Does ‘Husband of One Wife’ Apply to Pornography?

by | Sep 26, 2012 | Church Leadership

University of Montreal scientists wanted to conduct a study on the effects of pornography. The problem is that they could not find a control group.  “We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography,” said Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn’t find any.”1

Over the six years that I served as Director of Acts 29, the percentage of men that stated on their application for membership that they had intentionally viewed pornography increased at an alarming rate. 90% of all pornography is consumed over the Internet beginning as early as ten years old2 and with 37% of all internet pages containing pornography3, it is rare if a church planter in his late twenties or early thirties has not struggled to some degree with pornography.

In the requirements for an elder, the Apostle Paul includes that “an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2). Most conservative commentators on this verse agree that it is a “one woman man.” John MacArthur said, “Being the husband of one wife refers to the singularity of a man’s faithfulness to the woman who is his wife and implies inner as well as outward sexual purity.” 4 Kent Hughes said Paul’s intent was not only quantitative, but qualitative and demands “there are no other women in his life.” 5

It seems clear to me that pornography unequivocally assaults this requirement for a pastor. Internet pornography is like Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3). High-speed images of a thousand “other women” eliciting lust and passion and desire for another woman violate the requirement for the husband of one wife.

So, when is it disqualifying?

It is difficult to avoid images on the Internet of scantily clad women. I have not viewed pornography on my computer but I have paused inordinately on an image of a salaciously dressed woman. Scientific research indicates that men are more visually stimulated toward sexual passion than women. Perhaps this is why Paul put “husband of one wife” at the top of the list of the characteristics of an elder above reproach.

If a man is regularly viewing pornography, he is most certainly disqualified because he is not a one-woman man. Most Bible teachers agree that pornography is not a one and done act for a pastor (or a husband). But it must be repented of and confessed with all diligence.

Your marriage displays the Gospel as the husband, Jesus loves his bride, the church. You may be viewing pornography because you are consoling yourself from a perception of emotional emptiness. God showed his deep and unmerited love to us in that while we still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). His love for the church (his bride) is not divided among many lovers. Jesus is a one-woman man. Ponder that thought.


[1]Are the Effects of Pornography Negligible? Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins


[3] More Than One-Third of all Web Pages are Pornographic. Optnet.

[4] John MacArthur, Titus, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1996), p. 28.

[5] R. Kent Hughes, 1&2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton, Il: Crossway Books, 2000), p. 78.

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