COUN•TER•FEIT noun : that which is made in imitation of something, but without lawful authority, and with a view to defraud, by passing the false for the true.

There are very few things in this world that are natural these days.  It seems you can find artificial everything … artificial flavoring, artificial sweetener, artificial respiration, artificial grass, and artificial hair color. While they might not all be good for us, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. By definition, artificial things are simply made or contrived by art, or by human skill and labor, in opposition to natural things.

There are two things that separate something that’s artificial from something that’s counterfeit. First, counterfeit things are imitating something else without the lawful authority to do so. Second, counterfeit things intend to defraud someone into thinking it’s real when in fact, it’s bogus.

Pornography is counterfeit on steroids. Unfortunately, it’s a very good counterfeit – masking itself as relationship, true intimacy, and real pleasure. It wants you to think it’s all of these, but it’s a sham.

Let’s cut to the chase. God intended sexual intimacy to fulfill some very significant purposes and He tells us what they are…

1.      To create a spiritual-physical union between a husband and wife … relationship ~“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:24-25). What’s more, in Matthew 19:4-6 we’re told that no one (including a computer enhanced, digital woman) is to come between this couple that God put together.

God created us so that we may be in relationship with Him, so it stands to reason that we are hardwired to desire relationship. The truth is pornography impedes relationship. “Pornography shapes and rewires men in such a way that they become unable to see women as they should … [Due to porn use] men develop psychological and behavioral habits that prevent relational fulfillment” [William Struthers , Wired for Intimacy]. Pornography also promotes sexual relationships with many partners, resulting in blatant disregard for the sanctity of marriage.

2.      To result in “knowing” or having intimate knowledge of your spouse – true intimacy ~ When Genesis 4:1 says that “Adam knew Eve his wife,” the Hebrew word “knew” meant to find out, experience, to care about, and to be concerned with. Do you see how this level of intimacy requires the interaction of the husband and wife?

Pornography promotes a casual attitude toward sex that results in self-gratification. No partner necessary. No true intimacy.

3.      For mutual pleasure shared by a married couple – real pleasure ~ God intended for a husband and wife to spiritually, morally, and emotionally pursue sexual intimacy as He intended (Proverbs 5:18-19),which would result in real pleasure for both parties.

Because pornography results in self-gratification without regard for the care or welfare of one’s spouse, real pleasure as God designed is not possible. Oh, people might think they are enjoying real pleasure when they are engaging with porn, but it’s a cheap imitation. It stimulates lust, then punctuates the experience with a heavy dose of depression. Legitimate pleasure comes only as a result of effort on the part of both parties.

It gets worse though; pornography results in people becoming less responsive in other areas of their life as well. 

“Unnaturally strong explosions of synthetic experience and sensation and pleasure (porn) evoke unnaturally strong degrees of habituation. This has two consequences. As the first, soon we hardly notice anymore the fleeting whispers of pleasure caused by leaves in autumn, or by the lingering glance of the right person, or by the promise of reward that will come after a long, difficult, and worthy task. The other consequence is that, after awhile, we even habituate to those artificial deluges of intensity. …Our tragedy is that we just become hungrier. More and  faster and stronger” (Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University, quoted in Wired for Intimacy).

4.      To reproduce children (Geneses 1:28) ~ It probably goes without saying, but procreation is probably the least likely goal of pornography.

So, what does this mean for the spouse of one who is (or was) addicted to pornography? Explore ways to enjoy spiritual-physical union with your spouse, even if that does not include sexual intimacy just yet. Above all, pray that God will blow the cover off pornography for your husband/wife and that it will be exposed as a counterfeit that will never satisfy.

Vicki Tiede is a speaker and the author of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart, available October, 2012.