My husband and I are both believers, but we are in a tough spot in our marriage. My husband recently confessed a long-term sin of lust and pornography. Our marriage and my world have been rocked. I have forgiven him multiple times, and he is seeking help. My problem is that now I find myself angry at God for making “women beautiful.” Why would God set traps for my husband and other men by tempting them? I am frustrated every time we sit in church and a Christian sister slinks by in a short skirt. I am distracted, and I am confident my husband is too. Why did God make women so attractive? How will I ever be able to trust my husband around other women in our church, our community or his workplace again?
Questions for God
I hear your heart and I believe I understand your questions. I hate that you feel like your world has been rocked by your husband’s sin. I want you to know that you are not alone. When we marry, our sins effect our spouse more than anyone else in the world. So, it should be expected. I do not believe we do a good job with premarital counseling warning couples or reminding them that they are marrying a “sinner.” And, I believe your reaction to this sin is a common one. Addiction to pornography is at an epidemic level and is effecting many marriages in the church and in the world.
I’m also sorry that your husband’s sin has a stigma attached to it that has probably left you isolated and all on your own to wade through these murky, hurtful waters. I hate the stigma and have tried to address it in a number of blog posts. Every person needs a community of believers to surround them in a time like this! So, if you haven’t opened up to safe and loving sisters in Christ, then your husband’s sin and your hurt may feel all-consuming. Satan loves to isolate us and make our problems seem bigger than life; worse yet, bigger than what God can handle.
I also appreciate your frustration with seeing pretty females around your husband. I know that God does not bristle when we ask him challenging questions. Neither do I 😊! I thank you, my friend, for reading my blog. And I appreciate your letter and your question. But friend, I’m not sure you are going to like my answer. I pray you find it helpful over the long course even if parts may sting a bit.
Let me set some ground work.
GOD DOESN’T SET TRAPS:
God’s plan is not to make man sin (James 1:13). God is righteous and pure in all that He does. But God doesn’t want an army of robots. Instead, God gives us the freedom to obediently serve Him (Exodus 19:5, 2 Corinthians 10:5). He wants us to chose to do what is true, honest, pure and lovely (John 14:15). We see this in the very beginning and in the Creation story. I’ve had more than one 8-year-old ask me during a Sunday School lesson on original sin, “Why did God put THAT TREE in the Garden if He knew Adam and Eve would sin?” This question, my Sister, is at the very heart of your questions to me. And, the answers are the same. God wants us to deny ourselves, and our pleasures, and our earthly desires, and instead pick-up His cross and follow Him. He wants us to chose to obey in response to His lavish love. He wants our hearts. He knows that we will sin, and He graciously provides a way for our redemption through His precious son, Jesus Christ. Your husband’s sin, while not uncommon, is a choice he has made and may still be making. Your husband’s sin is more an evidence of his heart condition than it is a trap for him to step into.
EVERYTHING GOD MAKES IS BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT:
God cannot make a mistake. Everything He makes is beautiful. I love to watch Animal Planet videos with my grandchildren. I am always amazed at how creative is our Heavenly Father … with more than 20, 000 types of butterflies and fish alone … and with each creation being more beautiful than the next. We serve an amazing God. He is a God who inhabits eternity – He has been and will always be! God is all knowing, all powerful and all loving. He is perfect, and so are the works of His hands (Psalms 92:5). Please know that God did not create women to be objects of lust. It is sin that distorts the image of women into something unclean or dirty.
Interesting sidebar: I do not find much about outer beauty in God’s Word other than “it will fade (Proverbs 31:30). “ God is more interested in what is on the inside; in the beauty of a “gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:3-4).”
The rebuilding of trust is tedious. (Please see past posts Mending Broken Trust and Naked). It will take your husband’s maximum effort to prove himself again worthy of your faith. But, this is not impossible for him! It takes only a moment to break your spouse’s trust, but it may take years to repair the damage. The best book I’ve read on the subject of rebuilding trust after sexual sin is “Worthy of Her Trust,” by Stephen Arterburn and Jason Martinkus. These two authors do a great job of laying-out the path back to trust. The responsibility will reside squarely on your husband’s shoulders. As he packs for his walk on the path back to your trust, put into his back pack your receptive and forgiving heart. No doubt, your husband must himself put these things into his back pack: honesty, complete transparency and accountability to other brothers in Christ. So if we consider that nothing is impossible with God, you and your husband will approach his journey with more confidence and with less angst. Note that I said, “less.” It will be hard. Insecurity will show up, and intimacy will seem impossible, but with time and God’s help, you will get there. You will have to take a leap of faith and fully trust your husband again. Hopefully by that time, the precious Holy Spirit will have softened your heart so that you are eager to take the plunge!
GROWING IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD:
The best offense is a great defense! We combat sin by building-up our spiritual muscles. We do this by growing in the fear of the Lord! I encourage you, as a couple, to daily pursue Christ through prayer, praise and in the reading of His word. The more your hearts are full of Jesus, the more you will be able to resist the devil. This does not mean that you husband will never fail or sin again, but the next time he does, it will be easier for you to forgive and forget. The more entrenched my heart is in the Word of God, the more I am aware of the Spirit’s work in my life and in my own need for forgiveness. This makes me more eager to forgive others and to love my husband well.
Back to your questions. First, your husband did not look at pornography because women are irresistibly beautiful. He looked at pornography because his heart was not full of Jesus and because he desired sin. God did not trap your husband, nor did He put together a woman conspiracy. Your husband sinned. Period. Now, there has been some pretty expansive research on the addictive nature of certain sins. The behavior of repeated viewing of pornography engages the pleasure center of the brain and can become like a continuously tightening noose around the person’s neck. I would never try to minimalize the addictive nature of your husband’s sin. I have seen glimpses of this stronghold in people who are close to me. I understand that after sinning in this manner time and time again, the neural pathways for pleasure in your husband’s brain may have changed. It may take great work to undo the damage. Like everyone else with this or any other similar sin pattern, your husband will need to daily ask God to help him overcome his pattern of sin. And just like every other sin, the sin of lust has been paid for by the blood of Jesus! Your husband’s sin is not unpardonable in any way, shape or form. I pray that your husband is in close fellowship with brothers in the Lord who will hold him accountable all along his journey.
Second, as you walk down the rocky path of forgiveness, you need to fully surrender your husband to the Lord. Pray for him with new fervor. Allow the Holy Spirit to do his job of comforting and reconciling your hearts together. If you let him, the Holy Spirit is ready, willing and able to cleanse your heart of all the hurts and insecurities that this sexual sin brings. That is the big question. Will you allow God to completely heal your heart, or do you want to keep the club your husband’s sin has handed you and use it to beat your husband every chance you get? Seriously? If we look way past the initial hurt, we can find a deliciousness in being wronged or sinned against. It gives us a “get out of jail free card” like nothing else can ever do. Some wives hold the card close to their heart. They say that they forgive their husband’s problem with lust, pornography, extra marital affair, etc., but they pounce at the slightest provocation. These couples end up living with uninvited house guests whose names are shame and bitterness. Your husband will develop shame, if he is not already tormented by it. Shame will keep him living in a state of defeat and your heart, my sweet sister, will grow bitter. Forgiveness is the only path forward. Trust will be restored when you both set out each day to follow Jesus and pick up His cross. And your marriage will be stronger for surviving this storm.
Soon, my sweet reader, you too will begin to see people as God does. You will not notice the provocative dress or the curvy hips. Instead, you will only notice gentle and kind spirits and the hearts that are after God. And, you will be able to discern the temptress that needs to be avoided. This kind of discernment only comes with spiritual maturity. This maturity can only come through trials (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5). So tonight, instead of hailing God with questions, give Him the much-deserved thanks and praise that he deserves for caring enough to grow up both you and your husband. I trust that you will one day be able to see this trial through your rear-view mirror, and that you will see it as a blessing, pain and all.
Stay washed in the Word!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV