlaI! just read the excerpt from “Is that all he thinks about?” and will DEFINITELY be purchasing this book! God has been working on me about this issue for the last several months. My attitude had improved quite a bit for a while, but is back in the toilet lately.

    I have no doubt that God will help you sift through all that you could say in your latest book, and how to say it. Bless you for taking on such a rough topic!

  5. Kara

    i just thought, “hmmm, i’d probably need to read that book (not just my hubby).” — to understand HIM more. praying God will lead you, Marla.
    i know that you know this already, but you won’t please everybody. someone will have a negative comment. and, that’s OK. 🙂
    write as you feel lead!

  6. Kathleen-NM

    Marla,

    I think your idea about voicing your target audience is wise. I actually think it would minister to many to have practical, Godly insight for men and appropriate humor is a good thing. It can break down walls and communicate thoughts that most don’t feel the freedom to express. That said, I don’t think there is any way to avoid the issue of sexual immorality whether married or not. Believe it or not, this is the same thread that runs through my reasoning for welcoming the difficult lessons that come through training our kids while in public school. I have some thoughts I will share specific to your topic in an email. In the meantime, praying that God will help you to discern what is best in the direction that you take.

  7. Adam

    Your “target” probably couldn’t have described me better if you tried. I’ll be praying for God’s word as your write, and looking forward to reading the end product!

  8. Jen Hanson

    Oy. That’s a tough one (understatement).

    It would seem though, that with porn being something that affects (or has affected) the vast majority of American marriages (as your surrey accurately indicates), it’s not something that can be avoided in your book. With a topic such as “sex as you age” – you’ve got a smaller part of the population dealing with it (so it’s not something that you’d HAVE to address). But the porn issue a huge one.

    Oy (I say again). I totally see you dilemma. Shooting up a prayer for you for wisdom and insight.

  9. Missy June

    I have strong opinions on this topic, and I won’t share then all here. Suffice it to say that the fantasy of Pxxx creates a disconnect from the reality of any real, live woman no matter her physical beauty or willingness. When the mind has been saturated with lies (pxxx) the appetite for Truth (reality) disappears. Women, willing and available, are not enough to satisfy when the desire has been altered in unhealthy ways to crave a simulated image or experience, where there is no give and take, no emotional intimacy that precludes the physical experience.

    I pray you will find balance and perhaps be the “light bulb” voice for men who may need to seek further assistance in finding freedom.

  10. Aj

    I will be praying for you as you take this journey God has so graciously put upon you. Knowing you as much as i do….You “will” write this book and finish it to the end. The Marla i know will add in the humor that needs to be in the parts of the book at the appropriate spot. God has guided you this far…I believe and trust that he will guide you the rest of the way giving you the words and knowledge that needs to be in there. So that the people who need to read this book or who will be reading it will receive his grace and understanding on the topic. Its all in his hands…you are just being his vessel. God Bless!!!

  11. Cheryl Pickett

    You are right in that you cannot write a book that both pleases all and offends none. I believe through your own gut instinct and prayer, you will include the words that give glory to God and allow you to be true to your voice and what you are confident in.

    Everyone has an audience, finding them in a crowd is a never ending battle. However, starting from a place of comfort and confidence allows you to speak their language more clearly and draw them to the book more easily. You’re on the right path.

  12. Claudia Porpiglia

    Marla, I am praying for you as you write the book God wants you to write. The reality is, we struggle with the balance between accountability and grace. The other aspect of that is that we like to think that some sins are “worse” than others but God tells us sin is sin. Often, a couple struggling in their sex lives whats to point fingers and blame it on the others sin and that rarely makes things better. God will give you the right words and humor to be able to express what is on your heart. Will some be offended? Maybe but you will know that you were obedient!

    Love you!!!

  13. Mandy

    Praying for you, Marla! The whole lust issue poisons marriages all over the place. I want to write lots about it here, but I don’t think that would really help you, so I’m going to refrain. Let’s just say, I have a passion for purity now that I finally understand what “committing adultery in the heart” does to marriages. Plenty of women (myself included) struggle with lust – so it’s not just a man’s issue. Porn was not my struggle (there are plenty of women who are addicted to porn, however), but romance novels and romantic movies were. When my husband started on the path to purity, I learned that I needed to repent and work toward purity as well. Anyhow, I’m rooting for you! You’re right that you can’t please everyone and I agree with Liz. May God give you the wisdom and strength and words! And may you be encouraged that you have been equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit for this work.

  14. Keri

    My sweet, wonderful friend. I promise to pray for you as you embark on this endeavor. I can’t even tell you how many Christian couples I know that actually justify porn in their marriage by saying that because they watch it together it’s ok. The book needs to be written and it will be read by the exact people God wants you to write the book for.

    I believe in you and more than that, I believe in the God that is working through you!

  15. Liz

    Marla, I know you already know this but the one Person you should aim to please is God. Seek His wisdom and His words and you will get it right regardless of who is offended. Easier said than done! Your heart is in the right place. I will be praying that the Holy Spirit will fill you with what you need to write this book and that His words will flow through you with the love he has for the men and women who struggle with these issues whether directly or indirectly. You’ve got this!

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