In April, the following message came using the contact form on this website. (printed by permission)
“Thanks. Your articles were helpful. My Google search that led to your page was – ‘help church leaders don’t want me to divorce husband with porn addiction’. We separated, with the elders wanting that time to be for us to work towards reconciliation. I still see abusive attitudes that are so tied up in the porn use. They see [his] tears and ‘repentance’. They haven’t spent time with me or the kids – only him. The emotional abuse is so HEAVY. That is what I feel most compelled to run from – someone who plays the victim while he is abusing himself, his wife, kids, and those used to make the content he has indulged in. I think this is the part where wives and kids need help – after YEARS/DECADES of this cycle (sin comes to light/tears and repentance and new accountability partners/ etc.) – when is it finally enough? Their argument is that he seems genuine this time – so who am I to not give him another year? These guys haven’t even chatted with me. That happens too often. And if we say, “but that seems unsafe to me” – we are told we’re being unsubmissive. I wonder how many people have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse. I hope you are able to help others still love God and trust Him, but navigate through these murky waters. Thanks again.”
The writer’s articulate description of the cycle of cheap grace hopefully draws you in, dear reader. Perhaps you’ve lived it, or are seeing her point of view for the first time.
1) Sin comes to light.
2) Tears and repentance
3)New accountability partners
4) Sin continues
This wife’s story draws tears to my eyes because she, her children, other watching families, and the testimony of Christ are twice hurt. Both the husband’s sins and the church’s short-sighted response to pornography in Christian families have emptied grace of its beauty and power. Along with her, I ask, when is it finally enough? How many observers have been completely finished off by that sort of spiritual abuse?
Here’s the thing, dear reader. In my experience, most believers and followers of Christ want to do what is right. There will always be power-hungry leaders among us, however they are relatively few. The rest of us make these mistakes based on lack of knowledge.
1) We all sin and fall short of God’s holy nature (Romans 3:23)
2) People return to sin like a dog returns to its vomit (2 Peter 2:21-22)
3) Our “righteousness” is as pure as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)
4) Enter Jesus. He lives the life we cannot – one without sin (Hebrews 4:15)
5) He pays the blood-price for our forgiveness (1 John 1:7)
6) We confess our sins and turn away from them with his strength (Romans 8:5-9)
7) We become more and more like him, loving others as he did (Philippians 2:5)
8) In marriages, we lay down our selfish ambitions and pursue loving each other as Christ loved his church, and gave himself for her, submitting to each other as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-21)
Where does adultery, lust, and addiction fit in this picture? Where is the false repentance (that is actually only remorse) in God’s story? Did not Esau sell his soul for a pot of porridge? And though he begged for forgiveness with tears, he could not receive it. That is because his tears were remorseful, not repentant. (Hebrews 12:15-17)
True repentance is observable
Repentance accompanies deep, honest and humble confession, true understanding of the pain one has caused others and God, long-lasting change (with the family as the star witness, not tears), continuous humility, and a blame-the-victim, blame-society, and blame-God ceasefire. By the way, “I can’t help it” is blaming God.
Cheap grace sounds as the wife in this story describes it (Romans 6:1-3). When is enough? In my opinion, it is easier to accept someone’s tears than to do the hard work of exploring their heart. At the very least, I wish her church leaders would chat with her and the children!
There are common misunderstandings
- Forgiveness and trust are confused
- Submission as unto the Lord is diminished into enabling and endorsing sin
- Separation and divorce are equaled with remarriage
- We are unwilling to do as God did – allow divorce due to the hardness of mens’ hearts
- There is little concept of the connection between porn and adultery, or porn and abuse
- There is little respect for the death sentence emotional abuse hands down to victims
- Legalism trumps holiness.
Thank you for reading today’s blog, and I pray you are encouraged by the truth written here. Let’s do our best to understand wisdom, and to love these families harmed so deeply by pornography.
Related Posts: Is Watching Porn Emotional Abuse pt 1, pt 2; Series on Emotional Abuse in Christian Marriages pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, pt 4, pt 5; and An Open Letter About Porn to Christian Husbands, Pastors, and Husbands-to-be
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.
*help sign and typing pic from kozzi.com