Sex, Pornography, & Relationship Health Scale
Sexuality as designed by God—within the context of marriage—is joyful, pleasurable and relationship strengthening. It is a gift from God to be enjoyed. It causes deep and profound changes within us—our beings, souls, psyches are all affected. We are not the same after such contact, with our relationships and emotional connections greatly enhanced.
Pornography is the opposite: Its use in relationships lowers romantic commitment in both men and women. When used by a partner it increases the probability of a breakup by 400%, and 25% of divorced respondents said Internet pornography/chat contributed to their split. That is why the New Testament warns us to run from sexual sin, as it wages war against our very souls (I Cor 6:18; I Peter 2:11). “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’- But not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” I Cor. 6:12
Sex in Marriage is...
- Designed by God and considered sacred
- Enriches the human experience
- Beautiful and natural
- Consensual and celebrated
- Intimate and loving
- Produces life and strengthens relationships
- Man-made, making $ billions in profit
- Dehumanizes people
- Dominating and abusive
- Hidden and shameful
- Exploitative and distant
- Destructive to mental health, kills relationships
We have created a scale of addictive behavior, to help assess different levels of addiction and healthy habits to put in place to move towards relational and sexual health. Please share this with someone who might need to see it.
When To Be Concerned
Level 1: Little or no viewing of sexually explicit websites, videos, apps. Such content is ignored or not paid attention to. While total avoidance in nearly impossible, a person at this level shuns exposure. No impact on relationships. No Concerns
Level 2: Mostly unplanned, incidental moments (less than 3 times a year) of viewing sexually explicit websites, videos, movies. Briefly exploring content with some interest. Minimal impact on relationships. Must stay vigilant. Minimal Concerns
Level 3: Viewing sexually explicit content every other month. May begin to feel deliberate, that something is off, with guilt and shame emerging. Increased risk to relationship health. Install web blockers, find accountability partner. Beginning Concerns
Level 4: Once a month pattern of deliberate viewing of sexually explicit content, going to chat rooms for sexual conversations (virtual sex), etc. Greater likelihood of relationship unhealth. Install web blockers, find accountability partner/group, consider professional help if the pattern cannot be broken. Growing Concerns
Level 5: Pattern is every week, plus thinking of sexual activity with someone other than your married partner. Little effort is made to avoid future episodes, start of a “double life”. Emerging compulsive and addictive-like behaviors. Unhealthy sexuality patterns require accountability group and professional individual or group therapy. Strong Concerns
Level 6: Everyday behavior seeking out sexually explicit content, plus making plans to engage in sexual activity with someone other than married partner. Compulsions grow stronger—leading a double life, feels addictive-like, future episodes eagerly anticipated and planned for. Professional counseling, accountability groups required. Serious Concerns
*Level 7: Daily viewing and behaviors, plus engaging in sexual activity with someone other than married partner. Involves binging, deliberate preoccupation, plans to engage in illicit behavior, and rationalizations to make actions morally defensible. Professional therapy is required to stop addictive-like behavior. Major Concerns
Level 8: Regular, ritualized patterns of illicit sexual fulfillment. Planning now part of the ritual, with well-rehearsed rationalizations, guilt mostly blocked, and deep shame. Sexuality and spirituality are divided and individual leads a double life. Counseling/professional therapy required, and possibly in-patient treatment. Major Addictive Concerns
Level 9: Controlled by ritualized, addictive sexual behavior. Powerlessness and panic set in, futile attempts to break the pattern, feelings of despair, self-pity, self-hatred, and shame. Significant emotional resources needed to conceal secret life. Life feels unmanageable. In-patient treatment, out-patient counseling/therapy required. Out of Control Addiction
Level 10: The sexual activity violates criminal statutes, and therefore requires immediate intervention. Violates of physical, mental, or emotional well-being of another individual lead to incarceration. Loss of control over compulsion, great harm to others. Treatment occurs in the context of the criminal justice system. Compulsive, Illegal Sexual Activity
*Levels 7-10 adapted from “The Purity Report”
Resources to Help
- Fight the New Drug
- Covenant Eyes Statistic Pack
- The Purity Report
- Wired for Intimacy. How Pornography Hijacks the Brain. William M. Struthers.
- Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals our Way to Healing. Jay Stringer.
- Pamela Paul (2006). Pornified: How Pornography Is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families
- Authentic Human Sexuality: An integrated Christian approach. Judith K. Balswick and Jack O. Balswick.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.