My husband, who claims to be a Christian, shows little or no sexual self-control in our marriage.  He doesn't seem to care how I feel (emotionally or physically), he just does what he wants, whenever he feels like it, be it masturbation or the raping of his wife.  In addition, he seems to have a problem with pornography for the past five years. I have been counseled by quite a few Christian marriage counselors in the past few weeks, and have been told that this obsession with pornography and the lack of sexual self-control is considered "sexual immorality," which is a Biblical reason for divorce. Is this true?  I want a divorce, but only if it can be Biblical.

This obsession with pornography is a serious problem and is not only sin, but will also feed the sexual self-control problem that exists.  Lusting over pictures of other women or sexual embraces will cause the God-designed sensors to react, but in the wrong way.  Much of the excitement that your husband feels is an overpowering urge that may be coming from the fantasy world of sex that he has opened himself up to.  It is hard to be considerate and loving to your wife when your mind is filled with an unnatural sexual excitement for other women caused by the pornography.  This has to stop.  This is also a spiritual problem, for anyone in tune with the truths of the Word of God, would see that as Christians, we are not to have even a "hint" of sexual immorality in our lives, "Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."  [Ephesians 5:3]
However, your "Christian" marriage counselors are not correct in their counseling.  There are only two Biblical reasons for divorce, one is desertion by an unbeliever, and the other is when one spouse commits an act of marital unfaithfulness, "I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."  [Matthew 5:32, NIV]
The term translated "marital unfaithfulness" (NIV) and "fornication" (KJV) is the term "porneia" which has the primary meaning of "sex outside of marriage" and normally refers to adultery, but could include such things as incest, bestiality, and homosexuality.  To say that masturbation or looking at pornography is justification for a Biblical divorce is too much of a stretch.  It is true that Jesus said, that if you even think lustfully about a woman, who is not your wife, then you have committed the sin of adultery.  But we are not to divorce our spouses for their thoughts--it is just not the same.  You can think a hateful thought against your husband, and Christ would say you have committed the sin of murder, but you are not tried nor executed for the crime of murder by our society.  Reason must rule here. 

The Scriptures, are saying that the love relationship between a man and a woman in marriage is sacred, and when one partner violates that one flesh with sex outside that marriage, then the other partner may not be able to live with the thoughts of the infidelity, and therefore God has allowed for divorce.  But that is clearly not the case here.  Your husband, as wrong as he has been, and he has been, has not from what you have told me, violated the marriage relationship--hence no divorce on Biblical grounds.
God is not trying to be a cosmic killjoy, but simply trying to maintain the picture of His relationship to the Church, which is pictured in marriage.  The husband is suppose to represent Christ, being loving and kind, and so be considerate to his wife, and the wife is to represent the Church, submitting lovingly to Christ.  But we know that as Christians we fail Christ all the time, and He forgives us and helps us through our problems, and that He will never divorce us, except if we commit adultery (spiritual--chasing after other gods, which reveals that we were not really saved).  For Christians to divorce, for non-Biblical reasons brings shame upon  the name of Christ.
There is no excuse for your husband's behavior at all.  He is sinning by not being considerate.  His sin with the pornography and the masturbation only add to the problem.  No doubt, man has a sexual desire for his wife.  This is how God designed it.  God wants the married couple to have an active sexual relationship but based on mutual love.  For the woman it is mainly emotional (as you know).  It happens in her heart.  She must respect her husband and feel that he truly loves her by being considerate and kind to her.  If she does not feel that, and he just forces himself on her, then she actually hates the act, and physically is not ready for sex and this can cause physical pain and injury. 
God tells us in His Word, (context is sexual relationship) "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband."  [1 Corinthians 7:3]  "Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." [1 Corinthians 7:5]
God acknowledges the need for an active sexual relationship, and the rare times when one needs to abstain for some special time of prayer, but even then, there must be mutual agreement.  But it is assumed here that the sexual relationship is loving and considerate.  God also tells us, that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and that husbands are to be considerate to their wives, "Husbands, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." [1 Peter 3:7]  This means that husbands have to learn that they have to have enough sexual self-control to be able to see their wife laying in bed at night, exhausted by the day's activities and not be in the mood for love, and be willing to accept that, and to trust that when she is rested, and the time is appropriate, that she will respond as she senses the consideration of her  husband.  The husband should be able to "roll over" and go to sleep without masturbating or thinking immoral thoughts of other women. 

The Christian life is a series of struggles with sin, but we must overcome.  What your husband is doing is sin, and he must get victory over it, which will come only when he stops sinning, repent, and ask the Holy Spirit to help him.  It will take a dedication to the Scriptures and praying.
If you were to divorce him because of his sin problems noted, then you would be sinning by the divorce.  Christians are not like the world, we can't just leave our spouses because we don't like them, we have the power to change them, by prayer. To stay and pray for the Lord to change him would bring God the greatest glory and avoid the serious sin of divorce and its consequences.  Your children would suffer a great deal as a result of a divorce.
God can change him if he is truly a Christian.  You must pray for him, and pray that God will change him.  He must stop the masturbation and the pornography, for that is only adding greatly to the problem.  You need to try (and I am sure you have before) to meet his needs the best you can.  I know you are all done with him, and he doesn't deserve it, but you both need to try to help each other.  It will mean some talking about the problem, and he must agree to get rid of the pornography immediately--rip it up and dispose of it. That also means if he goes to porno websites, that he must delete them and if necessary, get a new email address.  There must be some accountability here, somehow he needs to agree that you can check up on him.  For you, and I know it will be hard to do, but pray, telling God you need His help for you to give when you don't want to give, and when your husband doesn't deserve it.  It is your responsibility to submit to him, and with God's help you can.  

Now, divorcing your husband and trying to find a good Christian man who is considerate and kind will not be the right solution.  The problem with such a dream is that you will still bring a lot of "baggage" to the next marriage.  In addition, do you think that God will help bring Mr. Wonderful along as a blessing for the divorce?  If you try to find the guy on your own then it is Russian Roulette, and with the God of the Universe opposed to it, then all the chambers are loaded with bullets.  Christianity is all about change, and God brings people together knowing that they need the pressures of marriage to change them.  He wants your husband to change, and to fine-tune you too.  God can restore your marriage, and oh what a testimony you will be able to share with others struggling like you are now.
I hope these responses have helped.  I have numerous excellent sermons on Marriage, and the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives on my website (  If you and your husband, could agree to try again, with no pornography, and a commitment to read the Bible together and with the children, and prayer together (you and your husband), praying about the problems, and then also take some of these sermons and read them out loud together, stopping to discuss different items and issues--if you can do this, then you may be able to save this marriage, and glorify Christ, and bring ultimate happiness and fulfillment to each other.

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:

Tony Capoccia
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