Morning friends,

Are you merciful towards yourself? I bet even if you’re merciful towards others, you are hard on yourself – constantly beating yourself up for your shortcomings, flaws, mistakes, and failures. Being merciful towards yourself (or others for that matter) doesn’t mean you are self-indulgent or enabling of sinful behaviors and attitudes. But it does mean that you understand that all of us are both beautiful and broken and although we can work on our flaws, we will never be at a place where we don’t have any.

Melody Ross has written a beautiful book called A Little Bird Told Me. In it she writes letters to women who are beautiful yet broken. This is one of them. I hope it encourages you today.

Dear Merciful Girl,

What if…WHAT IF…today was the day that you chose to stop blaming yourself for choices you have made…choices you would make differently today, knowing what you know now and being who you are now. What if today you put your arm around yourself, kissed yourself smack on the cheek and said,

“I know better now, so I can do better now.”

…and then let it be done, once and for all. No more blame, no more shame.

Then…what if that made you feel loved and safe enough to take all of the responsibility for those choices and turn those choices into fuel to feed your beautiful new life with wisdom and experience?

WHAT IF?

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, so much more peaceful, so much more loving and merciful…and so much more worthwhile and RIGHT?

Yes, it would, beautiful friend…but you are the one who has to do it.

Sure hope you will.

You are so so soooo very loved. Xoxox

Tweet this! I hope you know today how much you are loved by God. That is the only anchor that will make you strong and whole (Psalm 107:29).

 

 

Today’s Question: I have been married for 29 years and have had much conflict through my marriage (the first 21 or so years of my marriage my husband was explosive and verbally abusive – this has stopped). I now realize that I should have left back then but didn’t. Most recently I am dealing with issues of pornography and drinking (together with taking his medications – Xanax (3 – 1ml per day) from https://xanaxtreatanxiety.com and Imipramine (3 per day).

He had a very unhealthy childhood and struggles with chronic anxiety (I have tolerated much and made many excuses for him due to this condition – I believe I still do). I recently confronted him about the porn and he denied it, became angry and defensive (which only tells me that he is watching although he promised he would stop – which I didn’t believe because he didn’t want to set any boundaries for himself.)

I saw a Christian counselor for one year, more or less, but I honestly think he made things worse by trying to put the ownership of my marriage on me and asking me to constantly confront my husband. It was truly exhausting and the counselor’s advise on my husband’s porn watching was to go in the room, grab him by the hand and ask him to come and have sex with me (which to be honest I didn’t do).

My husband would have not responded well to this since we pretty much have sex when he wants to. Is it wrong of me to consider pornography equal to adultery? I feel confused and conflicted in my marriage once again. I am having a hard time sleeping in the same bed with my husband and I believe it is affecting my health. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thank you.

Answer: I don’t believe you are wrong for considering regularly watching pornography equal to adultery since Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28. Pornography is looking lustfully at women (or men) usually coupled with masturbation to those fantasies.

I think our culture has normalized and glorified lust. The viewing of pornography is rampant. According to a 2002 Internet survey, 30% of pastors admitted to viewing pornography in the last 30 days and that was over 10 years ago. A recent survey by Barna, they report that 54% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women are addicted to pornography.

The Church has been reluctant to equate pornography with adultery because they are terrified that angry and hurt spouses would feel Biblically justified to divorce their mates….and that might be half the congregation.

However, it’s important to realize that pornography is not just about sex. You already said you have been sexually available to your husband throughout your marriage. Pornography is about laziness, greed, selfishness, boredom, feelings of inadequacy and fear of intimacy. It’s a way that someone can feel wanted, admired, pursued, important, powerful, and virile without having to give anything back. Without having to do any work to build, maintain, or repair a real relationship. In pornography everything is fantasy and living in fantasy is always easier than living in reality.

You have been the supposedly strong one in your marriage. Your compassion for your husband’s difficult childhood however, has allowed him to stay immature and weak. I think of the children’s story The Secret Garden, where a young man’s father kept him an indulged invalid believing he was damaged at birth. It was a young female friend, who, in her own healing journey, refused to indulge his tantrums and challenged him to revise his view of himself and his condition. That may be the same change God is asking you to make in your marriage.

You cannot fix your husband’s past (nor can he). You cannot fix his addiction or his deceit about his addiction. But he will consider facing his addiction and deceit only when he is challenged with the consequences of not dealing with it.

What that means for you is that right now you need to work on you. You said your health is becoming affected. I don’t think God wants you to sacrifice yourself in order to keep your husband in a place of unconscious unawareness of his own stuff. He needs to wake up and hopefully choose life, real life, not pretend life through fantasy and drugs.

As Melody Ross’ letter to women said, be merciful to yourself – the choices that you made in the past that you most regret, let them go and say to yourself, “I know better now, I can do better now.”

If you need support and help in making your own changes, you may want to consider participating in my 6 month group coaching program, Empowered To Change. It begins January 6th. If you’re interested in the daytime group click here. If you are interested in evening group click here.

Friends: I have three questions for you this week:

  1. Are you merciful with yourself? If so, what helped you to learn how to do that?
  2. What kinds of consequences have you put in place when your husband (or wife) refuses to look at their addiction and deal with it and it’s impacting you?
  3. Do you view pornography the same as adultery? When I asked my husband his thoughts, he said he did not see them as the same thing. One was much more damaging than the other. What do you think?

56 Comments

  1. Chuck Sigler (@AnselmChuck) on December 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    His drinking and use of Xanax is also a concern. While benzodiazepines like Xanax are standard “treatment” for anxiety, they aren’t supposed to be used long term. The alcohol on top of them multiplies the effects. Combining these two drugs means the impact is potentially addictive. He should get an evaluation of his use at a drug and alcohol treatment center.

    Along with the porn, he’s doing three things to trigger or stimulate the pleasure pathway part of his brain. Combined, they could be encouraging the continuation of each.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks Chuck for the short lesson on addiction and pharmaceuticals.

  2. Andrea on December 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Pornography is sexual immorality. Adultery is sexual immorality. The Greek word for it is porneia. Sexual immorality has no place in a marriage. If there is repentance, the marriage can be God honoring in either case. Without repentance, the consequences can be destructive to people and devastating to the marriage.

    • Lynn on December 18, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Interesting that you bring up the greek word for sexual immorality. Pharmakeia is the greek word for what we know as pharmacy” and “pharmaceutical.” However, it is defined as sorcery, witchcraft and evil. There is no place for any of that in a marriage either and I lived with the for almost five years too long! I tried creating boundaries and showing my husband that there would be consequences if he didn’t stop. He accepted NONE of it. I finally rid my life the evil he was contaminating my home, my heart and my life. Its horrible to life with such evil and darkness 🙁

      • Leslie Vernick on December 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        I”m sorry Lynn for what you experienced. Having porn in your home is allowing a darkness and evil, not only in the home but also in the heart and it can seep into everything.

        • JoAnn on November 30, 2016 at 1:15 pm

          The fact is that pornography is just as addictive and difficult to overcome as any other addiction, and in some cases even more so. A person who is addicted to porn needs to be in treatment, and there are 12 step programs for it. It takes really intense work to get past it, and a person may not have the strength to do it. there is a web site where you can get more information: purelifeministries.com.

  3. Cyndy McCollum on December 17, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Leslie, I have a question for your husband: which one does he consider more damaging? I am honestly baffled by this. It really made me stop and consider the devastation of both. His statement actually was likept a lightening bolt to my understanding– brilliantly shedding light in a flash on this issue. Please explain what he meant. Thank you!

    • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      I’ll have to ask him to be more specific and I’ll get back to you wit his explanation (if he’s ok with it being published).

      • Mary on January 20, 2015 at 10:23 am

        Leslie, Were you ever able to answer this for Cyndy M I too would like to understand what he meant by his statement. THank you for sharing your gift of Counsel ! It is much needed here!

        • Leslie Vernick on January 20, 2015 at 11:30 am

          I can’t find the reply that you are looking for. Give me some time.

      • Leslie Vernick on January 20, 2015 at 11:31 am

        My husband said that long-term pornography use is as damaging as adultery to a marriage, if not more so. What he wasn’t sure of was whether he would equate a man’s tendency to glance at a woman and have a bad thought equal in damage to a marriage as adultery.

        • Clarissa Dearth on January 29, 2020 at 6:51 pm

          All I can say from my experience is that my husbands secret ongoing ( 23 yr) porn use throughout our marriage has destroyed our friendship, trust, and intimacy. I’m praying his journey to wholeness will result in God restoring the years that we have lost. It definitely feels like he has had a secret mistress that has stolen his love and desire for me.But, he is taking the right steps to humility and repentance .

      • JoAnn on November 30, 2016 at 1:18 pm

        Maybe he is just not informed about how dangerous it is.

  4. Cyndy McCollum on December 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Of course. Thank you!

  5. Jeff on December 18, 2014 at 12:00 am

    . . . “Are you merciful with yourself? If so, what helped you to learn how to do that?”. . . . Maybe consider that the apostle Paul couldn’t keep from falling into sin again and again. Paul said –and this is late in his life: Romans 7:19 “For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil (the very sin) that I do not want to do.”

    . . . . Jesus uses MOICHEIA to describe ‘adultery’ when He says someone who looks at another’s wife commits adultery, but He uses PORNEIA to describe illict sexual relationships. . . . . That said, the only way we know what words really mean is to look at how they were used in the first century world (In the NT’s case). Koine Greek was the regional form of Greek spoken and written during Hellenistic and Roman times. . . . . Porneia was a very wide word. Porneia is a noun but as a verb it is porneuō which is porneia in an action form. . . . So, without an interminable screed on Greek words and context, how do could we apply the concepts? . . . A marriage is made up of emotional/mental, physical and spiritual connections. We have the same sort of connections with other people we interact with however there are exclusive levels defined within marriage that you should not seek anywhere else (Unless you want to hurt the entire body of Christ –All of us.) For example, physical is just not the sexual relationship but the closeness that a married couple shares. That closeness should be unique to the marriage and should NOT be satisfied anywhere else and the same goes with the emotional and spiritual. The highest levels should be reserved for God (FIRST) then your spouse. After God, your highest emotional relationship should be with your marriage partner. —And likewise with physical and spiritual. Now, if you reach these levels with another that is NOT your spouse then you are committing porneia. Obviously, affairs with your spouse are NOT porneia but we can use the contrasting affairs to define just what these affairs are limited to. These affairs then are “marital affairs” because they are defined through a marriage filter but do extend even to people who are not married. This means a single person can still have marital affairs. It doesn’t matter if a person is married or not it is the actions they are doing that define them as “marital affairs”. All that said, only God can see where you/your friends/family are blind. . . . .So ask Him with an open heart about your own porneia in all its forms.

    . . . . As Christians we look bad enough as it is (See Above: “The Church has been reluctant to equate pornography with adultery because they are terrified that angry and hurt spouses would feel Biblically justified to divorce their mates….and that might be half the congregation.”) . . . Please, for the love of God, if you are going to have an affair or worse, have it with your own spouse! Sneak around with them and meet them in out of the way hotels/resorts. If you are loving & respecting your spouse really well, they will work with you –BIG TIME! . . .Marriages generally end for one reason only: Selfishness; BE Selfless & SWEET. . . . . . I just fail to see what men/women can get from porn that they can’t get from each other. . . . And don’t just manage your sin, that’s not repentance. Actually when God changes you, you don’t even desire the same things anymore. Give the Lord your undivided attention. —Otherwise, “Born-again/Christ Relationship” living is just a crutch which no longer facilitates healing and growth, but actually protracted immaturity. The change in our lives cannot be so subtle, so undetectable, so un-falsifiable, so intangible as to be just NOTHING. We need to know that prayers are being answered rather than being deceived by coincidence, confirmation bias and worse. For us Christians to assert that we don’t need that kind of rigor is to be intellectually dishonest/irresponsible.

    “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that can remain undisclosed.” –Jesus, Gospel of Thomas saying #6

  6. Loretta P on December 18, 2014 at 4:32 am

    My husband has been into port in the past and our pastor and men in the church are working with him to break free. Sure hard on a marriage! We have a long way to go before trust will be re-built and there is hope for the marriage.

    • Jeff on December 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      . . . Oh, how I pray that works out for you. . . . It sounds like you have fallen into the refiner’s fire more than a few times. Whatever you do, don’t short your time alone with God and the Bible daily –you’ll need this connection to be strong and you’ll need to be armed with His wisdom to overcome. . . . . It’s just my experience, but men in small groups can be dangerous: sharing strategies, justifications, motivated reasoning, et.al. . . . Here is my DREAM accountability group: Dr. Elaine Pagels, Professor of Early Christian History, Princeton + Dr. Susan Barnett, Advanced PhD seminar in New Testament Greek, Oxford + Dr. Margaret Barker, Systematic Theology, Cambridge. . . . . I’d like to see my churches men’s group rationalizations and justifications interact with that kind of New Testament scholarship!

      • Loretta P on December 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        Jeff, My Pastor is very against Pron, and he holds men accountable!!! He and the men working with my husband don’t do porn and are very into Bible study and prayer. They give my husband love, but NO room for getting away with sin. They believe in consequences. It’s the best intervention we’ve ever had. I tried on my own but he ran over me and I didn’t have good boundaries. I’m getting much stronger now. A group where everyone feel sorry for what they go through would NOT help my husband. He needed a group that says “porn is sin and wrong!” He’s getting very harsh consequences and it’s helping. Thanks for posting your insights because the wrong group would be worse as it would encourage sin not stop it.

        • Jeff on December 31, 2014 at 8:04 pm

          Loretta,
          Two things. . . 1) I just saw this post and 2) I apologize to you if my previous comment about men’s accountability groups came off as harsh or unkind in any way. . . . I have been praying much for you since I posted that and I am so pleased to now see that your husband is getting the right help –and that you are confirming that. —Answered prayer! —So that is really cool. If it is working, then it is working, period. Praise God!

          . . . .The men’s groups I have been in and my friends have been in (–and these are fundamental, evangelical churches) are a bunch of ego, high-jacked guys trading ignorances . . . . .Women seem (–and maybe it’s NOT true because you would need peer-reviewed, out-of-sample, longevity studies to confirm it). . . But women seem generally, W-A-Y more humble than men (more honest too!) —I don’t know why that is —-BUT James 4:6 says God opposes the proud, but gives wisdom & grace to the humble. –So lots of men are not getting much signal. . . . . .But as Dr. Susan Barnett told me yesterday: No matter how much you think I can see, God can see even more, God can see where all your friends/family are blind. . . . . –When I have a serious theological questions, I talk to women scholars about it. To me, they are (at least a little more) humble/teachable than many men. On average, women seem above the trend line in humility. Unless I’m just projecting –that is possible (Again, I would need peer-reviewed, out-of-sample, longevity studies to confirm it).

          . . . . But I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I don’t have any issues with porn –thanks be to God!!! So I can’t give you an illustration in that area. —BUT it is c-r-a-z-y when you don’t have the problem because from the other side of the room it seems just so straight forward: . . . . Oh, oh, simply stop dishonoring God and others by using Porn. . . . . .In my case that would sound like this: . . . . . Oh, oh, simply drop your Word-of-God has to be True obbessions and believe it (–I’ll explain that). —For example, in my personal devotions a few months back, I was in the New Testament book of Jude (New Testament Apparatus –UBS). . . . . . .I was studying Jude 1:9 —Michael, the archangel and Satan (διαβόλῳ) are disputing over the body of Moses. . . Below is the text I had open (Obviously, the Bible is written in Koine Greek). Below is from the oldest New Testament Greek apparatus (Papyrus 72 –It is the earliest known manuscript of that epistle (P. Oxy. 2684)) . . . —ὁ δὲ Μιχαὴλ ὁ ἀρχάγγελος, ὅτε τῷ διαβόλῳ διακρινόµενος διελέγετο περὶ τοῦ Μωϋσέως σώµατος, οὐκ ἐτόλµησεν κρίσινἐπενεγκεῖν βλασφηµίας, ἀλλὰ εἶπεν, Ἐπιτιµήσαι σοι κύριος. . . . . . So that is Jude 1:9 –Just let it sink in. I mean, really let it sink in. —A postmortem dispute in which Satan demands Moses’ corpse, protesting that Moses mortgaged it to him (counterparty collateral). —Now, it is a common pagan myth and I see it in scrolls that predate the Bible like the Dead Sea Scrolls (For example: Testament of Amram (4Q543, 545-548)) . . . In Jude, we see the exact same thing with just different names. —I started thinking obsessively every day after that: THAT’S JUST CRAZY TALK. . . . —I thought to myself, Lord Jesus, you know I love you, BUT YOU ALSO KNOW it is just total crazy talk!!! . . . —And I know all the original languages, the rationalizations, —rube goldbergesk explanations. . . . You know what??? . . . It took me back two decades. . . . back when I was doing a MINIMUM of Fifty (50) hours of Bible study each week. Back then I started just deconstructing the entire New Testament —NOT even intending to. It happens because you get so much of God’s Word in your head that you inadvertently collate (Seriously COLLATE) the passages. . .AND IT got W-A-Y OUT-OF-HAND and it felt like the Lord r-e-a-l-l-y got sick (totally sick) of hearing my constant questions. I would fall asleep asking Him questions. –Not good and so easy to dismiss if it is not your issue.

          —I’ll tell you this, if wives got stories this divergent from their men THEY WOULD THINK THEY WERE LYING TO THEM: . . . .Lord, what is UP with the fact that Luke (who wrote Luke & Acts) has the ascension occur on Easter evening in Luke 24 but forty days later in Acts chapter 1. —Wow, Lord, that shows about as clearly as one could ask that Luke was NOT EVEN trying to keep the facts straight and didn’t expect us (the readers) to think so. –Lord, anyone who can change the story this much is just not interested in getting the facts straight! . . . . . . .And Lord Jesus, what day did you die on and what time of day? Did you die on the day before the Passover meal was eaten, as John explicitly says, or did You die after it was eaten, as Mark explicitly says? Did You die at noon, as in John, or at 9 a.m., as in Mark? Lord did you carry your cross the entire way yourself or did Simon of Cyrene carry it?. . . .Lord what did they see in the tomb? Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see an angel? —-As everyone knows, it depends which Gospel you read. What were the women told to tell the disciples? Were the disciples supposed to stay in Jerusalem and see Jesus there or were they to go to Galilee and see Jesus there? Did the women tell anyone or not? ——It depends which Gospel you read. Did the disciples never leave Jerusalem or did they immediately leave Jerusalem and go to Galilee? —–All of these depend on which gospel you read. . . . .Then I started mashing/jamming all the accounts together to get NOBODY’S account but this mashed together/make-it-all-fit gospel was again, nobody’s gospel. . . . In those days, I’d go to class and other Ph.D. students had not been idle, they had found contradictions/issues I hadn’t even dreamed of/uncovered yet.

          . . . . . . . So, finally, I got the courage to ask my accountability group of female scholars about Jude. . . . Just what is the deal???. . . . You know what they told me: When we get to heaven (–If all of us even do, they said), WE WILL with a 99% probability find out that the entire book of Jude is NOT supposed to be in the Bible, period. –And that story has a 99.99999% probability of being a pagan myth, for sure. . . . HOWEVER, we have plenty of clear passages about who is going to be sent to hell to suffer forever and who will be tortured in hell for all eternity. The Bible will always be full of things you cannot understand and even things that shouldn’t be in the text. Live according to those you know should be. The terms of Jesus are ALL or NOTHING (–And we can give you kilometers of textual support for that, they told me). To take up the cross and follow Christ means (If you are His) YOU ARE NOT coming back. If you are His, you are owned —Crazy unsupportable passages and ALL. If you are His, you are Christ-surrendered; Christ-transformed. The right way is strait, narrow and very unpopular. The wrong way is wide, broad and popular, but it leads to spiritual death. . . .Our job is to let NO ONE go there UNWARNED and UNPRAYED for. . . . . If Bible “knowledge” could change the world, we would’ve changed it long ago. Your goal is God Himself– not joy, not peace, not comfort, not even blessing, but God! . . . .Christ is a substitute for everything, but nothing is a substitute for HIM.

          . . . . Okay, so. . . . .that was really humbling and I had no retort for that. . . . Now, I have NEVER –in my life– gotten honesty like that from men. I have gotten double-talk and covering. . . . In most cases, churches are businesses. They do cash flow projections, marketing and damage control (–And I love going to by Bible church). They are not going to confront men or women as they ought to. No full “C” –No commitment to honesty –often it is just pretending. . . . . Just try to get a church to even do church discipline –A few do it, praise God, but precious few.

  7. Loretta P on December 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Leslie, I’m so thankful for this blog and your comments that speak truth into our situations!!! My husband is now entering counseling and they are putting him on medicines and think he’s borderline bipolar. It’s so helpful to know I’m not crazy struggling to live with him and all he’s put me through. Now maybe there’s a chance if he works hard in therapy and takes his meds. If he doesn’t change the marriage will end and I now have support from my church, Pastor and church leadership. Support is so helpful when making life decisions!

    • Leslie Vernick on December 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      I’m so grateful your church leadership is behind you and your husband. Sadly, so many women are told to go home and be more sexually available and that will take care of it.

      • Michelle on April 23, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        That is EXACTLY what happens. The church simply does not care to help wives, but if the husband seeks help with the wife, you can hear the rally cry from Maine to Minnesota. The church in general is led by men and men are going to stick together, holding no one accountable except the wife…as soon as the husband hears something directed at the wife, that’s where it ends for him, that’s where he parks, and nothing gets fixed. Men get away with emotional, verbal, and mental abuse ALL. THE. TIME. And a man does NOT have a “right” to his wife if he’s been hammering her and bashing her all day. That was NOT God’s intent behind Ephesians 5:22 (the verse ingrained into every male’s genetics from birth).

        • Tim on November 8, 2016 at 12:58 pm

          I hear your hurt and admit, as a man in the church, I too, have accept responsibility for my abusive and destructive patterns I’ve brung into my marriage. But the generalizations I’ve seen within the branches of this ministry are destructive and divisive in their own right.
          The Lord is powerful, He can, Will and has changed men/women’s hearts. None of us are beyond help. Please be careful not to make these general assumptions. They are harmful to the body of Christ.

  8. Melissia on December 20, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Leslie, your description of pornography (Pornography is about laziness, greed, selfishness, boredom, feelings of inadequacy and fear of intimacy. It’s a way that someone can feel wanted, admired, pursued, important, powerful, and virile without having to give anything back. Without having to do any work to build, maintain, or repair a real relationship. In pornography everything is fantasy and living in fantasy is always easier than living in reality.) is so complete and accurate. I have been married just over 25 years and am dealing with a husband who has probably always had this addiction. I lived for so many years thinking there was something wrong with me. His complete lack of empathy & emotion is incomprehensible. He has promised over & over that he has stopped only for me to discover more inappropriate conversations between him & other women. The one he keeps going back to is a first cousin!

    Jeff, your comment on men’s groups being dangerous are also right on. My husband’s only way of dealing with this issue is going to a weekly men’s group which is led by someone with the same issues. No one there is a professional and it seems they are just giving each other a pat on the back when one of them “slips”.

    His Pornography addiction has

    • Leslie Vernick on December 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks Melissa for your comments. I have not found men’s groups I’ve been acquainted with to be all that helpful either. But I know that some men have found real help in those groups so I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I think more structure and training would help.

      • Tim on November 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm

        Leslie, I’d like to comment on your statement:
        “Pornography is about laziness, greed, selfishness, boredom, feelings of inadequacy and fear of intimacy. It’s a way that someone can feel wanted, admired, pursued, important, powerful, and virile without having to give anything back. Without having to do any work to build, maintain, or repair a real relationship. In pornography everything is fantasy and living in fantasy is always easier than living in reality.”
        These descriptions of porn addiction are largely true, but also reveal the unmet longings of a man’s soul. The view of porn addiction being portrayed is one of judgement and criticism void of any call to understanding nor empathy.
        As a recovering porn addict, this judgemental view held by my wife , has created a unnecessary barriers to both the healing of our marriage and her support in my recovery. Please encourage women to get healthy themselves, but see their repentant husband’s with faith, grace and encouragement.

    • Tim on November 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Melissa, I am a Christian man who is recovering from pornography addiction. I’ve attended several men’s groups and only experienced one which was enabling to addictions. This group was led by a man who was asked to lead it, but had no business leading it, due to his moral indiscretions. I’m approaching my one year sober date and the men’s group I attend now has played a major role in walking with me out of addiction.

      • JoAnn on November 30, 2016 at 1:29 pm

        Good for you, Tim! “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Keep a close walk with the Lord through this.

  9. Melissia on December 20, 2014 at 4:16 am

    Not sure why it posted but I was stating his addiction has caused great destruction to our family & ruined my life. Anyone who says this is not a big deal has never lived through it.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      I hear from so many women devastated by this problem hidden in their marriage. It affects everything and to think it is no big deal is wrong.

  10. Jane on December 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I don’t know about the original Greek and Hebrew. But the Bible does say, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Lusting after a woman “on-screen” doesn’t seem any different to me. The motivation is the same.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 20, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks Jane

  11. Chuck Sigler (@AnselmChuck) on December 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Unrepentant porn, as others have commented, is equivalent to adultery. It’s a violation of the oneness that is supposed to exist in biblical marriage. I’ve used Vicki Teide’s, “When Your Husband is Addictied to Porn,” for wives; and Tim Chester’s, “Closing the Window” for men and women with porn issues. There are also some blog posts on porn available here on my website. Two discuss the books I’ve mentioned here: http://faith-seeking-understanding.org/?s=pornography

    • JoAnn on November 30, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Have you seen the web site for Pure Life Ministries? There is a great book there called At the Altar of Sexual Addiction. This ministry also has a residential treatment facility in Kentucky. As a note, repentance is only a first step. There must be a long period of re-establishing trust, and this is the hardest part.

  12. Loretta P on December 21, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Past ministers in our church and at Bible camp encouraged me to be more sexual as a cure to my husband’s porn addiction. Not this minister, he asked me if I wanted to stay and said they will support me if I leave. Also they are holding my husband accountable!!! He now weekly meets with church guys, has to be in counseling, and we will soon start couple counseling with Pastor an his wife. I wish all women had Pastor’s that cared and stood with them against porn and abuse. My minister told me “don’t stand for more abuse, you don’t have to accept abuse, leave if you need to, you don’t ever need to accept abuse again!” I so wish this for all women in bad marriages.

  13. Lynn T on December 29, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    My husband filed for divorce in 2013, after 32 years of marriage. For the past few years, I noticed he was distant and snippy with me, but I blamed it on job stress and the stress of a child with addiction issues. In January of 2014, my husband filed for divorce. He refused marriage counseling, and I was left to feel as if somehow I was this very flawed individual. I couldn’t understand his reasons for the divorce,and he brought of things which had happened 20 years before as his justification of the divorce. (i.e. we went through infertility, and that was “hard” for him!, etc.) However, all of the pieces came together in May of 2014 when the husband of the other woman called me! Here my husband had been having an affair for 3+ years with a stripper in another state! He met her while traveling for business. By scrutinizing his credit card expenses, which were supposed to be for his work travel, I discovered that he has had a long time addiciton with strip clubs. In 10 years time, I can see that he spent $35,000! This doesn’t count the cash he may have put into a g-string. Some evenings, he spent literallly $900! I cannot even imagine what he “purchased” for that amount of money. I have had a crash course in some of the expenses, such as a lap dance can cost $75-100 for 15 minutes. It was surreal to discover this, as my husband was able to lead a double life. I saw few instances of the porn addiction, but the travel afforded my husband the access to these strip clubs. Fortunately, I was tested and do not have any STDs, but he has shown so little interest in sex with me anyway. But now I know that I cannot compete with these women, whom are significantly younger and surgically enhanced. His stripper girlfriend is 17 years younger and has the fake assets. She is only interested in his money, and he doesn’t have the money that she somehow seems to think he has. But what is so sad is that this past year my husband has literally sent her over $40,000! Our son could have used an addiction treatment center, but my husband refused to pay for it and claimed we didn’t have the money! So don’t let pornography fool you — it is very dangerous, as I think my husband went from the image to the real thing. Only a relationship with a stripper is very skewed…. for him it is a fantasy, and for her it is all about the money. All in all, a very sad reality for me. I am a Christian, and my husband is not, so he doesn’t understand that he is trying to fill his emptiness with this sexual addiction. Additionally, I think the idea of aging has also been a culprit…. paying to be surrounded by pretty, young women must inflate his shoddy little ego. But there is nothing innocent about pornography!

    • Loretta P on December 30, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Lynn T, my heart goes out to you!!! It’s so sad that you supported and tried to be a good wife to a man that was full of deception! He’ll loose much as the stripper won’t care about him, just his money and when that’s gone she’ll be too. It’s sad he’s so blinded by his addiction that he’ll throw away love from a wife that loves him for nothing. I’m so sad for the hurt you are going through!!! It’s so difficult to know you’ve been cheated on. His blatant spending on sin, leaving you and your son without. I hate the sin of porn, and adultery! Anyway stay strong, it’s about his sin, not any lack in you! I just pray you’ll feel God close to you as you walk through this time of great pain. Know that there are others of us who care.

    • Jeff on January 3, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Lynn. . . .What an absolute nightmare. . . . I have been seriously praying for you. . . . wondering, Lord God, anything I could say here is just so trite . . . . . too many problems, too much sadness, too much suffering, too much stress. –Praise God you are still a Christian and STD-free, –that’s a New Testament miracle, right there. . . .If you’ve never eaten while crying (–because finally you have to eat something) you don’t know what life tastes like. –It’s just too sad at times. . . . Three years ago, I started visiting nursing homes regularly. Not because I wanted to go, Jesus kept forcing the issue (–And I fought it hard.). . . . Now, I actually like going to nursing homes and talking to folks about the Lord. (Sometimes the smells just take my breath away, so I have to keep to three or four hours.) —BUT, I always walk out of there thinking. . . . Lord God, I’m sooooo blessed, I can’t even believe it! –I can’t NOT even believe it!!! . . . .BUT folks know I am a ONE topic person. . . . ANYTHING that intersects Christianity. . . . No soccer, no football, no basketball, no baseball, no show-biz, et. al. . . . .And you know what? . . .People who are 3 to 5 years from leaving this world are extremely HONEST about pretty much everything. I love that. . . . Many impress me with an uncanny intellectual range and can be dialogue partners extraordinaire if they read some ahead of time. –Yeah, I give reading assignments. . . . BUT when someone I have been visiting DIES, that sets me back for weeks. . . . . . AND people tell me the craziest things. . .ha, ha, ha, ha. . . . . One women, recently, told me that: “If you refrain from filthy intercourse you become a temple holy and pure, released from afflictions and troubles and you will not be involved in the cares of life and of children.” . . .I couldn’t let it go. . . . Not wanting to be one-upped I told her: “Sex of any kind, even within marriage, is foul and to be avoided at all costs. Moreover, most children become either demon possessed, diseased, or lazy burdens, destined for heinous sins and ultimate condemnation.” —And she laughed so hard while agreeing with me!!! . . . .It does show, however, very clearly that the church is MORE than responsible for repressive, unhealthy attitudes –of ALL kinds. . . . .But all I know is this: You can walk hand-and-hand with Jesus in the FRIGID freedom of really surrendering to Christ (–and it is almost impossible to do, maybe actually impossible –and it sure looks at times like the foolish path). —Or you can stay on those shadowy Elm streets where you let your insecurities cut you to gummy ribbons (RE: “. . . . and I was left to feel as if somehow I was this very flawed individual. I couldn’t understand his reasons for the divorce. . . . “). The only real choice is the frigid, foolish freedom of surrendering to Christ. –Jesus wants to see just how badly you really want to know Him. –And that’s where you will find Jesus –out there in that desert of the REAL. —That holy desolation where only the TRUTH survives, out past all the epistemology of propaganda. That place where everything NOT real is blown to bits by the solar storm of TRUTH. –And raw TRUTH, oh my, . . . . oh, man, Raw Truth. . . . . it is NOT sexy because it has NO (zero) marketing plan. Just like Jesus in the NO-SPIN zone. . . . . The Lord knows the true measure of a person is not intelligence or how high they rise in this freak establishment world. The true measure of a person is how quickly they can respond to the needs of others and how much of themselves they can give. . . . . . –So, Lynn, let me remind you that if you are truly HIS, then you are a champion eternal, a daughter of the Living Light, and a person of the highest caliber. (RE: “. . . . and I was left to feel as if somehow I was this very flawed individual. . . . “).

  14. Lynn T on January 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Jeff,
    Thank you for the kind words and the support. I so appreciate your encouragement. I am slowly rebuilding my confidence and viewing myself as a “daughter of the King”. I also have some new friends whom have walked this road before me, and they are invaluable at providing understanding and also new activities.
    I am also learning to trust God, and that despite the horror that I find myself in, that He is going to work this for my good. At times I fear a very lonely and sad little life, but I am trying to combat these thoughts with the truth that God promises an abundant life. I still have a lot of hurdles to face — the divorce is not yet final nor have the financials been determined, our home has to be prepped and readied to be put on the market, and I need to find housing I like and housing I can afford. I am learning to put up boundaries in my life, and I hope, once the legal bills are paid and I am settled in a new place, to explore why I settled for too, too long for “crumbs” from my ex.
    But not only has the pornography destroyed me, but it has destroyed my children — specifically my adult daughter. She is so angry with her father, and can only think of him in terms of being mentally ill. How difficult to realize the father you adored is actually a narcisstic misogynist? It has destroyed the concept that she has a “perfect” family, and that now she struggles with trusting men. As of now, her relationship with her father is fractured and it will never be the same.
    But I intend to heal, as I don’t want to become a bitter victim. Thank you again for your kindness.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 3, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Lynn You will be a good example to your daughter about how to heal and move on – refusing to allow your husband’s sin to destroy you or your life. As she watches you, hopefully she will be encouraged to do likewise.

    • Jeff on January 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Lynn,
      . . . You are really brave. It’s a rough road you are traveling. . . . I know this sounds just ridiculous right now, but ALL those wounds eventually will become your wisdom, as long as you don’t become bitter. –It’s really cool that you already see that is the outcome to avoid. . . . . . And I’m no Pollyanna. . . . I could write a ten volume set on disconnects between real life and scripture (Psalm 37 David says, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” However, this is not always true, is it? Christians starve to death all the time of hunger or hunger-related causes. Even in the New Testament Lazarus is seen begging (Luke 16) and he was righteous). . . . ANYWAY, I really believe the ultimate disconnect is ours: We want physical but God gives spiritual. For example you say: “. . . . but I am trying to combat these thoughts with the truth that God promises an abundant life.” . . . .In the Greek extant manuscripts behind the English Bible, the phrase used means to have a superabundance of real life. But, as you may know, it’s not improved physical life its superior, superabundant spiritual life, REAL life empowered by the indwelling of Jesus Christ. –Living in the Spirit –finding what is good, especially when dealing with something you can’t change. . . . .We all deserve the fires of hell and Thank GOD He doesn’t give us what we deserve! You have to be a Black Belt in forgiveness to be a Christian but Christ can teach anyone that. –Also, never underestimate love/ kindness/ respect/ gentleness, its terrifyingly powerful stuff –As are the best attorneys you can afford. They will have a checklist and game plan for you. . . .And thank you for allowing God to use you, everybody wins when you do!

      • Lynn T. on January 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm

        Thank you, Jeff, for your very deep insights. Yes, I struggle with the picture of “an abundant life”….. I do fear that I will have to work until I am 70! And I have to combat the “what if’s… What if I lose my job? What if I get sick? What if…” and it is hard to see any of these scenarios as “abundant”. It is probably why I am gravitating to survival stories! True stories where Christians faced some horrific issues, and how they came through the experience. I want the fairy tale – but this may not be God’s reality for me. So my prayer has become that God will plant the right desires for my future in my heart, so He can then give me those desires. And you are right — get the best lawyer you can afford! I have to work a week to pay for 3 hours of my attorney’s billing! UGH! It is so distressing, and hard at times to think that I am somehow being punished for my husband’s sin. I hope to post here in another year, ,or two, with an amazing account of how God has worked in my life. But, for now, I realize I am in the desert and .I can only hope I survive the experience!

        • Lynn T on January 30, 2020 at 6:17 am

          It has been 5 years since I made that post, but I thought I would update the group about my life post-divorce. I was divorced on my birthday in 2016; it was surreal that of all the days to be in court, that it happened on my 57th birthday! But I took it as a sign that this was a gift from God.
          After the divorce, we had 10 days to sign a listing agreement of sale with a realtor. The house sold surprisingly quickly, but this put me into the position of moving quickly. While I thought a 55 and older community might be nice, I ended up in a 3-bedroom townhouse. Within a few months of the move, my 22 month old granddaughter ( my son’s daughter) came to live with me. The child was removed from her mother’s home due to drug addiction. My son was in a rehab at the time. If I had been in a 55 community, I would not have been able to have my granddaughter living with me. Obviously “ all God” for the kind of home I moved to!
          While overwhelming to be caring singly for a toddler, this child gave me purpose.
          Now 4 years after the divorce, I am remarried to a wonderful Christian man who is a widower. My grandchild has been living with me 3 + years now, and my new husband is willing to raise her with me. I have started a Grandfamilies support group in my area with another grandmother raising her grandchildren, and we have been able to provide lots of resources to the grandparents who come to our meetings.
          God took my out of Egypt and I am blessed!

  15. Stephanie on January 6, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Are there tell tale signs that your marriage partner is involved in porn? My husband only has access to his work laptop, but sits on it in the evenings quite often while I’m busy working out, etc. We haven’t had a healthy sexual relationship for many years due to me mostly. My trust towards my husband was shattered over and over early in our marriage (12 years) as he would use my past transgressions I shared with him before I gave my life to Christ as a way to hurt me during fierce arguments. He felt better about himself by putting my past sin back in my face as a way to say, “I’m so much better than you”…I know a big part of our early marital strife was due largely to his first marriage ending in divorce when her affair with a past high school boyfriend was discoverd, whom she eventually married after their divorce. I believe he never healed properly from this terrible act against their marriage, however he was not innocent in her straying either. My husband is explosive, demeaning, selfish and a type I diabetic whom was enabled as a child to be helpless. His low blood sugars, coupled with his narcissism and temper, are extremely difficult to live with. Any insight to this addiction would be so helpful…thanks in advance. BTW, my spouse is a professed born-again Christian of several years as am I…the fruits of the spirit are not very plentiful in his life however. God bless….

  16. Am I Wrong To Consider Porn Adultery? | on January 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    […] By Leslie Vernick […]

  17. Loretta P on January 12, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Jeff, Thank you so very much for prayers!!! Thank you for posting a comment. Prayer is needed as my husband was also just diagnosed as bipolar, working to break the porn addiction, an emotional mess that has been abusive and cheated. It’s a boat-load but God is working. Where it will end will depend on how much he puts into doing the healing work. How much he allows God to change his heart. He’s afraid I’ll leave so for now he’s working hard but it’s only the beginning of his healing journey so whether he continues, finds healing the marriage makes it remains to be seen. I’m supporting his healing but not making promises until I see lasting change.

    • Jeff on January 12, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Loretta,
      . . . . It is an honor and privilege to pray and keep praying for you and your husband. . . . .The really cool thing is that God can change your husband’s heart even if he doesn’t want it changed. Keep walking down that road of hope. We don’t know what lies ahead but we know Jesus will be there. 1 Peter 4:12-13 . . . And it is inspirational that you are honoring your marriage this way!

  18. birdie on February 3, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I strongly recommend “An Affair of the Mind” by Laurie Hall. This is far the best book written for Porn addiction. Its out of print (was published by Focus on the Family) but you can find used copies on Amazon. Also “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” by Marsha Means is a great resource. Along w/Leslie’s book I have given these two to churches & counseling groups to help. Also google Brad Hambrick. He is a Pastor at the Summit Church & has a great blog on Porn whether its adultery. He also does a weekend workshop for couples dealing w/sexual sin. If you cant go to the Church email the church for the 2 workbooks they use for husband & wife in the healing workshops. They provide them for free. Great resource. I do not recommend Vicki Tiede’s book. These other resources should provide very helpful info on sexual sin/addiction. Also just a caution there are many programs that have now exploded but they can cost thousands. One such group is EMB, I don’ t recommend. If you & hubby want an intensive please look for a program that includes BOTH partners. Separating the wife & husband most of the time does not lead to restoration/healing. The intensive program should include BOTH partners in my experience. It takes time but there are some good counselors out there that work the couple that are facing sexual sin/addiction. Give much prayer before you make a decision.

  19. Elizabeth on March 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I found out about a year ago that my husband was addicted to porn. We’d been married 27 years at that time. He was angry with me for confronting him. He admitted to it and said he’d been doing it for years and didn’t see anything wrong with it. Everyone does it. He promised me he would quit. Then in about 2 months I caught him again. And, I’m not just talking about some nice naked pictures. I’m talking videos, gang bangs, and all kinds of horrid trash that I won’t begin to describe here. Again, he promised he would quit. About 2 months later I walked into my house and he was watching a video and getting himself off. he didn’t see me and I just turned and walked out. I couldn’t even confront him this time. I’ve asked him to get counseling. He is a Christian. He refuses. He says he can handle it himself. I went and talked with my pastor and told him everything. He told me I just needed to have faith in God. And that God would need to convict his heart. I tried to tell him that I do trust God, I just don’t trust my husband and I don’t want my heart broken again. Just have faith is all he tells me. I feel like a faith failure because every time I walk in the living room and my husband is on his laptop, my heart seizes up in fear. How do I not live in constant fear that I’m going to have to live through all of this again and again for the rest of my life.

    • Elizabeth on December 1, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Update to my previous post. It is now going on three years since I first discovered my husband’s addition to pornography. After promising me he would quit, I caught him again and again and again – 5 times now – and I wasn’t even trying to catch him. In September, my 23 year old daughter found women’s undergarments and condoms in his work bag. I had surgery in 2009 that put me into menopause and so the condoms weren’t for me and the undergarments were not mine. I moved out. My pastor is pressuring me to have faith and put our marriage back together. My parents are pressuring me to get a divorce. I have no idea what to do. I can’t trust this man. He has broken my heart repeatedly and even though he now says he has quit the porn and wants me back – how am I supposed to believe that? I’ve heard it multiple times before and once he gets what he wants, he just goes back for more porn. I think what he misses is his lifestyle – my doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. – and bringing home 60% of our income. I don’t think he truly misses me. I feel completely alone in all of this. I can’t tell people what’s going on. Almost no one even knows we are separated.

      • Kuhn on December 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm

        Elizabeth, my heart breaks for you! I can relate on many levels although I have no absolute proof my husband actually had sex with anyone. He has been addicted to porn for many, many years. I found out 3 1/2 years ago and there were several online relationships. One was an old gf which I just found out that went on for 2 years. My husband has lied to and manipulated me countless times since I found out. He has repeatedly gone back to all of it. He has recently started counseling and is in a Christian support/healing group. Of course he claims he is making progress but I don’t believe him nor trust him. I will never trust him again. We were separated due to a new job for him and it was wonderful for me. He manipulated me into eventually moving to a new city with him and he reverted back to his old ways. I regret moving with him and am now stuck due to finances. Your pastor could not possibly know what you have been through and to tell you to stay and endure is not right. Your husband broke his marriage vows not you.

  20. Loretta P on March 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    It is an addiction and he’ll need God’s help and help from someone else or a resource to break free. There is a great resource in the book and workbook “Every Man’s Battle.” They also have a book for women who’s husbands are in bondage to porn called “Every Heart Restored: A Wife’s Guide to Healing in the Wake.” written by Stephen Arterburn. I just read it and it’s a great resource for understanding the addiction, guidance for dealing with a husband addicted to pron, and how to help your heart heal.

    It’s a difficult battle and men can become very sneaky trying to hide what they are into. It’s painful to deal with. It helps to understand that the porn addiction is not because of you, it’s not about “other women” as much as it’s about the high they get from act. It becomes so addictive like a drug hit to their system. BUT GOD can help him break from when he wants to. This book will help you learn how to confront and use consequences if he decides not to break free. You can’t force another person to change, you can pray, confront and use consequences but change has to be their choice.

    I’m sorry you are not getting support from your church / Pastor! Some pastors don’t know how to deal with porn addicted men, very sad. It’s not your lack of faith that is the problem!!! It’s a problem in his heart, there is something he’s trying to medicate with the high he’s getting from the pron. I’ll be praying for you as this is difficult! Just know he may still really love you, he’s just fighting an addiction that is smashing your heart and until he’s ready to break free and gets help, he’s an addict and will keep “using.”

    I hope you can get the book and read it as it will help you so much and give you hope for healing! Prayers for you in this difficult situation! God loves you more than words can say, you are precious in his heart!!!

  21. […] Answer: I don’t believe you are wrong for considering regularly watching pornography equal to adultery since Jesus said …read more […]

  22. Osneidy on November 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    True that, the thing with many people is that they think they can do weehavtr they want and say sorry’ to make up for it. True God’s grace is great, God’s grace upon you can end. When you do thing because of no knowledge, it’s different to doing it knowing the in and outs. It hurts more to be betrayed/let down’ by someone you’ve let close to your heart. Remember if you hot be hot,else just stay cold. You must decide where you stand..

  23. Marie on December 21, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I’m just starting to ask the question about emotional destruction and now sexual abuse. My husband struggles with porn and often says if we had sex more frequently it would change a lot of things. He notices his demeanor changes and he is not as tempted to look at porn and/or notice other women. I know men are wired differently but the thought of sex frequently at this point is really hard because I’m processing if there is also a control component in other areas. I have told him I do not feel safe and for a woman that safety is important when it comes to intimacy. My husband is prone to get angry and kick things or throw stuff. We’ve been married 6 years and I’m currently seeking how and what to do and asking the questions (did pick up your book). At this point I feel all kinds of confused. However is this a type of sexual abuse? Am I missing something? It seems so subtle to me. I think it a healthy safe relationship that regular sex is important but right now it’s just a chore.

  24. Grace on November 1, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, affairs are absollutely terrible, but the regular use of porn has some consequences that are even worse than an affair. Since over 90% of porn shows women being demeaned and abused, it teaches that women enjoy being hurt, abused and used. It teaches that women enjoy pain linked with sexual pleasure. In my marriage, my (pastor) husband’s continued use of porn led to such depths of every kind of abuse. It changed his thinking and ability to function in a healthy relationship on every level in our marriage and with our daughter, until I had to call the police and leave the marriage. He stopped seeing me as someone who had a valid viewpoint–that he should stop doing something if it hurt me. Regular viewing of porn led him to believe that “all women liked pain during sex.” (http://pornharmsresearch.com/2011/04/increases-violence/) At least an affair is with a real person who can voice her own opinion and voice her disagreement.

    By viewing porn, a man also becomes a sex trafficker by driving up the demand, so more girls and women are abused to create new porn.

    Many are naive, covering or listening to whispers from the Father of Lies, in trying to minimize the deadly consequences of this epidemic of porn that we’re facing.

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