Porn Hurts Them Both
I know a woman who has suffered for many years—over half her marriage—due to her husband’s sin with pornography. She feels isolated, sometimes despairing over her husband’s perpetual confessions, sometimes anxious over when he might confess again. In public, she notices attractive women before he does, hoping he won’t see them. In private, she feels rejected: she isn’t beautiful enough, thin enough, or sexy enough.
Our vain culture reinforces the shame: her body is an object to be accepted or rejected according to the standard created by porn. Her heart craves approval and security, but her husband’s sin continues to shatter trust.
Jesus triumphed over sin. He comforts our pain.
Sometimes, she sinfully lashes out at her husband, coldly pushing him away. Like a hawk, she circles around his daily actions, schedules, and relationships. Her goal is to control him and/or his world. She withholds sex and holds him in contempt. Sometimes, her faith is weakened by fear that threatens to drown any hope of God’s redemption in her marriage.
Because they are both believers growing in Jesus, they are able to fight sin together in prayer, confession, and repentance. His sin has become less frequent, though he still struggles and falls. God has given her righteous anger at times that invites his repentance. Each time they have that familiar conversation, he experiences a piece of the pain that his sin brings to his wife. Her pain shows him what his sin brought to Jesus. Her tears show that his sin is costly.
In the midst of battle, fearing God and hoping in his steadfast love keeps us alive.
They are committed to battling sin in their marriage. Yet the battle is not just about his sin of pornography; it is also about her suffering, suffering that is often as daily and brutal as his battle with sin. Her battle is persevering in suffering and fighting her own sinful responses to his sin.
God is the Mighty Warrior
As marriages suffer through the effects of sexual sin, God’s gaze is on their hearts. In the midst of battle, fearing God and hoping in his steadfast love keeps us alive.
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.” –Psalm 33:18-19
The pain from porn brings sorrow, and long seasons of unrest in a marriage starved for trust can feel like a famine. But there is a mighty warrior who tears down strongholds, rebuilds marriages, and redeems hearts.
Jesus triumphed over sin, paying our penalty with his own life. He comforts our pain as we lay down our burdens at the cross. God loves these wives through their pain and suffering, fighting for them and comforting them. How do we as a community love them?
Love the Wives
Too often, these wives feel silenced by the simplistic, ra-ra platitudes of Christians who don’t want to get their hands dirty in sin. Family and friends either neglect to check on the marriage or assume that everything’s OK. If she asks for help, she may be told condescendingly that she needs to trust God better and given a list of recommended Christian self-help books that boast a victorious life that sounds too good to be true.
We need to love these women compassionately and faithfully through some of the darkest parts of their life story.
Gospel-centered community and relationships are made up of people who talk about evidences of God’s grace and are also honest about sin and suffering. Often, we are afraid to ask the frank questions like, “How’s your sex life?” or be willing to walk the long road with hurting women. We need to talk freely, not flippantly, about sexual sin. We need to love these women compassionately and faithfully through some of the darkest parts of their life story. She is hurting and needs to be built up in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness while she experiences unfaithfulness in her marriage. Walk with her.