Am I Being Too Passive In My Marriage

Morning friends,

We had a great time last week on Facebook Live talking about topics that will be covered at the CONQUER: Be brave, Grow Strong Conference in October. Over 400 women have registered so far and I would love to see you all there. If you’d like to watch some of last week, here is a link to the recording.

Today’s question is about being too passive. I think as women we often struggle with passivity and call it Biblical submission. But they are not the same thing. Being confident and assertive about who you are or what you need or want is not aggressive or selfish. It’s human. Of course, we don’t always get everything we want or need, especially when it’s in conflict with what someone else’s wants or needs, and that’s why all believers are called to practice submission. Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), to God (James 4:7) and to authority (1 Peter 2:13). Passivity and people pleasing are a huge struggle for many women and I am going to be offering an online class in a few weeks on tackling that problem. Its called Moving Beyond People Pleasing. If you’d like more information on it click here.

Question: I've been reading much of your material for the past several months as I try to “figure it out.” My wife shared you with me. This is the first time I am contacting you and feel very vulnerable. I'm sure you understand.

I have struggled with pornography and sexual addiction issues since I found my Dad's “stash” when I was 7 or 8 years old. It's a powerful hold on a man. Dang….. I'm a Christian man who loves being a father and husband and wanted/wants to do better than my father and follow Jesus whom I love.

I've totally come clean with my friends, family, and church…..from the pulpit as a former elder. I hid my struggle for such a long time but now am “out.” Refreshing for me but I understand that was the beginning of my wife’s/family’s journey.

We have 2 adult children and soon to be 4 incredible grandchildren. Dear God. As they run to me saying “Papa” it gives me hope that I can still make a difference.

I've been in recovery for almost a decade now thru a couple of incredible ministries that maybe you're familiar with.

New Hope in Lawrence KS with Darrell Brazell is an awesome resource. Also, the Watermark Community Church in Dallas TX ministry called Regeneration. Powerful. Both have a wonderful balance of grace and truth.

You're recent topic from a man whose wife avoided all intimacy is particularly sensitive to me.

My wife hasn't felt comfortable with intimacy for almost 6 years now. Not just sexual but she hasn't been able to kiss me during this time. I feel like a baby in a crib that wants to be picked up. Just the way it is. I ask on occasion but it isn't received well.

Honestly, sometimes I handle this well…lovingly…sometimes it is frustrating and I'm sure she feels that. I plan/try to be the man God wants me to me no matter what. It seems as if she won’t ever be able to be close to me again in that way. That is really hard but I am committed and will be “here” no matter what. I'm thankful she has been willing to stay with me also. No small thing for sure.

It feels as if I'm getting more “passive” in this area and I'm not sure that is good…but it is safer and comes with less hurt.

Thank you for any wisdom/ help/suggestions you can share my way. I know you deal with a lot of men who are selfish jerks. I've been there but have seen our God humble me during this journey. I have so far to go.

Thank you again.

Answer: Thanks for reaching out. I suspect there are a lot of men who have gotten my material in one way or another and hang out in the shadows here trying to figure out how to heal their broken marriage. And I’m going to be working on a webinar soon for couples on how to heal broken trust.

Once trust has been broken, true intimacy with that person is impossible. You can have sex with someone you don’t trust, but you can’t have intimacy. Intimacy requires feeling safe and secure with someone. It is the ability to be vulnerable and not afraid of being mocked, rejected, or harmed in any way. I love the verse in Proverbs 31 where it says of the virtuous woman, “Her husband trusts her to do him good, not harm all the days of his life” (Proverbs 31:12).

Men often minimize the ramifications of porn in their life and in their relationships. They tell themselves that since they are not having physical relations with someone, they aren’t committing adultery or it doesn’t do any harm. But by now you know that is not true.  Here’s a recent article I wrote on whether pornography is considered adultery, click here

Habitually viewing porn not only harms and insults your wife’s soul and spirit, it harms your marriage and it harms you. Studies show that regular use of pornography impacts a man’s brain and ultimately his own capacity to have normal sexual relations with a woman. Click To Tweet

But your question is more about you than about sex or intimacy. It’s about whether or not you are being too passive in this area of approaching your wife for more physical contact, wanting a simple kiss or hug.  

My answer is yes. You are being too passive. But the solution to passivity isn’t aggression or to be more forceful in demanding physical affection from your wife. That would be abusive. I’d like you to learn to be more assertive with your wife with your words, by talking honestly with her about where your marriage is at instead of initiating or demanding more physical affection.

For example, have you initiated a conversation with your wife about the status of your relationship now that you have done your recovery and have been sober for almost ten years? Have you asked for and received her forgiveness? Is she willing to work with you to rebuild broken trust? Have you shared with her how her continued physical disinterest in you has impacted you?  

Now that you have done your own personal work, have you asked if she would be willing to do couple’s work to repair and rebuild your relationship? All of these questions require you to be assertive, sharing your heart, your feelings, your thoughts and needs with her. Learning to be assertive is not demanding your own way or forcing someone to comply, even with a simple kiss. That is being aggressive. But passivity is staying silent about your feelings, your needs, or your thoughts but inwardly feeling sad, hurt, angry or resentful.

From what you wrote, it sounds like you are committed to staying sober and married; staying well, even if your wife is not as committed or interested in rebuilding your relationship. One of the consequences of repeated broken trust is that the person who has been repeatedly wounded is not willing to be vulnerable again. She is not willing to trust again. She may have forgiven you but she may not be willing to work to rebuild that trust. Therefore kissing you seems inauthentic to her and incongruent to where your marriage is. She doesn’t want to lie and pretend just to make you happy, but without really talking with her about it, you don’t know where her heart or mind is.

Therefore I’d encourage you to continue to do your work of maintaining your sobriety but also to learn to be more assertive in communicating with your wife. That may lead her to be more honest with you about where she is at and where your marriage is at.  It is only from that place that you can make the best decision on how to move forward with your life and marriage.  

Friends, when you have found yourself too passive in your relationships and how have you learned to speak up for yourself in a non-aggressive way?


  1. Susan P on June 13, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you, Leslie, for your very insightful response to this writer’s question. I find myself in a somewhat similar situation, though not entirely. I believe that I have been too passive for most of my marriage (if I am honest, sometimes passive-aggressive) and I am working now to change that.

    I discovered Leslie’s books and blog a couple of years ago, and have been working on my own issues. Although I “knew” that it is not possible to change another person, for much of my 19 year marriage, I was stuck in the trap of believing that our marriage would be better if only I could figure out how to make my husband change. Over the last couple of years, I have given up that belief, and have been working on my own CORE strength.

    I grew up with a mother who, if not a full-blown narcissist, at least had very strong narcissistic tendencies. I married a man with whom I felt “comfortable,” and I now know that much of that “familiar” feeling was because my marriage relationship echos many of the dynamics of my childhood. My husband claims to be a Christian. He grew up with an abusive father, and during the course of our marriage I have learned that he has PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression and ADHD. Because of his “issues,” it was my job to understand and accommodate.

    From my perspective, we never had a very satisfactory sex life, which I attributed to the fact that he was my first, and I lacked experience. I was also terribly embarrassed to talk about it, and when I finally mustered the courage and raised the issue, his response was that HE wasn’t able to talk about it. He “expresses intimacy physically,” but “because of how he was raised,” would not or could not discuss our issues in words. I later discovered that he was a frequent user of porn, and had been since his teens, but of course, that also fell under the category of things he wouldn’t or couldn’t discuss.

    The first time I walked in on him and saw the porn on his computer screen, I felt physically ill, as though I had been kicked in the gut. For a long time, I agonized about it: Isn’t it “normal”? “Everyone” does it, after all. Wasn’t I overreacting or being a prude? I also lost a lot of enthusiasm for working on our intimate relationship. At this point, we haven’t had sex in at least five years, mostly due to my unwillingness, but over time he has (non-verbally) requested it less and less. Last August, on vacation, I rolled over in bed and opened my eyes to see him surfing porn sites on his phone. That was the last straw.

    I’m sure that if I had spent time considering my words, I could have expressed myself better, but I told him then that I was no longer willing to live as though his porn use/addiction was OK with me. When we got home, I moved into the spare bedroom. Since then, We have had a few very limited conversations around the topic of his porn use and my sleeping arrangements/unwillingness to have sex. Unlike the writer of the question above, my husband has not “come clean” to anyone else; he maintains that he “needs” to look at porn because it is the only thing that helps with his anxiety; and although I have stopped trying to monitor his behavior, I have no reason to believe that he is sober (or even that he intends to be).

    For reasons that I won’t go into here, I don’t plan to leave the marriage. But I am attempting to “stay well” and to be more assertive. For me, that means focusing on my own growth and maturity in Christ, clearly and non-antagonistically stating my own boundaries and the reasons for them, and working hard to eliminate my old passive (and passive-aggressive) behaviors. Of course, we cannot turn back time, but I do wonder whether our marriage would have turned out differently if I had had the skills to “use my words” early on.

    • Kristy on June 27, 2018 at 11:18 am

      Leslie – I would love to see your response to her situation. Some things in it resonate with me that the original question didn’t pertain to. I think it is so amazing that amidst temptations to “fix” so many of his many issues, you are actually focusing on yourself. it is so counter-intuitive for many of us. Praying for you!

    • Teri on June 27, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      I also appreciated Leslie’s insights. My husband struggled with porn as well. We were able to have a very open discussion about it. I related that since men are typically stimulated by sight (porn pictures) and women are typically stimulated by touch, I wondered how my husband would feel if I allowed the next door neighbor (or countless strange men) to completely feel all over my entire body (just not go through sexual intercourse). I think this is a fair parallel. Also, it helped my sons to get over their porn addictions when they thought of the woman in the picture as a real person, someone’s sister, daughter, granddaughter, even someone else’s future/potential wife, not just an object.

  2. Aleea on June 13, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    “Friends, when you have found yourself too passive in your relationships and how have you learned to speak up for yourself in a non-aggressive way?”

    . . .For me, —major failing. I am either far too passive or way too aggressive. I have asked for wives who are healing or have healed a lot in Christ who used to be too passive with husbands, husbands that tend to be harsh, to articulate how they achieved that balance and to write posts so that there is more balance on the blog —but most have husbands who will not allow them to write about their marriages. —I know, I know! Something is wrong with that “healing.”

    . . .Passivity is a very easy course, but it is not honorable at all. Passivity is not virtuous because it dulls your feelings. . . .And being passive is not being peaceful. If you aren’t doing what you know, in your heart, God wants you to do, you are NOT going with God, you are going against Him.

    Re: “I feel like a baby in a crib that wants to be picked up. Just the way it is. I ask on occasion but it isn’t received well.”

    . . .How about abandoning yourself to God and letting Him pick you up? God says He is more than enough for us, let Him be that to you. —Have you ever felt God’s love to the point where it just washes over you? There is indescribable joy to be found, deep satisfaction to be felt, and unbelievable purpose to be found in dying to ourselves and living for Him.

    . . .And with God it is so, so different. There is nothing we can do to make our hearts acceptable before God. We can work constantly, give extravagantly, and love sacrificially, but our hearts will still be stained. Faith is like anti-work. It’s the realization that there is nothing you can do but trust in what has been done for you in the resurrection of Jesus. The realization that God’s pleasure in you will never be based upon your performance for Him. Instead, God’s pleasure in you will always be based upon Christ’s performance for you. —I know you know that, —acting on it is obviously the key.

    . . . .So my abusive mother hardly ever, basically never, gave me the gentle, encouraging nurturing I needed. . . . .But I’m an adult, I can give my inner child the kind of loving empowerment that will help me. I’ve got to let go of what I wished I could have experienced and embrace the possibilities of being my own best parent ever. . . .Nobody is going to save you, we have to self-rescue (—I hate that too) and a great way to do so is through prayer-that-takes-action (—think about prayer: the purpose is not to give information to God. The purpose is intimacy with God, —so He can touch you!) and then taking loving action (—but keep articulating your needs, nothing wrong with that I am aware of).

  3. Alene on June 13, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Leslie, I like your analogy that being passive and submitting to a situation is not true submission. You ask when I found myself being too passive and how I learned to speak up.

    About five or six years ago we had a family crisis and I realized I had been hoping my husband would see and hear what he had been doing, I was also praying passively and waiting passively and seeking to be nice. Leslie, your CORE acronym has been an encouragement to me. I lacked boundaries, I had fantasy thinking, I was enabling, I was compensating for my husband, I was acting like it was all his responsibility and I wasn’t finding my responsibility to speak up wisely and well and find my own choices with a “commitment to Truth -that is greater than my situation beyond whether it resolved or not – and humble truth”. I had to stop being passive.

    Finding a better balance was a learning experience. I had to look the truth in the eye. I think that is what you are asking this man to do. The main issue is not whether he feels good because he ‘wants to be picked up and loved’ the main issue right now is how his wife feels and the status of their marriage and what can happen to restore and rebuild or not. (C) I had to tell myself the truth in my situation. I had to call the behaviors and choices what they really were without minimizing or excusing.

    I had to be open to God and others in a different way. I had to be willing to seek and receive. It is something I wish my husband would do and what keeps things stuck. He says he’s praying about selfishness but he isn’t open to receiving input about specific selfish actions or words and that means he isn’t really open and he isn’t really serious. I sought counsel and input and was willing to take a hard look at where I needed to grow and take action. I learned to listen for God’s voice and nudges in a more humble open way. The difficulty in my family involved our older son and how he was affected by the dynamics and I love him deeply and did not want to continue to enable or participate in that pattern as I had been.

    I’ll pause here to say: when I look at what you shared openly and vulnerably, you seem to have turned away from your problem and come clean. I wonder if you need to turn towards your wife now. I do hear an emphasis on yourself and not on your wife’s feelings and this could be a key: There may be a need to focus on the impact and her feelings and caring and making restitution to her. This could be what is lacking. This could be the next step. Could it be that you haven’t directly dealt with this? that you want to move on to restoration? It is a step lower and deeper. It is possible that by sharing Leslie’s materials she is actually speaking something to you.

    I had to find my responsibilities. Truth cuts both ways and I had to stop enabling. I didn’t have a problem with empathy. I had to stop helping someone who wasn’t taking responsibility and helping himself. I had to learn to say no. I had to get brave and speak up. I had to weather the any word storms. I had to hold onto my no when necessary.

    My husband has said he’s sorry but doesn’t get specific. He hasn’t sought input, others or mine, he hasn’t sought counsel. He wants to feel good about himself and short cut true resolution. He wants to be loved unconditionally. It is about him feeling comfortable and in control and going as far as he wants. It isn’t about me or the family though he thinks it is. The damage was deeper than sweeping it under the rug would cover. I feel like I’m living with lies. He really wants to be a nice guy and minimalizes so he can feel that way rather than doing the true work of resolving.

    Three years ago he had a work situation come up: and entwined in how he handled it were the same old patterns. He tried to do better on his own and sought some surface counselling.
    In November, December, and April recently he managed to get himself into another situation and again entwined in how he handled it were the same old patterns. Sure overall things are nicer but the patterns are still there. I didn’t want him to touch me for months. He just wants things to move on and be fine without actually resolving. I feel like he mocks me by not getting serious and really resolving for me, for us, for the family, as a man, as a believer.

    I will say that I think for most women when a man undresses his heart and lets a woman undress him and gets naked and real and serious, a woman finds that attractive. Women are relational and heart oriented. At this point for me, my husband would have to prove it over the long haul and be deep and real. Without that, we’re just living on the surface and he ain’t getting what he wants cuz he resists going there and ain’t getting there and doesn’t get it.

    Guess that covers it.

    • Connie on June 14, 2018 at 12:02 am

      Well said. I can sure relate to that.

    • James on June 14, 2018 at 12:44 am


      I’m not sure what more this man can do by way of restitution than almost a decade of celibacy.

      If you were in this man’s place, what would you want from your husband?

      • Alene on June 19, 2018 at 12:35 am

        Thank you for your question, I am sorry I did not reply sooner.
        I would want my husband to address the underlying issues driving the behavior, I would want him to ask questions and listen to my concerns and value my perspective if he’s really serious and really wants to grow, I would want him to make himself available in an accountable way for questions and concerns and checking. This kind of openness is key.
        This is where my husband has not gone.
        A woman’s intuition comes into play: I would know if it was real.
        If he says “I don’t want to change” it is not real.
        If he says “you’re never satisfied” it is not real.
        If he says he wants unconditional love which includes accepting his behavior unconditionally it is not real.
        If he says “well you have some clutter” it is not real (blame shifting, comparing apples and oranges).
        If he gives his perspective of me without acknowledging the dynamics of the situation which included his behavior it is not real.
        If he continues the same patterns without awareness and explains away any responsibility on his part it is not real.
        If I bring up a concern and he shows not only no awareness but not curiousity and not effort to see it is not real.
        I could go on but that will suffice.

        My husband has not had a problem with porn. I think no matter what the outward behavior has been, there are similar drives under the surface. This means that though my circumstance is different, the underlying need is probably similar.

        Obviously we can’t know this man or this woman. She is familiar with Leslie so she probably knows about CORE strength and staying well. She seems to see a problem.

        He has come clean publicly…he has gotten help…he is committed to the marriage, family, and the Lord. What else can he do? Ask his wife, what do you need? what would help you heal? I am willing to do whatever it takes.

        I unfortunately have a sensitivity to men not really being serious and open and I do not want to read that into this man. I’m gathering the wife may have an unaddressed concern because of her connection with Leslie’s material and something may be blocking her heart. (by the way, sir, thank you for sharing your heart vulnerably, please forgive me if any wrong sensitivity leaked in anywhere in my comments on here. It’s been thirty years and I wasn’t expecting this journey. I do know what itis like when something has a powerful hold on you – I had that in a different area and I needed God to release it.).

        What I found in my situation was that my husband did what he wanted but didn’t take into account what I might need so I see this as an important step for healing and restoration. I am thankful for Leslie and the idea of CORE strength – I was not strong enough and until I got more truthful and stronger and less passive, it was hard to know what to ask for (let along weather the storm if I did).

        For me, we are getting there but wow, it would go faster farther and finish if my husband would be serious, do his work to the roots, value and seek my input and be open, see the impact. Instead I feel like it is on me and boundaries end up being wise so at least his responsibility is in his court, even if he chooses not to address it.

        My challenge is to acknowledge what is real yet live wisely with what is not so that I do not have all or nothing thinking.

        • many years on June 27, 2018 at 1:26 am

          Amen! What you related has also been the entire scenario of my own marriage.

          My husband was raised by a very harsh father, both verbally and physically, which extends to the mental and emotional growth of a child. The child raised thus, ‘learns’ to tell white lies in order to protect himself from the violence. The mother being the wife of the abusive father, also learns how to lie to her husband to protect the children. It is a vicious cycle.

          When I got married, this pattern of origin from my husband’s family extended into our marriage. The mind, especially of the abusive spouse, who endured the violent abuse as a child, their mind, their emotions, their feelings, etc become dead or numb to accountability.

          Even the slighted hint of becoming accountable by the abusive spouse, with most minor incidents, the abusive spouse will ‘cover their tracks’ because ‘they can’t handle’ the repentance and accountability as it takes them back through their entire life of pain.Which, because of this, they do not see YOUR PAIN, they cannot EXPERIENCE the pain which they create involving other people.

          They are in extreme denial (when it comes to them always having to keep busy with things in their life in order to escape a life of normalcy) where they cannot talk about intimate and personal feelings. I know, as I have attempted to bring my husband out of his shell, and it seems the more I was attempting to get him to confess, the deeper he went into lying and hiding within himself.

          This is a terrible psychological and spiritual warfare aimed at the one person whom we are attempting to help, so help us God! I don’t know if a narcissist or the person with severe OCD has their coping skills honed by being born into an abusive environment, but my husband certainly doesn’t seem to be able to be accountable even when addressing small things in life where he has done something unintentionally ‘wrong’ (in his own eyes) and when I ask him where something is that I thought was some place else, then, maybe, the next day, out of the blue he will say, “Well, I found this box in the garage you may want to look inside” and sure enough it will be what I was looking for, but he couldn’t admit that he had stashed the box somewhere else, and couldn’t admit the day before that he may just know that he knew exactly what I was looking for. It has kind of been, ‘Oh, by the way….” So, any type of perceived failure on his part, that he may have ‘done something wrong’, will trigger that type of response of ‘trying to get away from’ the fear of not being ‘perfect’.

          A person such as this will shun council, as the ‘FEAR’ factor is still so very much within their psyche. And this is also why it is so difficult for them to come before the throne of God to repent and confess, as all they have been taught is the fierceness and wrath of their own earthly father which they translate to God, our most gracious Heavenly Father.

          I believe THIS mindset drives the real person deeper into themselves, so that the damaged SELF is the only thing which exists in their field of reference. They do good deeds for people, in order to be accepted. Yet, they can never go ‘deep’ with another person, nor with the Holy Spirit, yet our God is able to abundantly pardon, and it is to that intent and end that we never give up praying for these lost souls who have never really found out what it is like to be truly loved or truly forgiven.

          And no, theirs is not a ‘real’ world they live in. It is a preconceived and distorted world where real truth does not even exist.

          • Aly on June 27, 2018 at 9:25 am

            Many Years!

            Wow! Wow! This is so very articulated filled with love and care.

            You articulated the deeper side of these injuries ~ many might try to coin them personalities. But deep heart soul harming injuries they are. Some get free and grow and actually embrace the fullness of grace by Christ, and some hold tight in fear. Not even realizing they are trapping themselves and the harm they try to trap others in.

            What are we called to do?
            Speak the truth in love and offer the invitation.

            We are not to be a role or participant with their fantasy and distorted processing. We are not to enable or feed this injury but we are to comfort and offer the real relationship that they do badly are in conflict in first with God and then with others.

          • many years on June 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm

            Thank you, Aly

            Yes, some (the damaged self) do come into the fullness of grace in Christ, as this is what my oldest adult son had to come to the realization that he had to have that spiritual disconnect with his dad through the grace of forgiveness, which he has truly done. He has forgiven his dad (my husband) for the abusive childhood which my husband put my son through. God is using my son in other people’s lives because of his deep spiritual understanding of what goes on within the heart and mind of the damaged soul.

            I have been to psychological sites, mostly to do with Narcissists and OCD, and the information they give is true to a certain extent, yet most of those sites don’t have the Holy Spirit injunction. They offer ‘answers’ but most of the answers are one-sided. I mean, it does make the victim aware of how to cope, whether to leave or stay in a marriage, but not with Biblical precepts.

            So, there is a danger of the crazy-making scenario, the circular reasoning on what not to do with a Narcissist, as that too, can drive the victim into more of a mode of escaping the abuse, yet not having the proper spiritual tools for restoration of the soul.
            Instead it is a fight or flight pattern, which, if the Holy Spirit is not being allowed to lead, and listening to the council of, most likely unsaved councilors, the victim can still be driven to despair to act upon their own instincts, and to listen to the natural mind of men or women councilors rather than what God would have them to do.

            This is what I have learned in the past two years. I was definitely helped by going to those sites, yet there was something missing in their solutions, but the information did help me to be more observant to the degree I found out what I was up against in an abusive relationship, yet the means and the ways of proper restoration was just not apparent.

            Those sites do nail the problem, yet not all of their advice is good for the one who is a believer in Christ. They want you to sign up for their workshops, yet the dilemma is still in your life.

            The ‘no contact’ rule just does not work in a practical way in some abuse situations. It is almost impossible to go ‘no contact’ in this life. Unless there is severe and dangerous abuse, there are things in life where the victim has to stay in contact with the abuser. There is no getting around it. Yet, as the believer, the victim does not have to be a partaker of the sins of the abuser. THAT is where the spiritual disconnect has the ‘right of way’ in the solution.

            If there is no repentance on the part of the abuser, then there should be no spiritual connection with them, the unconfessed sins of the abuser are what separate them from God, and therefore, those unconfessed sins is what separate us from that person too, in the spiritual sense of the situation.
            Therefore, the abused spouse has to disconnect on that level, as what fellowship has light with darkness? That is the difference between the sites which give only the basic rights of an abuse victim, compared to what the rights of the believer in Christ entails; which is exactly where Leslie’s counseling is going to make the difference in the believer’s situation.

          • Nancy on June 27, 2018 at 3:59 pm

            I have found this exact same thing, Many years, with sites and books about codependency. Melodie Beatty does a fantastic job identifying and describing what co-dependence is ( she wrote what is considered the ground breaking book, in therapeutic circles, ‘codependent no more’), but does not get to the ‘heart of the matter’ in her solutions.

            Co-dependence is simply putting the love of other people before the love of God. I say simple, but it is a profoundly confusing way to operate. It throws Jesus’ greatest commandment completely upside down. No wonder it is so damaging!

          • many years on June 28, 2018 at 12:48 am

            Thank you Nancy for your confirmation as well. Very well said about Co-dependence.

          • many years on June 28, 2018 at 1:27 am

            I just found a parallel universe blog, tongue in cheek here…an article about ‘The 8 Deadly Sins of Co-dependency.’ Here is the link:

            The author does reference Melodie Beatty as once of his sources for his own article.

            My eyes are wide open, as the entire description is where my husband exists in his own mind.

            This is the exact reason I cannot connect with this man on a relational level of the heart or of the spiritual openness from one believer in Christ to another.

            This is the very reason why I believe I am living with not just a dysfunctional human being, but also of an unbeliever. Oh, he functions perfectly in the business world, but that is his ‘learned’ coping skill.

            He and I can talk about the weather, or mundane things of life, but never about relationships, and intimacy, not even what he really believes about Jesus…because he can’t.

            There is a deep vacancy in his psyche, which only Jesus can fill, which my husband cannot fill with the things of this life, nor can he fill it with the wisdom of the world, nor can it come from himself. He needs to get beyond himself in order to comprehend the freedom we have in Christ.

            What a sad mind to live in! Only God can save the wounded soul.

          • many years on June 28, 2018 at 1:30 am

            I will try the link again:


    • Nancy on June 14, 2018 at 7:19 am


      “When a man undresses his heart and lets a woman undress him and gets naked and real and serious , a woman finds that attractive.”


      As my h grows into the man of God that he is called to be, I see him grasping this more and more. He is becoming very tender, real and open. Emotional depth, and a willingness to grow is extremely attractive.

      A legalistic / surface view of intimacy ( intimacy equals sex) is very immature and frankly off-putting.

    • sheep on June 14, 2018 at 8:41 am


      Well said. I would only add one caveat. You said “When a man undresses his heart and lets a woman undress him and gets naked and real and serious , a woman finds that attractive.” I fully believer that is true… with a “normal” woman. Speaking from first hand experience, it is absolutely not true with an emotionally abusive wife, especially if she is a narcissist. If these things are present, undressing your heart or letting her undress your heart is the first step down a road of unimaginable pain and rejection. The emotionally abusive and the narcissist is unable to grasp the concept of bearing one’s soul to the other. Everything for them is something they will use to barter, punish, or blackmail with. There will never be mutuality, because they will never “undress their own heart” because they cant. It would never even occur to them to truly reveal themselves, in fact, they cant even do that with themselves.

      I’m not saying that this is what is going on with the guy asking this question, there isn’t enough information here for that. I would also say that even if there is, he is not in the place yet to be able to recognize it.

      On a personal note,
      You also said, ” My husband has said he’s sorry but doesn’t get specific. He hasn’t sought input, others or mine, he hasn’t sought counsel. He wants to feel good about himself and short cut true resolution. He wants to be loved unconditionally. It is about him feeling comfortable and in control and going as far as he wants. It isn’t about me or the family though he thinks it is. The damage was deeper than sweeping it under the rug would cover. I feel like I’m living with lies. He really wants to be a nice guy and minimalizes so he can feel that way rather than doing the true work of resolving.”

      Boy does that sound familiar. Sorry, but no sorrow, no input, no accountability, rejects counsel, Feels good about self, Doesn’t really want reconciliation or resolution, just keep the crazy week spinning, comfortable and in control, all about self while constantly blaming otherwise, sweep it under the rug, life of lies (I say living in a fantasy world) be nice and minimize and everything will be fine, NO WORK.

      I so totally get it, I feel for you.

      • Nancy on June 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm

        Hi sheep,

        I agree with what you said about ‘undressing the heart’ being attractive to a ‘normal’ woman.

        Someone who is being abused (man or woman) needs to ‘above all else, guard [their] heart for it is the wellspring of life’ Prov.4:23

        This proverb is for everyone, of course, regardless of the relational dynamics the are in. But for whatever reason a person who has been abused either never learned this critical life skill, or it was slowly and systematically chipped away at.( at least this is what I think, but maybe it’s too broad to say ‘everyone who has been abused’…?

        In my case the message that I received long ago was that loving someone meant that I was to allow boundary violations. This ended up leading to a habit of always being willing to ‘expose my heart’ without reciprocity. What fed the lop-sided cycle was false guilt.

      • Gladis on June 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

        Alene and sheep. My husband can go on for hours about his past , all the offense done to him but not interested in me. If I do share or counselor points out an issue for me to work on. Eventually it becomes ammo verbally against me. My faults and every offense become his amunition. He is not the problem. Both of you have good in site. Praying for my next step. Now he is ignoring me cause I wanted to resolve a lie he admitted to. No resolve or admission of wrong.

        • Autumn on June 21, 2018 at 12:20 am

          How long are you willing to live with his abusive behaviors?

      • Alene on June 19, 2018 at 12:40 am

        Yes, you make an absolutely valid point.
        Thank you also for your fellowship.

  4. Free on June 13, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    I think the couple is living as roommates and partners. That seems to make the wife happy and the husband unhappy. It really isn’t a biblical marriage without sex. Yet, the husband’s behavior was far from biblical and he lost his wife’s trust and the gift of sex. The on paper marriage is civil and without intimacy.

    You reap what you sow. The lack of sexual trust and your wife’s desire are the consequences of your behaviors. The consequences will last a lifetime. So what you feel like a baby wanting affection, grow up and accept your lot in life.

    • Maria on June 13, 2018 at 10:12 pm

      This posts shows that God is so willing to to forgive and accept us. However man is another story- God accepts people that commit terrible crimes when they truly repent. Society may never, though. After having a heart to heart conversation with his wife if she is willing to, there is nothing he can do apart from pray and be the best husband and father that he can be.

  5. James on June 14, 2018 at 12:08 am

    I feel a great deal of compassion for this man.

    Men in evangelical Christianity are basically pushed into a legalistic paradigm of marriage, they are judged based on their behavior, their wives are judged on intent and on their heart. For some reason, we have lost an understanding that marriage is a covenant between two sinners. This man was exposed to pornography at age 8 when he found his fathers “stash.” This discovery probably wasn’t his fault and it set him up for a lifetime of struggle and yet he will more than likely have to walk out this struggle with little to no compassion for him whatsoever from most people who would call themselves his brother or sister in Christ because (I am sorry to say) many people will hypocritically look down their noses at him.

    His wife will be the recipient of a great deal of compassion as he is constantly reminded of how his struggle with porn affected his marriage. He will constantly be lectured about how he needs to be patient but yet assertive, celibate but yet affectionate, forgiving of others and yet not receiving forgiveness from others because somehow what he has done is the evangelical unforgivable sin (for a man).

    Ironically, it isn’t an unforgivable sin for a woman. Women who fall into porn addiction are treated as victims while men who fall into porn addiction are treated as filthy, evil perverts.

    If you are a woman who falls into porn, you need likely be affirmed as needing compassion from your family and especially from your spouse as you walk through recovery. Your husband will be counseled to be compassionate, forgiving and supportive and it is likely that your husband will at some point be asked to consider how he may have contributed to a home environment that allowed you to fall into that temptation. I’ve even read books that flat out blame husbands for their wives sexual sin telling them that if they were godly husbands their wives would never have done those things. That is a pretty common approach today in evangelical Christian therapeutic circles. And while it used to be somewhat common to blame wives for a husband’s sexual sin, that is pretty well taboo today and would be quickly and easily repudiated by most (rightly so).

    If you are a man who falls into porn, your wife needs compassion, you need to be reminded, pretty much constantly, how much you have hurt your wife and you need to release her from all expectations of ever showing you any genuine affection because you earned the loveless, sexless, affectionless life you are now living. Any protestations on your part that you might still desire to have a satisfying marriage will inevitably earn you the “you don’t get it because you are focussing on yourself instead of rebuilding trust with your wife.”

    We have to do better than this egregious double standard.

    I think Leslie’s recommendations are pretty well on point. After nearly a decade of recovery, he needs to be upfront about his feelings to his wife and I think that his wife has the responsibility to either genuinely forgives him, from her heart, which means that she no longer holds this over his head and uses it as a justification to withhold love from her husband. Or she lets go of the marriage and comes to terms with the fact that she is playing the unforgiving servant who demands full payment for his spiritual adultery (Matthew 5:28) while she enjoys the blessings of the cross for her sin of spiritual murder (Matthew 5:20-22).

    • Alene on June 14, 2018 at 12:38 am

      I feel a great deal of compassion for this man as well. I feel a great deal of compassion for my husband. I feel a great deal of compassion for myself.

      As I’ve walked through this valley, I’ve seen that…

      there is a need for an understanding of repentence (it’s kind of scary to realize there is a lack of understanding of this essential concept)…and it needs to get relational. It isn’t legalistic or cultural, it is heart felt and deep and willing to bear consequences and endure.

      (a side thought: repentence does tie in with responsibility; I’m only responsible for me, not for everything, not for someone else’s response or lack thereof, I can’t fall into a trap that slips into self pity or not live in the forgiveness of God).

      and there is a need for getting at roots when there is a long standing pattern or take back ground to remove Satan’s foothold by being open, coming into the light, being open to input, being open to look..

      We are responsible for ourselves…for crying out to the Lord for others who may be trapped…and for speaking up when something worth bringing up is someone else’s responsibility. This status of this man’s marriage falls into that latter category. His responsibility is in the first and means being open since he caused a problem. .The middle one is a key; to cry out for help, for the other person where they may be stuck…remembering ways we’ve been stuck ourselves and the process and help it took from God to be free.

      • James on June 14, 2018 at 1:11 am


        I wholeheartedly agree that there is a need to understand repentance.

        Repentance (Μετανοια in Greek) means to change one’s mind, to change one’s heart. In the context of Christianity, repentance is to be followed by forgiveness which is relational. Our repentance before God is expressly not about bearing the consequences of our sin (which is the lake of fire) or enduring the punishment for our sin (the second death).

        To your point, part of genuine repentance is the acceptance of just consequences and the willingness to make right whatever has been wronged but we aren’t very good at assessing just consequences.

        For example, many cherry pick Matthew 5:28 and claim that verse as justification for saying that a man deserves celibacy for his lust but won’t look at Matthew 5:22 and use that as justification that the wife deserves incarceration for her anger and bitterness.

        James tells us that even if we don’t commit adultery but do commit murder we are guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10-13). Yes, this man is a transgressor of the whole law. So is his wife and after almost a decade of living in repentance if his wife is still nursing bitterness toward her husband then, I may be a vocal minority here in my opinion, but I think that she can’t claim him as the problem anymore.

        • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 11:38 am


          I think it is a leap to equate his wife’s discomfort with intimacy (including inability to kiss) with bitterness. There is no way we can know what is behind the issue or that she is nursing bitterness.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 4:32 pm


            This is a fair point, we don’t know for sure why she is withholding intimacy from her husband.

            It seems at least plausible that it has to do with unforgiveness given that it has been 6 years (according to this gentleman) and he has been in recovery for almost a decade.

            The timeframes match up but you are correct that we can’t be certain.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm


            I would say that the timeframes do not match up. If she continued intimacy for four years after the revelation of this sin that sullied their entire previous married life, then it is likely something else is going on. Four years is a long time. I’m still thinking there is more to this.

      • Free on June 14, 2018 at 6:04 am

        Yet Alene, do we his compassion for his wife? There is in generalized comment about her putting up with him. I agree a good talk would be helpful. I think it should be done with a knowledgeable third party present.

        • Free on June 14, 2018 at 6:05 am

          Should be:

          Do we hear any compassion for his wife?

          • Alene on June 15, 2018 at 8:51 pm

            I believe that compassion is always in order.

    • Free on June 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

      I think she forgives him or she wouldn’t be living with him. I think there must be more to the story because why is his wife still on Leslie’s blog and reading her books? The church is a great place for abusers to hid because of the forgiveness doctrine. As Leslie said most destructive people of this genre typically minimize their action. In my experience they blame others and are incapable of empathy. We need more information to be sure, but he sounds pretty typical. I would like to ask his wife if he has really abstained from sex addiction behaviors for ten years.

      • James on June 14, 2018 at 7:51 am


        On what basis are you making the assumption that he is lying?
        What leads you to believe that he is an abuser?

        • Free on June 14, 2018 at 1:49 pm

          His wife is in this site for a reason James.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 4:36 pm


            Well, we don’t know that she is on this site, we know that she has contact with Leslie’s material. That may or may not have meant that she frequents the website.

            Before we condemn this man to the lifelong scarlet letter A (for abuser) I think we need to have more than a few hunches.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm


            Along those lines, before we mark the wife with a B for bitterness or a U for unforgiveness (even in pencil and not permanent marker, so to speak), we ought to have more than a “plausible” suspicion.

        • Not bitter on June 27, 2018 at 1:35 am

          And James what assumptions are you making in believing this guy has not viewed pornograpghy for 10 years?? my assumptions from your posts are that you struggle with it yourself and thus feel compassion for this guy because of this?? All you can do is assume this woman has bitterness in her heart. You sound like the typical male hiding within the church using scriptures to benefit them. I don’t believe the guy and all I read in his question is ” poor him”. It was all about what he has done and is he too passive. Lol. Give me a break. I’ve lived this and so have many of my Christian female friends. I haven’t seen one of these men truly change. Somehow, it’s always about them. And giving in to his excuse and blame because it wasn’t his fault because he saw his dad’s stash. Sorry James… That is ridiculous. Still not taking responsibility for his actions… Another reason why I assume you have an issue with porn yourself. I don’t buy his story. He is looking for pity so he can feel good about himself. Nothing spoke of concern for his wife. He committed adultry for years against her ( and probably still is). I wouldn’t be able to be intimate with him either. It’s called consequences for choices you make.

      • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 11:27 am


        Good points. I, too, think there must be more to the story.

        He says he has been in recovery for almost a decade. He also says that his wife hasn’t felt comfortable with intimacy for almost 6 years. It sounds like they have had a relatively long marriage (they have grandchildren). So, she has participated in physical intimacy and affection for the years he was using porn, then for about four years into his recover, and then six years ago something shifted and now she can’t? What is missing?

        • James on June 14, 2018 at 4:39 pm

          Sorry, my comments were actually to STL.

          And to further clarify, you are correct we can’t conclude that bitterness is at the root of her avoidance. We can only conclude that she is withholding sexual intimacy which is a violation of the scriptures and her marriage vows, but I shouldn’t have presumed to know why.

          Thank you for your thoughtful correction.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 6:06 pm


            Gotta disagree here.

        • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 8:20 am


          I think this is well written and such a good question to consider.
          Your words about the scenario are true~ what is missing?

          What assumptions do any of us make about the word ‘recovery’? What does that really entail..
          It may mean something different to many of us here.
          Just because someone states ‘recovery for ten years’ which by the way that is an awesome achievement given what he was battling, doesn’t mean there hasn’t been relapse.
          Relapse is often part of recovery and given the history of this man’s story and long term affects, I can only have a hunch that relapse is involved within the 10 Years.

          So if this is a possibility, then the circumstances of the wife and the climate of the marriage seem ~ understandable, ‘not good’ but understandable.

          Betrayal and any relapse can take a lifetime to heal from. Relapse can have many facets to it, it may not be the exact same kind of offense but a similar kind and that can continue to put the marriage back at step (0).

          I guess my main point is that often the ‘defining’ of recovery needs addressed too, this man who wrote may have his own version of recovery apart from his wife’s.

      • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 11:36 am


        I think it is a leap to equate his wife’s discomfort with intimacy (including inability to kiss) with bitterness. There is no way we can know what is behind the issue or that she is nursing bitterness.

        • Alene on June 15, 2018 at 9:20 pm

          I have learned that the person who sees a problem is the person who needs to speak up. So as much as we/I/you might want to comment or make observations on the wife…she isn’t the one who wrote, he is. Thus, he is the one who can be helped if he is truly open. He is the one who is asking. The one who asks, can receive.

          I will comment in two ways: a story regarding the use of verses and my own example such as it is.

          At work I had noticed a co-worker that I have enjoyed working with seemed…down, withdrawn, frowning. I did what most of us do and wondered if it was me. 🙂 Then I felt like the Lord nudged me what if something is wrong in her life? at home? or something so I asked her. That was it. She was actually struggling with something at work. She WANTED management to communicate, to be mature, to take the initaitive, and she had several frustrations. She used Bible verses to back up several of her points (particularly about them being mature and communicating). I have learned that is all well and good but back to my point, the person who sees the problem bears the responsibility to bring it up.

          (Bonus side note)
          I’ll add a note: different people approach life in different ways and I truly love the melancholy or “C” (on the DISC) type personality – they are gifted in some great ways but they can also focus on what is ‘right’ and logical: when used wisely as a tool it is great – and by the way, if you haven’t guessed I have some of those gifts – but when looking at what is ‘right’ sits in the driver’s seat, relationship is lost. Any mechanic chooses the right tool for the right job and relationships don’t do well with too much analysis of what is right when the tool of being relational and listening for the other’s perspective is called for. I’ve learned in this area.

          My story: so. in this Nov/Dec/April incident that I mentioned above, my heart felt numb and I did not want to be physical for months. (I did continue for him in a limited way for him but he could tell I wasn’t really there) My husband thinks I’m not forgiving and he thinks he’s right instead of seeing that the same patterns have repeated ad nauseum for 30 years, instead of seeing the toll the negativity and twistedness it has taken on me, our relationship, family, and work situations not to mention himself, instead of seeing that being nicer and trying harder is like whitewashing a tomb instead of finding out where the stench is coming from and why it is there, instead of being open to input so he can grow if he is really serious about TRULY being nicer. So what if he isn’t doing “X” anymore or if it is a nicer version of ‘x’.
          He could look at me in December when I cautioned him about the situation and said, oh, do you want to be in on a meeting? I looked at him and said “absolutely not’ – I have learned that I cannot help someone who is not helping themselves (the real help needed is to do what I did and point out the problem and not get involved).
          He could tell me point blank in May that I have a box with square corners and his are rounded and we’re just different and TOTALLY miss that he caused his own problem by his ’rounded corner’.
          He could come back from being taken to small claims court and talk about handling something with the other man in a vindictive way and not realize what he was doing. I planted both my feet on the kitchen floor, pointed to them and said “I am never going to budge, I am not in agreement” (yeah, I did not used to know how to do this!!!). He started to try to talk about it and I just said I am not discussing it with you. (he was starting to justify and…, nope, not going there).
          And he thinks this is ‘unforgiveness’? he wonders why I’m not turned on physically?
          Get a clue.

          I know of someone whose husband was into porn, who apparently stopped, later she found out he had an affair he never came clean about, does he know how to rebuild trust? he complains…ummm, it is possible the root is actually linked to complaining in his childhood and how he would handle pain.

          I know of another man who was into porn and he came clean, he made himself accountable to his wife, she could check on him at any time, he speaks of it openly, and clearly, he knows what the roots are in his life and has dealt with them, he saw the effect and lack of trust in his son for instance, he endured and did the work and ministers to others now, and there has been restoration.
          There’s the difference.

      • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm


        Further on the issue of there being more to the story…

        “I’ve totally come clean with my friends, family, and church…..from the pulpit as a former elder. I hid my struggle for such a long time but now am ‘out.’ Refreshing for me but I understand that was the beginning of my wife’s/family’s journey.”

        There is a lot in these three sentences. If I am reading this correcting, this man has had an issue with porn since childhood. (I certainly have compassion on the fact that he was exposed to it so young and that it held him in bondage from such a tender age). Yet he refers to himself as “a former elder”. If he is saying he was an elder in his church, then he is admitting to not only a secret life of bondage to a sin that weighed him down with shame, but a public life that was a deliberate lie, as he put himself forth as a man worthy of leadership in the church, a man walking in righteousness, fit to lead the people of God. That is not small. I see the two issues as completely different. Bondage to addiction is one thing. Deliberately lying to an entire church community and being a fake and a fraud is another. Frankly, I find the latter far worse. It speaks of a more deep-seated character issue. He is feeling better now (“refreshing for me”), but he admits that it was the beginning of his wife’s journey. It might explain why the difficulty with intimacy developed later than the beginning of his repentance. (We also don’t know how he came to repentance and if he got caught or if he came forward of his own conviction or what have you). She could be going through some very deep inner conflict as she processes the lie that was so much a part of her life. Perhaps she does not even know the man she slept next to for all these years and is just finding out who he is. Leslie used the word “inauthentic” in regard to the wife not wanting to kiss – it feeling inauthentic if she does not trust her husband and can’t be vulnerable with him. I would also add that she may be remembering their previous sexual life and all the previous kisses, knowing now the inauthenticity that was on her husband’s side the whole time. This whole thing has to have done a serious job on her heart and mind. The very fact that she gave her husband one of Leslie’s books in the not-so-distant past speaks a good deal about the state of things.

        • Free on June 14, 2018 at 1:55 pm

          His comments are egocentric. I just keep going back to ,Why is his wife on this blog?
          If he was as wonderful and healed as he reports, she would have no need or desire to participate in such a community. There are many fine Christian resources for enhancing a stable marriage. She picked this community because it fits her situation.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 6:10 pm

            True. I noticed the egocentrism, too. It’s interesting to me how some of the men who writes questions admit to sin, years of it, declare that they have confessed, and that they are now humble. Then they assume the role of this poor, sad rejected soul who needs affection and sex from the wife they spent years destroying through their sin. He feels like a baby wanting to be picked up. I don’t want to pick on this, but that is just not a healthy comparison to his desire for marital touch. I don’t know. Something generally seems to be missing with these self-proclaimed repentant men who must now suffer the rejection or “discomfort” of their wives.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

            I’m responding to the overall comments and not to Free’s comment specifically here. I think this man’s question is a legitimate question, has he been too passive? He can only work on himself and that is what he is seeking to do and from what he discloses, what he has been doing over the past decade. And I do believe God calls victims of abuse to forgive, even the seemingly unforgivable. However, I don’t always think that forgiveness results in full reconciliation of the relationship (sorry James, we disagree here). I do believe that after someone has shown a significant track record of change, the wounded person (wife or husband) has to decide whether or not full reconciliation is possible for the marriage relationship to be restored. Sometimes it is not possible for reconciliation even in a covenant relationship. This man who asks this question did not indicate how their physical/sexual relationship was while he was into his porn addiction, but for many wives it’s abusive. Sexual abuse in marriage is a horrible transgression of the marital covenant and for many women, something she may never be willing to be vulnerable with again. I do believe that an honest discussion about this is needed and then a decision about the viability of the marriage can be made. This man did not indicate his wife was cruel or harsh with him just unresponsive to his physical overtures. However, for an abused wife or an abused husband to stay in CORE, it’s important to remember that Jesus calls us not to repay evil for evil or retaliate. There are times when a spouse is terribly wounded by their spouses’s behavior – porn, abuse, adultery, etc, that they refuse to forgive and are so angry and hurt that they become verbally abusive themselves. I don’t believe that is how God calls us to handle our pain however justified we may feel. But if reconciliation of the relationship is not possible, then what is the next Biblical step?

        • Aly on June 19, 2018 at 10:51 pm

          I agree with so much here.
          You wrote:
          “That is not small. I see the two issues as completely different. Bondage to addiction is one thing. Deliberately lying to an entire church community and being a fake and a fraud is another.”

          Lying, being a fake or fraud, having duplicity all go hand in hand with addiction. Lying fuels the addiction it’s necessary for the addiction to grow and sustain.
          Granted this ultimately will battle and work against authentic changing character growth.

        • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 8:34 am


          You make such good points in this post here.
          To me you describe the ‘Trauma’ this woman has gone through and most likely going through especially now.

          It would be wise for her own healing and heart to get the trauma healing she needs apart from anything her husband chooses to do or claim to be.
          She deserves that kind of healing ~ and maybe she has it and chooses to accept an unsafe partner to be emotionally, spiritually and physically intimate and affectionate with.

          Honestly, it’s my thought that people that don’t understand trauma, don’t understand that this isn’t about forgiveness or bitterness.

        • Michelle on June 26, 2018 at 10:14 pm

          My h was also into pornography, affairs, struggles with alcohol addiction, picked up for dui’s. When he had an affair with my best friend while she was separated from her cheating husband, I first ended my friendship with her after a 40 yr friendship. Our families grew up together. He would tell me he ended it with this couple when reunited but he would see them on the side and lie to me about his reasons for being late. For the next two years, he withheld all physical contact. He would come to bed after 2 am. It was emotionally abusive and it created feelings of inadequacy. He would gaslight me and make me feel crazy. We tried couple’s therapy but after he lied to counselor and threw me under the bus as the problem of our marriage, did I begin to wake up and see his narcissistic personality. I was in denial for 27 yrs. I walked out as he was also in denial. I have learned how my family of origin played a part in my role in the marriage. I had An intimacy disorders well and no boundaries. I agree with Leslie that individual therapy rather than couple’s is sometimes better. Maybe that would be good for this man and his wife.

          • Aly on June 26, 2018 at 11:50 pm


            I’m so sorry for all the traumatic years you have gone through.

            Denial can be a serious coping skill, and I’m glad that you are free from that harmful relationship.
            Praise God for this freedom.

            Given your post, it sounds like you were a ‘victim’ of a very damaged individual (your x), not just someone who was in denial.

            I’m assuming you are well aware of Narc victim syndrome?
            The good news is .. is that your a survivor and you can move on with your life free from that horrible condition and mindset of your husband, see he most likely will never be free of it and that’s the tragedy and loss.

            You will heal and you will be restored💜 by the Lord!

    • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm


      It seems to me that many of your posts end up in a gender discussion. I wonder why. It really isn’t relevant if the church feels more compassion for his wife. A lot of times the church makes excuses for the guy and puts pressure on the woman to submit and fill his “void”. Here are a few lessons/points that we can learn from (in my opinion)

      1. When we enter into sin, even though we fully repent of it and the offended party forgives, it may not be possible to mend the relationship. Maybe the offended party has ghosts in her past that she’s not willing to deal with.

      2. Porn is dangerous. His father looked at porn and he was exposed to it. It may have been a different story if his mother had held the father accountable by refusing to put up with it. On Focus on the Family this week, a gentleman talked about his porn habit that led him into adultery. We need to acknowledge how dangerous it is and stop making excuses.

      3. Imagine the deceit and lies that goes into portraying the opposite image about what we really are. This, I think, takes a lot of self reflection, being willing to be vulnerable and accountability to get over.

      • James on June 14, 2018 at 4:45 pm

        I suppose many of my posts do. The reason is likely because (A) marriage is a mixed gender covenant and so gender issues are inevitable and (B) because I believe that an unbiblical view of gender issues has infected the modern counseling methodology.

        To your numbered points:

        1. I disagree. The kind of forgiveness the bible calls us to leads to the mending of covenantal relationships. We are called to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us and our forgiveness absolutely includes the reconciliation of the relationship between God and sinners.

        2. Porn is dangerous. I completely agree! Porn is lust and lust is a poison to the soul. No excuses, no mitigations, no exceptions!

        3. I’m afraid I don’t quite know what you are saying in point three. Would you mind clarifying?


        • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 7:16 pm


          Sorry for not being clear. It is my observation that when a person is addicted to something, they lie, manipulate etc. to continue the addiction. In this man’s case, he was an elder while in secret was viewing porn. He lived a double life and to do that he had to lie, pretend etc. To completely change this kind of behavior is really difficult.

          Is it your opinion that reconciliation must follow forgiveness in all relationships or just in covenant relationships?

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 7:29 pm


            Thanks for your clarification. That does make sense and I agree. It seems to me from the very limited info I got from his letter that he had changed.

            As someone who holds out the hope of the gospel, I guess I’m an optimist that way because I see the power of the gospel as stronger than the power of deception.

            Yes, it is my opinion that reconciliation must follow forgiveness in all covenantal relationships unless physical adultery takes place.

            Whether or not full reconciliation has to take place in non-covenantal relationships I’m not as clear on. I think I would say as much as full reconciliation can take place, it should.

            What about you, what do you think?

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 9:00 am


            This is to reply to your post on June 14 at 7:29pm

            I’m not sure it will post correctly.

            Anyway you wrote this:
            “It seems to me from the very limited info I got from his letter that he had changed.”

            Here I think James it would be wise as a pastoral counselor to consider the critical role you play. You admit to having limited info, which ‘we’ all do, yet you quickly read into the writers’ definition that he has changed at face value without acknowledging that many people ‘claim’ recovery or change.

            Just stopping a behavior or being in programs for accountability don’t equate with true transformation.

            I often get the feeling James you are quick to take a man’s position and I wonder if you ‘over idenify’ With men in general in these circumstances?

            It’s hard to be objective if you are making quick conclusions about what you take at face value without more info into such a complex marital issue.

      • Free on June 14, 2018 at 5:31 pm

        Yes, Maria and I was wondering. Isn’t a pornography addiction abusive to the marriage? What do you and others think of this?

        • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 7:24 pm


          It really depends on the definition of abuse. I had a friend who was married for a while before she even found out her husband was viewing porn. She felt really betrayed especially because he did not repent after being confronted. In her case I believe they had a cordial relationship. I don’t think he was abusive- verbally or physically.

        • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 8:53 am


          I believe that any misuse of such (porn) or actually physical adultery IS abusive to the sacred role we take with a covenantal promise.

          The concept of turning away from your partner to turn toward ‘self’ or an object to objectify another is to abuse. And this behavior is within the marital union so it abused the marriage covenant.

          A person in the marriage doesn’t have to be verbally or physically abusive to be abusive in this way with emotional betrayal. This kind of abuse is emotional and walls off authentic intimacy at many levels (emotional, spiritual, and physical).

      • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        You make an interesting observation about James’ posts.
        The point shouldn’t be about men or about women but about what is real and true in this relationship and to discern without favoritism either way.

        Someone made a point here that it is often the opposite for women and I am well aware of that. I don’t doubt it can be that way for men. Theory and a wish for a vague fairness doesn’t equate to careful discernment…it can lead to slanting the question one way or the other.

    • Connie on June 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      James, there is a wrong thinking in the church that forgiveness means going back to the relationship, otherwise one is labeled unforgiving and bitter. That is not the case. If one feels unsafe, it is not a good idea to go back, even if one has completely forgiven the other and let go of all bitterness.

      James, I would like to know, does your wife frequent this blog?

      • Nancy on June 14, 2018 at 4:24 pm

        This is so key, Connie.

        Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation. These are two separate processes.

      • James on June 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

        Connie and Nancy,

        I’m afraid that I have to disagree here. I think that if you destroy the link between forgiveness and reconciliation you end up destroying a core truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

        They aren’t the same, but they aren’t unrelated and I would argue that scripture pretty well suggests that genuine forgiveness inevitably leads to reconciliation in covenantal relationships.

        In non-covenantal relationships… sure, someone can be harmed, forgive another and move on with his or her life never having to deal with that person again but in covenantal relationships, the act of forgiveness is, in part, a promise not to allow the offense to stand between the two people. This is how God, in Christ forgave us.

        To your question… No, my wife doesn’t visit Leslie’s site.

        Why do you ask?

        • Free on June 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm

          We ask because of your comments.

          James, you lost me when you wouldn’t listen to Don Hennessy because he wasn’t a Christian. You lost me when you limited your perspective to only Christian resources and Christian counseling. You lost me when you couldn’t elaborate with empathy and insight, clinging to the black and white, that I perceive as legalism.

          I just don’t think this subject is an area of expertise for you. No doubt you meat the needs of others and your approach is thoughtful and professional, but James, you just don’t get it.

          You are in good company though as many, many people never will get it. The gas lighting, crazy making and evil of abusive partners is beyond understanding for most people. Thank you for caring about this community.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 6:16 pm


            You said.

            “I just don’t think this subject is an area of expertise for you.”

            To that, I will readily admit. I am a biblical theologian and a trained biblical counselor. I haven’t undertaken a study of abuse to the level that Leslie has. Other than my own experience with childhood abuse and trauma, I am still learning, like all of you.

            “No doubt you meat the needs of others and your approach is thoughtful and professional, but James, you just don’t get it.”

            I think that is about the most cordial and good-natured way anyone has ever told me that “I don’t get it.”

            I am sure there is a fair amount of “I don’t get it” to my thoughts.

            I am also sure that there is some “I don’t buy it” in my approach as well.

            In truth, I am still sorting out what I don’t get and what I don’t buy.

            I do genuinely thank you for disagreeing so agreeably. Despite our disagreements, I can affirm that I appreciate your maturity and your grace.

            May the Lord Bless you.

        • Connie on June 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm

          James, I guess I am wondering why you are on here so much. Your above long bitter rant about controlling women just does not even begin to fit in this blog. As Hennessy explains, there is one characteristic that a target of abuse needs, and that is a kind compliance that thinks of others before themselves, is willing to always forgive and take most of the blame and responsibility for the relationship (ok that sounds like more than one characteristic, but it’s sort of inclusive). And that is where almost if not all the women (and a few abused men) here are coming from. And trying to figure out where to go. I have not seen unforgiveness here at all, in fact the women almost always go far beyond their call to forgive and reconcile, until their heart are so broken that they just can’t bear anymore. And no, God does not reconcile with us if it comes only from His side, it has to be 2-sided.

          That said, it causes me to wonder why you keep targeting all these kind women? You don’t need to answer, I’m just saying I wonder.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 7:20 pm


            I am not sure which of my posts you took as a long bitter rant. I’m not all that great at word economy (guilty as charged) but I’m not bitter so if one of my posts came across as a rant it is likely due to poor communication skills rather than poor attitude.

            As to why I am on here “so much” I’m not sure I am on so much. When I’m given a free moment, this is one of the sites I peruse and when those free moments get soaked up by the business of life, and ministry and family, I’ll likely be gone for long stretches.

            I don’t “target” any women here, and I mostly confine my comments to the person who wrote to Leslie or an element of Leslie’s advice. If someone comments, I do my best to answer back if I can and if a question is asked I do my best to take the time to answer only because I think that is only polite.

            I am not bitter, but I am concerned, because I get to hear what most of you probably do not and that is the heart of many husbands (though likely none of your own husbands) who know they are sinners who have fallen far short of God’s glory and who want to make their marriages work only to be met with (what feels to them) like self-righteousness, bitterness, suspicion, and condemnation from their wives who don’t know it yet but they have hurt their husbands about as much as their husbands have hurt them.

            As I have said before, marriage is between two sinners, not just one.

            As to the character of the women here, I’ve no doubt that many of them (like you) are just like the rest of us (including me). Sometimes kind, and sometimes struggling to be kind and sometimes failing at being kind altogether, like all of God’s children, working out your salvation with fear and trembling and desiring earnestly to do what is right with seasons of victory and seasons of failure, and longing for that promised day when He will complete the work He began in us.

            I am sure that many of your hearts are absolutely broken. It is likely that the man who wrote Leslie broke his wife’s heart with his sin. It is also pretty evident, at least to me, that he also has a broken heart. Broken hearts are no respecter of gender. But, if I may suggest, in contemporary evangelicalism we don’t treat the broken hearts of men very graciously.

            To your excellent point, it is absolutely true that full reconciliation requires two sides. And a man, or woman, who refuses to call sin what it is and repent is someone with whom none of us can reconcile.

            It is also true, at least in my opinion, that the bible doesn’t give us the option to withhold forgiveness and reconciliation to those who DO genuinely repent, and if we do then our biggest problem is no longer with our offender our biggest problem is with God whom we are offending. Some of the harshest words Jesus ever spoke, He said to the self-righteous and unforgiving.

            I know how hard it is to forgive someone who was abusive. I know it takes courage, self-sacrifice, strength, and longsuffering. I know that some women here are still in the middle of abuse, enduring daily the flaming arrows of the evil one through the instrument of the man who promised to love, honor and cherish them and reconciliation isn’t even on their radar screen. If I have learned anything from Leslie and many of you, it is that it isn’t reasonable to expect women (or men) who are still in abuse to have reconciliation on their radar screen. Nevertheless, that’s not how I read this man’s letter to Leslie.
            Now, if I’m wrong, and he is currently abusing his wife, then his problem isn’t that his needs aren’t getting met, his problem is that he needs to repent and his loneliness isn’t his biggest problem, his biggest problem is that he is abusing God’s daughter and I hope that God will make his life miserable until he repents.

            I realize that many ladies here are in exactly that space. My prayers are absolute with them, I would stop their suffering in a heartbeat if I could and I absolutely agree that no reconciliation can take place until the abuse stops.
            My apologies for being, again, so long winded.

        • Nancy on June 14, 2018 at 6:40 pm


          This is a supportive blog community where woman and men who desire to heal and grow, come to receive support and to give empathetic support to others.

          The majority of your posts do not fit either of these categories.

          And so, your level of involvement here just doesn’t add up.

          The ‘pastors’ thread would be a much better fit for you. As for the cost; given your level of interest, maybe it’d be worth the investment from your church.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm


            I am very glad that many women and men experience this blog as a therapeutic community.

            Thank for the recommendation as well for my church. I will give some prayer to asking our finance board for the funds.

            I understand that some of my input can be challenging because I approach some things from a differing viewpoint. I will leave it to Leslie’s discretion and wisdom as to when my input isn’t helpful and if she asks me to move on, I will happily submit to her request.

            I would ask you to consider that maybe creating an echo chamber where one and only one viewpoint is heard and then reaffirmed post after post isn’t as healthy as it may seem.

            May the Lord Bless you.

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 8:33 pm


            You wrote “I am not bitter, but I am concerned, because I get to hear what most of you probably do not and that is the heart of many husbands (though likely none of your own husbands) who know they are sinners who have fallen far short of God’s glory and who want to make their marriages work only to be met with (what feels to them) like self-righteousness, bitterness, suspicion, and condemnation from their wives who don’t know it yet but they have hurt their husbands about as much as their husbands have hurt them.”

            First of all, I don’t think you are bitter. If you would like to post on this page when you feel so inclined to, I don’t see a problem. After reading your post, I now understand your comments. You are assuming that all of us here have in some way contributed to the abuse we have experienced. This is based on your experience counseling couples. That assumption may be true for some situations but not all. Do you realize that there are individuals in this world and in the church who are really good pretenders? They live a double life and have people on the outside duped. I think many of us here are in that situation. As a counselor, in my opinion you should be aware that there are people like that. Are you being manipulated by such people. What makes it difficult to spot these kind of relationship is that here manipulators are married to sinners. Just because we sin, doesn’t make us the reason for the breakdown of the marriage. I am married to a very charming, very highly educated, soft spoken (in public), “Christian”, communinity focused, well liked man. People think he is a great father and husband. No one would believe what he is like at home. He lies too, so listening to the two of us you’d wonder who’s telling the truth. You may even conclude that I’m bonkers because of some of the rediculous things that have taken place. If you talked to him, I bet you would think he’s a saint. I don’t want to disclose too much on this public forum, but my goal is to help my kids navigate through this and what’s best for them. In some ways it would be easy to separate from him, but he has told me he will make sure the kids pay for it. What if you are unknowingly helping such a person? By the way, this is not a gender issue. I know of men who are married to women like this.

            There are women (mainly) on this site in this situation. Please put yourself in their shoes and be sensitive to them. I know that when I read that I have a part to play in the abuse, it bothers me and triggers me. That is why some of the women are concerned with your comments. It’s not because you are male or because you are a pastor. I am a sinner, but over the years have worked on responding well to my husband’s bad behavior. He is very manipulative, maybe he learned these tactics when he was young.

            Your counseling approach works well with couples who have good will towards each other (Love & Respect model). If that is lacking as in abuse cases, that does not work. I really wish counselors like you could be involved in the daily details of my life. It would not be a situation of my word against his and it may open your eyes. Believe me there are people in our churches who look like sheep, but are really wolves. The church is a magnet for such people.

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 8:44 pm


            I have disagreed with many of the women here on occasion. We don’t all share the same views.

          • Nancy on June 15, 2018 at 7:55 am


            I don’t know if your reference to ‘creating an echo chamber’ is about this blog as a whole, or my personal comments.

            Empathizing with another does not mean agreeing with them. I have often seen differerring viewpoints here. Some disagree more directly, others more softly.

            Where you will see me directly disagreeing with you ( or anyone else) is where you challenge experts in the field of abuse by saying things like “I think that couples counselling can be beneficial when it’s not so obvious who the abuser is”.

            This kind of comment demonstrates a lack of understanding of the nuances of such a dynamic. It also fails to acknowledge that you are not an expert on abuse.

            Agreeing with professionals who have come to a consensus is not ‘creating an echo chamber’ it is acknowledging the expertise of others.

            Also, James, I have to point out something. I have very clearly asked you not to Bless me in the name of The Lord.

            Would you please not do that?

          • Seeing The Light on June 15, 2018 at 8:04 am

            I find it somewhat intriguing that James shares Aleea’s concerns about this blog being (or becoming) an echo chamber. She has mentioned it three times that I know of, once in conversation with Nancy. Hmm.

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 9:24 am

            James & Nancy, other’s

            Such good conversation.

            You wrote this;
            “Other than my own experience with childhood abuse and trauma, I am still learning, like all of you.”

            Based on this lens and your journey through, do you think it’s possible that your ‘shaping’ is contributing to you being blind in areas that many here are gently coming alongside you to make aware and give you an opportunity to be challenged with your perspectives?

            Leslie was on the radio recently talking about the destructive relationship and the host (New LifeLive) mentioned a HUGE point about those who are on the outside of these relationships being contributors to the bigger issue.
            Please listen to the recent show and you might find it eye opening how many people who have had a background of abuse and trauma have trouble ‘seeing’ or realizing that they also are in a destructive relationship ‘currently’ maybe they are the offender or the offendee… either way they struggle seeing and understanding abuse based on many (blind spots).

            I’m hoping that you might have the ears an eyes to consider what you do seem invested on to better understand?

            I also believe because you counsel people it is imperative that you educate and grasp this because you do not want to be ignorant for not getting educated and offering directives that also align with scripture.

            Many of your statements are pretty ~ narrow and I’m concerned for those you counsel who are already in a fog. And we are not to add burden on one another especially the oppressed.

          • Nancy on June 20, 2018 at 11:32 am

            Hello Aly and James,

            I appreciate the sensitivity, Aly, that you have in asking James directly if he might consider if his past ‘shaping’ is contributing to some blind spots.

            I have wondered this myself but have not been able to articulate it so clearly.

            As I have pointed out earlier, James, your comments come neither from a place of vulnerability and desire to heal, nor do they come from a supportive, encouraging place (both of which are the very purpose of this Blog).

            Your consistent -yet emotionally distant- presence here is puzzling.

        • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 7:37 pm


          You answered my question about reconciliation in covenant relationships that I posted above. Most people agree that the Bible allows for divorce when adultery is involved. The Bible also commands us to forgive. If a person divorces because of adultery, they obviously have not reconciled with the adulterous spouse. Based on the command to forgive I conclude that the wounded spouse has forgiven. How do you explain that?

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 8:03 pm


            “How do you explain that?”

            Great question, and at the risk of being way too involved in the discussion on this particular blog post I’ll try to be brief and then be quiet.

            I also believe that the Bible allows for divorce when adultery is involved. I personally think that this means actual, physical adultery, not merely lust (not to mitigate lust). And yes, if a person divorces because of adultery, they have not reconciled.

            So, a few thoughts.

            I happen to think that Jesus is speaking of unrepentant adultery where the offending spouse doesn’t desire reconciliation. In the context in which Jesus was speaking, the husband was bound in covenantal “one flesh” relationship to his wife unless she chose to (in adultery) join herself in “one flesh” to another.
            Her unrepentant desire to be joined to another man made reconciliation impossible with her husband.

            I hope that’s clear, I tried to be brief. I’m happy to dialog further offline if you like.

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 8:38 pm


            So the wounded spouse has not forgiven because there is no reconciliation?

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 8:39 pm

            By the way, I don’t feel comfortable chatting offline.

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

            Another thing, I know of a guy who cheated on his wife, and he was shocked when she divorced him. He told me he thought she held his view that marriage is for life and she would reconcile with him. He cheated thinking she would not end the marriage. I am sure there are individuals like this guy who would who would take advantage of a marriage with no consequences.

          • Connie on June 14, 2018 at 10:10 pm

            Yes, Maria, one day I overheard a friend’s abusive husband tell my husband, with a laugh, “I can do what I want. She believes in the permanency of marriage, so she won’t ever divorce me.” He was gay, too. She did, though.

          • James on June 15, 2018 at 4:38 pm

            So the wounded spouse has not forgiven because there is no reconciliation?

            Yes, that is the case in my opinion.

          • Maria on June 15, 2018 at 7:06 pm

            How about God and man? God has forgiven all but not everyone is reconciled to Him.

            So in the case of divorce due to adultery, the wounded spouse has not forgiven?

            Any scriptures to support your views? Especially the different definitions of forgiveness that you have for covenant relationships and other kind of relationships.

          • James on June 15, 2018 at 10:05 pm


            From your questions, it sounds like you disagree.

            If you’d like to know a little more about where I am coming from here’s a good place to start.


            Lord bless you.

          • Maria on June 15, 2018 at 11:31 pm


            I am familiar with the Peacemaker study. I did it with my husband.

            Here’s a link to their blog that explains the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation:


          • James on June 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm


            Great article, I am in broad agreement with it.

            Thanks for your irenic conversation.

          • maria on June 16, 2018 at 6:26 pm


            I agree with the article and also with the full article (in the link at the end). I’m confused because the article differentiates between reconciliation and forgiveness. But no problem, I’m willing to let this go. You mentioned you were short on time (if I remember correctly) and there are some ladies who are waiting for responses from you.

          • James on June 16, 2018 at 10:53 pm


            I don’t deny that forgiveness and reconciliation are distinct. I deny that they are unrelated and that genuine repentance and genuine forgiveness does not lead to genuine reconciliation. I totally agree that it is not immediate and involves the rebuilding of trust, I deny that one can say they truly forgive someone with whom they have an existing relationship and allow the offense to hinder the relationship. Since you are familiar with PM, one of the four promises of forgiveness is “I will not allow this to stand between us and hinder our relationship.”

            In the case of ongoing, unrepentant adultery, forgiveness can’t be given because it isn’t sought. The adulterer isn’t interested in reconciliation, he or she is happy with the adulterous relationship. IMHO, that’s why Jesus allows divorce for adultery.

            Maria, thank you for patience. I have genuinely enjoyed our dialog.

        • Gladis on June 15, 2018 at 11:30 am

          I liked what Leslie suggest you do . Make conversation about listening to your wife. Empathize with her pain . Trust needs to be rebuilt

        • Aly on June 19, 2018 at 11:04 pm


          This is so not accurate.

          You wrote:
          “They aren’t the same, but they aren’t unrelated and I would argue that scripture pretty well suggests that genuine forgiveness inevitably leads to reconciliation in covenantal relationships.”

          If this were the case, then everyone would be in the eternal kingdom. And we know that is not the case.
          Those of us that are ~ are in a covenant relationship with the Lord with the covenant of Christ.

          I believe that genuine receiving of forgiveness goes hand in hand with genuine repentance and thus leads to genuine reconciliation.

          • James on June 20, 2018 at 11:35 am


            The reason that not all will be in the kingdom is that not all are forgiven. God, through Christ, provided for forgiveness on the cross but forgiveness must be received through repentance.

            That’s abundantly clear from scriptures such as Acts 10:43, Acts 26:18, Eph 1:7, Col 1:14 and perhaps most clearly, John 8:24.

      • Helen on June 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm

        To me, forgiving is letting go of all the hurt which causes the anger (unforgiving). However, trust is what allows a bridge back to the other person–hard to build but not impossible but would take a great effort over time. My h seems to think that forgiving him means not bringing up a problem or if I do, then go back to the way things were, don’t say anything, no consequences/boundaries around my life for what I won’t be around and then things can be ok for him–so he can feel better. He misses the trust part, hurt feelings of mine that I can’t trust him in that area now. I don’t see the part where it has truly hurt him that he has hurt me. I have hurt him too and God has allowed me to feel the sorrow for hurting him. What a blessing that is–then I can change my behavior and admit to him. It cleans my side of the street and feels so good.

        • Alene on June 15, 2018 at 9:43 pm

          I hope you’ll read my reply to you above as I share a few thoughts and stories.
          I also mention a personality point that may be helpful. You say a lot of ‘right’ things and are focused on what is ‘right’. It is possible to be right and be wrong I have learned; it is possible to be right and not relational. It is possible to be ‘biblical’ or ‘principle’ focused and have elements that miss God’s heart and are not relational. If you happen to have a high percentage of melancholy or ‘C’ which I believe I am hearing (please understand that it is because I have a high percentage as well), I encourage you to give this some focus, awareness and prayer – I find your heart deepers, your relationships grow, and you’ll hear even from the Lord in a more relational way. If you aren’t sure what I am saying, let it sit on the back burner a bit, ponder the words, and ask the Lord about it. It is worth the growth. I hope you hear my heart as a fellow travellor.
          Blessings James.

          • James on June 15, 2018 at 10:11 pm


            Thanks for your recent post. I wish I had the time to respond to everyone but at this point I’m really trying to wrap things up.

            I’m familiar with the DISC and I’m actually an IS naturally and a DI professionally.

            I understand that is important to hear God’s heart. What I have been trying to communicate, perhaps not so effectively as I often have to do so in haste, is that God’s heart isn’t just for this man’s wife, its also for this man..

            For men, sex isn’t just physical, it is a primary (if not the primary) way that a man experiences emotional validation.

            Consider how a woman would feel if a man responded to her coming clean about a sin in her life with 6 years of withholding emotional validation.

            Thanks for listening and for your courtesy.

            Lord Bless you.

          • Seeing The Light on June 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm


            I know you are trying to wrap this up, but right off the following statement really concerns me.

            “For men, sex isn’t just physical, it is a primary (if not the primary) way that a man experiences emotional validation.”

            I am interested in any resources, websites, etc. that would elaborate on this perspective. Taken on its own, outside of a marriage that is healthy and really functioning on multiple levels, this sounds disturbing. A man who is experiencing emotional validation within himself while not actually connecting from his heart to the heart of his wife is using and abusing her body to achieve an emotional experience of his own regardless of her. If a man is experiencing emotional validation from a sexual encounter while his wife is dying inside, that is wrong.

          • Autumn on June 15, 2018 at 10:53 pm

            I would like to add that the “echo chamber” comment is insulting. The comment about men’s primary emotional validation being fulfilled, is NOT in the Bible. I wonder where the exclusively biblical counseling derived this opinion?

          • James on June 15, 2018 at 11:26 pm


            I answered but my post is awaiting moderation, probably because I gave you some links in response to your request.

            Hopefully you will see them soon.


          • Barbara B on June 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm

            “For men, sex isn’t just physical, it is a primary (if not the primary) way that a man experiences emotional validation.”

            I asked my husband what he thought about this statement. He shook his head and said, “It’s just a broken model.” My husband also compared this way of thinking to the type of relationship that occurs between a prostitute and the john – in other words, no relationship at all.

            My husband says that if a man has burned the relationship bridges with his wife, then there aren’t any rules that can fix that. For example, a rule such as “the wife must continue having sex because the husband needs sex.” He went on to say that a 12-step program such as SA teaches men how to get their focus off of sex and on to the relationship. This takes time and effort, the kind of effort that goes far beyond merely observing a time period of celibacy.

            I was thinking how ludicrous it is for a man to destroy his marriage with his own hands and then say to his wife, “But I still expect sex from you because everybody knows that sex is the primary way that I receive emotional validation.” Good grief. I have asthma, which I keep under control with daily medicine. If I quit taking my medicine, I will definitely have an asthma attack. I couldn’t very well then say, “But I need oxygen – everybody knows that!” If I need oxygen, then it is my responsibility to practice my daily protocol to make sure I can get the oxygen I need. I don’t believe in this idea that men need sex no matter what; it’s not Biblical and it comes from Freud. However, if a man wants to believe that, then it behooves him to take care of his marriage relationship – which actually is biblical. Either way, you circle around to God’s plan, which is to focus on a relationship of mutual love.

          • Barbara B on June 16, 2018 at 4:44 pm

            I would also like to add, I feel bad for the man in the original question. He’s in a terrible spot and I feel sorrow and compassion for him because I know it must be terribly hard. At the same time, he really did break something (his marriage, his wife’s trust, etc.). All the compassion of all the people in the world couldn’t fix that for him. I think if he will take Nancy’s words to heart, and if he and his wife agree to completely start over, there is certainly hope for them. Trying to fix this problem by putting a sex rule on the wife would be like trying to put a band aid on a dying man.

    • Anne on June 17, 2018 at 12:13 am

      James, you don’t seem to get the depth of his wife’s pain! You don’t get the betrayal she feels! You don’t get that she truly can’t trust him because he has been deceptive and and selfish for so long! You don’t get that she is repulsed by her husband after all he has done! You don’t get that her heart is broken! You don’t get that she is grieving and that healing is a process! You don’t get that forgiveness is between her and God just as his repentance is between him and God. You don’t get that forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation! You seem to think there should be no consequences for his choices! That’s out of our hands; God says in His Word that we will reap what we sow!

      • James on June 17, 2018 at 1:01 am


        I just saw your post addressed to me.

        To the contrary, I appreciate all of what you mentioned. Though, I am sure that as a woman you “get” them much better than do I.

        I do understand all of those feelings as a child in an abusive home however and I know that working through all of those emotions takes courage. I also realize that working through them isn’t optional for the Christian. Jesus said we are to forgive, or we aren’t forgiven. Those are hard words, to be sure, but they are nevertheless Christ’s words.

        I feel that the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation is well-trodden ground on this particular thread so I won’t burden you with a fresh articulation of my opinion on that matter.

        I will say that if the wife of this gentleman isn’t willing to commit to reconciliation, then she should at least communicate that to him. If she is always going to keep his sin between them in the bedroom, then he at least needs to know for sure so he can let his hope for intimacy die and he can make his own choices.

        • Anne on June 17, 2018 at 5:52 pm

          James, you said,”I will say that if the wife of this gentleman isn’t willing to commit to reconciliation, then she should at least communicate that to him. If she is always going to keep his sin between them in the bedroom, then he at least needs to know for sure so he can let his hope for intimacy die and he can make his own choices.” Did he commit to reconciliation with her all those years when he was unfaithful to her? Did he inform her of his sexual betrayal early on so that she could make her own choices? No! And yet you are so impatient with the betrayed wife! God isn’t so impatient! He walks her through her feelings and even understands her unforgiveness! He will help her to forgive but it’s a process! And yet forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation! He broke that! One thing I have to say about this husband. He seems to have genuinely repented and is commited to his relationship with God and his wife even if it will always be like this. He seems to get that he destroyed his marriage and is taking responsibility for it. Pray for God’s wisdom, guidance, and patience.

          • James on June 17, 2018 at 11:02 pm


            I agree with a great deal fo what you have written.
            He was at fault, he was the one who broke the marriage, he was the one who lived in betrayal for years. He broke it. I agree.

            My disagreement is that I don’t think genuine forgiveness says to someone, “I forgive you but it is broken and I am unwilling to allow it to be repaired.” I disagree because that isn’t the gospel that you and I and this man and his wife live under.

            Is that how God forgave you? Of one thing I am certain, You and I, and this man and his wife have all broken our relationship with God. We have all lived in rebellion and lies. In our relationship with God “we broke that.!”

            So how did God forgive you?

            Did he say, “I forgive you, but forgiveness and reconciliation aren’t the same so maybe we’ll be close and maybe not and maybe you will have to lived estranged from me forever?”

            No, the scriptures are clear. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us (2 Cor 5:19).

            The scriptures are also clear that the pattern of God’s forgiveness of us is the pattern we are to use in our forgiveness of others.

            “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 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. (Col. 3:1 ESV)”

            If we can’t imagine the terms of our forgiveness toward others being applied to God’s forgiveness to us then there is something wrong with the way we are forgiving others.

            In short, I don’t think we get to enjoy a forgiveness that reconciles while offering forgiveness that doesn’t.

            May God Bless you.

        • ContentinChrist on June 17, 2018 at 9:33 pm

          What kind of choices does he then have?

          • Anne on June 18, 2018 at 12:31 am

            James, you seem to know a lot about her duty to forgive and reconcile. If an employee embezzled a large amount of money from your company and you could no longer pay your bills or your employees’ wages and the bank is calling in your loan because you’re defaulting on your payments, your stress levels are through the roof, you’re worried you’ll lose everything you have worked so hard for, would you be able to forgive immediately or would you have to bring this to the Lord time and again and ask for His help? Would you trust this person to run your business if he says “Sorry! You have to forgive me! You can’t fire me because forgiveness and reconciliation go hand in hand. If you fire me it means you’re bitter and unforgiving!” Now if this person repented and made an effort to repay what he stole, even though he can’t, would you forgive him? Probably, with time. As you slowly begin to rebuild would you hire him to run your company again? Probably not! Trust has been broken, you would not open yourself up to that again! You have too much to lose! The same Bible that tells us to forgive also tells us not to commit adultery, lie, steal, or covet what isn’t ours.

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 9:35 am

            I was also wondering what you mean by that?

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 9:58 am


            This is to reply to your post June 17 at 11:02pm

            You wrote this:
            “My disagreement is that I don’t think genuine forgiveness says to someone, “I forgive you but it is broken and I am unwilling to allow it to be repaired.” I disagree because that isn’t the gospel that you and I and this man and his wife live under.”

            Biblically wasn’t there many examples of God’s relationship with such as with Jacob and Paul where ‘not all physical things were restored’?

            The broken world we all live in is an example of the consequences we face for our original sin in the garden.

            None of us know if the wife is ‘unwilling’ to allow it to be repaired or restored.
            The true unwilling could be from the very uncomfortable husband?

            On a side note, my mother was raised with a lot of abuse and ignorant relational health.

            She has a lens that ‘enables’ and actually uses biblical twisting to reinforce abusive dynamics.

            Her unwillingness to be equipped and educated from a healthier lens about forgiveness and healthier behavior in relationships stunts her and has cost her greatly and others.

            Shame and pride can kill the soul from being transformed and can stand in the way of growing into a mature Christian.

            Her mind and advice to others and herself come from an abusive ‘imprint’ that she is tightly bonded to.

            It is sadly an undeveloped place yet we are calledto grow and be teachable.

            Too many pastors it seems to me are counseling from an undeveloped understanding. This is dangerous to our ‘Bride’!

            It doesn’t matter the age of a person there are far too many people, 30, 40, 50, etc with adolescent or younger thinking patterns that they haven’t grow away from.

            Paul addressed this often in his call to the church’s response to living a transformed life because of Jesus’s rescuing!

            It’s in our response to this we see the beauty of intimacy with God.
            He doesn’t just meet us where we are and then leaves us there.

          • James on June 20, 2018 at 1:04 pm


            Thanks for your reply.

            I readily admit that If I had the chance to sit down with this couple and ask questions that my response could be wholly different were I to discover some inconsistencies or inaccuracies in this man’s portrayal of his situation. I think we all have to admit that this could be the case of nearly all of the letters sent to Leslie. To her credit, Leslie does a pretty good job of contextualizing her advice with the provision that was is written is accurate.

            Who knows what this woman’s perspective might be and it would undoubtedly give us essential information.

            I agree that just being in a recovery program does not guarantee true repentance, I disagree that the cessation of sinful behavior does not constitute fruit in keeping with repentance and I do so because of Luke 3. The tax collectors coming to John’s baptism were instructed to stop over-collecting, and the soldiers were told to stop their extortion. The cessation of these sinful practices was considered, by John, fruit in keeping with repentance.

            No one, not even his wife, can judge the heart of the man in question. We cannot pronounce with authority whether or not he has been genuinely transformed, only God can see the heart. But I think we should probably grant him the benefit of the doubt until compelling reasons surface to doubt his testimony. That’s how we would all want our words to be taken, and I think the golden rule requires that of us.

            Regarding your questions regarding objectivity, I must always guard myself against being unjust in the way I interpret situations, as must we all, including yourself. As a man, I think it is pretty natural that I would identify more with the struggles and wounds that men endure and I am sure that many of the women on this site, including yourself, find empathy with women far more facile than empathy with a man. I think this particular thread exemplifies this pretty clearly. The women tend to want to run to the defense of this man’s wife, even to the point of some suspecting that he is an abuser. I have taken his words at face value and am willing to give his recovery the benefit of the doubt.

            In my opinion, your concerns that I “over-identify” with men, and my concerns that others, including yourself “over-identify” with women, are why we shouldn’t base our evaluation based on feelings, emotions, and hunches rather than on objective biblical standards.

            Applying biblical standards reveals a situation that isn’t in line with God’s plan for marriage. You need not empathize with the man or the woman to discern that 6 years of unilaterally determined abstinence isn’t what God desires for any marriage. There is simply no biblical grounding for marriage that is celibate by the choice. A sexless marriage isn’t a marriage by biblical standards and appeals to examples of consequences outside of the institution of marriage won’t hold up to scrutiny.

            Consider Ann’s example.
            I believe it was Anne who brought up the example of an embezzling employee. You wondered about my response I presume based on your inquiry. My answer to this objection to the need for reconciliation is that an employer/employee relationship is not analogous to a husband/wife relationship. The former is an “at will” relationship, the latter is a covenant which is solemnized before God with vows taken in the presence of one’s family and community. Among those vows are “for better or for worse.” We don’t get to “fire” our spouses because we vowed not to.

            I realize that places a huge burden on some people. It’s not a burden of forgiveness that I don’t understand. As much as I would have like to have “fired” my parents for their abuse and neglect in their alcoholism the bible doesn’t give me that out. Instead, grace, mercy and judicial forgiveness became an essential way I obeyed the Lord and “honored my mother and father.”

            Lastly, in another post in which you addressed me, you mentioned your concern that my history of abuse might blind me from seeing my own blind spots. Perhaps this is true. The funny thing about blind spots is that we are all, by definition, unaware of them. The moment we see them, they cease to be “blind spots.”
            I am willing to acknowledge that I likely have blind spots. I am unwilling to entertain that every criticism of my approach is an accurate identification of my blind spots precisely because the ones doing the pointing have their own blind spots.

            Would Leslie’s observations also be true of you, and the other women on this site? Perhaps, your own blind spots keep you from seeing the veracity in what I am saying..?

            So how can we deal with those inevitable blind spots in our perspectives?

            Here is how I, at least, seek the deal with the blind spots that I inevitably have. I turn to the Word and submit to its understanding.

            If the bible says it, I can stand on it, blind spots and all. If the bible doesn’t say it, I am on shifting sands.

            Lord Bless you.

        • Aly on June 19, 2018 at 11:47 pm


          Forgiveness doesn’t ever mean ‘trust’.

          I can forgive a person for their behavior but tha doesn’t mean I establish trust or a close relationship with them.

          In an intimate sexual relationship with a spouse trust is essential.

          If one party has broken that trust it’s the person who Broke the trust responsibility to repair that trust.

          This isn’t all that complicated of an issue.

          I feel like in your posts you equate forgiveness with trustworthiness.
          And that just isn’t on the same tracks. As a counselor this is fundamental, is it not?

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:22 pm


            You wrote:
            “Regarding your questions regarding objectivity, I must always guard myself against being unjust in the way I interpret situations, as must we all, including yourself.”

            Goodness does this seem like you are receiving here. I have read your replies to me and I guess I think I better understand why I’m not at ease with your interactions.
            They are quite defended and don’t stay on the specific issue being addressed.

            You bring the ‘all’ fat too much rather than address the issue and to me if seems like it’s very much a minimizing time as well as a leveling posture rather that addressing a specific issue.

        • Not bitter on June 27, 2018 at 2:16 am

          You are the pastor who used scripture to your advantage as I had growing up in the United Pentecostal church. For you to say that this man’s addiction to pornograpghy was not committing adultry is so far from scriptures. The bible says to even lust after a woman is the same as committing the act. Hoe dare you as a Man of God” merely call it “lust” on this man’s part. You know full well what this man is doing when he was viewing pornography. And what does the bible say about a man masterbating? It’s an abomination. I feel truly sorry for any woman who has come to you for counseling with or without her husband. I still feel you have hidden sexual sins in your own life and that is why you are defending him so much. The fact that you have not shared this site with your wife speaks volumes. If I was going to make more assumptions I would say you are an abusive to your wife based on all the “reading between the lines” of your posts. You are easy to spot by women who have dealt with men just like you. Same patterns and same words.

        • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:09 pm

          For some reason discussions seem to begin to go around in circles with you and there seems to be a lack of listening and then I/we get sucked into conversations that aren’t going anywhere. I admit this has happened to me. I think a discussion is an honest discussion to learn and as more posts come up, I get tempted to answer, instead of seeing soon enough this is going nowhere – something I”ve had to recognize in my marriage and learn not to engage in…and I need to recognize that trap sooner here too.

          There are times it seems like honest discussion but in the long run, it isn’t. When ladies try to say something is ‘puzzling’ or ‘bitter’ or things get off on tangents of intellectual analytical discussion …. instead of caring for and looking into a certain aspect of a problem and listening to understand, you don’t seem to get what is being shared and learning from it.

          “If you seek you will find” but what is it you are really seeking for???

    • Alene on June 19, 2018 at 1:14 am

      I want to acknowledge your concern and let your know I hear your heart concern for men. The pendulum can swing too far one way or the other in general.

      “You who are spiritual, restore in a spirit of gentleness”. Galatians.

      As I have wrestled with my situation it has not been easy. My first post above explained the areas I needed to gain clarity.
      *I wanted to restore without behaviors being addressed, well, if someone is overtaken in a fault as the verse begins, then that means we know what the fault is so that the restoration is based on truth…and often the fault isn’t necessarily what appears on the surface.
      *a spirit of meekness says the KJV; meekness has strength in it, it isn’t weak, I would think it might use boundaries and truth and be able to stand steady, I didn’t go in depth but just looked up the word “meekness” and saw it includes trust in God. This is interesting because I have finding that to weather my situation well I need even stronger trust roots and focus. I knew humility (I have sin, I need the Lord) so I added the word “Committed to humble truth” to Leslie’s CORE but lately I’ve added this “Committed to Truth and humble truth” because the truth of God has to come first – I need that strong Truth to hold me steady and that is where I need to start.
      (I got hit pretty hard by the situation with my son being strained and I’ve become wiser in my relationship and stronger and less passive and part of the rebuilding is my trust becoming deeper beyond any change in circumstance because the circumstances didn’t really change).
      *in the Spirit: I need Him, and sometimes I just want to be done, this has been a lot of unexpected pain for thirty years, I need the Lord, I need Him, I’m not naively where I was thinking we would just thoughtfully live with each other – that dream was shattered, I have to cry out to Him for strength, for help, because I can NOT do this without Him, I love the verse He gave me last year “I am with you to take you through”, ahhh, and “I will teach all your children and great will be their peace” (even if I don’t see it in my lifetime, I no longer grasp that, this verse is for my mother-heart in all this that could cry forever tears for the broken hopes and dreams) and “I know the plans I have for you…to give you a future” (the Lord has my future).

      You perspective is important James. Keep wrestling for good and for real, heart level counsel.

      Leslie has wise counsel. I kept trying to get us into marriage counselling…and when she said mutual counselling is not advised, my heart said, ah, yes, no wonder it didn’t work, I wasn’t free to speak safely, I needed help to be stronger and wiser because the only person I can work on is me and then be a wise influence from that steady place. In the process some heart wounds in me found healing and growth. I am so much clearer. I know my heart is still healing and gaining back some ground. I am surrounded by God’s love beyond circumstances and my roots are going even deeper in heart this year.

      I honestly am still struggling how to love my husband well though the behaviors/roots continue – I don’t understand. I can forgive it all, I have compassion, I just don’t feel free when it isn’t really real and resolved. For a woman, she is drawn physically because of the heart connection and when the heart connection is broken…it is very hard. I know in the past, it actually felt violating, there was a point I came to where I was able to pray and just give. The relationship wasn’t real so that element remained. These are hard questions.

      I wonder if this man could date his wife and woo her, without any physical expectation, like they were dating. (just a side thought).

      • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:11 am


        You wrote:
        “I honestly am still struggling how to love my husband well though the behaviors/roots continue ”

        In this I hear its still continuing and it’s still in the present.
        The process of forgiveness in these relationship dynamics cannot begin while the offense is still taking place!

        Forgiveness can begin after several other things have begun in genuine repentance.
        A strong sign of genuine repentance is changed behavior not the same old patterns.

        Is your h in professional counseling? He sounds pretty pathological ~ I don’t mean that harsh at all but he might be able to get some professional Christian counseling to address his motivations and what’s going on at a deeper level.
        You would have to be involved ‘separately’ but there to give your experience of what does go on to the counselor.

        Those who are showing repetitive patterns relationally are experts at self deception, this is for a skilled professional to address and usually it is a very long ‘yrs’ process.
        Think of it as reparenting.

      • James on June 20, 2018 at 1:13 pm


        Good points and post. I think reconnecting on all levels appears to be in order. He should absolutely be willing to “woo” his wife and show her the love that Christ has for his church.

        He needs to “dwell with his wife in understanding” and get her perspective. She needs to be honest with her husband about her reservations. They may need help walking through reconciliation and restoration of their marriage.

        I’m not advocating that he go home and demand that she immediately undress and get busy. I am suggesting that they both recognize that they have drifted from God’s plan and they both need to repent anything unconfessed and commit to rebuilding.

  6. K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Perhaps Dr. Sheri Keffer’s new book, “Intimate Deception: Healing the Wounds of Sexual Betrayal” (2018, Revell) would be a helpful read for the gentleman who originally posed the question to which Leslie responded. I hope that his wife would find it helpful/hopeful in her own right. If the husband reads it, he may come to a clearer understanding of the situation he created and now is uncomfortable living within. It’s an excellent resource, friends..

    • Aly on June 19, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      Love Sherri Keffer ~ can’t wait to read her new book!
      Thanks for posting;)

      One thing I love about Sherri is her place of identifying that some behaviors and betrayals have long term consequences and sometimes casualties.
      I don’t think many people (especially those that offend) are open to understanding this place of consequence.

    • Barbara B on June 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      This book looks like an excellent resource dealing with the heart problem that is behind porn use. As we all know, the problem behind the porn can still be there even if the porn use has stopped.

      • Aly on June 19, 2018 at 11:59 pm

        Barbara B,

        So agree.. porn is the symptom… sadly because it’s become an epidemic, the symptom has redesigned itself.

        • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 12:02 am

          Barbara B,

          Sorry, missed typed my post…

          Porn is the symptom … not the disease.
          Sadly, because it’s become an epidemic, the symptom has redesigned itself.
          The disease must be treated at the heart level.

  7. Connie on June 14, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    James, I understand sort of where you are coming from. As a young Christian I too, in my zeal to be ‘Biblical’ would make laws that required keeping to the letter, and ignoring the spirit of the law. It is also Biblical to not oppress the already oppressed more. It is also Biblical to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all things. It seems that no matter what, you would require a wife to put out. I was in a position over 20 years ago, where sex made me sick to my stomach. I had put out for over 20 years and finally couldn’t do it anymore. Finally, I cried out to God, what to do? ( how foolish of me to not do that sooner!) In His grace, He gave me what to say to my h, giving him two choices, both of which required humility. He wouldn’t humble himself and we slept in the same bed 3 more years without doing anything. Of course, to this day, he claims, “She wouldn’t let me touch her for 3 years” but that is not at all true.

    Each of us has access to the Holy Spirit, and He is gracious, kind, and tenderhearted toward us. And He is creative in how to keep the spirit of His Word. It is also Biblical to guard our hearts.

    It is wise also, to search out the cultural context of scripture. I’m guessing there are things in scripture that you do not do because of that.

    • Susan P on June 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm


      Along the same lines as Connie’s comments, I am interested to hear whether you believe that in my situation (outlined above), my husband has “earned” the right to physical intimacy with me as a result of the five years he has spent celibate (from me).

      You have made distinctions between adultery and “mere” lust (i.e., pornography addiction) and focused on whether the offending spouse (not the offended spouse) desires reconciliation . In my situation, I believe my husband truly desires reconciliation (or at least the return of physical intimacy in our marriage). He may, at times, even desire to give up porn.

      In your analysis, he is not an adulterer, but a mere sinner, just like me. Does the nature of our covenantal, “one flesh” relationship mean that God requires me to share my body with my husband, regardless of whether my husband repents and takes action to put his porn use behind him? What if he doesn’t take action, but states that he would like to put it behind him? Admittedly, I sin too, and there is no “hierarchy” of sin, so perhaps your position is that the mandate to be “one flesh” trumps all sin other than unrepentant, physical adultery. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

      • James on June 15, 2018 at 10:52 pm

        I hope you understand but I need to be brief so please forgive my brevity. I want to answer your post because you asked.
        I make a distinction between lust (Matthew 5:27-28) and actually, physically committing adultery. I did not mean to mitigate the severity of lust at all but my comments were because I actually think there is a biblical distinction. Jesus is quite clearly making hyperbolic statements in this section of the sermon on the mount, and we easily understand many of them to be hyperbole.
        For example, Jesus said that if a person is angry at his or her brother they are liable to judgment if an insult is given they are liable to the council (civil punishment) and if they call someone a fool in anger they are going to hell. (Matthew 5:21-22) I think its safe to assume you’ve gotten angry. Do you deserve to be put on trial? Have you ever gotten so angry at your husband that you said something snide or insulting? Was a warrant for your arrest issued?
        Probably not, because Jesus is talking in hyperbole here, insulting someone isn’t literally like murdering them.
        The same is true of Jesus’ statement that if your right hand causes you offense you should cut it off. Have you ever done anything sinful with your hands? Did you ever shove one of your siblings growing up? Did you cut your hand off?
        Of course not, because Jesus is talking in hyperbole and he isn’t literally commanding you to cut off your hand.
        And, of course, the statement of Jesus concerning plucking out our eye if it offends us. Have you ever sinned with your eyes? Broken the 10th commandment and coveted something that wasn’t yours?
        Did you pluck out your eye? No, again, Jesus is using hyperbole which is why no one literally stabs their eye out with a fork.
        I consider Jesus’ statement about adultery the same because its right in the middle of all this contextual hyperbole. That doesn’t trivialize it, lust is serious business and Jesus takes it seriously but to argue that lust is literally adultery doesn’t make any more sense in the context of the passage than arguing that being insulting is literally murder or that we should literally be sawing off limbs or stabbing out our eyes. Scripture doesn’t talk specifically about pornography, BTW, it describes it as lust. I’ve heard women making inappropriate comments about the physique of some Hollywood stars and yet they would be appalled if they learned their husband was looking at porn, even though they have committed the same sin.
        Now, as to your own situation I am afraid that I just don’t have enough information to provide counsel. I will generally say that if your husband is only “desiring” to repent that isn’t’ the same thing as repentance. Repentance means a change of heart. If he is still stuck in pornography then in my opinion the most immediate problem is that, not your intimacy together. But I would caution anyone to be careful, if we create special classes of sins that are worse than anything we have ever done we risk becoming like the pharisee in Luke 18:11.
        I hear a lot of talk around here of the need for men to be genuinely humble. And men should be humble, but humility isn’t something the Lord requires of men only.
        I am sorry for the way your husband has treated you, I would ask, in closing that If he has truly come to repentance then perhaps you might consider how you would want him to treat you were the positions reversed?
        Lord bless you.

        • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 12:15 am


          You wrote:
          “Scripture doesn’t talk specifically about pornography, ”

          This is not true!
          Why do you state this?
          What is pornia ?

          • James on June 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

            Porneia is the Greek term for engaging in acts of sexual immorality.

            Porn”ography” is, by definition, the visual chronicaling of those acts of sexual immorality.

            Pornography is a modern word coined after the invention of the printing press that is based on the greek root porneia because it is the visual chronicle of people engaged in porneia.

            Just like a biography, a biography is the textual representation of someone else’s life (bio) not the living of the life itself and historiography is the textual representation of history not the creation of history itself, pornography is the visual representation of sexual immorality not the engaging of sexual immorality itself.

            Lust is the biblical term that describes the sins of looking and

            That’s not to minimize the sinfulness of pornography, it is absolutely wicked and evil. It should never be abided but rebuked and never tolerated but repented of.

            Nevertheless, we have to be accurate.

            Thanks for the question.

          • Connie on June 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

            Um, James, from what I read, etc., I doubt that there are men who only look, and don’t somehow act on what they see, as in self-gratification. And when asked what they did just before raping, most men say they were watching porn.

      • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:25 am

        Susan P,

        This example or often a biblical posture of ‘two sinners married’ is a crucial area to really investigate, seek wisdom and ask for clear discernment.

        Those that bring us the ‘two sinner posture’ I believe are at a high rush of ‘leveling’
        Making both parties equal offenders thus the offender really doesn’t take responsibility for what was Stolen from the other. The offense is minimized or lessened.

        Susan you wrote:
        “Admittedly, I sin too, and there is no “hierarchy” of sin, so perhaps your position is that the mandate to be “one flesh” trumps all sin other than unrepentant, physical adultery”

        There may not be a hierarchy of sin offered in clarity biblically but there is a hierarchy of consequences of sin.
        I think the Bible does show that even a hardness if heart can create a casualty of a marriage.

        The consequences say a lot about the level of the offense in my opinion.
        We are integrated beings made in the image of God and God designed sexuality to be sacred and it’s very much part of our sacred understandings in a marital union.

        Sending virtual hugs Susan, I’m so sorry for your what you are going through.

      • caroline on June 20, 2018 at 11:26 am

        Hello Susan. There was no reply button for brother James and his last comment about the meaning of the word “porneia” . But I really wanted to share this article by Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes where he was convinced by truth and went from one camp to the other:

        Pornography use is obviously covenant breaking, socially destructive, and it used to be a felony in the United States. The production, sale, or possession thereof. Which means just a few decades ago a wife of an active pornography might not have to decide if she would or wouldn’t share her body with an unrepentant hubs. The prison bars made that choice for her!

        “…but now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat…”

        Do not even eat with such a man..seems pretty clear to me.
        I also want to say it’s actually impossible to be “intimate” with a person you don’t actually trust!! Trust is not something that can be forced, or even chosen. We either do or don’t trust a person based on what we know to be true of them.

        What is on the line here is NOT intimacy, but being used sexually by man that is not yet trusted. If there has been no trust earned, you cant possibly be “intimate” you can only be physically present for the acts. Used. Like an object. Used like porn.

        And a TRULY repentant man would not even want that.


        • Autumn on June 21, 2018 at 12:37 am

          Fabulous Caroline. Nice post!

        • Aly on June 21, 2018 at 5:00 pm


          I really strongly disagree respectfully with you on this and the way you ‘are’ minimizing all the problems that this kind of sin causes to a sacred union in marriage.

          Your comment seems very shallow in your understanding to me. Again I go circle back to the very important aspect that you and I might define ‘marriage’ differently. And what kind of marriage do you see as a marriage that would glorify God or have a posture of that?

          Personally in my marriage to my husband ~
          Anything that my husband or myself, where we would engage in any sexual behavior (mind or body/spirit) would be inclusive of both our knowledge and exclusive to only our union.

          Given this topic, the betrayal happens when someone turns from their partner ‘even in their mind’.
          This doesn’t have to be a physical act with another person outside a marriage when it’s a mental act turning away from the marital partner.
          We are integrated beings ~ body mind and soul for a reason. For a very important reason!

          If a partner is turning away from their ‘exclusive partner in marriage’ there is certainly a heart issue at hand!

          There are many marriages out there where there has been physical and emotional ‘adultery’ and the marriage was restored, but many marriages also have been casualties because of the hardness of heart that is a by product of ‘what ever form of betrayal’ and the lack of genuine repentance.

          If the body is the temple, porn is drugs for the eyes, mind and ‘misuses’ another Of Gods human created being out of the context of the sacred marital covenant of one-flesh adjoined together for a purpose.
          And with this, you also have us misusing our bodies (temple) out of the context to glorify God.

          • James on June 21, 2018 at 7:55 pm

            I genuinely appreciate your attempts to disagree respectfully while at the same time being frank in your opinion. I pray that I will be able to extend the same respect and frankness in my reply.
            I understand that you believe that I am minimizing the problems that pornography causes in marriage. You believe this is despite my best attempt to say very clearly that I don’t think that lust should ever be minimized. Nevertheless, I don’t think we can proceed to make categorical errors in biblical interpretation an attempt to avoid minimization.

            I would point you to Gilkerson’s article that Caroline posted. His approach to Matthew 5 and mine are exegetically synonymous and that tells me that Gilkerson’s approach to the question is very different than the way you, and others, approach the question.

            Respectfully, I don’t think you have considered this matter with any scriptural depth. Given this topic, it appears to me that you draw far more upon your own feelings and your own experiences in your own marriage than you do from God’s word and I gently suggest that your conclusions suffer because of the approach that you take.

            Please don’t misunderstand me. Your experiences are valuable, I am genuinely happy for whatever healing, progress and harmony you and your husband have achieved. Those milestones are worthy of celebration.

            Nevertheless, your marriage isn’t prescriptive, no one’s marriage is prescriptive. My wife and I have also learned very valuable lessons about one another and about ourselves, but I intentionally don’t ground my reactions to these kinds of questions in those experiences. There are good reasons for not doing so. First, no one really cares all that much about my marriage and they probably shouldn’t, to expect that they should seems a little narcissistic to me. I care deeply about my marriage, my wife cares, our children care, but most people don’t need us claiming that the experiences we have somehow qualify us to say anything about their own marriage.

            Second, there is a far better source of knowledge to turn to than my experience and whatever moralisms I might be able to extract from those experiences, and that’s God’s word. God’s word is authoritative, my experiences are not. My marriage is not. God’s word is perfect, my experiences are not, neither is my marriage. God’s word is wholly reliable, my experiences are not. That’s why I don’t address topics based on lessons I have learned personally in my marriage and It is why (again, respectfully) I am not inclined to consider lessons you have learned personally in your marriage to your husband with any weight of authority.

            Again, that’s not meant to denigrate your marriage or the progress you have made, it is to say that if you hope to sway my opinion on something you are going to have to start engaging the Bible and reasoning from the Bible rather than from your experiences.

        • James on June 21, 2018 at 7:03 pm


          Thanks for your reply. While I am not entirely in agreement with Gilkerson, reading this article, and applying the conclusions, would actually shine a great deal of light on this discussion.

          I find a few things interesting.

          1. Most of the women on this site are using what Gilkerson describes as “BAD ARGUMENT NUMBER 2.” Gilkerson claims that to argue that Porn = Lust = Adultery is a deeply flawed and irresponsible argument given the context of the passage. That’s a little amusing since I’ve been faulted for saying the same thing. In this article, Gilkerson actually ratifies my understanding of Matthew 5:28.

          I’m very curious how you, and others, react to Gilkerson’s treatment of that verse?

          2. Gilkerson’s approach would absolutely not support the premise that the wife of the man in question has grounds for divorce because Gilkerson specifically grounds the permissiveness of divorce on the level of repentance of the offender. This man has shown significant signs of repentance. He’s been in recovery for almost a decade if he is telling the truth.

          3. There isn’t any reason for us to make the uncharitable assumption that this man only wants to use his wife’s body rather than build genuine intimacy. I think waiting six years to have the conversation demonstrates exactly the opposite. He was willing to wait until intimacy was genuine. In my opinion, he waited way too long.

          Now, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that she did have grounds for divorce at one time. Shouldn’t she have done so by now? I absolutely reject the notion that either a husband or wife should be able to dangle the threat of divorce over their spouse’s head ad infinitum. At some point it stops being about an inability to reconcile a marriage that is too damaged to repair and starts being an abusive manipulation tactic to control one’s spouse, hanging their past sin over their head.

          I’m guessing, after a decade of knowing about the porn that the wife is willing to stay married. Now its time to have to a full marriage.

          • Seeing The Light on June 21, 2018 at 7:27 pm


          • Aly on June 21, 2018 at 8:45 pm


            Your last post to me is very alarming.

            Using my own experience and position on this as a married person is not saying I know what is the prescription.

            How you interpret dialog James i find problematic.

          • Connie on June 21, 2018 at 9:28 pm

            Yes it was, but maybe in another post. Sometimes it’s hard to find stuff.

          • Connie on June 21, 2018 at 9:36 pm

            Sorry, that belonged somewhere else, where Aly asked me if it was James who was doing the leveling.

            Here, though, I SO agree with STL and Aly.

          • caroline on June 22, 2018 at 1:08 am

            James, you didn’t even read what I wrote. Now you are arguing with Luke and not at me at all.

            That article was linked for morale,and to build confidence that there are decent men out there.

            I wasn’t actually suggesting divorce for our question couple, just more restoration work and more courage on the husband’s part.
            It actually does not matter if he “wants” to simply use her body or not, if she does not trust him yet, and still see’s him as “not safe” she will not be connected during any sexual activity she endures, and there will be NO INTIMACY in their sex, only using. As long as he is unsafe for her, he will remain an abuser/molester in her history.

            You may not realize this, but female sexuality is just important to God as the male counterpart. We also must be aroused in order feel pleasure and to reach a climax, and God has purposely designed female arousal to be a very delicate business.

            I know pornography has taught you differently, but scripture backs me up on this.

            The directive for a married couple to stay sexually connected is for both men AND women, and the onus for amends is always on the offender. If a betrayed husband was on here suffering from anxiety and impotency due to the deep wounding that came from his wife’s sexual betrayal, you’d very likely not question the need for more healing work and more trust building on the part of the betraying spouse.

            You obviously know very little about healing relationships ravaged by years of sexual perversion.
            I am also wondering why you are here. Are you by chance the man in the original question?

            BTW: @ your point #1. Pornography doesn’t need to be physical “adultery”, its quite enough that’s is perversion, homosexuality, prostitution and just gross sexual immorality in general.

          • maria on June 22, 2018 at 4:54 am


            Was wondering if you have struggled with pornography? (No judgment/bad intentions here, just a question).

            Let’s take away the divorce argument here and focus on porn. Christ died for sin. Let’s not minimize sin. It cost Him his life. It is a heart issue. Sin is progressive. Porn eventually will lead to acting out if one does not repent of it.

          • Nancy on June 22, 2018 at 7:55 am

            It would be wise, in my opinion, James, if you would ‘open up’ to what many of these sisters are telling you.

            In particular that your interpretation of dialog is quite skewed and that your responses are extremely defended.

            This is not at all uncommon for a victim of childhood abuse – it is how a child manages to survive such an environment.

            But James, you now -as an adult – can choose health. You can choose Life.

            Personally I have spent a lifetime dealing with highly defended individuals and it is exhausting. So…I’m out of trying to help you ‘see’.

            There is a healing journey that might very well be knocking on your door James, and it’s 100% your choice as to wether you will open the door.

            It’s an extremely frightening journey, but The Lord would not forsake you.

            I pray that you choose life.

          • Aly on June 22, 2018 at 8:09 am


            This is where it becomes much clearer to me what you are actually more ‘reacting to’ and possibly misinterpreting some relational errors.

            I actually do care about the health and healing for a lot of people’s Christian marriages! Personally, it doesn’t take a lot of scholarly study to see that the enemy has every reason to destroy and kill marriages based on the design of Christian marriages glorifying God.

            You wrote:
            “First, no one really cares all that much about my marriage and they probably shouldn’t, to expect that they should seems a little narcissistic to me. I care deeply about my marriage, my wife cares, our children care, but most people don’t need us claiming that the experiences we have somehow qualify us to say anything about their own marriage.”

            The fact that you are a pastoral counselor and had this attitude and posture reveal a low level of empathy.

            This posture also is very incongruent with the very nature and character of Christ.

            To give an example about my own understanding about a sexual biblical marital union isn’t ~ narcissistic.

            Your responses are very defended even if they are covert. Why? Again many people here are challenging you to meet with your ‘colleagues’ about these discussions and not this particular blog.

            I would also note that many on this blog have been additionally hurt by ill equipped pastoral counseling (not always intentional) that has been ‘similar to your attitude’ and the lack of sensitivity I continue to see, is not administering Love & Support to your fellow brothers and sisters as you are called to do.

            The Pharisees clearly thought they understood ‘ALL’ scripture and Jesus gave them a strong message that they missed the Heart of the matter.

          • Seeing The Light on June 22, 2018 at 9:10 am

            From Aly’s comment, June 22, 2018 at 8:09 am: “The Pharisees clearly thought they understood ‘ALL’ scripture and Jesus gave them a strong message that they missed the Heart of the matter.”

            Amen, Aly. This is the best response I have seen yet to James’s recent contributions to this blog.

          • Seeing The Light on June 22, 2018 at 9:16 am

            From caroline’s comment of June 22, 2018 at 1:08am: “If a betrayed husband was on here suffering from anxiety and impotency due to the deep wounding that came from his wife’s sexual betrayal, you’d very likely not question the need for more healing work and more trust building on the part of the betraying spouse.”

            Not just this particular quote, but your whole discussion of female sexuality as well is so significant. From this part, in particular, however, is such good insight. A man’s “ability” to engage in sexual relations can be deeply affected in the way you have described and he would likely get far more of a pass for that physical “inability” that is based on the damaged relationship. A woman, on the other hand, can simply show up and allow her body to be used to perform the function whether her mind and heart can safely engage, so the pressure on her to “show up” and consent is greater? Talk about missing the heart of the matter. Thank you for your comment, caroline. I agree with pretty much the whole thing.

          • James on June 22, 2018 at 12:18 pm


            You said.

            “I know pornography has taught you differently, but scripture backs me up on this.”

            This is an abusive response. It is an attack on me personally. You and I should be able able to disagree with one another and discuss these points without resorting to personal attacks, and attempts sully one another’s character.

            I cannot continue a conversation where this is considered appropriate.

        • Michelle on June 26, 2018 at 10:45 pm

          Unfortunately, this is a side affect of pornography. They are role playing these fantasies in their head. My ex throughout our marriage role played what he saw in pornography sites. It does become a turn off and very transparent. It becomes physical which is man but woman need emotional connect through sex.If they-man have affairs, which heightens their sexual prowess you can be very disappointing as they compare their conquests. They diminish you. Their brains get rewired and their is no logic. I still think wife is in denial and she needs help. She has been emotional diminished in her marriage and needs to find out why she is staying without physical attachment. We need to be emotionally connected in a marriage. It is what a God wants for us.

  8. Barbara B on June 15, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Leslie’s original question focused on the husband who brought pornography and deceit into his family. Leslie advised him to become less passive in addressing the problems he created with his wife. She asked us to encourage him by sharing ways we have become less passive while maintaining kindness and respect. Next thing you know there is this rabbit trail about how the wife, the one who has been on the receiving end of destructive behavior, supposedly needs to shape up and do a better job of forgiving.

    Six years of celibacy means nothing if there has been little or no progress in addressing the wife’s heart wounds that caused the necessity for celibacy. A trained biblical counselor should know this basic truth! Leslie does know this; that’s why she’s telling the husband he has to have a talk with his wife to find out the true state of the relationship. A trained professional theologian should know better than to conflate two things that God carefully separates in scripture; that is, forgiveness and reconciliation.

    Leslie has created a separate forum for counselors and theologians to debate these ideas and I fail to see why anyone would continue to misuse Leslie’s generosity in providing a free site for counselees – not for counselors – to support one another. The level of disrespect is mind boggling, especially when paired with the claim of being a pastor and counselor. I have a hard time believing that someone who is so passionate about his perception of problems in the church can’t come up with $57/mo to go to the site where these problems can be addressed and solved, or alternatively, where he can improve his level of understanding and expertise, as he claims he wants to do.

    Now here’s my answer the original question about growing out of passivity. I’m learning to stop seeing myself as a victim. Instead, I’m learning to ask myself, “Why I am cooperating with a system I don’t like?” As I put into words what I think I’m gaining from my inauthentic cooperation, I can evaluate my choices and see how God provides a different way for that need to be met. That’s when the chains come off and I’m free to choose a different path.

    • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      best said, Barbara B.!

    • Seeing The Light on June 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Barbara B,

      So well said. Thank you for articulating this so well. I can’t improve on this.

    • Free on June 15, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Beautifully written.

    • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Barbara B,

      You highlight such important insights.
      Again you can see that often a ‘person says’ isn’t what they are willing to do!
      This is a character issue at its core.

      I feel like this kind of character issue is epidemic in Christian communities~ many people are hiding out and lack the insight to see it.

    • Connie on June 22, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Somewhere here, James said that we can’t tell if another’s repentance is genuine, only God can. Nothing can be further from the truth. The people closest to the offender can easily tell if it is genuine. Attitudes show clearly when actions seem real but aren’t.

      • Barbara B. on June 22, 2018 at 4:19 pm

        Yes, when words and actions don’t align, something is fishy. For example, did anyone else notice how quickly James reacted to Caroline and cut off the conversation with her, I.e., not practicing reconciliation (June 22, 12:18). I wonder why he thinks he is allowed to distance himself from someone who offended him in a conversation about pornography, but a wife is not allowed to have distance, even when the pornography offense against her is much greater than a mere discussion. Despite all his talk about “forgiveness equals reconciliation,” James doesn’t seem to apply it to himself. Not to mention the fact that he has still not followed basic courtesy. This blog does not belong to him; he doesn’t get to come in and start telling the other guests how they’re wrong when he hasn’t even followed the respectful protocol of answering Leslie’s original question. Red flags are all over his posts and I feel concerned for his parishioners and clients.

        • Connie on June 22, 2018 at 9:48 pm

          From his very first post, months ago, there have been constant red flags.

        • Aly on June 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

          Barbara B, Connie, Nancy, & James,

          James, I think Nancy invited you into something worth re-reading and considering. She was wise and onpoint to gently offer and reach to you. (You may not be reachable, and that’s not any of our responsibility)

          Your responses here as they have escalated have hostilities and plenty of quick misinterpretationsand assumptions.
          Why not seek to clarify first and give others the opportunity before you react?
          You seem to offer that benefit of the doubt to the ‘male writer’ in this situation, yet your quick to be hostile toward others here who have challenged you. This is The incongruent behavior that some refer to as “not aligning or red flags.”

          These things are very consistent with someone who can have destructive coping skills and very skewed interpretations, often a by product of growing up within a destructive environment and abusive dynamics.

          I think what Nancy invited you into was filled with grace and it’s up to a person if they will ‘authenically Receive’.

          I’m not sure if you had responded to Nancy, but I didn’t see a response.
          And a gracious response of any kind of acknowledgement would have shown the Christlike Character of maturity.
          You had time to respond the way you did to Caroline so it isn’t a time issue.

          • James on June 23, 2018 at 10:36 pm

            Despite your assumptive remark, the reason I haven’t been able to respond with any degree of depth to anyone is because I have a busy life, as do we all, and have been predisposed.
            As to Nancy’s remarks, which I have just now read, I think that Nancy probably meant genuinely well. The problem with Nancy’s “invitation” is that it completely ignores what I have said and the views I have espoused and tries to provide an unqualified psychological assessment as to why I have said them and why I hold the views that I do. While Nancy’s motive are likely genuine, and I do appreciate the sentiment, were I to go around telling women on the blog what was “really” wrong with them, as has been done to me, I think that I would get significant, justified backlash.
            Because it is more than a little presumptuous to nose around in someone’s painful past and then use what you’ve discovered as a way to dismiss the points they make in a conversation. There is another explanation for why I think the way I do about the situation presented by the gentleman who wrote Leslie…
            Maybe, I believe what I do because they have some SCRIPTURAL merit (I’m sorry to have use caps, there are not options to italicize or bold text, be assured the caps are yelling just emphasis).
            I’m not sure what is so threatening about my observations but they simply aren’t without scriptural support.
            Scripturally 1 Cor 7:1-5 says that intimacy in marriage should be frequent. So, I don’t think it is as outlandish, as some of you have made it sound, to suggest that 6 YEARS without physical intimacy might be a cause for some concern. Now, I am aware that some think that his pornography addiction somehow invalidates the relevance of this scripture in their marriage and that he has somehow forfeited the blessings of sex in marriage because of his sin. I do not, my bible doesn’t have any footnotes or asterisks or parenthesis that tell me that Paul’s prescription for sex in marriage is only for sinless husbands and wives; in fact, the very reason Paul prescribes frequent sexual intimacy in marriage is “because of the temptation to sexual immorality… (1 Cor 7:2 ESV) Now, I know that some will think that my very mentioning of this passage from the bible is “insensitive” or “lacking empathy” or “a sign that I am still deeply wounded by my past” but the bible says what it says and I’m not about to apologize for it.
            Scripturally, Matthew 5:28 is contextually situation in the middle of a number of hyperbolic statements that Jesus makes. When I pointed that out all nature of critical guffaws were issues my direction with dogmatic reaffirmations that porn=lust and lust=adultery being reaffirmed as evidence that I just don’t know what I’m talking about. Then Caroline posted a link to Luke Gilkerson’s article supporting pornography addiction as grounds for divorce. In that article, Gilkerson addresses the porn=lust and lust=adultery argument as “bad argument number 2” and says, “First, it misapplies Jesus’ own words. The intention of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount is to help His disciples understand the heart of the Law (Matthew 5:17). For instance, Jesus said to be innocent of murder is not enough; anger is also sinful and worthy judgment before the court and ultimately hellfire (v.21-22). It would be wrong to take Jesus’ hyperbolic comments about punishing anger and suggest we set up a formal tribunal to dish out penalties to those who speak harsh words to others. Similarly, to suggest spouses have grounds for divorce for moments of lust goes far beyond Jesus’ intention.”
            Now, it is possible that Gilkerson is another deeply blinded, insensitive soul (like me) who lacks genuine empathy for women. Or, it’s possible that this is an unnecessarily harsh judgment on his character (and mine) and that some women on this blog who have subscribed to what Gilkerson describes as a “very bad argument” are just getting the passage wrong. And for those who may read this who have been parroting what Gilkerson calls “Bad argument number 2” let me say, getting it wrong isn’t the end of the world, its just a part of learning.
            Furthermore, I find it I pretty interesting that if anyone had read the article to the end, they would find that Gilkerson wouldn’t say that the wife of the man’s writing Leslie had grounds for divorce.
            “In my opinion, pornography use, when it is hardhearted and unrepentant, can certainly qualify as porneia and therefore grounds for divorce. (Luke Gilkerson)”
            Scripturally, the bible absolutely says that we are to forgive in the same manner as God forgave us. Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15 are just a few of the passages that underscore that very clear teaching of scripture.
            And the way that God forgives us ABSOLUTELY leads to 100% reconciliation, 100% of the time.
            Romans 5:10-11, 2 Cor 5:18 and Col 1:20 are just a few of the passages that underscore that very clear teaching of scripture. So that we know with absolute certainty that there are none that have received the forgiveness of God who are not 100% reconciled to God through the blood of Christ. HALELUJAH!!!!
            That’s good news Aly! It’s the best news any of us could ever hear! And that truth needs to seep into our soul and then spill out toward those who have wronged us lest we who have been forgiven debts that we could never repay continue to hold on to debts.
            In summary, my views aren’t, as some have wrongly asserted, including yourself, proof that I am a low empathy, insensitive wounded soul who hasn’t worked through my childhood experiences. In fact, I have labored to make sure that my views are based on the bible and the words of the bible don’t change based on who is quoting them. It has been a little consternating that many here have all but ignored the bible but have sighted in with laser-like attention on what they perceive to be my “real” problems.
            And the various explanations haven’t been particularly gracious. Including: That am a “spiritual abuser” which YOU alluded to in your June 20th reply to Connie (which was over the line) and your June 22nd comment equating me with pharisees (which was particularly ungracious).
            These are just a few of the covert, back handed hostilities that have been meant to sully me.
            These aren’t all, I’m not oblivious to the general attitude from some women that my very presence here is a very threatening and unwelcomed disruption to what has become “their space.” It seems rather cliquish to be honest, which is probably why most threads have been dominated by posts from the same women, for the most part, on pretty much all the threads going back for years and almost NO men.
            Yet, it seems that in the last few days, three or four ladies, including yourself have taken it upon yourselves to examine my eye rather closely to see if there is any chance of getting those pesky specks out of it and to be honest you haven’t been all that delicate in doing so. Some of your own comments have been harsh, unkind, unfair and hostile. I would gently suggest that you might want to take a look at your own eyes to see if there aren’t a few logs to remove before you seek to remove any more of mine.
            Finally, no one appointed you to be my judge, I don’t mean this to be insulting, I mean this because I already have a Perfect Judge and the difference is that He actually knows me, consequently there is no room for you on the judges seat in my life. Your assessment of my character vis a vis my capacity for empathy, coping skills, Christlikeness and maturity are simple examples of you speaking from a place of ignorance. You don’t know me well enough to make an informed assessment of any of these categories and that disqualifies you to sit on the bema. If you feel that I have sinned against you in some way, then by all means obey Matthew 18:15, but your repeated attempts to try and read behind the lines of my posts and effectively peek through the internet into my soul and then pronounce summary judgment on my character aren’t welcomed or appropriate, they constitute a lack of respect for reasonable boundaries on your part and I simply reject those terms for our dialog going forward. If you can’t keep your comments confined to the engagement of the substance of what I say rather than making uncharitable judgments based on what you mistakenly think you know about me as a man, a pastor, a counselor, or my Christlikeness, my maturity, my coping skills, or your own flawed interpretation of the “incongruities” of my words and actions (which you could never judge having never me me) then we just can’t dialog any further.
            Those are my boundaries Aly, will you respect them?

          • James on June 23, 2018 at 10:41 pm

            clarification (me me) should have been met me, not me trying to tune my voice for a song.

          • James on June 24, 2018 at 12:10 am


            “(I’m sorry to have use caps, there are not options to italicize or bold text, be assured the caps are yelling just emphasis).”

            Should read, “(I’m sorry to have to use caps….be assured the caps aren’t yelling, just emphasis.)

          • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 9:46 am


            Just to be clear and factual. You were the one who brought up your own past originally.

            Many of us here have been cordial to challenge you on many things, yet ‘you feeling judged’ seems to be the focus.

            How can anyone ‘challenge you’ with your views or how your interpretations are without you being defended or feeling judged?

            I have re-read my posts to you and I have challenged your understanding.

            I don’t need to have ‘met’ you to point out where I see inconsistencies and incongruity. I don’t need to have met you to point out a double standard or something that I see as ‘spiritual misuse’ when the whole counsel of God is not considered and only pieces and parts are applied to certain issues. I am basing my observations on your own writings here.

            I have challenged you directly on what you write, as have others….and if your boundary is to not consider another place from (a fellow Christian sister in the community of God)… then I interpret that as a problematic boundary that may keep you from growing & learning as a Christian.

            That boundary would be considered (in my opinion) a stumbling block because a person who is against being challenged is ultimately showing a resistance to growth in general. Which we as Christians, saved by Grace are calle to mature in Christ.

          • James on June 24, 2018 at 2:33 pm


            Then I take your reply to be a no to my question and our dialog is ended.

            Let us part as brothers and sisters who, perhaps like Paul and Barnabas must part for a time.

            Go in peace.

  9. Autumn on June 15, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Oh, I thought the passivity was him putting up with not getting sex. I thought we were being asked what can do about not being to convince his wife to meet his desires. I thought the suggested answer was for him to be less passive.

    I don’t think there is anything passive about him asking for a kiss. I would guess his wife has explained her position and he doesn’t like her behaviors.

    If he wants sex and he has tortured and violated her to such an extent as he has. I think he should file for an annulment and try to find someone else he can try to con into sleeping with him.

    Unless they both agree, they can’t stay married. As a sexless marriage is atypical.

    • Alene on June 15, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      No, his passivity was not directly seeing and taking responsibility for his concern and acknowledge the real needs and need for communication in the relationship.

      • Autumn on June 15, 2018 at 10:59 pm

        Thanks, Alene, I missed that.

      • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:39 am


        Well said.
        You wrote:
        “No, his passivity was not directly seeing and taking responsibility for his concern and acknowledge the real needs and need for communication in the relationship”

        I would think that this critical thing you said is linked and a root to his porn abuse.

        Counterfeits will lead to emptiness because God didnt design us in this way of intimacy.
        This isn’t a sex or affection issue~ that’s the symptom indeed but it’s the deeper intimacy issue he developed a long time ago. And even though he claims 10 years of recovery, his complaint today shows he is still using similar coping skills (passivity and avoidant victim like behavior) and shows more work to do with the roots of what is at his heart.

        To be vulnerable takes a lot of courage and strength regardless of the outcome.
        When our identity is rooted in Christ we can take these questions to our spouse and see where things are.
        Leslie’s advice was point on.

        • caroline on June 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

          Alene Autumn and Aly:

          Yep. This kind of “passivity” is so common it actually has a name: Intimacy Anorexia. It often goes hand in hand with sexual addiction and lifelong pornography use (for there is zero relational risk for you when you don’t care about an “other”)
          Intimacy Anorexia can haunt SA recovery and marriage reconciliation efforts years into the process.

          It’s just another layer of sin. Just more self protection: killing the Godly desire for wholeness , and buffering ourselves from the pain of exposure. We insulate our hearts with other consuming interests (“little luxuries and hobbies” to quote CS Lewis) AND actually initiate those situations where we are likely to be rejected first.

          Very interesting concept:
          I stay sooooo busy and full that you cant get to me, OR I actually pick a fight knowing you will either retreat or attack me, and then I can say “Look there you go rejecting me once again! Its all you!”
          LOTS of ways to do this.

          Surely pursuing “kisses” out of the context of affection and closeness can be part of this pattern. Especially when its known the kisses are triggering!! My husband admitted he did this to me. He would do really weird stuff and when I didn’t “respond” he’d pull back and pat himself on the back “Well, at least I tried!”

          And so our intimacy recovery suffered needlessly long. Better now, but its been a lot of work for both of us.

          Also throwing all one’s time energy money and passion into their own “recovery efforts” so there’s a rich support community in place to vouch for their steady progress:
          ” Hes been such a very good boy so she must be a baaaaaad wife for not putting out.

          Or the other way around. No doubt wives can be ruthlessly manipulative addicts and abusers as well.

          • Aly on June 22, 2018 at 1:42 pm


            I’ll go back and reread this last post so I can respond to you when I’m not rushing to get somewhere.

            James recently posted something to you I believe, I want to suggest ‘not to respond’ at this time.

            Certainly do what you feel lead to. Maybe you have already decided to not reply.

          • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:18 pm

            When conversations start to go around in circles and go nowhere…it is a sign of health to recognize it and not engage. I agree.

  10. Connie on June 15, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I find this whole conversation interesting right after reading Hennessy’s book. He says that the bottom line for most men is their entitlement to sex. Nothing else matters. The rest of scripture isn’t all that important, as long as he gets that. It is that last frontier of having control of his life. It seems that to some, if the wife is ‘bitter’ she as good as murders her husband, yet if he is into porn, it is not as bad as adultery. How does that compute?

    Anyway, God did divorce Israel, and according to His own law, they could not reconcile until His death.
    Then there was a whole new covenant. I have been deeply pondering what Nancy said, that their marriage had to die, not be fixed. I am praying that the Lord shows me what that means, what that looks like. I think it is likely a key for many of us.

    • Autumn on June 15, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      Maybe Nancy can elaborate on her thinking. I wasn’t sure about the die vs repair either.

      I have one other twist. The feeling of still being married when one is no longer legally married. The vow lasts a lifetime psychologically, regardless of the paperwork.

      • Nancy on June 16, 2018 at 8:09 am

        Hi Autumn and Connie,

        I’ll try my best to elaborate. I separated (in-house) from my h for what ended up being 9 months, during which time I had asked a few key people to pray for us. I was leaning on The Lord like never before, prayer was like oxygen because everyday was a battle to guard my heart while stil going to war for my h’s heart, mind and soul.

        I was in this spiritual battle ‘alone’.

        My h went into counselling and found an accountability group shortly after I separated; but what marked the end of our separation was that he came to me and told me that he had idolized the marriage. He said ( something like) “I give up. I’m done trying to fix this thing ( our marriage). I’ve decided to join you in the separation.”

        My h chose to enter into reality with me, instead of staying in denial – praise God!

        This was the point where he joined me in placing our marriage at the foot of the cross.

        This was the moment we stood together and released our marriage to Jesus.

        We then decided to tell trustworthy people that we were in trouble, and ask for prayer.

        A month and a half later we started couples counselling. I see that process as building from the ground-up, as opposed to making adjustments to what was already there. Of course we are the same two people, and of course our old habits are ‘dying hard’ urghhhhh…..BUT this counselling is the active process of sanctification of our new relationship.

        Just as, when we first commit our lives to Christ, we are made completely new in His eyes, BUT we still have to ‘walk out’ our sanctification by ‘putting off’ old habits….. the exact same process has been happening in our marriage….Our marriage was made new the moment my h joined me in submitting it to The Lord, but in order to grow we need to ‘walk out’ the sanctification of our relationship by learning how to ‘put off’ our old ways.

        Thanks for asking because I had never thought of it quite like that before!

        • Nancy on June 16, 2018 at 9:05 am

          It’s interesting that my h’s decision to separate from the marriage, ended up uniting us.

          We were on the same page now – united in the decision to be separate from our marriage. United in the battle to fight.

          United in asking The Lord, and trustworthy others, for help.

          • maria on June 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm


            Thanks for your explanation. Now your marriage is built on a firm foundation.

          • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:56 am


            Praise God for this!
            You describe I think critical places of ones heart surrender.

            Both parties must be surrendered unto the Lord. Not partial, not part-time but wholeheartedly BOTH parties put Christ where He is designed and the marriage also in its proper place.

            The marriage can’t be in its proper place unless Christ in our proper places.

            The marriage is a by-product is how I see it. Similarly to how I see ‘happiness’ being a by-product of the sanctification journey.

            Often ~ one spouse in destructive marriages is willing or more committed to being surrendered to Christ. But in a restored marriage BOth are surrendered but both still have different roles.

            Many women are told to submit to a husband ‘not submitted’ to the Lord and we see a lot of the by products of that.

            An honest wife who is surrendered to the Lord will often have an honest assessment of whether or not she is married to a husband surrendered also.

            She is the designer help-mate but often that role is taken from her if the husband is not surrendered to Christ and he silences her input and experience.

          • Nancy on June 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

            Thanks for the encouragement, Aly!

            “She is the designer help mate but often that role is taken from her if the h is not surrendered to Christ and he silences her input and experience.”

            Yes! and that is where her role as help-mate changes from the posture of ‘encourager and supporter’ to ‘standing firm in holding him accountable’ in the areas that he is un submitted.

            This is what Leslie teaches: what does loving our spouse really look like? What does it look like to be a peace-maker? It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ definition of a help-mate ( I much prefer EZER). The role of Ezer will be highly dependant on wether he is truly ( not just saying he is) following The Lord.

            We are never called to submit to sin.

          • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:16 pm

            Your comment that shows on my screen below here but perhaps will be just above this comment when it posts, the one about submission and how it is different if the husband is submitted or not, is well spoken.

            I was passively submitting to things I should not have been.

    • Aly on June 20, 2018 at 10:45 am


      I agree much here with you!
      Here’s my concern about what I see in these comments and responses. With what you described above I see a lot of ‘leveling’ and deflection from the main grievance being the focus…using scripture to turn the table. I’m wondering if this would be considered ‘spiritual abuse’ or spiritual twisting?

      Was is James that was posting those comments about murder etc and making comparisons?

      • Connie on June 21, 2018 at 9:27 pm

        Yes it was, but maybe in another post. Sometimes it’s hard to find stuff.

  11. Alene on June 15, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    No, his passivity was not directly seeing and taking responsibility for his concern and acknowledge the real needs and need for communication in the relationship.

  12. Connie on June 16, 2018 at 12:26 am

    It’s too bad Jesus and Paul were not emotionally validated. King Solomon must have been the most secure man ever – oh wait, wasn’t he the one who wrote that it was all vanity? And those of us who serviced our husbands regularly and often for 20 years or more – why did they get more immature and nasty as time went on? Something is not right with that theory, methinks.

    • James on June 16, 2018 at 1:53 am

      1 Cor 7:7 is the answer to your question.

      • Autumn on June 16, 2018 at 6:47 am

        No, that is not the answer. There is no mention primary emotional needs in that verse. Also one must include the verses before it in 2 and 3 which mention men who participate in “immoralities” and those who do not “full fill his duty to his wife.”

        If the wife has authority over the man’s body as referenced in vs.4. it would seem pornographic gratification precludes anyone from advaning to the next verses. Three hard stops in my opinion. They are, as biblically sited immorality, breach of duty and denying authority.

        • Free on June 16, 2018 at 7:22 am

          Yes! It is important to remember that Chapter 7 of 1Corinthians was written to the Corinthians. They had asked two questions and the verses are in response to the questions they asked.

          We can’t just pick and choice verses out of context and slap them on a discussion as with supposed authority. The Corinthians asked it they would be better Christians if they never married. No one in Corinth mentioned what is a” man’s primary needs?” These people wanted to know how to serve God. We are talking about two completely different motivations for a discussion.

          To the Corinthians second question Paul answers in vs 25, ” to this question I have no answer.” It is encouraging that even he waited on the Lord, did not site other parts of scripture and acknowledged that for some questions there are no answers.

          It is this stance I would recommend to the limited view of biblical counseling. The Bible is only one (be it extremely important) part of the Christian life. Wisdom also comes from the spirit, the present works of the Lord (such as circumstances) and through other believers.

          So, using the Bible to cut and paste answers to another person’s life sells the Trinity short. It is just too narrow minded.

          Trust more James and you can release your rigid view and receive the fullness of the Lord in all his splendor! Yes, the word is living, but so is the holy spirit and spirit within us. I think a number of us are trying to tell you this. What stops you from this growth?

          • Barbara B on June 16, 2018 at 3:15 pm

            Free, I’m having a hard time finding words to tell you how happy this reply made me. I have spent the last couple of decades teaching women in my church how to study the Bible for themselves so they won’t be led astray by incorrect teaching. Your use of accurate interpretation methods is spot on. I didn’t have the privilege of being your teacher, but I still feel proud of you, knowing that you and other students all over the world are staying on track because you have learned how to “accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Pastors and biblical counselors play an important role in the church, but it’s unreasonable to think they will always be correct in every way. As everyday Christians, we need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, who heard preaching and then studied the Scriptures for themselves, to see if what the preacher said was true. Well done, sister! This makes my day!

          • James on June 16, 2018 at 11:37 pm


            I concur with Barbara, your exegesis of 1 Cor 7:1-5 is spot on. Consider the possibility that 1 Cor 7:6-9 is a transition to a different thought, namely the advice given to those unmarried.

            To those unmarried who have the gift of celibacy, Paul’s counsel is to remain unmarried. To those who don’t, Paul says go ahead an marry for it is “better to marry than to burn (with passion).”

            For some, Paul is exactly right, the choice is either marriage or an unfulfilled emotional experience akin to “burning” with sexual desire.

            And I think the best interpretation is to see this “burning” not as merely a physical discomfort urging release but an experience of the soul. Not just physical release but a burning desire to experience the gift of sex with another. It is noteworthy that this isn’t unique to a man but could be true of both men and women.

            However, the overwhelming testimony of the scriptures suggests that men are the ones driven to “leave” their mothers and fathers to “cleave” to their wives. Thier is a drive that God has put into the heart of men that seems, at least, to be more pronounced than women.

            Physiologically, the fact that the average testosterone level of man is significantly higher than the testosterone levels of an average woman.

            As “outlandish” as some suggest, the notion that many, if not most, men view sex as a primary aspect to their emotional well being is pretty well accepted in both evangelical Christian circles as well as secular psychological circles.

            My hunch is that the shock doesn’t come from it being a new and esoteric claim, the shock comes from it being somewhat of an inconvenient claim.

            I appreciate your good-natured advice. Perhaps you can appreciate the quandary that comes from it. You say that the Spirit told you how to interpret this particular scripture. So to have many others said the same thing. Many who have all claimed that the Spirit revealed how to interpret the scriptures all disagree with one another.
            I’m left wondering why I should accept your claim to a Spirit-inspired interpretation rather than someone else’s claim to a Spirit-inspired interpretation. I can find a plethora of other commentators who are all, in some sense, urging me to be open to their Spirit inspired explanation and they don’t all agree with you, or even with one another.

            So I follow the rule of faith, the old reformation principle that says that I interpret scripture with scripture rather than scripture by the very strong and well meaning claims of others.

            May the Lord Bless you.

          • mariapy on June 17, 2018 at 1:51 pm


            You have based some of your interpretation of the Bible (emotional well being of men and sex) on what is accepted by the majority of evangelicals and popular psychology. I have not seen evidence for your clam in scripture.

            In my opinion there are not only 2 options available to – a) get married instead of burn with passion b) be single because one has the gift. In this day and age, many would love to get married, but because it a decision between 2 people, that is not the case. Also, chances are that both spouses will not die at the same time. There may be illness that prevents married couples from having sex. So another option, is to take these desires to Christ and have Him meet our needs.

            The world has really idolized sex. The church is falling prey to this. It is sacred to be enjoyed by 2 married people. There is a strong emotional, physical,intimate connection when 2 individuals have sex. That is why it is so difficult to recover when it is abusd

      • Connie on June 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

        That may sort of answer my first question, but not the others – at all.

  13. Nancy on June 16, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I’m puzzled, James as to why you have responded at length to others, in order to defend your Biblical position. And yet you have not taken the time to take responsibility for crossing a line that I had clearly asked you not to cross.

    What’s that about?

    • James on June 16, 2018 at 11:40 pm


      I have no idea what line you are talking about. I believe our interchanges have been rather courteous of late. If you can let me know what I have done to unintentionally offend you I will do what I can to stop.

      Let us be at peace, sister.

      Blessings to you.

      • James on June 17, 2018 at 1:03 am


        I’ve discovered your post and your request.

        Though I can’t conceive of why you object, I’ll refrain from sending any blessings in your direction.

        • Nancy on June 17, 2018 at 8:34 am


          “Though I can’t conceive of why you object,…”

          Truly respecting a person has nothing to do with understanding their limits; it is simply respecting them.

          It confuses me that you would like ‘peace’ with me ( from your 11:40 post) and yet you still have yet to taken responsibility for trespassing over my clearly stated boundary?

        • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:22 pm

          I imagine something did not seem genuine and it is possible that is why she requested you not to do that. It is how it seems to me.
          It seemed like a nice pushiness.
          Too familiar.
          A bit odd.

  14. Aleea on June 17, 2018 at 6:10 am

    . . . . re: New Testament Language and The First Edition of the New Testament. . . .there’s a manuscript in there where Christ is raising the dead and performing miracles and being a generally good guy and causing a lot of trouble and is arrested and thrown into prison to be executed and they tell Him the burden that He’s placed on human beings (—doing good to those who do us evil; His clear teachings on what is allowed re:divorce and remarriage; —our duty to share the gospel with people that hate us; are just far, f-a-r too great and that the church has spent centuries trying to modify His demands so that normal people can tolerate them and there’s really something to that burden . . . .re:The moral burden placed on someone who claims to be a Christian in terms of following what Christ actually, plainly said. What Jesus said is so really hard but . . .but the alternative is so much worse: I need to bear the burden and the responsibility of what He actually said without using advanced text de-construction to modify (—or even, like here lots of times), we see teachings just skipping that part and saying: I’m not doing it —God would not ask me to do that! . . . .but doing so is what constrains evil *first* in our own hearts❗💖 💗 💙 💚 💛 💜 💬

  15. Seeing The Light on June 17, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I have given a lot of thought to this week’s post and the shift in the discussion to the wife’s response to her husband. I have found myself reading what the husband wrote quite a few times. It seems I am back at that place where we don’t have all the information.

    This man said, “I have struggled with pornography and sexual addiction issues since I found my Dad’s “stash” when I was 7 or 8 years old.” I don’t want to wrongly characterize him, but he said “pornography and sexual addiction issues”. We have focused on the word pornography. What else is included in “…and sexual addiction issues”. There is a lot that falls under the category of “sexual addiction” and its accompanying behaviors. I had a friend who was married for about ten years and only found out very late in that marriage all of the vile things her “sexually addicted” husband was doing and with whom and then coming home to sleep with her. Many people with true sexual addiction act out physically, not just with porn and in the realm of fantasy. Perhaps the original writer would be willing to comment. Was physical adultery part of the sexual addiction? If so, to what extent? If not, what else is included here besides viewing porn?

    Further, from my understanding of this, he is still in recovery and working with ministries after ten years. If the hold was/is that strong and he needs that, there is certainly no problem with it. Yet who knows what that looks like? What has she had to hear in that time about his sexual compulsions and desires? How much of their lives have become about this issue?

    Imagine being the only legitimate, God-ordained source of satisfying a man whose sexual desires are compulsive and obsessive? Honestly, I can’t even fathom it. With most addictions, cold turkey is the only way to live. An alcoholic can’t just drink now and then or socially and not open the floodgates. Smoking addicts don’t generally light up recreationally for a reasonable amount of time. And so it is with gambling and most addictions. I can just imagine how she might be feeling about being the avenue for this in his life. With every kiss, with every touch, there is the question…is this an expression of love and oneness? Or is this satisfying his compulsion? What happened during those four years at the beginning of his recovery when they were intimate? So many questions. So many issues. No one is in any position to judge her with the limited amount of their story that we know.

    • Jolene on June 18, 2018 at 12:58 am

      STL, you have a point. If this man has been viewing pornography since his childhood, it is likely he came into the marriage with sexual expectations for his wife to meet, and ideas in which he wanted her to participate, based on his pornographic “education”. She might be feeling violated physically as well as emotionally. At least that’s how I felt.

  16. sheep on June 18, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Hello all,

    I have been just kind of sitting back and watching the discussion on this one without comment till now. Much of that has to do with the original story. There really isn’t much information there for us to use to correctly judge the situation. We don’t know what he meant by some of the things he said, We don’t know what kind of a person he is, just like we don’t know much of anything about her. We really don’t know why she is withholding intimacy from him. It could be because of how much he has damaged the relationship and that she sees things in him that we cant that maybe show his recovery isn’t as far along as he would like us to believe. But it also could be because she has her own sin issues that need to be dealt with and she is using this to punish him. What if she is a narcissist? If so, she is going to act “wrong” and use this situation to put herself even more in control. But, we just don’t know.

    I would like to make a couple of comments of forgiveness and reconciliation from my own experience and what I see in scripture. James, I used to think a lot like you, that forgiveness naturally leads to reconciliation. That is kind of what we are taught. “forgive and forget” and all of that. Unfortunately, that mentality puts ALL of the responsibility for the relationship on the back of the person that was wronged. I think that in general, with two “normal” people, in a ‘normal” marriage, that forgiveness does lead to reconciliation. But there are cases that it doesn’t and it shouldn’t.

    In my own situation, My wife has had two affairs. The last one ended (as far as I know) about 1.5 years ago. I have forgiven her, but we aren’t reconciling. And that isn’t for the lack of me trying. I have done everything that every book on the subject (including the bible) has said to do to try to bring about reconciliation. And she isn’t interested. Might I add that she also isn’t particularly interested in leaving. She wants the benefits of marriage with none of the responsibility. She has flat out told me that she will not commit to never doing it again. She hasn’t done anything to be accountable, and she does everything possible to blame her sin on others. I see no signs of true repentance. Then you can throw into the mix, that she acts for all the world like nothing is wrong. It is absolutely crazy making for my kids and I.

    Now, we have gotten to the place that I am no longer willing to reconcile (I suppose I could be if there were massive change in her, but I know there isn’t going to be) I’m moving forward with separation and divorce, not because I don’t forgive her, but because one person can’t make another person reconcile. I can (and have) showered her with forgiveness and love, I have begged her to do what it would take for reconciliation, but I cant force it.
    One of the most damaging things I have felt about the attitude that says “forgiveness and reconciliation” are the same thing or go hand in hand, is that this contributes to the huge problem in christian circles that wants to say “well when there are marriage problems, it is the fault of both people” This just isn’t the case. Yes, both people are sinners that have failed and hurt the other person in many ways. That is just life. Many times, it is probably the case that both people are to blame in a failed marriage. But there are all too many cases where it doesn’t take two to end a marriage. It only takes 1 selfish person. Unfortunately, I believe this attitude comes from the fact that most christians are spineless and they don’t want to confront sin. That is hard. It is much easier to tell the victim that they need to forgive more, love more, put up with more, just take it more. Thus putting all the responsibility for a failed marriage on the victim, and also putting the condemnation on the for the divorce that follows. Why? because it is uncomfortable to call out the abuser/adulterer for their sin and hold them responsible for the consequences of that sin.

    • Nancy on June 18, 2018 at 9:39 am


      “Not because I don’t forgive her, but because one person can’t make another reconcile”

      That right there, is the reason that reconciliation does not always follow forgiveness.

      Forgiveness takes one person. Reconciliation takes two.

      • sheep on June 18, 2018 at 9:53 am

        Nancy, Absolutely. Reconciliation does take two, and that is heavily dependent on repentance of the abuser/adulterer and their being willing to do whatever necessary to make that happen.

        • Nancy on June 18, 2018 at 10:11 am

          And sheep, admitting that reconciliation takes two people is very difficult because it puts us face to face with the fact that we have no control over others and as a result, over the outcome. This is a powerless place.

          This is a scary place….especially for those of us who grew up with abuse.

          • Connie on June 18, 2018 at 11:11 pm

            Thanks for that, sheep. It sure does take 2 to reconcile. God divorced Israel. God is the offended party and He forgives, but there is no reconciliation until the offender repents. Which means totally changing their life and living as God requires. God died for us while we were yet sinners, yet there is no relationship until after repentance.

      • Baumann on June 19, 2018 at 1:16 am

        Well said Nancy!!

    • James on June 19, 2018 at 12:38 am


      Perhaps much of what seems like disagreement here between myself and others is merely a misunderstanding.

      I also have misgivings about extending full forgiveness and reconciliation to anyone who is not genuinely repentant. In your case, it does not appear that your wife is genuinely repentant (which is an understatement given that she won’t even commit to honoring her marriage vows at present). Consequently, you cannot fully forgive her, in my way of thinking. God does not “fully” forgive the unrepentant. In the same way, I don’t think that we can fully forgive and reconcile with someone who isn’t repentant. We can have an attitude of forgiveness, we can desire to extend forgiveness and hope for genuine repentance, we can even extend “judicial” forgiveness but we can’t have genuine “relational” forgiveness until the offending person repents. I do think that once evidence of genuine repentance is shown, then the “relational” aspect of forgiveness is the pledge to refuse to allow the offense to stand in the way of the growth of the relationship.

      I don’t think that the trite, “forgive and forget” is the answer. I do think that genuine forgiveness does the hard work of rebuilding a relationship insofar as one can do so. If the man who wrote in is genuine in his repentance, then refusing to rebuild the relationship leaves them both with the husk of a marriage; a sham, and a mere shadow of what God intends for the covenant of marriage. That is of benefit to no one and robs them both of what God intends for a marriage. In lots of cases where there is no genuine reconciliation, people just end up using one another. Sometimes as partners to raise the kids, sometimes because they need their spouse’s paycheck to pay the bills, sometimes because they get some of their own needs met without having to meet the needs of their spouse. That isn’t what God had in mind for marriage and it certainly doesn’t reflect His desire for a marriage to reflect His own goodness, love, grace, and mercy.

      While this man was steeped in the filth of porn, he was the one making the marriage a sham. That’s on him. If he hasn’t genuinely repented, then it is is still on him. If he’s gone from being addicted to porn to abusing the relationship in other ways, then… “still” on him. But it is possible, though we can’t say for sure, that they have switched roles and now she is the one refusing to work toward restoring health in the marriage. This happens, more often than some may think.

      You are absolutely correct, it takes two willing participants to rebuild a relationship and it is completely unfair but when it comes to forgiveness, the one who is called to forgive has the hardest task. But when we really appreciate that our forgiveness cost Jesus His own life on a bloody cross and the Father the life of His One and Only Son then we commit ourselves to do that work because of the immensity of the sacrifice that paid our debt and the lavishness of the grace shown to us.

      That’s why I don’t think the key to genuine forgiveness is a hyper-attentiveness to the behavior of the offender or even a hyperawareness of the feelings of woundedness in the offended. The key to genuine forgiveness is a genuine awareness of God’s forgiveness and reconciliation towards us. How else are we to forgive seventy times seven? Then, rebuilding trust becomes less about trusting the other person and more about trusting the Lord.

      Lord Bless you.

      • Nancy on June 19, 2018 at 7:37 am

        If I understand James’ explanation then this way of looking at things makes a person’s ‘ability’ to forgive dependant on another’s heart condition ( repentant or non-repentant).

        I believe that our God is a God of freedom. I doubt that He would limit one person’s freedom due to their spouse’s choice.

        Our God sets the captives free. He doesn’t forever bind them to their oppressor ( until the oppressor has a change of heart).

    • caroline on June 22, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Sheep, I am so sorry that this is what you’ve been handed in exchange for marriage vows. Its a tragedy, but I’m glad you have some clarity so that you can make your plans in the light of the truth. May God bless you my brother as you being to separate yourself and your children from arrogance and uncleanness.

      “She has flat out told me that she will not commit to never doing it again.” & ” Then you can throw into the mix, that she acts for all the world like nothing is wrong.”

      Many people make the very same statements your wife has made, only not with words but with their actions. Their words say whatever, but their ACTUAL choices and patterns scream loudly: I’M IN THIS THING FOR ME!

      Over the months, years, and even decades they reserve the right to “relapse” and re-traumatize their spouse at will. They demand not only complete absolution for their transgressions and easy reconciliation with all damaged parties, but also the restoration of a level of respect reserved only for those who have earned it. Incredible really.

  17. caroline on June 18, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    I know I’m entering this discussion rather late, I hope my response will be read. I think the original question from Leslie was this:
    Q. “Friends, when you have found yourself too passive in your relationships and how have you learned to speak up for yourself in a non-aggressive way?”
    Answer: I have overcome my tendency to be passive by renewing my mind with the truth that sets men free.

    While human relationships are very important, our ultimate satisfaction only comes from Christ and knowing WHO WE ARE in the Lord. When our fundamental security is met IN HIM, we can reach out with the vulnerability that leads to intimacy. Only then can we risk losing everything for the sake of living in truth and wholeness.

    When I believed my worth came from being loved and desired by my husband, my attempts at connection with him (both sexually and otherwise) were pathetic, needy, and even obsessive. I was not in a place to risk anything, because securing his desire was LIFE to me. Everything hinged on me being acceptable to him.

    While I am on opposite sides of this issue from the original writer (I was the betrayed and humiliated spouse, and my husband was the porn/sex addict since early childhood) the answer is the very same: Vulnerability. The kind that comes out of a place of intrinsic worth and safety.

    In the face of my own husband’s sexual issues, I did become more “passive” as a way of self protection. My passivity came in the form of both distance and dissociation. We were sexually active, but rarely connected. I learned could be there, but “not really be there”. I could avoid the pain of being rejected by pulling my heart away.

    My learning to “speak up for myself” began with a demand for truth and total transparency. I was rewarded for my risk. He entered recovery and our healing journey began.

    To have a truly intimate marriage both partners have to feel safe being known by the other. And yes, it will take YEARS to rebuild trust like that after sexual betrayal and a lifetime of dysfunction. Its way too important to be a quick fix.

    So, to the husband asking the original question: Yes, you are being Too Passive and self-protective. Ask if there’s more going on, ask if there’s more you can do to create safety. Risk hearing the raw truth of her pain. Risk being brushed off or attacked. Make a fool out of yourself!!

    Killing your hope for total healing is very much like the self-serving, self-soothing of masturbating, you are trying to make sure your desires will not go unmet. Man up and keep risking big my friend.God’s grace is sufficient. He can hold even this.

  18. caroline on June 22, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    James, the very fiber of our culture is pornographic.

    We can not even buy bread and milk at the grocery store checkout without be told by “porn” that women want and indeed even NEED to be treated like garbage.

    I am very sorry if my comment came off as abusive. To me, I was stating a fact of exposure. Perhaps I should have been more obviously inclusive: “…porn has taught US…”

    If you have been able to avoid exposure to pornography and it’s evil stench of perversion, please tell me where you grew up and reside today for I want to move there with my family…

    • caroline on June 22, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      I’m not sure how these ended up way down here!!
      the above was an answer to the rebuke of my ” porn has taught you” statement. Sorry!!

    • James on June 22, 2018 at 4:53 pm


      Thank you for your clarification. Hearing where you were coming from, I retract my comment. I don’t have time to respond in any depth at the moment. I’ll try sometime tomorrow.

      • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:37 pm

        I do not know where your comment was above on people assuming or wondering about your personality and so on.
        I did wonder. I got analytical, wanting to believe the best and wondering what was behind the odd relating pattern that seems to come out here and remain unaddressed when someone tries to point it out and you explain the words away and go into analysis of scripture and theorize. It was wrong of me to go into that mode. I apologize. I dont know you. You clarified that my guess wasn’t accurate. I did that with my husband trying to explain and be compassionate about what was behind things. It was part of my passivity. I wasn’t straightforward. It was wrong of me. I want to be able to discuss and have a real conversation with you – it can seem to go that way but and something ends up odd in your communication – and me going into an analytical mode to try to figure it out goes around the real topic as much as this man in the question above.
        I know what it is to engage in conversation with someone that goes in circles and has odd elements to it. I apologize for not directly pointing that out. I think enough ladies have sought to bring that to your attention. You can either figure it out or not, the ball is in your court. Discussing and more circular conversations, even with what seem like good intentions to you, will not help.
        I am disengaging from you because conversation with you is not fruitful.

        • James on July 1, 2018 at 12:52 am


          I’m not sure what you have apologized for, I didn’t quite get the gist of your post, but rest assured, we are at peace.

          What I did get is that you had hoped in conversation with me to hear more of my story, or perhaps more of my connecting to your (plural) stories.

          There isn’t anything wrong with that desire it’s just not my style for online conversations. I’ll answer any questions you have but I just don’t like to do self disclosure online. Not sure why. I am open with my family and church.

          If you feel the need to disengage with conversation with me, then let us part in peace. 🙂

  19. Autumn on June 23, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    They demand not only complete absolution for their transgressions and easy reconciliation with all damaged parties, but also the restoration of a level of respect reserved only for those who have earned it. Incredible really.

    This is the most profound and true statement I have read in a while. Thanks.

  20. caroline on June 24, 2018 at 3:11 am


  21. Upwealthy on June 24, 2018 at 3:14 am

    Thanks for sharing this helpful and important article.

  22. caroline on June 24, 2018 at 7:00 am

    @ James, that was an awesome word slip, I love it. But my caps really are YELLING JUST EMPHASIS!! .

    I know you were responding to others with your comment, but I can’t help jumping in here with my own short novel. I am really glad you are taking issue with having assumptions made about your life choices, spiritual state, and your overall character and mental stability.

    Grab hold of that humiliated feeling and follow me on this little journey:

    When you come to a forum like this one, that was purposely set up by a Christian woman for other Christian women and men who have been harmed by abusive relationships, you must realize that when you write of “women” or “wives” and what they ought to do in their bedrooms you are addressing actual individuals.

    Real people. Real hearts and real minds and real physical bodies that have actually been violated and damaged for years, if not decades. This is not theoretical pondering.

    When you say five or six years is long enough for “a wife” to get over something, do you realize what you are saying this about a real woman’s body? You have absolutely no idea what her husband considers “sex” or what she has endured in her many years of marriage to him , yet you in essence say “You’ve had your little break you selfish lady…now lay back and be quiet”.

    Is this not presumptuous judgement about someone?

    Someone you actually KNOW to be abused and traumatized because the husband admits his lifelong sexual addiction, and his public exposure? If she’s reading this blog James, you are likely re-traumatizing her along with many others reading along.

    James, there are many layers to sort through with sexual addiction. Men who learned about sex from pornography as small boys often don’t know what healthy, God honoring sex would even look like.

    There are precious faithful Christian women who have been left with STDs, cervical cancer, damage to their eyes & throats, and some can no longer even have normal bowel movements because they practiced perverse conjugal “duties” and so called “biblical submission” with a porn-fed husband? (So sorry if that triggered anybody).

    This is REALLY SERIOUS STUFF (and remember now, I’m yelling all the caps)

    There are many reasons to explain why a grandmother might choose to stay living in her own home, even when, and maybe especially when the rest of her world has been blown apart. There are also many reasons she might agree to her husband staying in the home even though his presence is still a trauma trigger.

    I agree that the timetable for that couple might have seemed odd at first, except that I know “recovery” can mean wildly different things to different addicts. There could have been a hyper bonding period just after discovery, a series of relapses, incremental disclosure that repeatedly broke trust, a recent discovery of new information or consequences…so many things can influence the start-stop-restart recovery pattern.

    I agree that six years is a long time to go with no sex, and yet hoping for it. I feel really sad for this wife because her sex life has been totally destroyed by the very man who once stood before witnesses and pledged everything to her. She will have to do a lot of hard work in order to heal from a wound that was never her fault.

    And there are many other faithful wives on this site who have been ignored, rejected, and humiliated by distant or impotent husbands for years. It is very sad when what God meant for wholeness and healing was used to harm His own children.

    When your views about marriage and sex in marriage are seen as abusive, that’s actually NOT an exaggeration, because you are talking to us. You are following many of us right into our bedrooms with your own character judgement. You are telling me, caroline, to go numb and do my sexual duty, simply because my husband (who was an amazing liar by the way) claims he’s in recovery. Even if my gut says “Wait, something’s not right” I should do it anyway.

    In fact you are even implying I, caroline, don’t embrace the gospel if I can’t have sex with my husband “frequently”. You are asking me to doubt my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and even go against my own conscience and understanding.

    With your misuse of verses you are telling me, caroline, that God designed sex to be an obligatory bodily function and my experience in the ordeal means nothing, only my husband counts.

    James, NO third party observer (read here pastor, counselor, friend, or accountability partner) is in a position to say if a sexually addicted man is “ready” to enter the body of a woman. It is for her to discern if he is trustworthy or not.

    You spoke of women on here “nosing around in your past”, James, you are nosing around in the past present and future of nearly everybody here.

    Sexual healing takes years. Maybe a lifetime. Maybe some of us are so screwed up wont be fully whole again until we see His face. The healing path requires humility, gratitude, courage, self-sacrifice and the laying down ones life for another.

    The sex addict himself has been foolishly attempting for decades to heal his own sexual wounds by acting out in grossly perverse ways, so he is the last person on earth who should expect sexual health from another.

    My husband (who is in recovery BTW) says expecting sex to resume back to “normal” after 2 decades of lying and betrayal would be like sawing my legs off with a chainsaw and then having the gall to complain that I don’t jog with him anymore. Healing takes time and effort. Sexual betrayal harms the partner in the exact place of her sexuality. Her very identity and worth as a female is attacked.

    We are about 5 years out from my husband’s “fullest-full” disclosure and I can tell you making our sex life healthy and God honoring is still a lot of proactive work for both of us. But the Lord is kind and gentle, and He doesn’t carry a stopwatch.

    The real question on here was how did we overcome passivity. That’s was it. How can we overcome passivity, in order to be vulnerable and pursue Godly relationship.

    • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 9:15 am


      Your story is heart breaking yet I can read the glory of restoring that He has done in you. I’m so sorry for what you have been through and the ripples of what are the aftermath of these extremely painful, yet too common marital dynamics.

      I’m thankful that even your husband has the insight & maturity to understand his impact of his betrayals.

      What you wrote I feel highlights to James his inability to see what he’s doing here on this blog, thank you for putting it into words.
      But like I have mentioned, many of us can invite him into seeing & hearing and he might not be reachable.
      (That’s not our responsibility)

      I agree with you that the question should veer back to ‘the Husband writer having a very vulnerable conversation with his wife about where things are, like Leslie originally suggested’.
      Again this is for the Husband to initiate and deal with at where things are to date. It’s in his court & especially by being the Husband role, he is called to sacrifice, serve, and love his wife like he loves himself.
      Note: love himself ‘this is key’ and many have a poor understanding of this especially if they were sexualized young with a skewed understanding and counterfeit intimacy.

      I think far too many men (generally speaking) and yes women too, pastors, etc speak and teach about none of the TRUE consequences of any sexual betrayal. I say any because ‘any’ matters to God and matters to a marriage.

      The very opposite of being vulnerable emotionally or ‘naked and not ashamed’ with your partner is turning away from your partner toward counterfeit intimacy of many kinds, not just sexual.

      To have the focus on 6 years, like James keeps bringing up MISSES the entirety of the offense and even the unfortunate consequences to the marriage.
      This Truly minimizes the husbands part of his long term actions. There ARE long term consequences, but our sexualized culture doesn’t offer that up as a warning.
      Just as there was with the original ‘sin’ in the garden.

      It really bothers me that the focus that James has is the sexless marriage (6years) versus the ‘affection’ that the Husband originally had a complaint about. Besides the affection being a legitimate need, shouldn’t we care more about the hearts and healing of of ‘true knowing’ of these two individuals, rather than the focus on sexual activity?

      Personally, I have experienced my conversation here with James to be a good example of what often can be a destructive dynamic brewing.
      Where one party (James) has different allowances to the conversation, than myself.
      The rules for him are different than the rules for others.
      This type of posture and lens will carry over to many places of discussion such as marital relations.

      Thank you for speaking up and standing up to many of the skewed voices that miss out on God’s kind of intimacy and restoration!
      Again, I’m sorry for your painful experiences and I am encouraged by your strength and wisdom here💜
      Honestly, we need many more voices like yours challenging those that are missing the heart.

      • Connie on June 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

        Thank you, Caroline and Aly, for what you wrote. I was sort of hoping no-one would reply to the very confused post, but your replies were precious.

        I’ve said this before (many months ago) and will say again, that it puzzles me that men who say they are willing to lay down their lives for their own freedom to make their own decisions and live their own lives without England demanding small tea tax, are all too willing to enslave their wives.

        • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 10:23 am


          Thanks for your reply!
          I agree with your comment and the magnitude of it~
          I think is epidemic and not only are wives enslaved but so are the children (sons and daughters) it’s the passing generational sin.
          Some get free, some don’t.

          Those that don’t are strong influencers in our Christian cultures to offer a skewed mindset which can last generations and have such an impact on the health of the church.

          Your comment brings up the ignorance that is passed down and reinforced in the church.

          I have experienced interactions with those men that are very patriotic (fighting and willing to die for our freedoms) and claim to also be very Spiritually based yet their is mis-aligning in what their heart is after.
          Some also have a strong mindset about minimizing their integrity issues because they have fought for ‘our freedoms’. Thinking that God is using a measuring stick or won’t look at that sin because they are fighting for our rights to freedom.

          • many years on June 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm

            Amen to this, Aly. This is so true, and the perversion is astronomical, I do believe it.

        • many years on June 27, 2018 at 4:04 pm

          Yes, Connie, great post, and Aly, amazing input.
          The fact that Christ says for a husband to ‘lay down his life for his wife.’ Not the laying down for sexual perversion and in bed for the sake of, like you said Connie,’their own freedom”. Quite the contrast to what our Lord says for a man to do for his own wife.

          Yes, when the wife comes from a so-called Christian background where the ministers cram it down the throat of the wife that ‘she is to be submissive in EVERYTHING.” They discount the fact of sexual abuse by the husband in a marriage, not holding the sexually abusive husband to be accountable. The submissive wife format has been the scapegoat for so-called ‘godly’ men in Christendom for centuries.

    • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 10:07 am


      I just want to say just how much I appreciate what you wrote here:

      “I agree that the timetable for that couple might have seemed odd at first, except that I know “recovery” can mean wildly different things to different addicts. There could have been a hyper bonding period just after discovery, a series of relapses, incremental disclosure that repeatedly broke trust, a recent discovery of new information or consequences…so many things can influence the start-stop-restart recovery pattern.”

      I have walked alongside several friends who have been victimized in what was to be their ‘safe sacred’ place and marriage commitment.
      Your emphasis above is key ~ although we have taken a turn of sorts from the original question writer, we can’t discount this being a possible huge factor. And I think it is gracious for the writer to gain this perspective, if they have already in their recovery work then so be it.
      But if the recovery work is at this level I’m not sure there would be the same question from the writer? Maybe a different question…

      Personally, those that have a low understanding of the fuller scope of consequences ‘let say of porn or any betrayal’ tend to have a very shallow bandaid to the solutions.

      I’m thankful your husband has been able to see the impact of his behaviors. Some use scripture to minimize the impact. This is not the heart of God nor His way of healing.

      God’s Word is clear about those individuals who cannot take personal responsibility or accountability for their action and their impact.

      • maria on June 24, 2018 at 5:05 pm

        Aly, Caroline & others,

        What if we take the husband at his word and assume he has truly repented? What are your views?

        • caroline on June 26, 2018 at 2:59 am

          Hi Maria—I see no reason to think he hasn’t “repented” from his years of perversion. Likely, he doesn’t grasp the depth and severity of the stab wound his wife received. She’s bleeding out internally, and he’s wondering if he should be adjusting the bandage.

          I already gave my views last week, and that was to be a man and risk rejection for the love of truth. Pursue his wife, make himself vulnerable, enter her suffering. Ask her whats going on inside when he tries to kiss her . Do some research. Ask what he can do to become more worthy of her trust.

          Trust must be established for a marriage relationship to be restored. after betrayal. The worst thing that can happen is that he will get a reply of nothing, which is what he’s getting now

          I think he knows this and that’s why he asked Leslie if he was being too passive. But still, it’s not an easy endeavor to be vulnerable. He needs the Lord’s strength to move forward. For years, porn addicts were ruled by their childish cowardice. Emotional pain and discomfort were avoided at any cost. Even when the sexual acting out stops those ingrained self protections can continue.

          There are three separate but somewhat overlapping recoveries involved with porn/sex addiction in a marriage: The addiction, The spouse’s trauma, and THEN the marriage. If either of the first two are neglected there will hardly be a marriage to repair!

          Tragically, the church focuses on that last one as being the MOST important thing and so we see a lot of shallow behavioral type changes that just wont last. And so the numbers are terrible (97 % relapse rate for the addicts, and 70% risk of ongoing PTSD for the spouse, and a 85-90% divorce rate).

          Talk about depressing.

          • Aly on June 26, 2018 at 9:55 am


            I like your recent post and feel similar to you.

            You gave some stats that are important. And yes, they are depressing. I wonder what the stats are of those in the church that continue to act like this isn’t a bigger problem or avoid theses consequences all together?

            I think James’ stance is similar to the notion that once the behavior stops, then all is fixed! I have seen this over and over and applied to many places in life.

            I think this is why we have women and yes men too who are SO confused with the horrible marriage they are in living with a professing Christian! Great confusion!

            James said he was into porn, adultery etc prior marriage and turned away from it.
            This is great news, however the stats show that turning away are one thing, there must be recovery long term to treat the character issues that often contributed to the acting out in the first place.
            A person unwilling to do the recovery work, is often this way because they want and have the ingrained patterns with the ‘quick fix’ addict like reasoning skills.

            Similar to that of a physical abuser, they think that all is resolved because they no longer throw their fists around. But did they ever get into the depth of that anger or the underlying issue with why they act this way?

            I agree with you strongly here on your points and also why I think we have a much bigger problem within the church especially with the danger of pastors are counseling from such a narrow place or understanding.

            You wrote:
            “Even when the sexual acting out has stopped those ingrained self protections can continue.”

            So key for many addictions across the board!!
            Those ingrained protections are essential to getting healed and often this doesn’t take place for those who want to see recovery ‘in their own thinking habits and beliefs’.

            These beliefs and thinking patterns are revealed in many areas of life. Even taking a sensitive issue, I find that you can see the double standards quickly and you can see the incongruities in what someone tries to say, yet lashes out as if it’s acceptable. This is a heart untreated in my opinion. And we are to look for the fruit.

            I see it similar to an alcoholic: where just stopping the alcohol or for the integrity issues..isolating yourself from (tv, internet, other temptations)
            Only brings the behavior to a hault. It doesn’t treat the inside behaviors of character and development.

            This is why those ingrained beliefs are so critical and can really Color our lenses on many things especially how we interpret and study scripture.

            Thanks for being such an important voice on this journey and very serious injury to many!

          • Leslie Vernick on June 26, 2018 at 7:11 pm

            Agreed. Thanks.

          • Nancy on June 26, 2018 at 1:48 pm

            Hi Caroline, Aly and James,

            “Porn addicts were ruled by their childish cowardice. Emotional pain was avoided at any cost. Even when the sexual ‘acting out’ has stopped, self-protections can continue.”

            We can repent and be made new in His eyes, but we still have to walk out the sanctification process here on earth. That takes the active opening up to those deeper ‘self – protective’ mechanisms, which takes years of counselling / treatment.

            That ‘walking out’ of those self-protective mechanisms is what I have invited you into, James.

            It’s true that I don’t know you as an individual. But I have dealt with an awful lot of defended individuals. In fact, being in relationship with defended individuals is the very thing that has brought most of us here, to this blog.

            Collectively, you could call us ‘experts’ at recognizing a defended individual. Your sisters are telling you something James. You would be foolish to not heed the warnings.

        • Autumn on June 26, 2018 at 5:23 am

          Maria, I like your question. Even if the husband has repented, he still has to suffer the consequences of his past. Once you kill something (trust, purity, fidelity) it is dead. It can’t be undone. Ok, he is acting out any more, but he still did the crime and has to do the time. Logically, he can never get what he wants, because he ruined it with his own hands. Why he tries to blame anyone but himself is beyond me!

    • James on June 24, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      There are a number of straw men arguments present in your most recent reply to me. Many of the misogynistic words that you put into my mouth and then rebuke me for saying I would also rebuke. Let me give you an example.
      “yet you in essence say “You’ve had your little break you selfish lady…now lay back and be quiet”.
      I’ve never said anything close to this, I would NEVER say anything like this because I don’t believe anything close to this is appropriate for any marriage, let alone a marriage with one spouse in recovery from pornography addiction.
      And there many things in your most recent post like this; assumption that you make about my opinions or words that you put into my mouth that I would never say and then proceed to argue how horrifying those things are.
      I agree. Some of what you have me saying is horrifying, the problem is that I’m not ACTUALLY saying those things.
      Please permit me to correct a few of the misconceptions you have about my opinion.
      1.. I’m not for telling women that they need to allow their husbands to violate and damage them. I AM AGAINST THAT! If a woman is being “used” sexually without any deference to her physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and without concern for her cares and desires, then I AM AGAINST THAT AND WOMEN SHOULDN”T STAND FOR IT! If a man is asking his wife to do anything that is hurtful, harmful sinful or degrading then, I AM AGAINST THAT! 1 Cor 7:1-5 doesn’t just speak to men, it speaks to both men and women and wives aren’t obligated to indulge the perverted fantasies of their husbands in the name of 1 Cor 7, I AM TOTALLY AGAINST THAT! I am for both spouses working toward a mutually satisfying sexual relationship, not one spouse sitting on hold, perhaps forever, while the other sits in avoidance, perhaps forever.
      2. I am against fornication and adultery (which is how someone would contract a STD and then pass it along to their wife, creating issues of cervical cancer and the like. Let’s be both fair and clear, when you make these points, you aren’t talking about pornography anymore.)
      3. I agree that this is all “REALLY SERIOUS STUFF” Both lust and adultery are serious but they are different kinds of serious with very different consequences (physically) so I don’t think it is fair for you to conflate the two and then rebuke me for being soft on a topic I’ve not even addressed.
      4. I don’t disagree that this man destroyed his sex life and his wife’s.
      5. I don’t disagree that it is incredibly awful for a wife when a man becomes impotent because of his pornography addiction.
      6. I don’t disagree that these aren’t purely theoretical issues and that there are real people struggling with these real problems. I also happen to believe that the bible was written to real people with real problems and that the words given happen to still address real people with real problems. I also believe that when we politely excuse the bible as being inapplicable on a topic it addresses directly we end up trusting in man’s wisdom rather than God’s and I just don’t think that works out well.
      Here is where we may or may not disagree.
      1. I don’t think that 1 Cor 7 presents an abusive view of marriage precisely because it mandates a MUTUALLY satisfying sexual relationship, not one person using another, and so I reject the notion that working towards this is perpetuating abuse or “re-tramatizing” women (or men). Nor do I think that the first step is jumping between the sheets as if nothing ever happened. I think that a fully restored and reconciled sexual relationship is something both should be actively and prayerfully working toward and that will likely involve a great deal of rebuilding trust with the addict relearning what God honoring sex looks like and the spouse recommitting to trusting God knowing that He can do through him or her what he or she cannot do on their own. I also don’t think you solve one breach of God’s will for marriage by creating another.

      2. I don’t agree that it is up to a woman alone to dictate the terms of restoring a marriage bed, I think the Lord has a lot to say about it and His opinion is the one that matters most. I also think that God can be trusted and therefore His word can be trusted and we need not fear when we step out in obedience.
      3. I don’t agree with your husband’s analogy. While I honor his commitment to recovery and your willingness to walk with him through it, and while I think it pretty graphically portrays the cost and damage that the betrayal of pornography can have on a relationship, there is one Person who is absent from the analogy.

      A more suitable analogy would be this, in my opinion. Your husband humbly asking you to prayerfully pursue the restoration of physical intimacy and allowing him back into your bed after his betrayal of you requires much, much less of you than YOU asking the Father of a perfect and innocent, only Son, Who was beaten and bloodied and then nailed to a cross to die an excruciating death, with HIS blood on YOUR hands BECAUSE OF YOUR BETRAYALS, to be reconciled to you spiritually and allow you into His home, to love you lavishly like a precious daughter.

      But isn’t that what He did?

      Forgiveness is NEVER fair. Forgiveness ALWAYS comes at a higher price than we think we can bear. But our hearts are softened toward one another, I think, by the gospel that reminds us again and again that God’s forgiveness of us was the least fair and our reconciliation with Him came at the highest price. And I just don’t think we get to pretend that God’s forgiveness of us isn’t part of the equation.

      In any event, I hope that I have clarified some things.I truly hope that the Lord continues to bless you in your marriage, our husband in his recovery and that you will enjoy the richest blessings in Christ.

      Peace be with you.

    • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      Well spoken Caroline.

  23. Aly on June 24, 2018 at 5:30 pm


    I hope I understand your question clearly.
    I am taking this man at his word while also holding room in the event he and I possibly have different definitions of recovery. (This info in the post is limited)
    I take him at his word that he has repented and taken responsibility to repair his marriage as best as he is capable.
    The reality or long term circumstances of his past behavior/choices could be that certain aspects are not fully healed or reconciled and it might take a lifetime.
    To me: This isn’t a reflection of forgiveness or any unforgiveness on the wife’s part. That is for her to determine as they work through recovery with the Lord.

    Some of the natural consequences to what they have endured from those admitted betrayals could very well be that affection isn’t where he would like his marriage to be.

    I think Leslie’s gave really great directives to him to take action on. I think he has plenty of steps to take in getting answers and seeing what is available for repair.

    I think this concept is similar to trust. It takes a long time to build and secure trust, and only can take a second to lose trust based on decisions or choices we make.
    None of us like this reality but it’s why trust is so valuable in the first place.

  24. maria on June 24, 2018 at 6:53 pm


    Today my pastor talked about repentance. It’s not just apologizing and asking for forgiveness from the one who was sinned against. It’s a total heart change, 180 deg change. Recovering from addiction is a lifetime journey. The guy who asked the question has probably lived a Iife of lies to keep his addiction going. I agree that re-building trust takes time. She may forgive him, but what if she has trust issues to begin with. Reconciliation is going to be long journey. I think we agree on this.

    I was thinking today, if my husband were to repent (which is highly unlikely), would I be willing to reconcile? I think many of us here would be overjoyed if our spouses repented. But what if the wronged spouse is out to get revenge on her husband? What is this guy to do?

    • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 7:28 pm


      Yes I think we see the long term process here and lifelong rebuilding.
      From my situation, my husband married me and vowed to commit to our marriage yet he chose to not offer his heart for many many years in our marriage and by having this posture it quickly escalated to a destructive marriage.
      He repented, in ways many times. He then realized with lots of intervention he didn’t have ‘an accurate understanding of repentance and reconciliation. He also realized just how much he was loved by God, myself and man others ~ something he was blocked by (pride, stubbornness, fear and plenty of attachment issues)

      When he authentically received Christ’s love and grace for his heart he was able to ‘authentically repent’ toward me and all he had stolen from me and our marital vows. All of the Impacts toward others in our life and especially our precious children.
      He understood it would be a long time of rebuilding and repairing. His posture was ~ what ever it takes, whatever I need, for how ever long even if I ended up choosing to structurally separate & legally separate for the safety and well being of our children and my own. He understood at a head and heart level that his abandonment of the marriage was not just against me but against God. He understood that his continue resistance to wisdom and truth has consequences.
      He understood that his repentence offered up a path that was life transforming and he was chasing after God in such a way that healed his heart beyond words.
      Regardless if the marriage was restored I was overjoyed for his journey and his intimacy with God. This was such a huge praise and one that just continued to reveal the mystery’s of the Lord.

      There were plenty of other factors that contributed to his push back from all those years of saying he was committed to being married yet ~ it was on his terms and the way had defined marriage not the way God does.

      • maria on June 24, 2018 at 7:57 pm


        Your husband was wise and humble to accept correction. And to truly repent- he was willing to do whatever it took, however long. You are a strong lady – walking through this journey with him must not have been easy.

        • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 10:01 pm


          Your words are kind;) the Lord gave me so much support for strength. So yes, it was not easy but it was only with Him and his supporters.
          I was willing to also do what aligned with the lessons in marriage I was learning~ not those ones that are a bit dysfunctional from generational patterns. I had to look at that head on and repent of my own part.

          It was hard to accept that I could have a hard-hearted partner and a Godly marriage wouldn’t ever actually Be nor could it be with only one partner participating.

          The more I studied God’s Word and counsel about marriage, and even His divorce ..,the more I fell into his arms and released my counterfeit marriage, as I knew it.

          I truly wanted to offer and love my husband with true love and true surrender. I wanted to know that I offered everything the Lord had given to me, so that I could Love him well as his
          Ezer, regardless of the outcome.

    • Aly on June 24, 2018 at 8:16 pm


      You wrote:
      “But what if the wronged spouse is out to get revenge on her husband? What is this guy to do?”

      I don’t think any of us as Christians would desire revenge as we know that’s not our business.
      In the event the wife is revengeful ~ not that any of us could know… then I think the husband has another track to walk and continue to seek the Lord and wise counsel as to how to confront the revenge.
      Maybe the outcome of the marriage is legally dissolved? Maybe the marriage gets restored?

    • James on June 24, 2018 at 8:24 pm


      I can’t find your question but I was much, much worse than you think. Before knowing Christ I was not only into pornography, I was an adulterer and a fornicator.

      There is a LOT I was forgiven of and delivered from.

      • maria on June 24, 2018 at 10:06 pm


        Thanks for your honesty. I can see why you empathize with this man. Did you become a Christian after marriage? What steps did you take to stop viewing porn etc? Do you still struggle with it? What steps did you take to reconcile with your wife?

        The ladies on this blog have been violated in many ways. Many have husbands who have fooled clergy into believing they have repented. Then wives are viewed as unforgiving. Please understand that it is extremely hurtful to tell a person who has suffered so much that unless they reconcile, they have not forgiven.

        Also, your argument that reconciliation must happen for true forgiveness in a convenant relationship allows spouses to engage in sin knowing that they’ll get away with it. And I repeat, why does this principle apply only to covenant relationships?

        • James on June 24, 2018 at 11:07 pm

          No, I came to Christ before marriage. I did not have an affair as a married man, I was the affair for a married woman. After the Lord saved me, I moved in with a Christian brother. We intentionally had no internet, no access to pornographic temptations. I married 3 years later to my now amazing wife. I’ve not used pornography in almost 20 years.

          If a husband is lying to his wife and to the clergy, then he hasn’t repented.

          I understand that it can be difficult to hear that we must forgive in the same manner that God forgives us, but I can’t pretend that the bible doesn’t tell us just that.

          Again, there are a myriad of emotionally based arguments for why we shouldn’t accept what the bible teaches on this. Nevertheless, I will stand on the word of God. Incidentally, I have heard a myriad of emotionally based arguments for why we should abandon what the bible says about a number of things.

          Maria, do you realize you could make the same argument you are making here to argue against the sanctity of life, the fixed nature of gender and marriage being between a man and a woman?

          I’ve been told, I don’t know how many times, that I am being hurtful for saying that gay marriage is wrong, hurtful for saying that mother’s shouldn’t abort their babies, hurtful for saying that a boy who feels like a girl is really just a troubled boy.

          I’m not arguing that you embrace any of these arguments, but I am saying that when you encounter these emotionally based arguments literally everyday, multiple times a day, you either becoming more committed to seeing the world through the lenses of scripture or you being to slowly capitulate.

          So, unless someone can tell me, from the bible, why I shouldn’t believe that reconciliation follows forgiveness like it does with God’s forgiveness of us, then I don’t have sufficient reason to change my views.

          I can imagine that many who heard Jesus tell His disciples that they must forgive 70 times 7 thought the same, “Ah, that just gives insincere people a reason to take advantage of Christians.”

          But a person who has genuinely repented isn’t looking to take advantage of their brother and a genuinely repentant husband isn’t looking to take advantage of their wife. I am arguing for forgiveness and reconciliation to be extend to the genuinely repentant, not to fakers.

          So why covenant relationships? Because those are the ones that God has joined together either through matrimony, familial bond or the body of Christ.

          I must forgive my brother and be reconciled to the nature of genuine brotherhood in Christ because we were both reconciled to God through Christ.

          I must forgive my children or parents because God has commanded that I not exasperate my children and that I must honor my father and mother.

          I must forgive my spouse because the bible says, “what God has joined together, let no man separate.” And because I vowed, “til death do us part.”

          If nobody really means it then nobody ought to say it.

          • maria on June 25, 2018 at 4:38 am

            So the big question is whether the offending spouse has repented or not. The person most qualified to make that judgement is the spouse who’s living and interacting with him on a daily basis. And for reconciliation to take place, trust has to be rebuilt.

            I still disagree that forgiveness and reconciliation have different rules when it comes to covenant relationships. I don’t see that in the Bible.

          • Landa on June 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm


            I appreciate your willingness to keep discussing this very difficult, very sensitive issue especially since you are in the position to take what you learn here and help others. I have looked for help for years now, and I can tell you it just isn’t there. I have read, and I believe that many marriages consist of two people with general good will towards each other and traditional counseling and methods do apply most of the time. This is a blog for atypical marriages where all of that has been tried and for one reason or another they simply are not working. We are trying to learn what we can do differently because our situations are different.

            I hear your frustration with the forgiveness/reconciliation conversation, and I would like to try to help. I think we are trying to say the same thing. Forgiveness is absolutely necessary for reconciliation, but it only opens the door for reconciliation to happen. I can forgive, but I cannot reconcile a relationship if all the responsibility is all on me (which it usually is because I am the one leary of moving forward too quickly). We have been through the repent/forgive/reconcile cycle repeatedly with disastrous results. The last one being that he attempted marital rape based on the scripture you are using to bolster your position.

            I think the main thing that has triggered many people who have come to this blog looking for help (and they may come to you for help as well) is the ‘demand’ for reconciliation. That immediately throws up a red flag for me that his repentance is probably not genuine and I am being manipulated right now. When counselors agree and ‘force’ me to reconcile because I say I have forgiven, they are enabling his manipulative behavior to continue. I believe that most of your clients are of the typical variety, but I hope you are learning to spot the atypical ones because the approach does need to be a little different.

            Yes, we all need to ask ourselves if our own hearts are genuine all the time, but I have had to learn to be wise in discerning whether my husband’s heart is genuine as well. There are tell-tale signs even without continued pornography useage. Number one being that my concerns are never valid, and reconciliaton is coerced.

            This is hard. Thank you for not giving up.


          • James on June 26, 2018 at 4:48 pm


            First off. Let me say that I am so very sorry to hear about your husband trying to FORCE you to be intimate with him based on scripture. It shouldn’t need to be said, but that behavior is 100% opposite of what the passage means.

            Thank you also for the irenic tone of your response. You are absolutely right that forgiveness is essential for reconciliation. You are also right that reconciliation cannot happen unilaterally (ultimately I would argue that the fullness of forgiveness can’t happen unilaterally either but that’s somewhat tangential).

            I certainly don’t believe that reconciliation can happen if repentance is not genuine (our reconciliation with God is not based on fake repentance). I also don’t believe that one spouse has all the burden to reconcile.

            In your situation, it sounds as if your husband is using the language of repentance but you don’t believe he is being genuinely repentant (and based on his attempt to force himself upon you, I would concur). If that is the case then I think there is good cause for you to be cautious and to communicate with whoever is helping the two of you.

            Nevertheless, I don’t happen to think, based on the very limited information given, that the gentleman who wrote Leslie is faking it. From what he shared, I think he is pretty genuine in his desire to move forward in a healthy way.

            I could be wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time, and probably won’t be the last.

            More importantly, however.

            What you shared is of particular concern to me. As a pastor, I absolutely would not tolerate a man physically forcing himself upon his wife for any reason whatsoever. That’s unbiblical, unconscionable and criminal. Can I ask what steps you have taken to ensure you have taken to ensure your own safety?

            It is very, very important that you not allow yourself to be in an unsafe environment.

          • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:43 pm

            Your vulnerability and story helped.
            It seems there is something personal behind what you are trying to share, thank you for getting there so we can hear you. It is more real.
            I said above I was disengaging from circular conversation.
            Since I am hearing a different tone here let me just say I appreciate that.

  25. Aly on June 25, 2018 at 10:47 am


    Let’s take a moment to look deeper at trust.
    It seems to me when I read comments like James is posting that he is equating forgiveness to me trust.
    I think you and I run similar tracks of agreement? But I’m hoping to clarify the difference and why it’s ‘ESSENTIAL’ to look at the Entirety of God’s Word. Not narrowness on these topics.
    (I don’t think you are by the way)

    Ok, so trust:
    James wrote:
    “I must forgive my children or parents because God has commanded that I not exasperate my children and that I must honor my father and mother.”

    Forgiveness I agree with but, forgiveness doesn’t equal trust or a reconciled trusting relationship. There is a big difference.

    For example, let’s say my father is a terrible driver and has a driving history or being rather aggressive or has many violations. Yet, my father begs for my trust and my child for an outing.
    I choose to let him take my child in his car and there is an accident (my child is forever injured and the result of many injuries from the car accident are going to take away his future freedoms)
    My father is found guilty by his actions in driving.
    Do I forgive my father? Yes, because forgive is a process between me and God.
    Do I put my other child in his car or the same child in his car?
    No, because my father’s actions taught me that he is not trust worthy of that kind of responsibility.
    I can offer full forgiveness and not offer full trust.

    One thing that tends to be a common pattern amongst certain addicts or those who desire quick fixes& quick reconciled standings. They like the idea that repentance is instant but don’t realize that recovery is lifetime and a full character growth journey.

    I think another question or word to be defined would be reconciliation and what does that truly represent.

    Forgiveness not equally trust is not an emotionally based argument. So I disagree highly with James in this reference. This is a clear misinterpretation of the biblical truths that we see all through scripture. Let’s offer the whole word of God, not sections that seem convenient.

    • Seeing The Light on June 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm


      Your comment to Maria here is very good. I would add to your example with your father wanting to drive the child somewhere that you are completely justified in refusing his request based on his previous record, “For example, let’s say my father is a terrible driver and has a driving history or being rather aggressive or has many violations. Yet, my father begs for my trust and my child for an outing.” You can say no at this point and still be honoring him in obedience to God before the accident happens in the first place. If that causes a rift in the relationship, it is his responsibility, not yours.

    • Barbara B on June 25, 2018 at 12:51 pm

      Maria and Aly, I completely agree that there are some major concerns with James’ approach to scripture. Not just knowing the Bible, but accurately handling the word of truth, is something God tells every believer to do. There’s a big difference between scripture interpretation and application. James is not making that distinction in his arguments supporting his views. Also, I wonder why he thinks it’s important and valid to recognize a man’s emotional needs (men need sex for emotional validation), but it’s not important to recognize the emotional damage done to a wife by false accusations of lack of forgiveness. Maria, you wrote:
      “Please understand that it is extremely hurtful to tell a person who has suffered so much that unless they reconcile, they have not forgiven.”
      You could change the wording to say “extremely sinful.” Both are true – it is hurtful and sinful to falsely accuse someone.

      • maria on June 25, 2018 at 3:14 pm

        I think James is very sincere in his belief that if someone truly repents, the offended party has forgiven only if they have reconciled (in covenant relationships- marriage, family or body of Christ). I think he feels he is just the messenger. There is an element of truth here- if someone wrongs me and truly repents, and rebuilds trust, if I am not open to reconciliation, I truly need to examine myself. I don’t know too many people who would not want to forgive and reconcile in such a situation. In my opinion, reconciliation does not happen because the offending party has not repented and done what it takes to rebuild trust. That does not mean the offended party has not forgiven and will not be forgiven by God. I do not agree with how James has drawn conclusions from the Bible about forgiveness, reconciliation and covenant relationships. I am not the Holy Spirit. It’s not my job to convict him. If I am wrong with my interpretation, I am open to the Holy Spirit to change my convictions. I hope James is too.

        Life is messy, it is not black and white. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a bunch of rules for life-, if A then B, Do A, B,C in situation X and not Y, then …. When a manipulative person wants the benefit of a relationship, they will go to great lengths to prove that they have repented. Even when a sincere person is on a path of repentance, it’s a long journey, it takes time. We are sinners so the wounded party may have past hurts that need to be healed before repentance etc etc. Ultimately it’s about relationship, our relationship with God and others not a set of rules.

        I am sure women will hear this interpretation from fellow church members, pastors, so I think it is good that James is allowed to interact here.

        • Ruth on June 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm

          Well said Maria. And like Caroline said a day or 2 ago when it comes to healing God doesn’t carry a stopwatch.

      • James on June 26, 2018 at 12:05 pm


        If you would like to provide alternative interpretations to any of the scriptural points I have made, please feel free.

        Respectfully, it is pretty easy to be critical of my approach to scripture when no one is willing to provide any explanations as to why my interpretations are flawed or what the right interpretation may be.

        Anyone can criticize, but in the absence of any reasonable alternatives, I’ll stick with my best and most honest attempt to understand the passages I’ve cited.

        • Barbara B on June 26, 2018 at 2:41 pm

          Certainly, I’d be happy to do that and I’m sure there are others who would as well. May I remind you that we don’t debate doctrine or exegesis on this blog. I’m sure neither of us want to disrespect the other guests here by rudely intruding on the topic of conversation already chosen for this week, encouraging a passive husband. Therefore, let me know when you have joined Leslie’s appropriate venue for your alternative discussion and I’ll be happy to converse with you there.

          • James on June 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm

            May I remind you that we don’t debate doctrine or exegesis on this blog.

            Sure you do. Your comments here are essentially exegetical debate.

            “There’s a big difference between scripture interpretation and application. James is not making that distinction in his arguments supporting his views.”

            These are exegetical points.

            What you probably mean to say is that some people are welcomed to assert exegetical points on this blog and others aren’t.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 26, 2018 at 7:09 pm

            James, just like you don’t like people putting words in your mouth or ascribing bad motives to your posts, please notice that you also do it yourself. “What you probably mean…..” How do you know what she means?

          • James on June 27, 2018 at 11:12 am


            Thank you for your correction. That post was worded rather poorly.

            Barbara B, please forgive me for my poorly worded reply.

          • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:47 pm

            The Pharisees and teachers of the law debated exegetical points all the time and were way off base because they missed the heart and spirit of the law.

            I myself got myself into trouble by passively applying verses about submission and winning a husband without words and so on and so forth. This was part of my passivity. I have learned that if I am not real and relational and seeking the Lord for direction like when to speak and when to be silent, that all the exegesis in the world can’t help me and can actually harm me and those I love.

            It becomes a Christian legalism instead of a Mosaic one.

  26. Connie on June 25, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    The bit about the covenant relationship being different than others doesn’t really jive. If a man or woman injures their spouse’s or child’s body, they should expect to spend some time in prison, not matter how much they repent. (no sex there!) Repentance just does not do away with the consequences on earth, just the consequences of going to hell. Anything beyond that is a privilege, if the offended party feels safe and extends grace and mercy. As much as God truly does extend grace and mercy when He forgives, I doubt that He would commission a former pedophile to children’s ministry. Maybe, but only after a long time of being under mentors who have the gift of discernment and continue with strict accountability. I would think it more likely that he would have a ministry with other x pedophiles. And I would not expect a child who’d been molested by him to sit under his teaching.

  27. caroline on June 26, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Connie I so agree with this statement: ” Repentance just does not do away with the consequences on earth, just the consequences of going to hell.”

    When we sin against our brother, we do not get to decide how, when, or IF they will “get over it” . We also don’t get to choose how badly they are damaged by our harm. Our control over our victims situation ends with our choice to sin and then repent.

    Being in a closer relationship (such as marriage) to our offender doesn’t lessen the harm, it multiplies it.

    While true repentance will often encourage healing for others, it won’t ever fully UNDO the harm that was caused. There will often be great losses to endure. Even after healing, the scars remain. They are part of our stories.

    Historically, victims have often been silenced, even unto death, because the despised consequences (the very presence of the wounded) are too painful a reminder of sin.

    • James on June 27, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Caroline and Connie,

      Given your (Caroline’s) recent recommendation of an article by Luke Gilkerson, and your (Connie) most recent post about using 1 Cor 7 to limit celibacy as “spiritual abuse” I wonder if you (both ladies) would characterize the following advice as spiritually abusive?

      • Connie on June 27, 2018 at 9:14 pm

        not what I said. at. all.

  28. Autumn on June 26, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Maria, I like your question. Even if the husband has repented, he still has to suffer the consequences of his past. Once you kill something (trust, purity, fidelity) it is dead. It can’t be undone. Ok, he is acting out any more, but he still did the crime and has to do the time. Logically, he can never get what he wants, because he ruined it with his own hands. Why he tries to blame anyone but himself is beyond me!

    • Leslie Vernick on June 26, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Well, I’d like to chime in here a bit. I’m not responding to any one person’s comments, but the general discussion. Some of you are saying that once trust has been killed in a relationship it can never be restored. That is just the consequence of one’s sin. And for some women or men, that may be true. That’s why I think it’s important that in this particular man’s situation, if his wife is unable to ever trust him to the point of reengaging in the marital relationship – not just sexually but personally, then it would be helpful for him to know that so that he knows what reality he lives in too. However Jame’s insistence that true forgiveness always begets reconciliation is also a bit legalistic. Jesus said to his abusers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” So did those abusers end up in Heaven or Hell? Jesus forgave, but reconciliation of the relationship did not happen. Another example is the two thieves on the cross. One showed repentance, the other did not. Jesus forgave the one and did offer reconciliation and said “today you will be with me in Heaven.” The apostle Paul lost faith in John Mark (Acts 15) when he deserted him and Barnabas on a missionary journey. Their relationship was fractured. Barnabas wanted to forgive and reconcile, Paul did not. They debated about it so much that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. But we see later on in Timothy I think, Paul calls for John Mark to come to him, so somewhere, Paul’s trust was restored and they were reconciled. I’m concerned that James seems a bit rigid in his interpretation of this issue uniquely different in marriage relationships. When the covenant has been repeatedly broken – through sexual sin or other repetitive and major offenses, forgiveness can be offered but reconciliation of the “marriage” as a “Marriage” may not be possible. It’s sort of like if my father molested my child, his relationship as a Grandfather would be forever altered by his behavior. I would forgive him but his privilege as a grandfather to have contact with my child would be forever different. I might even personally “reconcile” with him as a daughter – helping him, honoring him as I could, but I still would not give him access to my child. That relationship has been ruined by sin. So in this particular blog question, I believe that the man showed a long history of sexual purity and humility – willingness to be patient, willing to do his own work, willing to rebuild the marital trust (from what he said). Yet he also revealed some elements of demandingness and entitlement which yanked many of your red flag buttons. I believe my words to him were sound. A discussion – open and honest with his wife is in order. If she doesn’t feel able or willing to rebuild their relationship she needs to let him know. To mandate she MUST I believe is beyond what any of us can require of her – and I think you are off here James.

      • James on June 27, 2018 at 2:04 pm

        Your last response left me wondering what objective standard you would use to determine which men and women ought to reconcile and which men and women should feel no obligation to do so.
        My hunch is, there isn’t an objective standard. Rather, in this situation, you appear to base your assessment on whether the wife feels able to trust her husband. If she feels capable of trusting him to the point of re-engaging the marital relationship, then reconciliation can occur and if she does not feel capable of trusting him to the point of re-engaging the marital relationship then reconciliation does not occur and she should feel no compulsion either way. He is left to choose between divorce or perpetually living in what you will later characterize as a marriage that isn’t quite a “marriage.”

        There are a couple of things I find problematic with that approach.
        First, this appears to assume that the most important element in a marriage relationship is trust between one another. That’s a pretty common perspective in therapeutic circles but it does not consider the possibility that actually, the most important element in a marriage is not trust between spouses but each spouse’s individual trust in the Lord. When most take marriage vows, they don’t say that they promise to have and to hold, love honor and cherish, etc… for as long as they both feel trust one another. Most people say, before God, that the will “have and hold, love honor and cherish” for as long as they both shall live. Those marriage vows are, by and large, a reflection of the biblical commitments that couples traditionally make to one another in marriage. It isn’t surprising that this couple will probably have to rely on trusting the Lord to make any traction on moving toward one another rather than sitting back and waiting for the other spouse to become “trustworthy enough” (using some vague standard) to be reconciled in their marriage.

        Respectfully, I don’t think your approach is biblically based. I think it is therapeutically based. In other words, I think you determine what is appropriate based on a (mostly) secular therapeutic model which elevates the subjective emotions of the client rather than based on a biblical model which elevates responsible scriptural interpretation above the subjection emotions of the client. This likely reflects the emphasis of your training.

        It is true that you appropriate biblical texts to the extent that they can be construed to support your therapeutic conclusions. Sometimes this is rather congruous because the two are roughly harmonious in some instances but there are instances in which they become glaringly inconsistent and here is one of those instances.

        The three examples you provide illustrate.

        In your treatment of Luke 23 you omit the fact that verse 24 (from which you get the substance of your point) is a textual variant. If you look at the footnotes of your bible you will probably find something akin to the following: “Some early manuscripts do not have this sentence.” So you may well be basing your argument on something Jesus didn’t actually say. Additionally, even if these are authentically, Jesus’ words, there is no need to take them as you do, suggesting that Jesus is asking His Father to forgive the sins of the unrepentant for which they will later be condemned and sent to hell, presumably for sins that you claim Jesus forgave. Now you have people suffering in hell for forgiven sins when the bible is clear the hell is the just punishment for sin. That’s a theological mess. Rather, it makes more sense, both in terms of biblical theology and systematic theology, to conclude that if Jesus actually said these words then Jesus is urging His Father to forgive those who repent, which then is harmonious with His ubiquitous message to “repent, for the King of God is at hand”, and is also consistent with the gospel message He will send His disciples to preach, “repent and be baptized… for the forgiveness of your sins.” So even here we have forgiveness both as a prerequisite to reconciliation and inevitably leading to reconciliation.

        You then speak of the thief on the cross which actually undermines your point because the thief on the cross who repented was both forgiven and fully reconciled and the thief who did not was neither forgiven nor reconciled. Again, repentance leading to forgiveness and forgiveness leading to reconciliation.
        Then you bring up Paul and Barnabas where there was a fractured relationship based on difference of opinion on the wisdom of including John Mark. Here you attempt to interpret didactic truths like those we see in passages like Col 3:13 in light of narrative passages rather than what basic biblical interpretive principles teach which is to do the opposite, interpret the narrative in light of the didactic. For all we know either Paul or Barnabas or both were falling short of what the Holy Spirit had revealed to them to share with the church and Timothy’s reunion with Paul was an example of Paul following His own advice. It is also noteworthy that nowhere in scripture does the Lord say that there were any sins that needed to be forgiven, for all we know there was just a sharp division in what would have been appropriate for the journey. If Paul doesn’t think that John is up to the task, he can’t do what God is calling him to do with someone who is only half committed to the mission as a traveling companion. That’s not an issue of sin, forgiveness and reconciliation, it is a judgement call on who should wisely be included or discluded on an important mission trip.
        In any event, the biggest and most glaring problem with this example is that Paul, John, and Barnabas were not united in a marriage covenant where they promised, “Till death do us part.”

        Leslie, you claimed that you saw my approach as somewhat legalistic. I think you and I define that term very differently. Legalism is one of two things from a theological perspective.
        1. Claiming that any aspect of our salvation is based on works. If we claim that we earn our justification, our sanctification or our glorification based on our works rather than on God’s work then we are guilty of legalism.
        2. Claiming that obedience to a man-made law is essential or claiming the perpetuity of a law that God has clearly abrogated in Christ is essential is legalism. For example, claiming not only that you can’t work on the Sabbath but you can’t heal on the Sabbath either, is legalism. Or claiming that a gentile man must be circumcised is legalism.

        Saying that a clear scriptural truth applies to everyone regardless of how we might react emotionally to that scriptural truth isn’t legalistic. The Bible calls us to some pretty hard things, saying that we ought to do them even if they are hard isn’t legalism, in my opinion.

        Lastly, you bring up a grandfather who molests a child. First, what an awful thing to have to endure and I would wish that on no one. But I think, in some sense, the comparison falls short because a mother’s act of forgiveness cannot and does not require her to sacrifice the safety of her children nor does it negate civil consequences of criminal actions.

        Now I am sure that some will completely misrepresent my words and claim that I am using the bible to force this woman to shut off her emotions and her heart and jump into bed with her husband. I’ve grown weary of trying to disabuse some of that misinterpretation of my opinion. Rather, what I am suggesting is that the wife be urged to consider why she has such an aversion to intimacy, helping her to recognize that the current marriage is completely inconsistent with what the bible says ought be true of a marriage and urging her to work toward a MUTUALLY fulfilling sexual relationship with her husband. This isn’t asking her to place herself in further harm, it is urging her to move toward healing rather than staying stuck where she is.

        Thank you for your willingness to dialog.

        • Aly on June 27, 2018 at 7:50 pm


          I’m wondering about what you may think are some of the components in the ‘thinking process’ for legalism to be a result or for someone to fall toward these type of interpretations?

          I have understood it as ignorance playing a part in the’literal’ type of language. But please correct my process here.

          • James on June 28, 2018 at 11:41 am

            Let me help.
            1. A commitment to biblical inerrancy, and biblical sufficiency.
            2. A historical, grammatical interpretation of the text.
            3. A commitment to exegetical interpretation rather than eisegetical interpretation.
            4. A general attitude of skepticism toward the philosophical foundations of secular psychology.

            That’s what underlies these kinds of biblical interpretations.

            In fairness, Leslie may well subscribe to some of these as well. Having a commitment to these elements evangelicalism does not always guarantee agreement on every passage but they set a common platform for how to engage the text of scripture so that we aren’t all talking past one another.

            However, attempting to “pathologize” an approach to biblical interpretation that is taught in most evangelical seminaries isn’t a very helpful approach.

            At its basis, it’s an ad hominem argument, a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit WHAT someone says by attacking WHO said it.

        • Christopher on June 28, 2018 at 4:32 am

          Wow James. With all the disagreement to Leslie’s illustrations and her “therapeutic” approach, it’s a wonder you bother anyone on this website at all.

          Have you asked yourself “what’s in it for me?” I’m not sure if I can say this respectfully enough but I have noticed that you seem to try and dominate the discussion and discredit others on this site. I’ll not restate the grievances of others ( I think many of the issues raised with your approach to this issue are legitimately troubling for anyone but a manipulative abuser ) but I’ll only add that you give the appearance to me of one who is enjoying the friction you are causing. If this were not so, I don’t think I would see nearly so many entries bearing your name that are obviously intended to put ladies in their places– gently of course with a “blessing” at the end.

          Regardless of whatever high ground you believe you have in this discussion, I would recommend you look into the study of personality disorders such as NPD or covert narcissism. I say this only because you seem to go quite beyond expressing a dissenting opinion.

          • Aly on June 28, 2018 at 8:42 pm


            I agree with your post is troubling and it’s well documented that regardless of the approach, any feedback is dismissed, skewed and then repackaged.

            Being that this is all in writing is actually a good thing overall… it gives those of us in the conversation the history dialog.
            Patterns expose.

            Survivors can decide to reply or not. Freedom to do so here.

            Again with most abusive manipulators, it’s often about them being superior and the other being inferior, they don’t do equal mutual healthy relationships and let alone dialog!
            This is not a concept for them.
            The listening and considering skill isn’t developed it’s fragmented.

            For me, all it highlights is the consistency that goes along with untreated issues and possibly further emotional pain.


          • Free on June 29, 2018 at 2:44 am

            Thank you Christopher. Spot on!

        • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:50 pm

          Honestly you were vulnerable above and now you are doing it again. I will NOT reply or engage in that type of behavior. Just make this statement.

  29. many years on June 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Excellent advice, Leslie.

    All of this is too true with how the wife, who has had her trust betrayed by her husband, continually feels, when the husband cannot/or will not communicate with his wife about pornography, and also his attitude toward other women, too free with his friendships with the opposite sex, which does devastate the wife and causes the on-going internal chaos of the wife not even feeling comfortable being around her own husband; especially if he won’t talk about his addictions, nor has he even attempted to get help.

    I have been going through this scenario with my husband for at least 20 years, attempting to send him Christian men’s help sites concerning pornography, and my husband has denied any viewing.He hasn’t even acknowledged ANY of the emails I have sent him with these links!

    But I have had several times the proof positive that he has never come clean and is still viewing the filth that is on the internet. That, and the fact of the latest discernment from the Holy Spirit, and online sights which clarify how we can be aware if someone is truly a born-again believer has also had an impact on my relationship with him as a non-believer, as that is a whole new ball of wax.

    So, the very positive proof that my husband has ‘walked the walk and talked the talk’ of an ‘apparent’ believer, yet I cannot engage my husband in true spiritual conversation, points to the fact that, no matter how hard I have tried, to be that loving and forgiving wife, he cannot see the errors of his way, mainly because he CAN’T, as he has not yet listened to the Holy Spirit for the most important aspect of his eternal fate, and that is, namely, accepting Christ as his personal Savior, along with repentance and forsaking of his sins.

    I realize, that no matter how much I would like for him to become saved, that job is not up to me, but up to the Holy Spirit. I can only continue to walk in Christ, with my own life, and truly turn him over to God.

    Most of this revelation of who my husband really is NOT,(in Chris), has only come about in the past three years. Confronting him, at least three times, with proof, sitting down with him and praying with him (before I realized he was probably not even saved) and then the proof that the reason he CANNOT comprehend what I am even talking to him about.YET, every individual has their own choices to make. And God HAS written His law within our hearts, whether to do good, or to do evil, so that man has no excuse because of his own stubborn, and willfully disobedient heart.

    And so, I continue to pray for the salvation of my husband, who desires to stay with me as my husband. Probably because of the perks he gets as God does say the believing wife/or husband ‘sanctifies’ the unbelieving spouse, only to the degree that God’s spiritual protection is over the believer in the marriage.

    God doesn’t necessarily put physical protection over a marriage, as we are in the world, and life happens.Yet I know, the circular reasoning is difficult to swallow at times, yet we don’t want our unsaved spouses to not be without protection. Yet, if a person allows such blatant resistance against the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and the unbelieving spouse can’t even listen to the mere human instrument of his wife’s pleading and concern, THAT is a very precarious position for the unbelieving spouse to be in, as it DOES open up the possibility of demonic influence.

    And the unbeliever continues to fit the description of the ‘works of the flesh’ as listed in Galatians chapter 5, as opposed to what is so blindingly apparent as to exactly what the fruit of the Spirit so brilliantly shines the light on the works of darkness. That is how we determine if the life-giving force of the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in the heart of a person, ‘by their works, you shall KNOW them.’ There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

    Thank you. I have not had the opportunity to read all of the comments, but I intend to do that soon. As I can just imagine the information regarding the sincere or not so sincere attitude the sinning spouse has which should include communication and intimacy with the spouse whom they have caused to not want to have the intimacy on the grounds of betrayal and trust.

  30. Valerie on June 26, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    I don’t come here as often as I used to but this issue and subsequent comments left me wanting to share a few thoughts.
    WRT the question posed about being passive, I struggled with this my entire life up until about 5 years ago. I had a misguided at best and unbiblical at worst understanding of what unity meant. “It is to your glory to overlook an offense” seemed to be the undercurrent to every difficult interaction with others. I falsely believed that I was honoring God and being a “good person” by keeping any contrary thoughts to myself. I was also far too defined by others’ opinion of me. I avoided confrontation because I was too worried about being wrong and too fearful of losing connection with someone. Keep the peace at all costs was not something I would have verbally assented to but my consistent behavior acquiesced that belief.
    What changed? A key turning point for me was one day as I was considering Prov 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” I assented to this verse and truth be told felt even prideful about the fact of what I was willing to endure for someone else’s “good”. In that moment I felt a sense of the Spirit speaking to my heart…”And what IS good??” Gulp. I thought I knew. Giving people what they wanted. Being “nice” to people who were rude to me. I thought the sparse boundaries I had were enough to make me a well-balanced person. I was wrong.
    I wrestled with the meaning of that verse with God for a season. God started showing me that if i truly wanted to be a follower of Him then I needed to forsake the idol of praise of man. Truth be told I wasn’t willing to do what was hard and then justified it by ascribing to my rationale a litany of scripture taken out of context.
    So…I started being more assertive with my (now ex) husband…with others… especially where God’s truth was being discussed.
    Fast forward to the time I began working with Leslie. I am forever grateful for how God used her in that season of my life. Being more assertive as well as a truth teller resulted in my ex-husband being less concerned with appearances. His true nature was now unrestrained to the extent that I no longer felt safe at home and 3 years ago we divorced.
    I am now seeing a man who I believe was emotionally abused from his ex-wife. I resonate with some women here who have courageously shared their struggle with empathizing with men. Yet I now have a first-hand experience with a genuinely godly man, who was not sinless by any means, but also a victim of his wife’s selfish demands. She continues to bully him as they live out the custody arrangement.
    I also agree with James’ statement about the discrepancy with support and expectations between men and women with pornography addiction. However, I have also read a myriad of “christian” resources that have unashamedly and bluntly outlined that the reason a woman might be struggling with intimacy in her marriage is because she isn’t wearing lingerie often enough and she should make sure she is wearing makeup when her husband comes home. Letting herself go is the reason he’s looking elsewhere. Don’t tempt your husband by being lax in carrying out the outward appearance he expects. These kinds of shallow, false accusations are regularly digested by women desperate to save their marriage. I disagree that wives are given a “pass” in the lack of intimacy department.
    I have found that there are a lot of beliefs concerning relationships or expectations regarding interaction with others that I have nursed which have no biblical foundation, but are actually man-made expectations with just enough truth to feel biblical. I’ve learned that God gives us the strength and ability to carry out whatever will He has for us. Ultimately, what our sovereign Lord says on a matter is enough for me. It’s my responsibility as His servant to know what HE says on a matter and then follow through on obedience to it.
    There aren’t many resources like this out there- ones that look at these issues from a biblical perspective. I pray that for those of us whom God has rescued from the pit of abuse that we would use what we’ve learned to support others. “…who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:4)

    • Aly on June 27, 2018 at 8:35 am


      I agree with you! Praise God for your understanding and your freedom from your situation.

    • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      I didn’t have time to read your statement above word for word but I understand what you are saying. I thought I was applying verses well…perhaps it was passive application…what I was doing was enabling and keeping me stuck. I hadn’t gone deep enough, needed wisdom, needed the Lord’s direction, needed to be relational, I needed Him.
      Thanks for sharing.

  31. Autumn on June 26, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    James, it is time for you to leave this blog. You have been asked repeatedly to switch to the appropriate site. Your response to Barbara was unacceptable.

    One of the things abusers do is disrespect other people’s choice. They bully and badger while ignoring their victims cries of “No” and “Stop.”. You have ignored both of those words from us. What then does that make you?

    A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  32. Connie on June 26, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Yes, it is unacceptable for a husband to force himself on his wife, isn’t it? He should just drag her off to the pastor and they can both sit there and guilt and shame her into doing it. In the name of God yet. That would be a happy ending. 🙁 That is spiritual abuse.

    • caroline on June 27, 2018 at 12:29 am

      And SO much abuse does occur this way. I have heard this story literally hundreds of times from Christian women of varying denominations . Porn use is so prevalent among the clergy, its hardly safe to chance getting advice there if pornography is involved . A conflict of interest…

      If saying No is not an option, then a YES is a meaningless formality. And many married women are trapped in an almost childlike bondage that amounts to little less than a kind of statutory rape. For there to be true consent given, there must be freedom to say NO.

      And on the other hand, if its the husband that’s aloof and uninterested…well…the wife will get blamed for that too!!

      She’s either too much or not enough of something essential to him, OR or she just doesn’t show enough interest & enthusiasm to make him feel manly and respected.

      And I’ll say it again: a truly repentant man in recovery would not WANT his wife to either yield or initiate out of fear, obligation or guilt. Only abusers enjoy that kind of harm.

      I can only imagine how disgusted the Lord must be with husbands and pastors who pervert the Word in order to feed their lusts.

      • Aly on June 27, 2018 at 8:28 am


        I agree with you on these points.

        You wrote:
        “And I’ll say it again: a truly repentant man in recovery would not WANT his wife to either yield or initiate out of fear, obligation or guilt. Only abusers enjoy that kind of harm.”

        I might add that abusers not only ‘enjoy’ that harm but many don’t acknowledge it is harm in the first place. They actually try to normalize it or reason it away. Those who are not ‘actually’ the direct abuser, but indirectly collaborate with reinforcing the ‘abuser’s thinking’ can be just as much a problem to a destructive relationship. How many of these individuals do we know in our families and in our church communities who play this role?

        You wrote:
        “I can only imagine how disgusted the Lord must be with husbands and pastors who pervert the Word in order to feed their lusts.”

        I agree and think the Lord has been very clear on this and has made His truth known. Unfortunately, those that are predisposed to the twisting of what God intended and made beautiful in marriage are early on wired with a distorted sense of sexuality. They honestly often struggle connecting the dots because they have lived compartmentally and don’t quite get that God made us as integrated people pursuing wholeheartedness ~ whole living examples.

        Our sexuality is precious and purposeful and the enemy would prefer nothing less than to see the long term ramifications of a situation where there is a pastor or church counsel distorting the understanding and passing that on to the church community.
        Even normalizing it or not acknowledging harm that is present is to be ignorant to the congregation.

        Devaluing women or dismissivness toward women in general doesn’t have to have a sexualized element or discussion, it can be in Attitude and Posture alone.
        Often this is taught through behavior in homes of upbringing and in the general society at large. This exposure does begin early and gets wired in early to the hard drive of the brain.

        So many women who might not have the same traumas of sexualized trauma by their spouses, can also be suffering from ‘overall devaluing treatment’.
        You will find that this is a core element of destructive relationships.
        Recovery is essential!

        Let’s say a person has a foundation of the devaluing of treatment in how they think and how they interpret and then ADD porn exposure and any lust really, porn only tightens and amplified the condition. It also reinforces the ability to color those ingrained patterns in whatever they study, read etc.

        This foundation of ‘devaluing another’ is not something always conscious. But it is exposed in their double standards, how things get interpreted and especially behavior. This is why red flags can pop up and it’s important we can all learn and be educated in what those patterns are ~ invite those into a different way of living and loving.

    • James on June 27, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      I totally agree.

      Thankfully, no one here is advocating this.

  33. many years on June 27, 2018 at 12:31 am


    ..I definitely felt the nuances of the Holy Spirit within your post. ‘Not I, but Christ! in us the hope of glory.’

    God has not asked of us too great of a sacrifice. He only gives us what we can bear, and if we shrink away from the still small voice of the Holy Spirit we put ourselves in a position of not being blessed through the difficulties of life.

    And you nailed it when you said ‘but doing so is what constrains evil ‘first’ in our own hearts.’

    It really IS all about ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies.’ But be you transformed by the renewing of your ‘spiritual’ mind’. It is a choice whether a Christian man views pornography or not, and if he allows it, it is to his own detriment and to his own shame and to his own loss, including the loss of a real relationship with his wife and children. ‘Every man SHALL bear his own burden.’

    For a Christian man (or in the very rare cases of some women) to have to face the throne of glory with that unconfessed sin of pornography, testifies to the fact that the man who does not confess, is actually spitting in the face of Jesus just like the Pharisees of old did. What did Christ die for, anyway!!!!???? Our sins, the sins of the whole world. Isn’t that enough to know that your Creator laid down his life for the lust you allow in your life, that he cared SO MUCH for YOUR SOUL to lay down his own life and face death and hell in your place? This is the reason why any unconfessed sin against the Lord, shames Jesus all over again.

    ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.’ Christ took Captivity captive, and I say to the man who views porn, Have you allowed Christ to take your mind and your earthly passions captive to the Word of God? Christ wants us to take every thought and intent of the heart (which God says is desperately wicked, and deceitful above all things) CAPTIVE to the obedience of Christ. Ya know?! It’s simple math/faith. Confession and repentance = forgiveness.

    The intent of the heart is always known to God. There is no escaping the searching of the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is a seared conscience who does not allow the scrutiny of their heart to be open to the searching of the Holy Spirit to perform the necessary operation of ‘seeing if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the path everlasting.’

    This is what it is all about, people! No one can hide from God. All our sins are as filthy rags before God. BUT THE LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world, has appeared in due time, as Christ died for the ungodly.

  34. Connie on June 27, 2018 at 1:02 am

    I have some thoughts about that 1 Corinthians 7 passage.

    First, I believe that Paul was writing to true believers who knew that Jesus said, “The gentiles lord it over each other and with you it shall not be so, but you are to be servants to each other.” A believer with a servant’s heart would not tell his wife she ‘has to’ do anything, but would extend to her the same free will that the Lord extends to all of us. Nor would he be into bullying and destroying his wife. I understand there was a rumble of teaching among the Corinthians that extended celibacy was sort of godly, and Paul was saying that no it was not.

    Also, a few verses down, Paul clearly says that this is his own opinion, not the Lord’s command. We need to be careful not to use the Bible as an idol without checking out all the context, etc.

  35. Landa on June 27, 2018 at 12:57 pm


    I appreciate your concern, I really do. Would it surprise you to know that you are the first person who has heard my story to actually say that to me?

    Here are a few of the things that I have done over the years dealing with pornography and adultery. I have approached my husband privately many, many times. Two friends confronted him after a business trip. I have sought counseling for myself a couple of times. Their only suggestion was divorce or act like nothing happened, but I love God and want to live a life that is pleasing to Him. I know my God hates divorce. How do you say you love someone and do the things they hate? I have tried to overlook his offenses, turn the other cheek, pick up my cross, die to myself, and for the life of me I cannot just act like nothing is happening. I have begged God to do it through me because I believe I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This path has led me to the verge of 3 nervous breakdowns and seriously doubting my own faith and my own salvation because what I see in His word and what I see in my life seem to be contradictory. I can’t do this, and I don’t know why except that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be doing it this way all along. This blog is one of the only places that has helped me to see that there may be a different way that is still a godly way.

    After the last incident, I went to my pastor and a biblical counselor. They met with us for a while, but they have no idea what to do with us and have stopped meeting with us. My husband sounds repentant and looks repentant. He will gladly boast about how long its been since he has looked at pornography or been with another woman or anything else that makes him look good, but he defends, justifies, or denies every issue in the moment. There is no problem, or I am always the problem. Or it’s in the past (even if it was just 2 minutes ago).

    This is where I feel like the husband above will show his true repentance. Ask his wife how she is feeling about all this, and then really listen to her. Then act on what she says. My husband will ask, but every conversation ends up being about him and his needs. I have no voice. He cannot hear what I am saying to him. I do not feel safe moving forward in an intimate relationship (which he considers reconciliation) with a person who does not take my concerns seriously enough to do something about them. I do feel safe enough right now sleeping in a separate room.

    We have been this way for 2 years now since the day it happened. He can’t understand why it is still this way, and many men agree with him and are angry with me for treating him this way. Many Christians do not understand and accuse me of sinning against him because of 1 Corinthians 7. I don’t feel like I have to leave, but I don’t feel like I have to be intimate with him, either as long as he continues to believe that it is ok to force me to reconcile which he does usually verbally at least once a week. Sometimes physically trying to steal kisses or grab my hand. Not a big deal usually, but it really feels like a violation when they still think you are the problem anyway and cannot see their own contribution. There have been issues with pornography and texting women even in the last 2 years, but he doesn’t see them as issues.

    I know this is long, and I’m not seeking validation for my choices. It seems like you really want to understand, so I have tried to paint you a bigger picture. I think you are right. It is absolutely 100% about true repentance and whether it is there or not. The trouble is that it is not easy to tell, and true Christians do not want to be guilty of judging what is in someone else’s heart. Most pastors/counselors/Christians would look at my husband and say that it appears to be, so I should give him the benefit of the doubt and trust God. In a typical marriage with typical people that would be a good response. My husband says he is a Christian. He has been a leader in the church. He has been involved in various leadership roles. He’s even been in one-on-one counseling with our pastor and our counselor. They know something is not right, but they do not want to judge whether or not his professed repentance is real because we cannot know what is in the heart of man. So they give him the benefit of the doubt, and that is what he is counting on.

    I am encouraged by your fierce loyalty to the word of God. I purposely rejected counsel from those who were not because no one else could understand why I would stay. I do believe God also gives us His Spirit and commands us to be discerning and wise. There are so many things He wanted to tell us, but the whole world is not big enough to contain it, so He gave us His Spirit also to teach us. You are right. He will never lead us away from His word. They work together to lead us in grace and truth.

    I don’t know what to tell you to do if you ever feel like you have a similar case. No one has been able to help us. This blog has just been able to help me. God bless you, James, as you learn to be a good shepherd to your flock. We need you.


    • James on June 27, 2018 at 2:40 pm


      You are really in the midst of it right now. Again, I’m sorry that you are having to work through all of this. I am genuinely encouraged by your desire to walk in obedience to the Lord and to His word.

      If your husband has physically abused you by forcing himself upon you sexually without your consent then this is rape and I am concerned that this hasn’t really been resolved.

      This is a violent crime.

      How did your pastor’s reply to this and why are you all still in the same home?

      I’m happy to answer other questions but I’m really very concerned about your physical safety.

      • Landa on June 27, 2018 at 11:31 pm


        I am sorry for any confusion. I said he attempted marital rape, but he did not finish it. He pats himself on the back for the fact that he did stop himself. I am aware that when abuse begins, statistics show that it doesn’t usually get better, but it will get worse. That is human nature. That is why I drew a hard, fast boundary by moving to another room. He did move out for a while and then moved back in (I stayed in the other room). He did threaten to kick me out if I didn’t move back into the bedroom. I reached out to some close Christian friends to try to find a place to go, but God did not open any doors at that time.

        You are right that it hasn’t been resolved. Nothing has been resolved because nothing that bad ever really happened to me in his eyes. He believes it’s not a big deal because nothing ‘actually’ happened. He feels like the pornography is not a big deal because ‘it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.’ (And he doesn’t ‘actually’ remember some of it.) The texts to other women weren’t a big deal because he didn’t ‘actually’ meet with them. I am more concerned about what is going on in his heart to even begin to do those things than what the actual things are or how far they ‘actually’ went, and his lack of concern about the devastation they are causing in this relationship and to me and to him. Sadly, he is not. He doesn’t like his circumstances for sure, but he doesn’t see how he continues to be an unsafe partner for me.

        I believe that we were reaping the beginning fruit of the path we were on, and I am choosing to change paths before it is fully ripened. It is up to him to join me or not. I know that I would not survive on the old path, and to ask me to continue in the name of reconciliation is abusive and callous.

        I do believe I have forgiven him. I am not trying to make him ‘pay’ or get justice in my own way by punishing him. He will say he is sorry. He wishes it never happened. He cries real tears–for what is happening to him, not what has happened to me. I am selfish, bitter, unforgiving, living in fear, sinning against God and against him, being an ungodly wife in an unbiblical marriage, etc. according to him. He does good things, too, so he thinks it is all ok. He reads his Bible, goes to church, says nice things…until he gets frustrated, and he tells me to leave and get a divorce about once a month (and a bunch of other things while he is throwing a fit). He never apologizes, and then he acts like it never happened and we move on. Those are not the words/deeds of repentance no matter what else he says, no matter what else he does, no matter how long it has been. I am safe enough for now. I know that could change at any moment, and I will deal with that if it ever changes.

        Our pastor and our counselor believed him when he said it was a one-time thing and would never happen again, and they took him at his word that he has repented, and that we should find some way to move forward. They have not been with us for our full journey, just the last leg after the attempted rape. Before that we were trying to heal and reconcile from pornography and adultery (both more than once). Some of it was from before he became a Christian, some if it happened after he became a Christian and was baptized (when he was 35). I am still here for lots of reasons. My God, my children (and their posterity), and my belief that marriage is a lifetime covenant because of who I am as a person and what I believe.

        My original intent was to help you understand maybe just a little why forcing/coercing/strongly encouraging reconciliation (especially marital intimacy) can be damaging to a person and the relationship. I am a person who has been damaged by that philosophy. I believe our marriage has been damaged by it, and most of all, it is still destroying my husband. I love God. I love His word. I am trying to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord and walk by His Spirit, and yet this is the place I find myself in. I want to reassure you that I am safe. I gave you all these details not to help me, but to help you see me in someone else so that you can help them. Again, I am sorry for any confusion or stress that I have caused you. It is difficult to describe completely to someone else what it is like. Thank you again for your concern. You cannot imagine what it means to hear your words of support.


        • Free on June 28, 2018 at 5:32 am

          Lana, tell us about the new path. What are you doing to end your toleration of your husband’s disrespectful and devaluing behaviors? Have you thought about how you could separate in other ways, maybe in a more formal manner? It would seem firm consquence are needed for your protection from his fake repentance and on going manipulation.

          • Landa on June 28, 2018 at 12:19 pm

            Oh, Free, how I wish I could. I feel like I am just standing at the gate trying to get in. I have separated myself physically which has brought a degree of healing and clarity. I try not to get sucked in to arguments about why I am doing this (though I still do sometimes because he wants to know why, but then he can’t hear what I am saying, so I end up yelling-yikes, I know). I try to do the next thing just to keep going. I’m sure you can imagine it hasn’t been pretty by any means. Some days it was hard to function at all, but I have gained some strength from not forcing myself to be intimate with a man who did not care about my physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being. That is what became crystal clear to me in that moment. The end of the path we were on was destruction and death. All I can tell my husband is that I cannot do things the same way anymore (not that I will not, but cannot-physically, emotionally, or spiritually). We usually just act like nothing happened and move on at some point and hope that somehow everything will be different. I am open to work on our relationship, go to counseling, do Bible studies, book studies, listen to sermon series, even just talk, but usually it ends up in defensive mechanisms, blame-shifting and trying to get me to see that he has met all the requirements for reconciliation. He wants me to give him a list of things to do so that he can prove to me he has done them. He does not understand that by using control and manipulation he is not showing the fruits of repentance. So I am quiet, a lot. I do tell him it is not safe for me to be fully reconciled to him at this point. If our conversations are not safe, how is a physical relationship going to be safe? (The relationship still is not safe, but I am safe enough for now being separated in the same house.) He believes that I am doing all the same things that he is doing: blame-shifting, controlling, and manipulating just to get what I want.

            He has softened somewhat to my position even though he still cannot understand it. He still tries to give me ultimatums sometimes, but they come and go without new repercussions. There is one looming now. We’ll see. He is not willing at this point to look like the bad guy by walking out. He wants me to do it. He will do nice things and say nice things for about a month before he blows it and tells me to get a divorce (I have never said that I wanted one or that it was even an option). He can’t see the cycle of behavior that is unhealthy for me, for our marriage, and for him. He thinks he just has his moments, and Jesus does not expect perfection.

            He has made more progress with our boys, but he cannot seem to do the same with me. I know he has lots of issues that have nothing to do with me, and it is a battle to get past his defenses. He has lots of excuses for him not to trust anyone and be honest and real in a real relationship (real, tragic explanations for why he is the way he is). I just don’t believe that it is an excuse to destroy me anymore because it is not helping him for me to allow it to continue, and it certainly is not bringing God any glory, yet. I feel like God is showing me a new way and offering him a chance to have the love he’s never had, and no one has to be destroyed in the process (though he and every other man who has heard our story really, truly believes that celibacy is worse than death). It’s hard. It’s ugly. And I don’t know what God has in store.

            I wish I knew more. That’s as far as I have gotten at this point.


          • Leslie Vernick on June 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm

            Landa, you are amazing to have such a gentle spirit in spite of the relentless disrespect of your personhood. Crushed spirit – you named it. But God is a healer of crushed spirits, Psalm 107:20 “He sent for his word and healed them.” Man’s words can wound, God’s word and THE WORD heals.

          • sheep on June 28, 2018 at 4:32 pm

            HI Landa, I’m so sorry. I get it, I really do. Your situation sounds so much like mine, I’m just a few steps further down the road. I was open to anything and everything to try to reconcile, while all she did was live in a fantasy world where everything is fine (even though she will not commit to faithfulness, accountability, or anything else that is universally recognized as needed to heal from adultery and abuse. But I have learned over and over that while I can/should/ and do forgive, there is nothing I can do to “get” her to reconcile. It takes 1 to forgive but it takes 2 to reconcile. And that reconciliation is dependent on the repentance and work of the abuser/adulterer.

            I no longer try to get her to do what is right, I don’t hold out hope that God will do a miracle in her and that things will be healed. I know full well that He is capable of doing that, but I also know that usually he doesn’t do that. How many “road to Damascus” experiences in the Bible, where God chooses to make someone do something against their will? Not many.

            I no longer (mostly) play the game of pretending like nothing is wrong. She can believe what she wants, but I won’t play along. I avoid most conversation because I am taking scripture to heart now and I’m not going to “argue with a fool” or “cast pearls to swine” (I’m not implying she is a pig) I have also learned that I’m not going to convince her of anything, she is only going to see what she wants. She doesn’t want to understand anything, she just doesn’t want to be wrong. I have realized that she never actually listens to me, she just hears enough to figure out her next argument.

            I have stopped trying to simply be kind in my words. Words aren’t kind if they aren’t true. Speak the truth in love… even when the truth is difficult. She now knows that I do not want to spend the rest of my life with her. That I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being afraid of my wife. That I would at least like to have the hope that someday I can be with someone that I can have mutuality with, someone that will love me for who I am, that I can love for who she is. Someone that doesn’t extract a price for everything.

            And now she is planning on leaving (supposedly) and baring that “road to Damascus” experience, we will soon be divorcing.

            I have dreaded this for so long, but now that I find myself here, I’m not scared anymore. And even though I never wanted this, I am at peace, knowing I have done all I could to avoid it.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 28, 2018 at 4:59 pm

            Wow, good to hear that you are no longer scared. Living in the truth, even frightening truth, is better than living in lies or pretend. That’s why this “false reconciliation” requires a woman to lie and pretend in order to be sexually intimate if she cannot trust her spouse – or likewise, if a man cannot trust his spouse. Sexual intimacy in marriage is based on safety and trust, that’s why God told us to save it for a safe and trusting marriage. However, when that marriage is not safe and trust has been broken, it is not possible to have intimacy. Yes you can have sex, but not intimacy.

        • Autumn on June 28, 2018 at 5:38 am

          Careful Lsnda, this guy is a scammer.A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Can you not see the red flags?

          Maybe it would be a great disusiion topic to discuss “red flags.”

          I see manipulative charm, etitled behavior and as mentioned before, the dangerous violation of other’s :”No” and “Stop.” Lana, can’t you recognize this?

          • Autumn on June 28, 2018 at 9:16 am

            You realize my comment above was about your discussion with James, correct?

          • James on June 28, 2018 at 11:16 am


            You are bearing false witness against your brother.

            You don’t have to agree with me or my approach to these topics, but you aren’t at liberty to bear false witness against me.

            You are breaking the 9th commandment.

            Please repent so that forgiveness, reconciliation, and fellowship between us can be restored.

          • Landa on June 28, 2018 at 11:18 am

            Sweet Autumn,

            I love your fierce protection. You have a mama-bear heart for us. I also see a person in a position to help hundreds maybe thousands of others who for whatever reason is still interested in having this discussion (while my own pastor is not) who wants to stand on the word of God in the counsel he gives. I don’t have a lot of scriptures that I can give him that relate to my exact situation, but I can give him my story. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. I think this public forum is a safe place for me to at least try. How I have longed for someone to come along beside me who understood what was happening much, much sooner. Maybe I can help do that for someone else?

            I realized last night that I have to be careful not to ‘need’ someone to understand. I really want them to understand (my husband especially), but I am aware that it may never happen.


          • Seeing The Light on June 28, 2018 at 1:14 pm

            To avoid any misunderstanding, my comment here is in reaction to the following:

            “James says
            June 28, 2018 at 11:16 am


            You are bearing false witness against your brother.

            You don’t have to agree with me or my approach to these topics, but you aren’t at liberty to bear false witness against me.

            You are breaking the 9th commandment.

            Please repent so that forgiveness, reconciliation, and fellowship between us can be restored.”

            Seriously? The absurdity is getting to the point that my initial reaction is stunned laughter. Beyond the pale. Truly. I’m nearly speechless.

          • Maria on June 28, 2018 at 5:11 pm


            I hope you don’t take what i’m going to write as an attack. I write this as a sister to a brother in Christ.

            This topic about forgiveness, reconciliation etc is very serious to many of us. We are talking about our lives here. Joking about it gives the impression that this is a game to you.

            A pastor, I think needs to expect criticism. Getting defensive and sarcastic are not the wise ways to respond. I have to deal with a lot of verbal jabs from my husband. Something good that has come out of it is that I have learned I am responsible for my response. If I got defensive and sarcastic with him every time he did or said something foolish, my home would be a chaotic and my kids would lose respect for me. One thing I would suggest is to ask yourself why these comments are affecting you the way they are. Examine it and respond appropriately. Maybe I hold pastors to a high standard and I should stop doing that. But I was disappointed with your response.

          • James on June 28, 2018 at 7:02 pm


            My response wasn’t sarcastic or joking at all.

            Accusing me of being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and calling me a “scammer” is bearing false witness.

            As a pastor, I do expect criticism. I don’t expect others to lie about me and make false accusations against me because they disagree with me no matter how passionately they disagree.

            I also was not in the least bit sarcastic about urging repentance, nor offering forgiveness, reconciliation, and fellowship.

            Autumn is a person, not just a username and I genuinely desire peace.

            My response was completely serious and sincere.

        • Aly on June 28, 2018 at 8:36 am


          Your posts are very well said! I’m sorry for your situation but grateful that you are clearly seeing what’s an additional problem with why the church is often ill-equipped to handle these dynamics (especially the severe one you are in)!

          I am also so very sorry for what you have been through and support is critical for your heart and healing.

          I think your offering such a valuable personal experience of a situation showing non-repentance and all the tentacles that go along and actually reinforce the further non -repentance. I think other readers experiencing similar paths will benefit from your willingness to take the time to speak your truth and give perspective from your corner. It’s valid and needed to awaken many.

          You wrote this to James:
          “My original intent was to help you understand maybe just a little why forcing/coercing/strongly encouraging reconciliation (especially marital intimacy) can be damaging to a person and the relationship. I am a person who has been damaged by that philosophy. I believe our marriage has been damaged by it, and most of all, it is still destroying my husband. I love God. ”

          This is such an accurate example of why POOR Theology often given by ill-equipped pastors or teachers can damage the ‘offender’ even more. Yes, I said offender. The help really ‘isn’t help’ when it brings about more unhealthy thinking, sprinkled with spiritual chatter that isn’t biblical (mind, body, and strength).
          Sometimes it sounds biblical, but your journey describes many here who found such dead ends to poor theology within their own lives.
          Christ is about the Living, no the dead.
          It’s apparent from your writings you have such a precious heart and posture for the Lord…and I’m thankful that ‘this’ hasn’t been stolen or taken from you!
          If anything this shows WHO lives in you!

          Your husband clearly has betrayed the marriage vows ~ broken them.
          This isn’t your job to repair this. It’s his job and he shouldn’t be the one deciding or giving the definition of what it looks like to be faithful and trustworthy. The offender is responsible for restitution! Sadly, many of our churches and church counseling have a very shallow understanding of this. Your situation is a critical one as you know where your h needs specific attention and interventions far past what the church can offer him. The church has proven their inability to help in your scope.
          Now, I’m not saying that your husband will chose to surrender to those interventions but his patterns clearly show that your both a in a ‘dance’ that needs special care.
          Even if that means care for just your heart~ and your heart gets what it needs for healing.

          I don’t think many pastors and church leaders see that at the moment of the betrayal (whatever that is) that the marital bow is severed!

          Legally by the state on paper you may be seen married but not in God’s definition of betrayal and abandonment.

          So where does that leave things?
          The marriage is ruptured and it’s up to the offender to take full responsibility and repair. Until your h understands the depths of his offenses and your hurt he will unlikely be able to make restitution with God’s blessing and reconciliation process.

          Your husbands avoidance of pain and his own undealt with shame may be the very thing standing in his way of a real marriage relationship. I’m not saying I know just suggesting that he seems very out of touch with the nature of his behavior.

          I think you did a great job articulating the danger of James position and his narrow ways of contributing to more denial and not healing.

          Hugs and prayers for your journey 💜

          In a biblical God glorifying marriage…
          Your husband was entrusted to take care and protect your heart. He ultimately has a God issue as you probably know, but in his offenses he is in violation of his vows to God.

        • James on June 28, 2018 at 11:25 am


          Thanks for the clarification.

          It sounds like your husband isn’t willing to admit to the weight of what he has done which isn’t a sign of repentance.

          I hope you realize that good biblical counselors don’t give “blanket advice.” In other words, it is probably a mistake to assume that what I would see as appropriate for one situation is also appropriate for another.

          In your situation, I don’t hear that your husband has reached genuine repentance yet and so the primary counsel I would give were I speaking into your situation is different than how I see the situation Leslie addressed (and I want to be clear that I’m not at all willing to dispense counsel via the internet so please consider this as a conversation around issues not specific counsel for you and your situation).

          I’m also very sorry that your pastor basically hung you out to dry. You’ve not been treated well by those claiming to be biblical counselors so I could certainly understand how you would want to look to other means make sense of your situation and I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts with me. I will prayerfully consider your input as it was delivered in love.

          • Landa on June 28, 2018 at 1:55 pm


            That is what I was hoping to hear. Every situation deserves careful discernment. Please don’t think too harshly of my pastor or my counselor. My husband agreed to counseling early on, and that put them in the position of trying to build and preserve a relationship with him, too. It is interesting that both of them gave him the same verse from Matthew 13 (which comes from Isaiah 6), “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” They have both asked him to seek the Lord and pray and meditate on that verse. I don’t think he has. I don’t think he knows how. Jesus is the one that connected that verse to his teaching on divorce where Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Because I choose to stay, they don’t know what else they can do to help me.

            My counselor felt like the Holy Spirit told him I had a crushed spirit, but he had never dealt with that before. The Holy Spirit had given me that verse years ago, so I felt like it was confirming that for me. I always felt like God was just trying to tell me He understood. He, Himself says man cannot bear a crushed spirit in Proverbs 18:14. My counselor wanted to learn more about it in order to try to help me, so he asked me to join him in prayer about what God might be trying to tell us through that verse. During that time of prayer, I feel like the Holy Spirit put two pieces of the puzzle together for me. I was reading through Psalms and Proverbs every day and finishing them every month at that time. Two Proverbs stuck out to me during that time. Proverbs 22:10 defines a scoffer as the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. My husband will readily admit his biggest struggle is pride (which he probably rightly thinks comes from fear). Proverbs 9:8 teaches that whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself (or herself) abuse. Then I read a commentary that connects Matthew 7:6 to verses 1-5 about reconciliation (removing specks and logs from the brethren). Matthew Henry suggests that the pearls are loving reproofs, and they are not received by everybody. A ‘scorner’ will be exasperated and enraged by it and turn and attack you. When you look up the word used for attack, part of its definition is, “a shattering to minute fragments.” In other words, crushed. All of this put together paints a pretty accurate picture of what is happening to me.

            I realize I could be accused of ‘cherry-picking’ verses to apply to my situation, but I believe the process was Spirit-led and confirmed by another Christian and God’s word. It explained what was happening to me biblically, but my pastor and my counselor still did not know what to ‘do’ with me. So…here I am.

            I don’t need any answers. I just thought you might appreciate the verses for your own consideration.


          • Leslie Vernick on June 28, 2018 at 5:10 pm

            James I think Landa has spoken to you quite gently and wisely and I appreciate that you are open to hearing her input. But I’d also encourage you to listen to the input of other wise people here too – maybe they haven’t been as gentle as Landa is, but they still may have something to say. The Psalmist prays Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” You believe you have something to contribute here, but I also want you to recognize that you have something to learn as well. If you argue and debate with your clients as you do in here, your counseling ministry will not be effective. From the blog question – I happen to agree with your concerns that if this man has shown 10 years of sobriety as well as other fruits in keeping with repentance and his wife still cannot bring herself to think about rebuilding their relationship, then it’s time for an honest talk about the state of their marriage and where it’s going (or not). However, it seems your approach is more to mandate the woman must reconcile. That despite her inability to regain trust, that’s what she HAS to do and her DUTY is to be intimate with her husband, which just smacks of harsh legalism, not loving truth.

        • Aly on June 28, 2018 at 9:50 pm


          For some reason I’m really hoping that you are the wife of the original writer?
          It would certainly give the one who has been victimized and in relationship with the husband in recovery a voice and another experience to be expressed.

          • Free on June 29, 2018 at 2:58 am

            Landa, when I asked you about YOUR action plan I read a lot of “He.” I would like to challenge you to try to describe you separation action plan,complete with consequences and goal setting without mentioning your abusive spouse. Also, I do not think your willingness to engage in couples counseling is safe.

            You can do this Landa, value yourself more.

          • Landa on June 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm


            No, I am not the wife of the original writer, but I could be. Many of us could be. My husband has been in ‘recovery.’ He has even led men’s recovery groups. It has probably been about 10 years, and we still find ourselves here. He was asked to step down because of his issues, but he believes it was because of our marriage issues and has told me that I am disqualified too because of our situation. He can’t see the difference. (I have led women’s recovery groups as well. I stepped down because I couldn’t do it well with all the tasks on my plate, and I was starting to have anxiety because I had so much to do. I homeschool, too, and that was my priority. I did lead one year without him.)

            I don’t want to project my situation on theirs. I truly hope and pray that this husband has found true repentance and true sobriety and that they will find their way forward to a true reconciliation and a healed relationship. I just know rushing reconciliation is dangerous if the other pieces are not in place. It can be so tempting to just say, “C’mon, can’t you just give them the benefit of the doubt?” But it is a serious matter of life or death for the relationship, and possibly the person involved.

            That is why I have been so vulnerable on this thread. I have seen myself in the descriptions of dissociative disorder, PTSD, and depression before I ever knew they had a name. No professional I have been to ever gave them a name for me. None of them took me that seriously. My husband laughs about it because I have diagnosed myself, but he still thinks I should be medicated. Whatever it takes to fix me, right? Because I am the problem. My symptoms, however, coincidentally coincide with his choices. No medication can fix that. I have found a measure of relief in this little bit of distance. I am gaining clarity and strength even when he has his ‘moments’ whether it is an angry outburst or pornography. God is making a way where there seemed to be no way.

            I’m praying this husband decides to walk in loving truth with his wife, and that she will courageously decide to do so with him. I am very skeptical that the first step will be restored physical intimacy. I’m praying they take all the steps they need to get there no matter how long it takes.

            Blessings to you all. I know how hard this is. Thank you for your loving, gentle support while I shared my story. I hope it helps someone.


          • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2018 at 5:51 pm

            Appreciate your vulnerability.

          • Alene on July 3, 2018 at 8:00 pm

            Thank you for your vulnerability and example of courage. Thank you for sharing your heart.

        • many years on July 3, 2018 at 1:50 pm


          I know where you are coming from in your marriage. I hope I can write what I am going to say with clarity, as I too need to confront my husband, yet again, with his usage of pornography, and also, his seemingly freedom of being way too friendly with other women throughout our entire marriage. I did just send him a link about the boundaries people cross concerning friendship with the opposite sex, at work, or where ever, and, as usual, my husband has not responded to my email, and it’s been two weeks.

          Both of these subjects have been an on-going, confrontational subject in our marriage for many years. My husband has never wanted to apologize on his own to me. It has only been through confrontation that he has even had a clue to even THINK to apologize to me. In other words, he cannot perceive that he is not just sinning against the marriage, but he is directly sinning against God, and he is also sinning against the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

          I do not know if my husband has ever committed physical adultery. He has definitely committed emotional, spiritual, financial, and mental abuse, which the emotional may be considered ’emotional adultery’.

          What I want to clarify concerns pornography and what it does to the entire family, not just the one viewing the filth on the internet. And I can almost pin-point the time in our marriage when my husband began viewing porn on the internet, as his sexual prowess began to take on some sinister and insensitive qualities towards my own body.

          And it is also during that time when I actually saw him viewing porn, with his study door open a crack, and for several nights around the same time, he would log on to that porn site. It was raw, and base, and vile evil. And I did confront him at the time, and I even told him the name of internet site he was viewing and he totally denied all of it. I couldn’t see much through the crack in the door, but it was enough to make me sick. AND the fact that he shifted his computer screen, AFTER I CONFRONTED HIM, so that I could no longer view ANYTHING on his computer from a crack through his study door. Which is also evidence that he was covering up his porn usage. ‘He who covers his sins shall not prosper,’ and I believe it is talking about Spiritual prospering, not necessarily financial prospering.

          The original question of the man asking if he was being too passive in his marriage, talked about his father having porn magazines in the house, and the fact that the man in this original blog question began seeing porn at the young age of seven years old. Those were probably the days when pron was not the promiscuous evil it is today. The magazines may have only had naked women in them, not what the industry today promotes with pornography, which God explicitly tells us not to even talk about, which is detailed in Romans chapter one.

          Porn today is worse than what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed those cities with fire from heaven. God says that it will go easier for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgment, than for the evil of Mystery Babylon the Great which makes all other evil look like child’s play. THAT is the type of evil we are dealing with in today’s porn industry. ‘Evil men and seducers will get worse and worse.’ This is no simple sin we are dealing.

          The original question for this blog post concerns pornography, and has been a lot of the theme to most of the conversations here.

          I woke up this morning realizing that I need to give my husband an ultimatum as he has NEVER confessed to the damaging sin of viewing porn. He has either totally denied it, or has come up with a lame excuse. We have not been intimate for over a year, he has not instigated any physical contact, only hugs and that’s about it. I have been in a separate room for over twelve years, which has helped me to build my CORE. He is the one who stopped initiating intimacy. I am fine with it, actually.

          But back to dealing with unconfessed sin which is damaging to the marriage. The sin of pornography is not going to go away, unless there is genuine repentance and, forsaking of that sin with an obvious change from the individual who has damaged the marriage covenant.

          This is what the Holy Spirit was pouring into my soul this morning: ‘The debauchery of pornography is against the sacredness of the marriage. Pornography opens the gateway for evil entities to enter into the home front. The neural pathways of the brain are desensitized against reality, and a sexual fantasy of filth ensues’. (These are my own thoughts in quotes).

          This means that Satan and SPIRITUAL EVIL has been OPENLY invited into the home. And this is through the individual who has chosen to do this who thinks they can ‘get away with’ viewing porn in their own deluded soul.

          Viewing porn separates a person from God, as God cannot be in the presence of spiritual evil. “He that is often reproved, hardens his neck and there is no remedy for him.”There can be no spiritual fellowship in the heart of an individual who invites this wickedness into their lives. It closes off spiritual fellowship and communication with God, and also with the wife” (These are my own thoughts in quotes)

          The individual has chosen to do this. God tells us to separate ourselves from evil persons. There are many verses in the Psalms, and Proverbs which confirm the separation from those who do not listen to God. We are already separated spiritually from them because of their choice to view evil. THEY have already done the separating in their heart as they have said: ‘No, God’ I am not going to change.

          Pornography brings a ‘resident evil’ into the home, and I think separating from a spouse is in ‘order’. It is the deceitfulness of sin which has defiled the marriage. No, our spouses did not ‘create’ these evil sites of porn on the internet, yet, they have the choice to NOT VIEW.

          Ask your spouse what John 3:16 really means to him/her. Get them to clarify that they are really a child of God. They might not like it if you ask them that question but you may find something more about who your spouse is in the sight of God. ‘He that is of God hears His Word’.

          Because the fact that my spouse may not be saved is also my dilemma. He is religious, yet I cannot hold an actual spiritual conversation with him. There is no joy in his heart when I attempt to hold what I would consider a ‘normal’ conversation about God or living a life for the Lord, which is what having a spiritual connection with God and your spouse, and other believers is really all about. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’

          My husband will say things like ‘WE’ believe thus and so, but he will not say ‘I’ believe, (for himself) thus and so. He knows the church doctrines from ‘memorizing’ them as a child/teenager growing up in a church atmosphere, but that does not make a person born-again. He can say the ‘perfect’ prayer, but that again, is almost ritualistic, or ‘a form of godliness.’

          The conundrum is complicated, as confrontation has not seemed to work, as the lost soul cannot see their own sins. They have to realize they are sinners, and then, they have to realize they need Christ as their Savior.

          So, my question is: How do you confront an unbeliever when they cannot see they are a sinner? I think at this point, with an unbeliever, and the evil in their lives, which is affecting the very fabric of the marriage, separation is an answer. There is not an easy answer, but you have to fully realize God will give you the answer. The puzzle pieces will fall into place for each individual’s circumstances. And at that point, maybe the only choice is to give your spouse over to God, as you have done what you can, and they may not even understand what you are doing to move forward. And maybe that is not your journey to have to ‘prove’ things to your husband in order for you to ‘move forward’ with your own choices.

          Love, hope, fasting, and prayer, is our greatest defense against the demonic forces which are at work in our lives and marriages.

          • sheep on July 3, 2018 at 6:09 pm

            Many Many Years,

            I will try to keep this short, and I am coming from the point of view of a man that used to be addicted to porn, but has fully repented, (on my on, not because I was caught) taken full responsibility for my actions, done everything that was asked of me and more to end it, be open and accountable, and heal the wrongs that I committed. Btw, my porn use ended when I repented and did these things. I have been completely porn free for years.

            But I also am coming from the point of view of having a spouse that has had multiple affairs and has done nothing to be accountable, has accepted no responsibility for what she has done, continues to pretend that nothing is wrong, and refuses to do anything to reconcile.

            I will try to speak bluntly but with compassion. I have learned that I don’t have much tolerance for people trying to make things sound better than they actually are. I’m really sorry, but if what you are saying is accurate (i’m not doubting you) then your husband is not only unrepentant, but doesn’t see anything wrong with what he is doing. You have already confronted him and he doesn’t care. You have enacted some consequences and boundaries, but he seems content to continue in sin rather than be reconciled with you.

            Scripture says that you will know them by their fruits. From what you have said, his fruit is rotten. I am not a person that blindly believes someone that says they are a believer, even if they know the word and quote scripture. What is that fruit??? Who is on the throne of their life? In my own situation I can no longer believe that my wife is truly a believer. She knows the Word better than most pastors, but it hasn’t gone from her head to her heart. She has not surrendered the throne of her life to Christ.

            Your question was “How do you confront an unbeliever when they cannot see they are a sinner?” I also struggled with this. How can you hold an unbeliever to certain standards? Well, you can confront them, but you cant “make” them see. You can confront them, but you can’t “make” them do anything about it. That part is up to the Holy Spirit, and we make a very poor substitute for Him. You already have confronted him, and he didn’t repent. That isn’t going to change with more confrontation.

            While this is absolutely a sin issue, the question isn’t really the right one in your’s and my situation. We can’t expect an unbeliever to live to christian standards, but this isn’t about that. This is about holding them to the standards that they VOWED to live up to. They both vowed to love, honor, and cherish, they vowed to forsake all others. These are standards that they can be held to. His continuing to live in porn with no repentance, not taking responsibility, and seemingly no care for anything or anyone else is a violation of those vows.

            The question for you is, are you willing to live in that marriage for the rest of your life? and if that is what you choose, can you do so without causing yourself to sin? Let me explain.

            I have lived for a long time trying to “get” my wife to see her sin, to repent, to understand how abusive she is, to do the work of reconciliation. In the beginning, I thought I could be noble and still “love her like Christ”, expecting nothing in return. That she could treat me however she wanted and I would be fine with that. I suppose there are people out there that can do all of that, But after a long time of what I thought was selfless love, I realized that letting her continue in sin was not love. I also realized that even as forgiving and tolerant as I am, I couldn’t do that forever without sinning myself. You see, the longer things go with no resolution, pain upon pain, no relief, no love returned, and no admittance that you or I are even a human being that doesn’t deserve to be treated with the abject contempt that is being shown, the harder it becomes to not sin ourselves.

            I firmly believe that we have to take full responsibility for our own sin. We don’t get to blame it on others. So, if we decide to stick it out, we don’t get to blame the other person if the sins of bitterness, discontent, gossip, lust, etc. creep into our lives.

            So, that is where I am at. I have asked my wife to leave and she is in the process of that. I know some see separation as a step to bring a marriage back together, but I don’t see that helping with us, so I will most likely be filing for divorce soon after. This is never what I wanted or dreamed that this is where I would be. But I am finally at peace, I’m not living in fear of my wife anymore. I know there are those that won’t agree with my decision, but that is ok, they don’t have to.

            I pray that you will be able to see and think clearly in all of this. That you will be able to ask the hard questions of yourself and that the Holy Spirit will lead you in all of this.

          • many years on July 3, 2018 at 7:24 pm

            Thank you for your spiritually discerning heart. I am in total agreement with what you have said, and it has taken me literally years, to figure out where I am now at in my marriage.

            But I knew, early on, there was something drastically ‘wrong’ in my marriage. And I even mentioned that to my husband twenty years ago, and there was no response from him. He could not go to the history of his family of origin. He could not discuss it with me, therefore, nothing changed in our marriage. He could not discuss it in the context of a husband ‘caring for his wife’.

            I think I was numb at times, then frustrated, then just seeking for answers from family and friends, only in the past ten years. I was silent when it came to discussing my marriage with anyone for thirty years. And that was because I had been raised in a so-called group of Christians who believed the wife was to not complain, but to keep her mouth shut, and to obey ‘in all things’.

            So, like you, I have been the mute sheep. But not for the last ten years at least. My husband has Narcissist overtones to his personality, along with the possible non-believer status, which took me a lot of research on sites to figure that one out, with the help of one of my sisters and one of my brothers (siblings).

            I am not perfect, but, no I have not committed any Biblical sins which can cause a husband to want to leave his wife, like yours evidently has garnered past sins in her life.. Just the opposite in my case.. And the reason being, I have had a strong love for the Lord most of my life, and it has kept me from things I just have no desire to engage in.

            In fact, I feel very uncomfortable talking with other men. There tis a safety trigger which goes off in my brain.

            I know the Lord has our lives in His hands, and so many of the journeys of people on this site are basically about the abuse they have endured from their spouses.

            I am glad the question came up on this blog post from a man this time, as it gave some clarity to what I have been enduring with my husband’s lack of accountability. I found some answers fron the Holy Spirit and from the comments from many who have posted on this blog post, which has given me some hope to my own dilemma.

            Thank you again as we are traveling similar journeys.

  36. Barbara B on June 27, 2018 at 8:26 pm


    Sure; a poorly worded reply is easy to forgive since it’s something that could accidentally happen to anyone. I will go beyond what you ask and also forgive your impoliteness and your false statements about the guests on this blog, including me. I believe these additional two things which you didn’t mention fall more in the category of choices rather than poor wording, but either way, I forgive them as well.

    This will be my final comment or response directed individually to you. If you wish to engage in a one-on-one conversation or debate with me regarding exegesis or counseling theory, or anything else, the place for that is the pastors’ blog, not the support group for abuse victims.

  37. Lily on June 27, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    My h was addicted to porn. One of the times he tried to get free, on his own instead of through Christ, I noticed that he was drawn to blogs that had a lot of women on them, because he craved their attention. He would lead them on a merry chase, ‘debating’ with them but always changing his story a bit here and there and twisting things enough to keep them trying and trying to ‘explain’ their viewpoint to him. It was a game to frustrate them no end. Learning was not his goal.

    • Seeing The Light on June 27, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      So well said, Lily. Exactly.

  38. Autumn on June 27, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Bingo!!! Apparently you have read Jame’s contributions!

    • Seeing The Light on June 27, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Amen, Autumn.

    • Barbara B on June 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Autumn, I’ll be watching with interest to see what you do with James’ confrontation of you on 6/28 at 11:15. That would be another great blog topic: What to do with inappropriate confrontations, especially when the confrontation is coming from someone who is or claims to be a pastor, theologian, or counselor. I think Lilly’s observations about her husband are quite pertinent here, as this blog would be a perfect place for a “troll” to try to fill his/her desperate need for power and significance by stirring up reactions in a heartfelt community. Here’s the definition of troll (I had to look it up after my children used the expression): “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” I laughed when I read that because it reminded me of my children when they were three or four years old. If they got bored or wanted attention, what did they do? Of course – they started acting up. I learned quickly the best way to solve that scenario was to ignore them. When we get all hot and bothered it just gives them exactly what they want – power and attention. One of my very favorite life lessons I have learned as an adult is that just because someone demands my attention (through poor behavior, through a confrontation, or even through an apology which may or may not be sincere), I don’t have to give them that attention. I have a choice. Ahh, freedom! Thank you, Jesus!

      • Autumn on June 28, 2018 at 6:42 pm

        Hi Barbara. You won’t see a response from me. I stopped reading his posts a long time ago. No reason to engage with a wolf.

  39. Landa on June 29, 2018 at 1:46 pm


    I’m just beginning this part of my journey. I learned a lot of what not to do the hard way, but a lot of it is common Christian counseling based on scripture. I am still untangling it all in my head and trying to keep walking in accordance with God’s word, too. I understand James’s struggle because it is not all laid out in black and white like 1 Corinthians 7 is for my husband. Many Christians (my pastor and counselor and just about 100% of those who know my story) don’t understand why I don’t believe it is a sin right now to withhold my body from my husband. They usually scratch their head and walk away at that point. They do not rebuke me. They know something is not right, but they cannot reconcile it with other scriptures.

    If I left, or God forbid it did go all the way to the extreme of him hurting me or me hurting myself he would be called to live a life with no sex (we are not there at this point. I am safe for now being in a separate room. I just know that abuse typically escalates if left to itself. It does not de-escalate. I am trying to live in wisdom and not fear.) I am just pushing the stop button now before that happens and leaving a way to reconcile which I think is more loving than just leaving. Maybe not? It may come to that some day, but it hasn’t, yet. I felt so much guilt and shame and condemnation for telling God I couldn’t do this because I can do all things through Christ, right? I really believe that with all my heart, but my body, my mind, and my emotions kept telling me they couldn’t go on. I felt like God changed my prayer from, ‘I can’t’ to, ‘ I don’t know how to do this.’

    I thought I was going to have to leave if he told me to, but I feel like it was the Holy Spirit who showed me that this home and this family are just as much mine as his. I can stay if I choose to do so, but I do not have to have physical contact with him right now. I have told him that my health and safety have not been a priority, and he needs to make them a priority in order to take any steps forward. We are at an impasse on that one because he can’t see that I am in any danger. Or he wants me to make his needs a priority at the same time. So I stay in the other room, I raise my kids and teach them. I fix the meals, get the groceries, pay the bills. I try not to participate with his defense mechanisms, but it happens sometimes. We are not in counseling now.

    Those are my two steps: physical separation and asking him to learn how to be a safe person. Maybe you can help me see the next step? Is it in Leslie’s book? Thanks for challenging me. It is difficult to see what I can do, much less what I should do.


    • Connie on June 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Another problem with the 1 Cor. 7 passage is that the Word also says everything has to have 2 or 3 witnesses. In other words, there need to be more scripture passages than just one in agreement with this (or any other teaching).

      It is unfortunate that this blog has become so unsafe. I just discovered a young pastor who teaches about porn and has recommended Leslie’s book but says he hasn’t read it. He has a lot of good things to say but doesn’t seem to have a concept of boundaries and we could really encourage him in this, but I’m afraid if I put the info here, the poor guy will also have his blog hijacked.

      • Seeing The Light on June 29, 2018 at 3:17 pm


        You said, “It is unfortunate that this blog has become so unsafe.” I agree. I come and go on this blog as I weary of the “hijackers”. I find myself discouraged more and more here and more than a little turned off by the sense that I am supposed to deal politely and gently with unsafe people while I watch them do their damage, push their agendas, and sow harm. (I am choosing my words carefully even now). I just don’t know if it’s worth it to keep coming here.

        • Nancy on June 29, 2018 at 5:25 pm

          I feel the same way, STL. It is good to learn how to disagree without reacting, but at the same time it is triggering to watch the lack of respect, followed by – of all things – ‘blessings’.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2018 at 5:40 pm

            You’re right, Nancy but I think the lack of respect has gone both ways on this issue so I want to share a few concerns with you all. I hold James to a higher standard of conduct because he claims to be a pastor, a pastoral counselor and so I assume he knows how to handle his triggers and is self-aware enough to handle tough criticism without retaliating. When he’s slipped into reacting I’ve called him out on it. However, ladies, part of CORE is that we are responsible for ourselves and RESPECTFUL TOWARDS others without dishonoring ourselves. Right now Our entire culture has gone mad. It is in the mode of villifying anyone who doesn’t agree with their particular point of view. We see it everywhere. That practice is extremely dangerous. I know you don’t always agree with everything I say, and I don’t always agree with everything James says, nor does he with me, but can we have a respectful discussion without personal attacks?

            So my question to all of you is this: What makes this blog safe? IS it that everyone agrees with me? With you? Or is it that we can have genuine discussion, including disagreement on some issues, without attack, accusation or snarky comments? If we feel unsafe when someone questions or challenges our point of view, then perhaps our point of view isn’t very secure or stable. So my desire here is for you to have a voice, speak up for yourself and disagree when you want to. My desire for James is for him to listen better because I agree with all of you, he seems short sighted in matters of destructive and abusive relationships, although may be a fine counselor in normal marital problems. But let’s remember that All OF US – whether we agree or not, whether we are a victim of abuse or a perpetrator of abuse or an observer of abuse, are still created in God’s image and loved by God. Therefore can we treat each person with dignity and respect even though we totally disagree with their point of view or are repulsed by his (or her) actions or convictions? I think if we can all work to do that, this blog can not only be safe, but helpful, and healing.

          • Connie on June 29, 2018 at 5:41 pm

            A while back, the Cry For Justice site had an article on spiritual abuse, and they said that very often “God Bless You” is used by abusers at the end of their assertions as a condescending way of saying, “Case closed ’cause I’m right in the name of God”. It’s sort of like an “How dare you argue with God” thing.

          • Seeing The Light on June 29, 2018 at 7:30 pm


            Thank you. I, too, have found the “blessings” especially disturbing given the greater context.

          • Nancy on June 29, 2018 at 8:57 pm

            Hi Leslie,

            Thanks for sharing your concerns. I think you ask a good question….what makes a blog community safe?

            Differing viewpoints are not what I think make a blog community unsafe – what upsets me is when a differing viewpoint comes frequently from a person who does not make himself vulnerable here ( I’m not talking about James answering direct questions that are posed to him, that he does).

            To me this is ‘uneven’ and not at all reciprocal. It’s this over-all posture that ‘feels’ unsafe.

            To me..that’s the problem. And maybe there is nothing for you – Leslie- to do about it. Maybe it’s for each of us to manage as we need to.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:09 am

            Nancy thanks for clarifying. The last thing I want is for this blog to feel unsafe. On the other hand, each of you will get into situations where you at times “feel” unsafe. Then you’re right, you as an individual have to learn with God’s help to manage that feeling. I hope that you can do it with support and encouragement of this community as safety is a high value here. I sense James comes in this blog as the as the “Pastoral or Biblical crusader of truth, a righter of Leslie’s or other people’s wrong thinking” – Perhaps he means well, (And I think here is where we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions), but his style is off putting and alienating many times to those he’s trying to speak to. And from my vantage point, when the ladies here have tirelessly tried to give him feedback about it, he defends rather than listens, which reminds you of your destructive spouse which triggers many of you. But people who disagree with me or you or all of the rest here are everywhere. And in our own healing, growth and strength we have to learn to deal with them, or not.

          • Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 6:29 am

            Great article.

          • Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 8:06 am

            So when you have a person in a community that does not acknowledge their lack of reciprocity within that community, what is the responsibility of the community that they have come into?

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:36 am

            You’re right and speak up about it.

        • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2018 at 5:50 pm

          Seeing the Light: It may not be good to be here for you if you don’t want to engage in a discussion with opposing points of view. There are no hijackers here. But there are participants who may not always agree with my or your viewpoint. Is that okay? James has been quite verbal and I’m in a private discussion with him about that. Not sure why he feels it’s so important to have his voice here. But regardless, we are to speak truth with love. That is our Biblical mandate. That doesn’t mean pretend. But we see in the culture at large people attacking and villifying the “right” because of their point of view, or the “left” because of their point of view and it is only fracturing and harming our country. But what about those in the church? Can we not listen respectfully and still disagree strongly? The Bible tells us to be quick to listen, and slow to speak and slow to become angry. If you need this blog to kick people who disagree off, then this blog isn’t for you because that’s never been my style or my goal. In fact, ever since I started this blog – I have encouraged you who have been stuck so long in pretending and silence, to practice speaking up for yourself. But not to do it a way that turns you into an abuser or accuser. That is not what I teach nor do I believe it is God’s way. I’ve always been clear on CORE and believe that will help us all speak with truth and love (civility).

          • Seeing The Light on June 29, 2018 at 8:21 pm


            May I ask why you specifically addressed me with the comment you made at 5:50 pm? Nancy remarked that she feels the same way, yet you responded to her quite differently than to me. (No offense to you at all, Nancy). I’m not even the first one to use the root word “hijack”. When I read it, it seemed to fit, so I re-iterated it, though I adapted it to “hijackers”. Others have spoken out more strongly than I have with even sharper words than I have chosen – on this very post. I have not even made the sharpest accusations, though I would not be ashamed to generally agree with those who do when they are accurate and necessary.

            I do think you and I would disagree on quite a few things, and we would do things differently. However, it is your blog and I respect that. You want the conversation to include opposing views. I am one of those views, and I come to give and receive support. I come here to communicate with some very special women – some new, some regulars. I would list the regulars, but I might miss one by mistake and I don’t want to do that. (They probably know who they are). I do think, however, that there are wolves and trolls that have been on this blog – sometimes very repetitively – masquerading as something quite other than what they are. Knowing your style and your goal to be different than mine, I hold my tongue. For my part, there is a lot that I would say that goes unsaid because this is your blog, not mine. Then again sometimes other participants call someone out. So I add my voice. Sometimes, when I speak up, it is often as a reaction and a comment to the group at large, rather than a response to the person, since I do not believe it profitable for any of the parties involved to engage people like that.

            Jesus often spoke sharply. Paul wrote sharply. Other godly figures in the Bible would not have appeared civil or loving by certain standards when they were confronted with something they believed was wrong and destructive.

            Part of the rub for me is this: How are we to be discerning in our own lives, recognizing destructive people and relationships, taking a stand and refusing to abide it in our own personal lives, and yet tolerate it here in our conversations, having seemingly pleasant discussions with others who behave very much like these very people that we are now no longer in the fog about (again holding my tongue and not using adjectives and nouns that would be too sharp here)?

            Just as an aside, in response to a part of your comment, I have never been a pretender. I have been in the fog. I have had the wool pulled over my eyes and reacted and behaved accordingly. I have believed I was supposed to behave and respond in certain ways that I now know God does not expect. I have had to behave shrewdly when in contact with wolves. However, I have never been stuck in pretending.

            So today I was re-evaluating the profit in my participation. Is that acceptable, and is it acceptable to say it out loud?

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:34 am

            I appreciate you saying this out loud. I love dialogue and healthy differences. And as I said to you, if this blog does not provide value and support for you, your time is valuable and I would understand if you chose not to participate any longer. I responded to you specifically because in all honesty, your response was close to Nancy’s and I didn’t have time at the moment to scroll down and respond to others, but your words, captured much of what I had read on my e-mail feed from the group. So although I was writing to you, my words were intended for your concerns as well as the larger group. I appreciate you respecting the values I have and want to maintain on this blog. I don’t believe we have to pretend or have pleasant discussions in order to be civil and respectful. History shows long debates, Martin Luther King one of the best orators of truth, who confronted wrong and injustice without pretense or pleasantries yet did it without rancor. I guess where I’m coming from here is abusers feel totally justified to rant and accuse and attack because they believe they are “right” and you are “wrong” and you “deserve” to be corrected or scolded, or shamed for what you did that they believe was wrong. How is that different when we have elements of the same thing here for the same reasons? We’re right, they’re wrong. We’re speaking truth, they are crazy or evil? Please don’t hear me saying that you in particular have done it, but in this blog it’s been done and I don’t like it. I don’t like it when it’s been done to me. I don’t like it when it’s done to women I have spent my years speaking up for, and I also don’t like it when it’s done even to my enemies, people I don’t like or respect, yet am called to biblically love. Love does not pretend. Love involves being truthful. But love is also patient and kind – not because the other person deserves it but because that’s who you are in Christ. We have a huge choice. Our words we can use to confront and speak truth in constructive ways and they can be used to condemn and judge. I believe the Lord teaches us to steer clear of the latter as best as we can.

          • Connie on June 29, 2018 at 8:42 pm


            I thought that a large part of this blog is to help each other learn to discern red flags and whom to engage in discussion, re Proverbs.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:20 am

            Absolutely, and if you need to disengage with someone do it. IF you see red flags name them – without attacking or accusing. We’ve discussed this issue previously when there were other’s on the blog who were saying things that were upsetting for some of you. But for all of you reading this: here are some examples of what I would like to see happen. For example, “When you say xyz, I hear defensiveness in your voice – what’s going on?” or “I gave you feedback on something you said, and you are ignoring me.” “Or Right now you are overtalking me and not listening.” This is specific, direct, constructive feedback about something happening in the here and now. It’s not saying someone has this diagnosis, or these evil motives, or this intent. We don’t know that for sure, especially when we have such limited interaction as on a blog or internet site. All we know is what we see right before us and that can be plenty to dialogue and question without attacking someone. Let me know if that’s clear. As victims of abuse – we have been attacked, shamed, degraded, dismissed, and vilified. Please let’s be careful not to do that to others. We can cut off contact, stop a conversation, have good boundaries, speak the truth in love, confront evil, injustice, or confusion and contradictory statements without resorting to those tactics.

          • Aly on June 29, 2018 at 8:52 pm


            You wrote:
            “My desire for James is for him to listen better because I agree with all of you, he seems short sighted in matters of destructive and abusive relationships, although may be a fine counselor in normal marital problems.”

            It would be interesting to know more data on the amount of destructive /abusive relationships that tend to ‘first’ seek pastoral counsel (someone like James) or only receive pastoral counsel.

            Normal marital problems to me seem not to get so destructive to need that kind of intervention?
            Correct me if I’m way off base here.

            You also mentioned something about our culture ‘attacking’ and I think your correct as it seems.

            You also mentioned that you hold James to a higher standard as do I and I have been pretty clear on this point.
            If he’s short sided in this area, as you say and he’s been gently confronted over and over, what do we understand about a person who ‘doesn’t receive Feedback?

            I asked you a question about Understanding legalism and James responded. Even though he cut off my discussions with him. I believe I have challenged James on some pretty sharp patterns that seem concerning to me to think he counsels ‘others’ even as I have been treated by him. Not sure if you have seen all of his replies but they have been extremely condescending ~ such as no-one wants to hear about my marriage or how I see healthy marital dynamics.

            I have been respectful to disagree with him even when he’s reactive.

            My h (pre recovery) used to think I was disrespectful if I disagreed, or if he was challenged on anything.
            This was exposed in counseling and eventually he saw the pattern and the link. And especially saw just how destructive he would become on let’s say simple matters. The interesting thing is he can now admit take full responsibility and see that deep down he knew he was behaving I inappropriately to me. This was his fuel that escalated his behavior. He actually knew he was wrong. He wasn’t blind to it. But it was about power and seeing if I would take it.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

            Thanks Aly. Many pastoral and even trained clinical counselors do not get these dynamics. And sadly many counselors and pastors have not done their own work to recognize their own defensiveness and triggers in their own lives and instead of self-reflection and self-examination when they get triggered, they get reactive and defensive and attacking. James has done it and some of the women in the blog have done it. I am tempted to do it too – that’s why I often slow myself down before I respond so that I can speak out of the woman I want to be and not just what I think or feel at the moment of my trigger. I’m going to speak to James about being a participant here and the guidelines for healthy interaction. But not sure he will “listen” to my feedback either, but we will see.

          • Connie on June 29, 2018 at 9:20 pm

            Aly, what you said, (He knew that he was wrong), when I learned that, it changed everything. They use us as supply, it is entertaining for them to get us emotionally engaged, and we can talk until we’re green and not get anywhere. It’s a hamster wheel.

          • Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 6:30 am

            Great article.

          • Connie on June 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

            With all due respect, I’ve finally learned that trusting my gut isn’t a bad thing after all. And, I no longer accept being told that my feelings are not valid. If others feel safe, that’s great. And yes, Free, I can ignore what doesn’t feel right, yet I still won’t post what I think may lead to problems here or otherwise. Back to ‘walking on eggshells’. It’s ok though, it’s part of life’s learning curve. And it is a public forum.

          • Alene on June 30, 2018 at 8:22 pm

            What James often ends up doing reminds us of what we run into in our difficult relationships. It isn’t healthy dialogue, it is legalistic, it is theoretical, it is not relational with us who have come here for help. I don’t think he means it that way but it keeps happening over and over and over. .
            I know you want to have lee way for some discussion but when that discussion with one individual (in this instance) constantly goes into these circular unproductive discussions and you allow it to go on without intervening, I can see why some would use the word ‘unsafe’, perhaps another word is ‘unhealthy’. It has gone on and on on this particular blog post.
            You will notice my comments added in a few times above, I will try to put them in a nutshell here:.
            I engaged by:
            * seeking healthy interaction, which was fine
            * I began to analyze about his personality seeking to understand and be gracious to what was happening. I recognized that this evening as passive and the type thing that had been unhelpful in my behavior in some tough relaitonships in my life and I apologized to him this evening while pointing out there is a problem. (I sought CORE)
            * I stated I would disengage with him because various ones of us were expressing there was a problem and he kept going in various ways. (I sought CORE)
            * I acknowledged his vulnerablity because at one point his communication was healthy and honest (whereas using exegesis and concern for this other man hid his own story and avoided truth).
            * I came back and made a statement to him (again this evening in reading) when I saw he went back to doing it again. I did not engage in conversation, I made a statement pointing out something was wrong. (I sought CORE)
            * I acknowledge that Landon did have a helpful interaction with him. (I am thankful, it was a good interaction).

            It is hard to have a real conversation with him when it keeps slipping into unhealthy patterns, however ‘good’ he thinks his intentions are. I see your comment above when you encouraged him to consider our words pointing out there is a problem.

            It is ok to have some interaction with others and I know you want that for this blog; when it is excessive and feels unsafe at worse and unproductive and is unhealthy and has some elements reminiscent of what we’re dealing with in our homes/relationships and when it is allowed to go on too much then…in your desire for an open discussion, is it possible you are being passive?

          • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:34 am

            I don’t think I’m being passive here, but you may see it differently. I think it may be I’ve been really busy so I haven’t had time to hop on here in the last two weeks to give James more feedback myself and felt for the most part I agreed with what some of you were saying and questioning him about, although not with some of the tone or tenor of what was happening. Secondly, I may be over tolerant or too patient with things in the name of trying to give someone the benefit of the doubt until I’m sure otherwise. So as I said I am in a private discussion with James about this because I don’t want him to be a disruptive force in this blog but I don’t want to shun him just because we don’t agree with him.

          • Seeing The Light on June 30, 2018 at 9:15 pm


            Thank you for your response to me. After reading a lot of yesterday’s and today’s comments, including those of yours and others interacting with you, I wanted to ask a question. Speaking generally and over time, not specifically about the commenters on this post: Do you think you have ever had actual wolves in sheep’s clothing, as in people who are not Christians and who have truly evil motives commenting on your blog? Similarly, I would ask the same about trolls, as in those who post comments for the sake of causing trouble and discord?

          • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:55 pm

            Great question. I’ve written an article for the Association of Biblical Counselors on 3 ways to spot a wolf in Sheeps clothing

            So I do believe there have been people on this blog from time to time who have seemed to have questionable motives. However, this is such a limited setting, I would be reluctant to accuse someone of such without more evidence and behavior patterns to feel more comfortable. I think that some people are not good with written words or they don’t express themselves well via a short interaction, or do get triggered or reactive or defensive for reasons other than they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. So I am not likely to jump to conclusions based on the limited evidence of a few comments on these blogs of such a strong label as a wolf or a troll.

          • Sheep on July 1, 2018 at 12:09 am

            Leslie, the wolf in sheeps clothing article was so good for me and so applicable to my situation. That is why I call myself Sheep.

          • Seeing The Light on July 1, 2018 at 10:26 am


            I agree with Sheep; the wolf in sheep’s clothing article is very good.

            I understand your reluctance as you described based on the blog being a limited setting. I can’t speak specifically for others, but for myself, though I am somewhat careful what I say here in terms of calling anyone a wolf or a troll, in my own mind, I am more comfortable coming closer to a conclusion based on a person’s comments here – their words, their style, what they say and don’t say, and how they respond to others. I have had a lot of experience with wolves in my personal life, and I have a lot of experience with giving the benefit of the doubt too far and too long, such that I now have a fair degree of confidence in my intuition, as well as my ability to recognize red flags. I don’t doubt my gut the way I used to – it was often right, even in the early years, when I doubted it so much. I believe that this is a process that God was much involved in to teach me to trust those gifts as given by Him for my protection. I personally also have a strong desire to protect others and that desire sometimes shows up online in forums like this. So though I have not made strong accusation, I will sometimes react to comments in a manner that I think is fitting with certain people so that others who may be having a similar reaction know that they are not alone.

        • Free on June 29, 2018 at 7:12 pm

          I have never felt unsafe. If I skim a post and their are warning signs, I just don’t read anything that person posts. I filter through to those who need encouragement or those who offer wisdom. This blog has helped me feel heard on my journey.

          • Aly on June 30, 2018 at 9:33 pm


            I’m sorry this won’t post directly.
            This is in response to your June 30 at 8:22pm

            You wrote:
            “whereas using exegesis and concern for this other man hid his own story and avoided truth).”

            Can you expand on this?

      • Leslie Vernick on June 30, 2018 at 11:37 am

        Connie, as I’ve asked others, what makes this blog unsafe for you?

        • Barbara B on June 30, 2018 at 6:32 pm

          Hi Leslie, I’m responding to your comment on June 30 at 11:20. You said:

          But for all of you reading this: here are some examples of what I would like to see happen. For example, “When you say xyz, I hear defensiveness in your voice – what’s going on?” or “I gave you feedback on something you said, and you are ignoring me.” “Or Right now you are overtalking me and not listening.” This is specific, direct, constructive feedback about something happening in the here and now. It’s not saying someone has this diagnosis, or these evil motives, or this intent.
          Let me know if that’s clear.”

          Will you clarify whether you prefer us to directly engage with a triggering person such as James, or whether it is acceptable to talk about his comments but not directly to him? I won’t talk to him for reasons already mentioned, but processing his attempts to justify his damaging approach was quite helpful for me. It helped me to clarify my own thinking and gave me practice articulating my reasons. Please tell me if that was rude or out of line, though.

          I appreciate the concrete guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to help. Is there a way we can reimburse you for you time here? I don’t take it for granted that you offer this blog as a free service. I learn something valuable every time I come here.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:41 am

            Barbara, I think it’s fine if we explore our questions or confusion with others. For example, “I heard James saying xyz – did anyone else hear him saying that? or “I thought I tried to speak honestly to so and so, but they thought I was being judgmental. Was I?

            These questions and feedback of one another is something we all need from one another including from you to me. I’m encouraged that you find this site and blog valuable. I think it’s an important community and even when it’s rough, it’s important that we hang together and work it through.

        • Connie on June 30, 2018 at 7:42 pm

          Leslie, I’ve been trying to think exactly what else, besides what I already wrote. I think part of it is that we are actually being encouraged to ‘engage’ with someone who has proven to be a crazy-maker. I know that in your books and here, you usually say, “You might have this conversation with your husband……..” I think that most of us have had ‘that conversation’ a gazillion times already with our own ‘resident fool’ (the Bible’s term) and found it not only useless but even giving the offender more fuel and supply if not actually dangerous at times. Part of their grooming is to find out as much as possible about as to use against us. I know I’ve replied to J as well and then kick myself for being so dumb. It’s such a temptation to think, “Surely if I word it just right, he’ll get it.” If God isn’t getting through, who do I think I am? In fact, according to Proverbs (26:4, 18:2, etc.) and personal experience, reasoning with a fool actually is not at all right. I think that’s why, as the article I posted says, we resort to sarcasm because nothing touches them anyway and at least we can get a bit of humour out of it with each other, as well as help each other to recognize these things more easily.

          So then the blog becomes really really long and many give up or go away or get discouraged because someone unhelpful is monopolizing and we’re all trying to ‘help’ when there are others who would be much more profitably helped.

          Not sure if I’m expressing myself well, but that’s sort of what comes to me.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:37 am

            Yes I totally get it but I don’t think we would have gotten to that point until you went through what you went through. In other words we can’t tell whether someone doesn’t “get it” or we need to word things differently until we try every which way, other people try every which way, stand on our head, and they still don’t get it. And in some ways I think James gets it, but he just disagrees, but writing is different than speaking and I haven’t had a conversation with him to see if he truly understands how much his behaviors replicate some of the things destructive individuals do.

          • caroline on July 2, 2018 at 11:58 pm

            Connie and Leslie,
            Yes it gets ugly, the blog gets long and wearisome, and many people drop off. I personally dropped off because I was busy making kilts for my many sons to wear to a Scottish festival (super cute) and honesty I was really surprised to see it still going on after the weekend.

            I did get sarcastic in this discussion, and I did get triggered, not because James is so very much like my husband (He’s NOT) but he is like so many of the caustic pastors I have known or been made aware of who re-abuse betrayed women when they come for help, advice & spiritual guidance.

            Either they don’t even begin to understand the beautiful complexity of God designed female sexuality, or they are morally compromised themselves, its hard to guess which, but they do great harm, and that’s a fact. Many, many, wonderful Christian women have felt they must leave the church, and sometimes even their faith, in order to leave/change their abusive situations.

            When a voice like “James” is given a podium here and he speaks with the “spiritual authority” of a pastor and the professional authority of a counselor, this does begins to feel like an unsafe place.

            I will continue to chime in when I have some relevant insights from my own situation and/or experiences with other betrayed wives. I do not personally feel unsafe because, A. I’m not living in an abusive situation anymore, and my hubs is every bit as offended by all the “Rev. Jameses” of this world as I am. And B, I have several other amazing support forums full of wise beautiful women, one that is by membership only.

            Though I was helped by this site myself, and I so appreciate your willingness to host it for free Leslie, I would hesitate to recommend it as “support” to anyone brand new on their own freedom journey or healing journey. There is a place for open civil argument, and there is also a place for safe refuge and restoration.

            And good luck talking to James Leslie, for he was obviously here to discredit you and expose your so called “un-biblical” positions while not giving his full name or what ministry he was connected to. Not playing fair if you ask me. .

    • Sophia on June 29, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Hi Landa! I identify much with your ‘do the next thing’ way to
      keep going. Also, in counseling with my own h recently he went down the self-congratulatory and defense road…our counselor stopped him and said, ‘NO amount of ‘I am sorry ‘ or ‘I love you’ is TOO much.’ We too are muddling our way toward recovery and each day is a battle for healthy patterns and different behaviors and dialogue. Defensiveness after betrayal and abuse damages recovery. It throws more hurt 😞 on the person who has been beaten down. I find the CORE strengthening so helpful. Also, I am learning as a daughter of God that my relationship with Him is number one and I am very much in control of what I allow or do t allow, will participate in or won’t participate in🤷‍♀️ based on my identity as His daughter. My doormat and people pleasing days are left behind me in the dust daily. (Ha ha I actually thought that was virtuous living. What growth!!! Baby steps each day!!!). But FYI, this new way of life is not nearly as poplular to the people in your world who are used to the old you. Miraculously, the truth sets one free and I find that I enjoy the new interactions as a stronger person more than ever.

    • Free on June 29, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you Landa. I like your answers. Keep going, you are on the right track. Trust your instincts!

    • Free on June 29, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Have you read Lundy Brancroft’s books yet? Watched his videos or Patrick Doyle’s videos? Look up Stark’s work on Coercisive Control and the news laws in the UK to protect those in emotionally abusive relationships. Don Hennessy has two books now and you can watch an interview with him too, just Google his name.

      This is your journey and only you can customize it. The more information you get, the more you will understand the dynamic and as the revelations of truth hit your brain, you will know what to do next.

    • Aly on June 29, 2018 at 9:04 pm


      Authentic Sexual intimacy REQUIRES emotional and spiritual safety.
      It’s how we are designed by God.

      Those who scratch their heads~ can continue or can get curious… I hope the latter.
      If they get curious maybe they can get hungry for the whole counsel of the Word and not get trapped on specific places.
      We are to apply the whole counsel as Christians.
      Even if we fail at this we are called to be willing to be teachable.

    • Aly on June 29, 2018 at 9:15 pm


      You wrote something really important;
      “I thought I was going to have to leave if he told me to, but I feel like it was the Holy Spirit who showed me that this home and this family are just as much mine as his.”

      Ok I certainly agree with you. Help me understand why if he told you to leave you would have to?
      Did you break the marital covenant? Does the home represent the marital dwelling?

      I’m just asking for more clarity here on how you are untangling ~ I’m not saying stay, go etc. I’m not saying tel him to go etc.

      I can tell you that my situation was a bit different and my h certainly broke his covenant vows to me as he was entrusted by God to care for my heart. I felt if anyone was going to leave the home (safety being first priority) it wouldn’t be the loyal devoted partner? But the one who betrayed.

      This processing helped me stand with clarity and confidence in not being drawn into more fear or pulled into the cycle.

  40. Landa on June 30, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Thank you, Free and Aly.

    Free, I will look those up. I have never heard of them.

    Aly, I can’t tell you why. I just did. I just accepted it at first. In the midst of the turmoil of, “What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? Where am I going to get the money? What about the kids? …???,” I felt a still, small voice say that I could just say, “No.” It made so much more sense than what he was saying and what I was thinking. This was as much my home as his, and he couldn’t legally kick me out. He may want me to leave. That would certainly be easier, but I didn’t have to go. So, I didn’t.

    No, I have never broken our covenant.


    • Aly on June 30, 2018 at 9:23 am


      Hope you understood my questions, they were really meant to be directed like.., have you broken your covenant vow? So when I saw your reply how you responded made me think I should clarify.

      You have shared your dynamic here and I so appreciate you having a strong voice (this is good) you have also shared specifics about your husband’s choices that indeed have broken the covenant. Many of us here support you in your boundary it’s important you hear continued validation on such a critical issue.

      Since you have physical safety in place, I just wanted you to know that I certainly support your stance of ‘this is my house also’. In fact, I feel as though the person who breaks the covenant (not you Landa) ends up with the consequences of leaving the marital dwelling based on violation of the vows and security. If that ends up going that direction.

      A marital dwelling /home for a family is supposed to be a safe secure peaceful space for us to refresh and replenish our energy from the very ‘broken world’ we live in and find ourselves navigating through.
      The home …It’s like a safe sanctuary dwelling where love and care can nurture our strength. Where we provide a safe loving place to feed & love on our children.

      For me, when I was met with the question and consideration of ‘ should my h and I be in the ‘same dwelling space’, my discerning thoughts were As the primary care giver to our children I needed a secure and healing place to offer this to my children.
      If it wasn’t for me as their caregiver then how could I offer that space for them? Children are highly intune to the well being of their primary care parent. This didn’t mean I was to leave but maybe my husband’s presence was going to need to change.

      Plus, given our marital issues my h at the time lacked the maturity to see his destructive behavior and what he was causing to our ‘safe home’. He was the offender and I felt that earned him the consequences of finding a different location ~ if it got to that place. He was in violation of the covenant based on his destructive behavior.
      Many people in our close circle would have thought ‘he’s not that bad’, or all marriages go through these type of fights etc.
      They were ignorant to the deeper issues of the heart and sanity of a person’s personhood.

      So Landa, in response to the thought that you might have to leave if ‘he’ would make you, ?that was what I was wanting to better understand about you.

      When someone has been in a destructive relationship for some time it’s easy to think differently based on the abuse, it’s easy to think our offender ‘has more power over decisions than we do’ even when we say it outloud it’s hard to see in essence that the reality is They Don’t have that power, but the abuse lies in the concept that they ‘want us to believe they have that power or capability’ . They even feel they have the power or are entitled to that kind of decision.

      Often the offender who has gone untreated for this destructive behavior, has no issue seeing that they are entitled to whatever, they have a stance that their behavior doesn’t cost or shouldn’t cost. They feed the flesh in places, and do not want to acknowledge the harm or consequences done.

      A man in recovery with a wife in a Separate room would humbly offer to find a different location especially if that gave space to work on the individual issues.
      I am not saying indeed separate, but a skilled Christian counselor could help you in your situation and maybe help draft a ‘STRUCTURED separation’ especially if things are in an impass. Like you mentioned.

      I should clarify, I said untreated for the issues. Your husband has had some treatment and done it seems a lot of work, but his continued lack of recovery and understanding shows that he needs more and more intensive work. He might have places where he just check boxes!

      The behavior and his attitude toward loss or not having a reconciled relationship or healed one shows what’s still not dealt with and often those show up very clear in the relationship he is closest with ~ you.

      Sorry this was long~

    • Aly on June 30, 2018 at 9:25 am


      Oops correction yet again!
      It was supposed to say;
      Hope you understood my questions, they were really NOT meant to be directed like.., have you broken your covenant vow?

  41. many years on June 30, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    To all who are here reading this blog post. For this particular blog post, it is the most comments I have even seen for a post.So, the conflict and the addressing of what has been shared touches so many of our lives.
    I woke up thinking of how Satan deceived Eve in the Garden with subtle references which were totally aimed at deceiving Eve into not believing God’s instructions to herself and to Adam. The same thing happened when Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness. Satan twisted God’s Word.
    I am in prayer that we all may use discerning wisdom in helping one another to overcome any subtle mindsets which may possible go against God’s Word. That we may die to self, and love one another more deeply, knowing that all of us are going through so much of the same experiences of abuse on varying and different levels.

    My heart goes out to everyone here who has come for council and respect too.
    Our battle is with the enemy, yet God is greater than our heart’s fears, or wounds. It is Satan whose one, evil desire, is to separate and divide Christians. And so, we are all fighting the same enemy. Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world. The god of this world holds no sway over us, when we pray fervently.

    Love and prayers to everyone here.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:51 am

      Amen, thank you too.

  42. many years on June 30, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    And this verse too:
    “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my Strength, and my Redeemer”
    To know that God loves us so very much and he is our strength is so comforting.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:51 am

      Amen, thank you.

  43. Maria on June 30, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I agree with Leslie that James is probably sincere about his beliefs, but his methods of delivery remind us of our abusers. After some research, I think he identifies with the group of counselors who believe in Biblical counseling vs, Christian Counseling. It reminds me of a Christian group who believed that the Bible has answers to all situations in life including physical ailments. The pastor of this group refused medical treatment for a very treatable condition and died leaving behind a young family. He felt he was right and no one could reason with him.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 1, 2018 at 12:50 am

      Maria, I think you’re probably spot on that James identifies more with Nouthetic or Biblical counselors. One telltale way I think so is that he continually says that I use a therapeutic approach to Scriptures where he uses an exegetical approach. I’ve never used a therapeutic approach, – at least not consciously. But I do use a narrative approach where I look at the original context and culture and apply it with other contexts and relationships within the Bible. So for example, if Paul says to us to love does not keep a record of wrongs, in 1 Corinthians 13 – and James wants that to mean that we shouldn’t remember the sins someone does against us if we’ve truly forgiven. But then I look later on at Paul’s life where he warns young Timothy to be careful of Alexander the Coppersmith who did him great harm. So does that mean Paul never forgave Alexander, or that even if he did forgive him, he still doesn’t trust him and is warning young Timothy not to trust him either (2 Timothy 4:14) So does that mean that Paul does not follow his own advice not to keep a record of wrongs? OR did he mean something else by that phrase not to keep a record of wrongs? The other thing is that James seems quite sure that he is right unless proven wrong. But the method we have to prove him wrong is his own method. I think that there is a lot of unknown and mystery in faith and in God. We walk by faith not by sight. If we were capable of figuring it all out, then we would be God and that is not true.

      • James on July 1, 2018 at 1:03 am

        Leslie and Maria,

        I absolutely identify with nouthetic counseling. My training was in nouthetic counseling before the name was change.

        Maria, I have appreciated our dialog. If you don’t mind me asking, what specifically about my delivery method “reminds you of your abusers?”

        That’s the last things I want.

        As Leslie said, we all have views and we all tend to think we are right in our views until proven wrong (it would be strange to say we believe things we are pretty sure we are wrong about).

        But if there is something about the delivery “method” that I use to communicate what I have come to believe that is “off putting” then I am open to input.


        • Maria on July 1, 2018 at 7:25 am


          I am glad you are open to constructive criticism. Here is a quick list I came up with. Maybe others can chime in (with your good in mind).

          1. Superiority attitude – I may not be a pastor but I notice you have picked certain passages in the Bible to apply to marriage. Other passages you dismiss and say they don’t apply it. Has it ever occurred to you you could be wrong. If we are truly honest, none of us know for sure if we are believing the truth. We have based our beliefs on different things- FOO, personal conviction, experiences. None of us know anyone who has died and gone to heaven or hell. Having a humble attitude that we may not know all the answers is important.
          2. You don’t listen. You are so intent on proving you are right you lose sight of everything else.
          3. Minimize sin.
          4. Legalistic- Rules, rules, rules. You don’t focus on relationship.
          5. Very defensive, then you become rather immature and start lashing out, then you end with a blessing.
          6. You dismiss other people’s feelings. Shows a lack of empathy.
          7. You are hung up on gender roles. Everything seems to be about gender. My husband is that way too.

          Like I said before, I have to be very careful when responding to my husband. If I reacted the way you do, and let’s say we came to see you, you would probably focus on my behavior and tell me I am part of the problem.

          • Barbara B on July 3, 2018 at 9:51 pm

            Hi Maria, Your personal testimony about the dangers of marriage counseling when abuse is present make so much sense. I wonder, may I have your permission to copy and paste some things you have written? Your points are so impactful and I want to share some of them in a Bible study. Technically, since this is a public blog I guess I could copy it anyway, but it seems disrespectful not to ask you first.

        • Aly on July 1, 2018 at 8:24 am


          I think if you are willing you might circle back to some of my responses and then your responses to me.
          You might look at Nancy’s too.
          I say responses instead of conversation or dialog because for my experience there would be (two or more people) listening and speaking back and forth.

          It’s common for abusive dynamics to relate in this one/sided place where the ‘one who believes they are more educated, and they have the floor’ they are not concerned about how they impact others at least that’s their posture. This one-sided place of what they call communitcating escalates in a core devaluing pattern.

          Many of your posts were one sided and it was as if you answered often in a question (which some things were not directed at you) and giving your comment etc. But many direct important questions to you specifically got unanswered …. this was upside down and why I found it incongruent in character.

          Your responses seem one-way and then with a swift -no way if someone like myself challenges you.
          It’s a posture that isn’t just ‘off-putting’ but more reactive. It looks more controlling like someone who feels the ‘right to defend’ dismiss, deny, or deflect.
          All of the qualities fold into double standards and the way a person feels entitled that the same rules apply to everyone else, but not to them. This is old patterns to abusive dynamics, this notion of not seeing (literally) blind of sorts to not see what you are doing because it’s so fundamental in development and an important part of growth and maturity.

          As you look over those comments, look for those areas of:
          Deflecting, dismissive tones, this is what often is circular pattern in relating.
          Not much space for two people to be heard and considered. I would also ask yourself to reflect on the amount of empathy or humility you are experiencing when you engage here with hurting individuals. By humility, I mean when you consider ‘just how capable you are to add Injury to another person’ ?

          Not being intentional doesn’t dismiss the injury.
          Also many comments made from you brought a leveling ~
          This is also a common trait in abusive dynamics where the person who said/did something and another confronts how they experience it, the offender defends with saying look things like at your other offenses or ‘we are all sinners’
          Or You go into Christ’s blood and sacrifice for our sins.
          Leveling is dangerous because it dismisses the argument at hand and tries to put two people As the offenders. When the offendee is speaking up.

          Maybe this helps if your willing to seek better understanding of your interactions here. I do think you have a higher responsibility (biblically) to have the skills necessary to have more mature conversations and care for those who have been victimized and or recipients of very destructive dynamics.

        • Nancy on July 1, 2018 at 10:57 am


          I hope that you don’t take what I’m about to say as attack. I will add one point and then explain it:

          A lack of reciprocity is characteristic of an abuser.

          You do not ‘enter into’ our community by sharing yourself. You only share your opinion. Leslie’s question to us each week asks us to share our personal experience as well as our opinion. You do not respect this format.

          And so your overall approach to this community of people is non-reciprocal. This reminds us of our abusers.

          • Aly on July 1, 2018 at 11:36 am

            Nancy& James,

            I would agree with you here Nancy.

            James, Nancy’s point is valid as how you treated and responded to me sharing my marital experience and posture.
            You quickly attacked and in a very condescending written way you told me that others don’t care about my marriage or your own.
            How can you make that conclusion for other people?

            This is attitude is very contradictory to the biblical marital importance that is an reoccurring theme that has God highlights for the kingdom.

          • Barbara B on July 1, 2018 at 12:06 pm

            The Nouthetic angle explains a lot. The philosophy in nouthetics is to focus on sin and the wrath and judgment of God, leaving out a full picture of scripture and God’s character. God focuses on restoration and redemption. Reconciliation is the theme of the gospel, not merely the removal of sin as is emphasized in nouthetics. Since nouthetics focuses on sin, not reconciliation, of course elements necessary to reconciliation, such as respect, kindness, patience, empathy, etc. are considered irrelevant. I have a counselor friend who worked in a city that frequently hosted Nouthetics conventions. She said they were overwhelmed with clients after every convention due to the trauma caused by the Nouthetic teachings.

          • Nancy on July 1, 2018 at 1:15 pm


            I just want to say that so many here have benefitted from your wisdom – especially the personal marital experiences that you so graciously share with us.

            You have incredible ‘cyber insight’ ( I say this as a joke, it’s actually a gift of seeing patterns and asking appropriate questions where there are inconsistencies that point to underlying issues). And all of this is done without being reactive. You show us how to challenge one another toward growth in Christ. What a gift you have been given ( and have honed)!

          • many years on July 3, 2018 at 2:46 pm

            Nancy, Aly, Maria, Leslie, Barbara B,
            Excellent input all of you.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2018 at 12:41 am

            This is to all: I have been privately corresponding with James about some of my and your concerns. He is going to read over his responses and for now, will not be posting. However he also shared that they discovered just recently that his wife’s cancer has returned and he’s going to be preoccupied with her care. I asked him if I could share this with you all so that when you think of him, you could pray for her and for them. He of course welcomed that.

          • many years on July 5, 2018 at 4:18 pm

            Thank you, Leslie for the information about James. I will be praying for James and his wife for God’s healing and comfort.

      • Connie on July 1, 2018 at 1:27 am

        Yes, that ‘love does not keep a record of wrongs’ gets thrown out a lot. I think only one translation says that, the rest are more like ‘doesn’t hold a grudge’. The whole Bible is a record of wrongs. 🙂 We’re supposed to learn from those.

        • Aly on July 2, 2018 at 9:01 am


          I wish I could post directly from your comment on July 1st.
          Thank you for your encouraging words and I think similar things of your journey here also. I hope to pass on anything beneficial as people have given me that kind of care for myself and my marriage. Sure we have had some bad advice and some extremely poor unhealthy modeling in the family system. But I still struggle seeing that these issues are unique totally, I see them as more repetitive and common.
          Common being ‘not good’.

          I think we can all have our patterns and inconsistencies as we are all walking along learning. At least I think learning is essential in the Christian life.

          I care about all who have been deeply impacted by a destructive relationship or marriage ~ it’s painful.

          I have some very involved friends near me and I care about them, I can’t imagine if I DID care about them, not caring about their children and their marriage.
          This would be off for me.

          You and I have had some very similar experiences and I thank you Nancy so much for your understanding and support here. I think you bring up so many highlights that speaks to what this blog can be when it comes to encouragement and growth.

          We all need God and others to grow~ I believe this is how he designed it and it continues to be a running theme biblically.

          I personally think this blog is pivotal in growing because so many of us are truly vulnerable and honest about our pain and our loss.

          Losing relationships is hard, it’s what makes us human and Yes, Jesus Lovers/Followers.

          The more I have walked on this journey I feel there are those that seriously avoid pain and avoid relationship doing all sorts of behaviors ‘destructive ones’ to others and mostly themselves. I think many of us have been on the receiving end of this ‘innocently responded to’ over other issues not speaking of the blog here specifically.

          I also have learned and I’m still learning to accept that there are those individuals that will only do relationships in a destructive and unhealthy way. That’s all they are capable of to offer.
          When I say this I’m really referring to the one-sidedness and unbalanced table.

          This is not how Christ wants us to be in any relationship with our brothers or sisters. No one is above the other.

          Nancy, thank you for being such a support and amazing part of my journey here.
          Love to you all and prayers for your hearts and families. 💜

          • Nancy on July 2, 2018 at 10:50 am

            “I’m still learning to accept that there are those individuals that will only do relationships in a destructive and unhealthy way”.

            I’m with you here, Aly. So. Painful.

            Personally, Part of that grief is beind so aware of the difference and knowing the freedom in what healthy relationships are like. Living so many years, not knowing what I was missing….that’s where those who are ‘still in it’ don’t see. I’m thinking specifically of my MIL.

            It’s been 6 months of absolutely no contact – she has actually respected this boundary ( first time ever).

            My h and I are open to ‘something’ but we don’t know what. The other day, we talked about how her ‘respecting’ our boundaries could also be ‘cut off’ from a furious place. Given what we know about her, this is most likely.

            We’re not sure if we should re-initiate at this point or not. We feel as though we have done a lot of healing. We need to be sure that we operate in reality – going in with appropriate / realistic expectations, and then respond and not react.

            Our youngest is stressed and worries about her grandma ( we often pray for her as a family). She was closest with her, but a lot of that closeness was built ( by grandmother) on the back of, to the detriment, of her older sister.

            Any advice / questions / wisdom? ( from any of you reading this)

          • Aly on July 2, 2018 at 12:54 pm


            We have had such similar boundaries get escalated to no contact as well.
            I wish I had more advice and I hope to give comfort and it’s so painful.
            Our counselor has been such an instrument walking along side to bring perspective and validation of reality.

            Here’s what helped in our grief at times and what has helped as we Parent the children about relationships.

            A relationship in of itself is about ~ TWO participants participating giving and receiving.

            A dynamic where it’s clearly one side~ I don’t believe respresents an actual relationship.
            Maybe an interaction ~ but not a relationship.

            This is why from our situation we have ‘invited’ our ext. family for a relationship where both parties exist not just one with the one who wants to create a dysfunctional standard etc. Regardless of where that dysfunctional standard originated from.

            People who do it only one way or Their way, are not having relationships with others, it may be how they want things but it’s not relational.

            So it’s been a longgg road and a lot of pain and grief. So my ext family want to offer relationship the way they do it and desire it to meet their unhealthy patterns, so are they really inviting us into ‘relationship?’ No!
            They are inviting us to participate into more dysfunctional family and give modeling to our children of more dysfunctional behavior that could send more confusion to our children.

            My love for them is in action in not collaborating with this. My hope is in Christ and I’m so very thankful that he invites us into authentic relationship.

            It’s painful to grieve but it’s also important to stay aligned.

          • Nancy on July 2, 2018 at 4:54 pm

            Thanks for your reply, Aly.

            You said, “we have invited our ext.nfamily for a relationship where both parties exist not just one…”

            Hmmmm…That is the spirit, I think, of where we would like to go. Inviting her into health. I’m just not sure that she would ‘get it’, or even want to. She’s a steamroller.

            When we talked to our counsellor about setting boundaries with her, I finally said in exasperation, “asking her to respect our boundaries is like asking her to be someone other than who she is”. That’s when he asked about Aspergers traits ( and we confirmed a bunch).

            One of my h’s brother has cut us out because of our limits. I’m so disappointed with him because this is the brother who has occasionally taken up residence on our couch when things have gone wrong for him. We’ve always been there for him.

            His other 2 siblings understand and are supportive of us.

            We’ll have to chat with our counsellor, next week.

        • Aly on July 4, 2018 at 2:33 pm

          Thanks for offering an update and certainly can respect James’ circumstances here.
          Will keep them in prayer.

  44. Autumn on July 1, 2018 at 6:06 am

    I think we all learned two very important things from this exchange. The first is that it is always important to interview a counselor and research their methodology of practice before we retain their services. The second thing we learned is that Nouhetic counseling is caustic for people trapped in destructive relationships. Avoid it like the plague!

    • Nancy on July 1, 2018 at 7:53 am

      This is a very good point, Autumn.

      It seems to me that this approach to the Scriptures involves interpretations that would further harm a victim of abuse (we have seen this repeatedly in exchanges around sexual intimacy, as well as covert abuse).

      And if this approach is taught, (and if James is indeed representative of Nouthetic counselling, in general) then it would be safer for victims of (covert) abuse to go to a secular counsellor, than a Nouthetic one. Not because of a lack of sincerity, but because of the method being used.

      If my reasoning lines up then it makes total sense that victims of abuse often get more help from our secular friends than they do from inside the church, because one of the very methods being used inside the church produces blinders that do not allow the nuances of covert abuse to be acknowledged.

  45. Connie on July 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    So I’ve been looking up these big words that have been floating around here recently – exegetical, neuthetic. That makes sense. These are the ways that cults use the Bible. That way it’s so easy to tweak verses to make a whole new set of ‘laws’ that ‘have to’ be kept to the letter. It makes it easy to tweak scripture in favour of men, slavery, or whatever you want. The ‘shepherding’ movement had that approach (touch not the Lord’s anointed), and so leaders get away with murder because the followers can’t say anything against their ‘shepherd’ because he’s just always right. I recently read of a guy who led a cult for a while. He said, “I quit because it got tiresome all the lies I had to keep making up to keep this thing going. But people fell for it. They are insecure and looking for someone to worship.” You can find a verse to support almost anything you want.

    I think it’s really dangerous to believe that the Holy Spirit only speaks to us through the Bible. The Bible has to confirm his guidance, but if we lean on our own understanding to interpret the Bible, we are back to eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead of the tree of life. And who are we to know exactly what even one word means. For example, the word ‘submit’. Who knows God’s heart and intent with that word unless you study the whole Bible under the tutoring of the HS? And even then we can so easily throw our own ideas into it. I see only that ‘submit’ is addressed to the one doing it, never to the one being ‘submitted’ to. I don’t see anywhere where it say ‘make’ someone else submit. Yet the church has rarely seen that. And does it mean unquestioned obedience, or deference? Big difference!!!

    • caroline on July 3, 2018 at 12:42 am

      Connie, this is all very interesting about submission and what it means to submit to any human authority, husbands or otherwise .

      For myself, I was led to look at Daniel in the OT as an example of true biblical submission. Daniel prayerfully, humbly, and respectfully obeys God first, and “submits” to whatever that obedience would cost him under the kings authority.
      For me that meant very respectfully standing up for decency and truth and risking, not being thrown to a den of hungry lions, but receiving my husband’s disapproval, anger, rejection, and the shame of divorce & single motherhood:

      I will not live this way. I know your heart, and this is not the man you wanted to be.

      I was pregnant at the time of this bold move, and it was a huge risk any way you look at it. But asking for anything less would have been an insult to my God, my children, myself, and yes, even to my husband’s own human dignity. Going along with his choices would not have been submission , it would have been winking at evil. .

      • Autumn on July 3, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        Caroline, you are one brave woman! Pregnancy in itself is such a vulnerable state. You are my hero!! How is life now?

        • caroline on July 6, 2018 at 4:11 am

          Thanks Autumn, but I’m no hero, and it was a VERY long time coming!
          To answer you though, life is full and some days running over.

          As I’ve shared before, my husband did choose surrender, recovery, and the difficult path of re-building trust and making amends. We are married, living as partners, best friends, and even lovers.

          We are over five years out from the final and “fullest-full” disclosure. And while I am well aware of the statistics, I am satisfied that I have heard it all and there are no more hairy secrets between us. We continue to “struggle forward” as we strive to live out the gospel both as individuals and as a married couple.

          I joined an online community of betrayed wives and found a lifeline. It was discontinued by the ministry that hosted it , so I started up another q while ago. (Part of my husband’s story is posted there. )

          Of course, I am still a little crazy at the edges but I would not describe myself as living in cyclical and ongoing trauma anymore. My life can feel overwhelming at times, but not because my marriage is so sick and imploding.

          Currently, I am living in a season of ongoing death grief and loss. It began with the loss of the marriage I thought I had, but has grown to include the deaths of my father and two sisters as well as two miscarriages, all in a period of about 4 years.

          I am coming to embrace the reality that all life is precious and our tightest hold on people and circumstances is temporary. There is no time to waste living in darkness and denial. We have only so many days allotted to us, with no extras. So we must choose life and truth.

          We must follow the Truth, even when we don’t know where He may lead us.

      • Aly on July 4, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        I agree fully with this post and your posture!

        I love Daniel’s testimony and biblical modeling.
        You wrote something CORE:
        “For me that meant very respectfully standing up for decency and truth and risking, not being thrown to a den of hungry lions, but receiving my husband’s disapproval, anger, rejection, and the shame of divorce & single motherhood:”

        I can relate so very closely to this.
        Often, when we choose what we will respectfully stand up against, it isn’t common or likely that those or our husband will quickly respond with healthy behavior.
        Often it is the rejection and the disapproval ~

        A woman running toward God, is no longer following and or submitting to a husband not following God.
        But isn’t this what many of us have been taught in the church..” submit and be meeklike, winning our husbands without a word”?
        I’m certainly paraphrasing here but I was given this directive often to my marital issues and it was not ‘true wisdom’ when you especially have a professing Christian husband claiming to be a man who will vow to care and be entrusted to my heart.

        No one (whom you reach out to for help) exactly wants to deal or confront the incongruity or the conflicts that are obvious when you have a professing believer in words but clearly not in behavior.

        Caroline, I don’t think you would ever choose this journey for anyone but clearly you are showing in action who you are surrendered and submitted to. You are modeling in great risk the EZer regardless of the outcome but standing true to your commitment as your role and high position as wife.

        I think Daniel was so brave in seeing that compromising was no way to ‘live’ but to risk was really where he found that cornerstone place with God!
        He would not settle.

        Way to Go Caroline!!

  46. Alene on July 1, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I want to add another thought that is relevant to what has happened with James.

    I am pondering the use of scripture.

    I have learned it is difficult to have healthy interaction with my husband regarding scripture. He rarely sees my point.
    Then he says “prove it”. He may even be a bit sincere though usually not. My heart says, ‘no’. The attitude is wrong. It will go no where. Don’t engage in fruitless discussions. I feel like I’ve been through muck and the truth along with me. Prove it? Prove something to someone who does not see? who isn’t seeing? is that even possible? discuss in such a scenario. No. I’ve learned what happens just on the outer fringes of such a conversation. No.

    It is degrading to me and to truth. and it is fruitless.

    He throws out scripture verses in a way that misses the heart of scripture…when he doesn’t listen and seek to hear…when he uses scripture in a legalistic way and justifies certain viewpoints and behaviors, it is hard. I cannot have a healthy discussion with him. If he can’t see what is right there, and is not honestly open to my viewpoint, then conversation goes no where. It is circular. It is unhealthy. It focuses on the letter of the law. It focuses on using scripture to justify a certain viewpoint or behavior. It is rigid. It is stuck.

    It is sad.

    I can’t participate in it.

    It doesn’t matter what he intends. It matters in the sense he isn’t being purposefully vicious. But it doesn’t matter in the sense that it breaks relationship and he is not open to input and wisdom whether he intends it or not..

    Leslie has wisely put “O” open to the Holy Spirit and wise others as a strength. She’s right.

    In fact, I was to a quieter extent doing it to myself: seeking to respond to scripture, to the Lord,…and finding as life in my difficult relationship cut very deeply into my heart beyond a simple view of scripture that I had hurt myself and helped enable the problem to continue because of seeking to quietly follow scripture like a simple view of ‘trust’ and ‘submit’.

    This is because I;
    * had a passive faith I began to discover, one where I had to change and take responsibility for what I COULD do, and could CHOOSE to stand up-speak up-and define.
    * I didn’t understand the role I had to play
    * I listened to other hurting women and found I wasn’t alone and what the impact of these situations is and that I had to rethink some things and go deeper and gain strength
    * I found out that scripture was deeper than I knew in certain ways I hadn’t realized, that while I had seen much depth, there was much deeper to go,. I found verses that were like layers of onions, with layers and layers to go and like light illuminating my path in ways I hadn’t seen.
    * that God’s heart and his words were like prisms and that they often weren’t simple to be taken at face value but living and to be taken in relation to Him and all of scripture and there was so much more to see
    * I read a book recently where the author said that as she came to know the Lord more personally that she felt she’d been ‘parabled’, that the Lord turns things upside down and inside out in unexpected ways. Unexpected ways those pointing to the letter of the law and Word of God who were trying so hard in His days…didn’t know what to do with and couldn’t see or understand.

    And I guess until a person has been parabled…and prismed…pierced deep enough in their heart to stop and seek help no matter what and cry out…and so on…they won’t know what they don’t know…and how much more there is yet to know…and why it is so important to stay open.

    I knew when my husband threw out the word ‘submit’ earlier in our marriage, that something was wrong, that it came from a pain with in him, when he put down ‘feminists’ and so on. I knew it wasn’t me. It was an unspoken, unnamed pain in the heart of a child who didn’t understand something in his parent’s marriage. He FINALLY said it out loud about twenty years into the marriage. He finally put it down after counselling in 2008. Yet, I had played my part being passive and not knowing what to do or how to stand up for myself (and others being affected by various things) and I played my part with the verse about submission thinking it was simple and I could passively submit and trust and everything would turn out fine. I think the Lord knows where I was at like a parent knows where a little child is at…but He also knew I had so many ways to grow.

    And I found that…He was calling me into an active role and a deeper trust and listening for His voice and courage and into facing a deep fear-hold and more. “He calls me out upon the waters” as Hillsong sings in “Oceans”. .

    It isn’t simple to follow the Lord. He isn’t simple. He isn’t a tame lion to use CS Lewis. It isn’t simple. It isn’t about principles (a new word for the old legalism). It isn’t about relying on exegeting scripture precisely. It is about walking with real people in real circumstances with a real Lord and his real living words coming out of a real relationship with Him.

    I love Stormie O Martian’s words; God basically told her ‘you don’t know when to speak and when to be silent’. We need Him. We don’t know what to apply where and how. We think we know. Then get it wrong. And end up harming instead of helping.

    Scripture can be misused if we miss relationship.
    So. Easily.
    Conversation can get stuck if we aren’t open to seek and listen first.

    I hope I have expressed my heart well.

    • Autumn on July 2, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Yup, you got sucked into crazy making with James. Let’s take what we all learned and not get baited by him or anyone else again. It is a good lesson. You don’t own anyone an explanation.

  47. Ruth on July 2, 2018 at 10:00 am
    • many years on July 3, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you, Ruth, for this link.

  48. Alene on July 3, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    I hope that the real live person in the original question who was vulnerable and reached out, having been and continuing the struggle to overcome the hold that pornography had in his life and its effect in his relationships feels that he is cared for, encouraged even in doing hard things like opening up conversation with his wife and asking and really listening and responding, and that the Lord would bless him even as he seeks the Lord, and he’d be open if the Lord shows him he can go deeper to some roots.

    I know what it is to struggle against a sin that had a hold. It wasn’t the same but I remember the struggle and know it is real. It is hard when something gets a grip on a child but it still must be overcome.

    My deeper process of growth came 5-6 years ago through a challenge with a family member. As a mom, it ripped deeply into my heart. At that point, I began to find what I could do to change my approach and responses and that is when things shifted in a good though hard way. I could change the part I was playing in it all.

    One thing I looked at was my use of scripture. It is so easy to say ‘scripture says’. Yet how easy it is to turn scripture into a standard, and set it up for other people, including ourselves, when the One we need is the Lord, His words, through His spirit, shared by his heart in his time, with a humble listening seeking heart in us.

    James, I hope as you wrestle with these questions you will find further treasures of wisdom. “Further up and further in” as CS Lewis puts it so well in the Last Battle. It is a journey I know. One never completed in this lifetime. I hope you seek the depth of the words shared here, even the harder encouragement, and the real life stories. May you be strengthened as you seek to help others..

    • Maria on July 4, 2018 at 5:48 am


      I just read about your wife’s cancer. You and your wife are in my prayers.

      • Autumn on July 4, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        I think it is a manipulative deflection because he was called out on his behaviors. I see it as an attempt to gain pity and thereby soften our opinion of him. There is plenty of time to go online when caring for a loved one. In fact more so, because it becomes one of the few outlets to the burden of home care.

        • Alene on July 4, 2018 at 11:26 pm

          R: Respectful and Responsible.

        • Leslie Vernick on July 5, 2018 at 4:17 pm

          Autumn, I ask you not to attack other people’s character here. You don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s life other than what they disclose. I think you are telling yourself a story about James character that you have no proof is true. You don’t know if he’s attempting to gain pity. He did not ask me to share it, I asked him if I could. So please refrain about making judgmental comments about someone else’s motives or character. This is not keeping in CORE. We are concerned with some of James comments here, rightly so, but let’s be careful about making up things we do not know.

          • Autumn on July 5, 2018 at 5:41 pm

            Oh,I didn’t see it as a character attack at all. I just wrote what I thought. I am not talking about him as an individual whom I never met, but rather the personality traits that go with the behaviors we have seen.Others can disagree.

        • Ruth on July 5, 2018 at 8:09 pm

          No need to kick him while he’s down. 😞 This is not the appropriate time for theological debate let alone an accusation like using your spouses terminal illness as a ploy for pity.
          If we’ve been married to abusers, shouldn’t we know by not what it feels like when someone has really gone too far with the accusations?

        • Maria on July 6, 2018 at 6:41 am


          We have no right to judge what another person should or should not do with their time. My husband has tried to do this, and it has caused me a lot of stress. Judging another person’s motives is wrong. Also, voicing all our thoughts is not right- it can be very hurtful.

  49. Nancy on July 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm


    I am praying for you both.

  50. Ruth on July 5, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I pray God’s healing and tenderness be near to your wife. I pray His grace be abundantly poured out to you and everyone caring for her. I pray her doctors have wisdom and discernment. 🙏🏼

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