Friday, September 26, 2014

Is Pornography Worse Than a Wife's Self-Righteousness?

Ken wrote a comment on another post about dealing with husbands who are addicted to pornography and I thought it was so good and relevant in today's culture that I made a post about it. Here are his thoughts on the subject ~

I am not sure about shaming your husband over pornography, although definitely he should be ashamed, but most of all accountability is what he needs. Sin hides in the darkness, so expose it to the light and it dies off. I suggest all wives ask their husbands daily, if the husband is agreeable to this idea, to hold them accountable if they were involved in porn the day/night before. Certainly they can lie about it, but most Christian men will have a hard time lying over and over again, at least without going into despair and a feeling of separation from God and their spouse. Exactly what may be necessary to drive them back to both.

The key to the accountability is not for the wife to act as if she just got shot every time he might say “Yes, I looked at porn.” Instead, try to think of how you would want your spouse to handle your sins. If you nag, are disrespectful, or unsubmissive, would you want to be shamed on a consistent basis? Or rather be held lovingly accountable with exposure to the light? If a wife can get her husband to agree, set up controls that help make him think more than twice about giving in to his temptation and sin.

“OK, don't you think it is time to do something about this. How about any time you tell me you looked at porn you have to go to bed when I go to bed at 9 p.m. the next night, not stay up until midnight. And you do the dishes the next three nights." Decide together what controls can help and see how much he really wants your help with accountability.

Always remember that it may be a mild or major addiction which by definition will be terribly hard to stop, and may be something that needs lifelong accountability. If a wife stops asking after hearing six weeks of “No” she is not being wise. Maybe after two or three years she can stop asking an addict, but even then it is best to ask once a week or month. Husbands can easily point out when a wife is sinning against them, but a wife cannot easily see a husband’s hidden sin, unless she asks.

Some wives cannot ask as they are too hurt when they find out he is sinning, and this is unfortunate. She has elevated her husband’s sins above her own and is short sighted, not understanding that all the tough things in relationships take time and great energy to get things right. There are perhaps “classes” of sin, or some sins as worse than others, but I am not convinced yet that porn is a much higher sin than many wives have committed against their husbands for many years. Maybe a controlling and difficult wife is not as grievous as porn, but many husbands, including me, have cried over our frustration with our wive's sins and unwillingness to change. The crying doesn't help, but accountability does, especially for true Believers.

I am generally not an advocate of taking a husband’s porn to the elders of most churches, nor taking a wife’s nagging, controlling or difficult ways to the elders. Few church elder boards are equipped to deal with the issues, so maybe take it to one elder or counselor for help, but keep in mind that even if your husband is a true believer the embarrassment and shame may drive a deeper wedge. The sting will last a long time. Be sure to tell him in advance of doing anything so it is not a bigger shock when he finds out. I am also not generally in favor of any reasons for separation, except in cases of abuse. Is this not why the apostle Paul says, “so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” {I Peter 3:1}? And again look at Paul’s instruction on marriage to remain as one was called. If I am married to a difficult wife, she is my wife, and I must shine Jesus to her until the Spirit gets a hold of her life and works His miracles to remove her sinful habits. Why should it be any different for a husband’s porn?

I am not sure how God assigns negative values to certain sins, but I would think He would assign the worst of sins to the ones that cause the most damage. Far greater damage is done to a marriage and  family by constant conflict from needy or difficult spouses who allow feelings and emotions to rule their behaviors. The worst of sins for Jesus was the hypocritical self-righteousness of the Pharisees who were great at pointing out every one else's sins, but could not see that their own judgmental and unloving attitudes were far worse. 

Many husbands feel they are living with a Pharisee when their sins are paraded out as if they are somehow far worse than a wife's sins. A Christian wife can make a husband who dearly loves Jesus, and who shows it consistently to others, feel second fiddle in a marriage, all because his spiritual life never measures up to her expectations. This binds up a husband's ability to lead, and allows a wife to stay in control, not allowing the couple to progress to a true biblical or intimate marriage.

Porn is an ugly thing, so no excuses, but let's stop giving it a higher sin ranking than it deserves, or calling it equal in any way to real physical adultery. No, it is not the same as adultery and every wife should know this already in her heart. Adultery is a physical connection with person who is not your spouse which is the highest form of betrayal of trust. Porn is the stupidity of looking at a picture or video and dwelling on the digital illusion as if it is real to satisfy the cravings of the flesh. Both are sins, but one is not even real. If a wife sees "betrayal" in her husband's porn, she is pouring salt in the wound in a way God does not. 

Think about it. When we sin God says "sin no more! and remember I will always love you dearly." If you want to marry a perfect spouse, take Paul's admonition and never get married. If you want a fabulous one flesh marriage, learn to accept your spouse, warts, weaknesses, sins and all, and love them for who they are. This accepting love is the root on which true intimacy is built in a marriage, and with God. Can't we be Jesus to our spouse, with His seeming endless store of love, forgiveness and acceptance, no matter how many times we may betray him? 

May we all find the walk in the Spirit to which God calls us so that all sin will quickly fade away as our eternal perspective grows. May we learn to put away foolish things and focus on becoming image bearers who shine the life of Jesus wherever we go. May we learn to forgive our spouse for nagging, or porn and whatever their weakness until such time as God delivers them from it.

"Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." 
Colossians 3:12-14