Betrayed, rejected, disgusted, and devastated. These were all words Dianne used to describe her feelings when she found her husband had been spending hours every night viewing pornography on the Internet, and having sexually explicit conversations with complete strangers in chat rooms all over the world. She knew that before they married Ed had “looked” at some adult magazines. She found them when she was cleaning his apartment prior to his return from a long business trip. She confronted him, but he brushed it off as “something single men do on occasion.” But Ed was married now and, she thought, happily.
Dianne isn’t the only woman who has experienced such betrayal. According to a Zogby survey conducted for Focus on the Family in 2002, 17.8 percent of all “born again” Christian adults (in America) have visited sexually-oriented Web sites. Additionally, 63 percent of men attending “Men, Romance & Integrity Seminars” admit to struggling with porn in the past year, with two-thirds in church leadership, 10 percent being pastors. Further research shows that 1 in 7 calls to Focus’ Pastoral Care Line is about Internet pornography.
Pornography is described as a sexual addiction that creates an enslaving dependence upon erotic excitement through images or words, fantasized or real, and has infiltrated our world through a variety of sources: advertisements, adult bookstores, movies, music, literature, television, telephone sex lines, the Internet, and more. Regardless of the conduit by which it enters the marital relationship, it robs the union of intimacy, trust, purity, and emotional and physical passion. And for some women, the discovery of pornography in their husband’s life is equal to infidelity.
However, there is good news. Men caught in the web of sexual addiction can be set free. Psalm 25:15 says, “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” This is an important verse to understand for the wife whose husband is in the snare of pornography. It clearly identifies that the Lord who sets the individual free from the trap — not the spouse. Too often women believe that they have this responsibility, growing more and more frustrated when their mate continues in their addiction. In truth, wives have the responsibility to confront their husbands in love. Having brought it to their mate’s attention, wives can leave the results to the Lord, focusing their own energy on the process of forgiving their husbands.
If you must confront someone involved in sexual immorality, look first to the biblical mandate found in Matthew 18:15-17: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ?every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Not every man who has viewed pornography is sexually addicted, but repeat offenders are sure to find themselves ensnared by the titillating images or words of pornographic material. Unbridled passion was meant to be reserved for the marital union, and when it is experienced in any other capacity it not only dilutes the marriage bond, but also betrays it.
Lies We Tell Ourselves
Some women whose husbands struggle with sexual sin falsely believe that they are to blame. They reason that if they were more accessible to their mates, if they were a better lover, or if they had sex more often, their husbands wouldn’t look elsewhere. The truth is, these reasons have nothing to do with why men involve themselves in sexual immorality. Men addicted to pornography often have great difficulty experiencing intimacy with anyone — including their mates. This is generally the result of unresolved issues from childhood where God-given needs such as love, significance, and security were not met. Some men learned early on that people are undependable. Therefore, they avoid becoming intimate with a real person, and instead initiate a relationship of passion with an image that can’t reject or threaten them. In other words, an object or image requires no vulnerability. Another fallacy that women believe is that they should be able to hold their husbands accountable for this area of their lives. Wives, this is a touchy area — while you may ask your mate how you can pray for him, it is best if a godly man that your husband knows asks him the hard questions and holds him accountable. Overall, this frees you up emotionally so that you can work through your own pain, pray for your husband and your marriage, learn to trust in God where your husband has failed you, and work toward true forgiveness.
Many women allow themselves to become consumed with their husband’s schedule out of fear that he will use his free time to attend peep shows, view pornography, or visit adult bookshops. Policing your husband is not your role. While trusting him may not always be easy, it is necessary to allow the Holy Spirit to work in his life to convict, help, teach, and produce fruit, which should include faithfulness and self-control. When you become anxious about what he is doing, you are trying to control his behavior, which is impossible. Further, it takes your focus off your relationship with Christ, which must be the foundation of your strength at this time. Isaiah 26:3 promises that God will keep you in perfect peace if you trust Him, keeping your mind is steadfast on Him.
Dealing With The Pain Of Betrayal
First and foremost, when grappling with the pain of betrayal — pray. Without a continual dependence upon Christ during this difficult time, you will inevitably struggle with an array of emotions that will zoom out of control. While it is not unusual to feel angry and hurt, it is not God’s will that you nurse these emotions. Build a support network of women for you and your marriage by requesting their prayers and confiding in one or two of them. Turn to women who will encourage you in Christ, who will pray for you and your husband, and who will listen to your concerns without blame or judgment. Additionally, seek biblical counsel if your husband fails to turn away from this area of sin. Unchecked, sexual sin is like a wildfire, growing quickly out of control. Some women who have dealt with pornography in their marriage have found a biblically based support group to be helpful. In this way, women struggling with similar issues draw strength from one another, encouraging others to stay focused on the Lord.
Overall, sexual sin of any kind is one of the most damaging betrayals to a marriage, giving full meaning to 1 Peter 5:8: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Dependence upon Christ is a sure way to demonstrate the healing power of restoration to Satan, whose purpose is to destroy, not rebuild. Do not grow weary in the battle, but instead, keep your eyes on God, who will reward your faithfulness.
Copyright © 2002 Leslie Armstrong. Used with Permission. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.