What to Do After the Storm, Part 1

Encouragement for Women Whose Husbands Have Fallen Into Pornography

Editor’s Note: The following article contains sensitive subject matter about sexuality. Some material may be inappropriate for children.

by Debi Pryde

You’ve made it through the initial discovery. You’ve made the decision to stay in your marriage and fight for it. You know life will never be the same again, but life does goes on. The routines of everyday living continue—work, school, grocery shopping, housework, cooking, answering the phone. You are going through the motions, and you are giving your best. pryde_shame.jpgBut discouragement and sorrow might still be your constant companions. Perhaps you are looking back instead of looking forward, and you are still mourning over what you might still see as total loss.

Remember, discouragement is always rooted in the way we think—the specific thoughts we center our attention on, the “what ifs” and “if onlys” that crowd out any hope or rays of light. Yes, you may know God’s promises, but they will bring no comfort if your heart refuses to be comforted. Your heart may continue to mourn as though sorrow will somehow soothe the deep wounds that are yet so tender and sore. Oh, dear sister, there is no comfort, no joy, no healing, and no hope in the deep abyss of morbid thoughts and fears.

Would you take a moment to read these gentle reminders that can lead you out of the valley and into the light of day? As we have often sung,

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

This truth doesn’t make sense to our human hearts, but the weapon that slays the enemy of discouragement is within our reach and within our power to pick up and use. We have the Holy Spirit Himself dwelling within us, and God wants us to be encouraged, comforted, and strengthened. The Bible assures us, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5, KJV). Will you summon inner courage by praying right now and asking God to walk with us a moment and to strengthen you as we face some of those tormenting monsters together and conquer them with God’s sword?

Where in the World Did She Come from?

Many women have described their husband’s bondage to pornography as adultery with a woman they cannot speak to or confront; after all, she lives on the pages of a magazine or a website. She is a phantom who steals the attentions and affections of their husbands and entices them to follow her far away from real life at home in a real world. This perpetually naked woman, who is airbrushed to perfection, feels no concern for the home she destroys, for the hearts she breaks, or for the men she lures into her pernicious trap. She smiles provocatively and demands nothing—or so it seems to the men who are mesmerized by her. Little do they know that they are following this woman like a cow to the slaughterhouse (Prov. 7:22), where death and horror quietly await them.

This seemingly “harmless” fascination with a woman who never speaks or demands is, in reality, fascination with a woman who is leading a steady stream of men into a trap of the darkest and most sinister sort. While they are feasting on her delights, they are unaware that she is silently eroding their defenses and infiltrating every corner of their lives with only one intent—total destruction. A beautiful Trojan horse, she cares nothing for them and has no pity, though she destroys careers, marriages, homes, and—most precious of all—a man’s integrity, character, and relationship with God. Solomon warns about this woman. In Ecclesiastes 7:25, we read, “I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness: And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares [traps] and nets, and her hands as bands [prison]: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.”
pryde_violate.gifMen who have been taken by the beauty of this licentious woman called “pornography” have far greater problems than a fascination with lewd photography. They have been hooked by the lure of illicit sexual arousal. Pornography has one goal—arousal and sexual release. Make no mistake about it—the pictures are the bait, not the hook. The hook that snares and entraps is the sexual high. It’s certainly enticing because it seems better than the euphoria of elicit drugs with none of the “side effects.” It’s perfectly legal, comes without exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, costs little, requires no self-sacrifice, and demands no emotional ties or investments of time. Apparently, no one is hurt, no one is physically violated, and no adultery is committed. The illusion is that this sexual high is the most perfect stress release and trouble-free recreation a man could engage in with so little cost and trouble. There’s only one problem—this sexual high completely ignores God.

Men entrapped by the ritualistic habits of masturbation (self-sex) live as though sexual gratification were a sport rather than a sacred gift from God reserved for the intimacies of marriage. Masturbation disregards the one-flesh relationship of marriage characterized by physical union and mutual enjoyment. It exchanges the long-lasting delights of true intimacy and love with one’s spouse for a self-centered shortcut to momentary gratification that incrementally destroys a man’s ability to enjoy sex with his wife and to interact with her. It utterly destroys the mysterious spiritual bond that is established between a man and a woman who have come together in sexual union, and it ultimately grieves the Holy Spirit and alienates a man from his God. In the end, masturbation reduces a sacred act to lurid debauchery and hardens a man’s heart until he no longer hears the cries of his own wife or children—let alone the still-small voice of the Holy Spirit. High on the throne of his heart is his own insatiable lust, which rules his life with an all-encompassing tyrannical control.

Lust does conquer and rule whoever lingers in its grasp. What may have begun with curiosity or an impulsive act during a time of stress quickly envelops and consumes a man until he no longer controls it—lust controls him. And sometimes lust goes beyond the pages of photographic images and morphs into a real woman who is willing to play the part and become a living fantasy. How in the world can this sin happen to a Christian man, and is there any hope for his rescue? Thankfully, God’s love, grace, and power can transform even men who have been corrupted by the utter blindness and deception of sexual vices. There is hope and more than that—hope for a better tomorrow.

“What?” Paul asks incredulously, “know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication [any sexual immorality]. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:16-18). Adultery is much more than physical intercourse between two living, breathing people. To understand why adulterous behavior by a spouse wreaks such internal havoc, one must understand that it is more than a simple physical act. Adultery includes any act that robs a marriage of intimacy that rightfully belongs to one’s marriage partner alone. God designed marriage, which is the intertwining of two people’s lives both physically and emotionally, to produce an exclusive and delightful bond of companionship.

The sexual union is something God created for our enjoyment. Animals procreate to satisfy sexual urges, but people automatically engage their minds when they engage in sexual union. People are designed in such a way that they develop an emotional attachment to the object of their love and physical attachment. Emotional intimacy and physical intimacy cannot be separated—the two complement and feed each other. If someone sets his (or her) love on the delights of a harlot, he will become inextricably attached to the harlot. If one sets his love on the delights of his spouse, he will become attached to his spouse. If one sets his love on himself, he will become attached to his own self and be enveloped in self-gratification. When human beings violate the built-in plan God set in motion, they will always suffer excruciating consequences.

A satisfying marriage relationship in which both partners are emotionally attached to each other can be compared to a glass of water that is completely filled. There’s no room for more water from another source—the glass is full. But when one or both partners begin investing their emotional and physical efforts in a third object of sexual attraction, the full glass of water begins slowly draining into another glass. Eventually, the once-full glass becomes a partially full glass of water and ultimately nothing more than a dry glass with nothing in it. Men and women in such a marriage sense that something is wrong with their marriage relationship. It is no longer satisfying or warm. They often wrongly conclude that they no longer love their spouse, or they believe all hope for the marriage is gone. What they do not recognize is that they themselves have stopped refilling the glass. They have poured themselves into another glass until their marriage glass has become empty. When both partners begin pouring themselves into each other and begin investing their attention and nurture into their own relationship, the “outside glass” becomes empty, and the marriage is once again full and satisfied.

With this illustration fresh in your mind, go back to the beginning of this article and reread the description of a man entrapped in pornography. Then be sure to read Part Two on Monday.

debi.jpgDebi Pryde has taught ladies’ Bible classes and spoken at retreats and seminars for the past 30 years. A certified biblical counselor, she is particularly burdened for women and for the problems they face in today’s world. She has published a variety of Bible studies and books, including Secrets of a Happy Heart, Happily Married, and Precept Upon Precept. She and her husband, Tom, are active members at Lighthouse Baptist Church (La Verne, CA). You can read more about Debi, about her ministry, and about her rose garden by visiting her website.
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