Alas, where have all the men of honor gone?

Dear Andrea,

Since the start of this year I have found out that all 4 of my brothers, my Dad and my husband use porn. This has been a huge and very difficult reality that I am still struggling to come to terms with. My mom and dad raised us with strong Christian values. In fact my Dad was the Bishop of our congregation while I was growing up. I am shocked and saddened by this info. I don’t understand what is up with all the men in my life. I am worried sick for my young son. If ALL the men in his family have this problem to some extent , what hope does he have? What is wrong with men? Why can’t they be happy with what they claim to love. The more research i do into the effects of porn on men and marriages make me feel even more hopeless. It changes men’s minds, it makes them not be attracted to their wives.

With all this, i feel, what is the point. My husband of 9 years lies and lies to me, until I show him proof that I know what is going on. This has not been the first time he has lied about inappropriate actions on his part. He claims to be repentant, and goes to see the our bishop, but never really seems remorseful, just defensive. If I get upset, he gets upset and that is not productive, if I don’t he just drops it and acts like it’s not a big deal. He says it’s between him and God and so it doesn’t involve me.

I feel betrayed and angry towards all these men, for what they are doing to their wives and myself. I figure, what’s the point anymore. It’ll just happen again and my husband will never be honest about it with me for obvious reasons. He says he will, but he just keeps lying and I keep finding evidence.

So, if there is not trust, it is very hard to have love, and if there is no love than I feel, what’s the point? But what is the point of divorce either? It would kill my kids and that is NOT what I want to do to those innocent children. I feel like I don’t even want to bother with having a relationship with all these men who don’t/won’t change. I don’t even know if I believe it is possible for them to change. I hear them all diminishing the problem, saying it’s not serious.

I am becoming bitter toward men and indifferent towards the ones in my family. I know this is not a Christ-like outlook, but what else can i do? i don’t feel it wise to keep putting trust, faith and love into things that just end up hurting me and the ones around me.

I guess I am not asking for advise just sharing my grief with you about how men are slimy jerks.

–Losing all Faith in Men

Dear Losing,

I want you to know I appreciate your stumbling lamentations and am honored you chose to share them with me. Voicing your pain, anger, and sorrow represents an important step towards healing, and I encourage you to share these feelings with the Lord in prayer, too, if you haven’t already.

From personal experience, giving the Lord an earful is a great antidote to bitterness. When we offer up our hurt to Him with a willing heart, He gives us peace beyond all understanding–once we finally find the bottom of it all. One of the reasons we sometimes pray and walk away still upset and not at peace is we get tired of hurting and quit lamenting before we’ve really poured it all out before Him on the altar. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that!

So give yourself permission to hurt, to be angry, to feel violated. Give yourself permission to express it in safe places and with safe people. Just don’t stay there forever; offer it up to the Lord. We must give Him an earful, but leave what we give Him in His hands and open our hearts to receive from the Lord peace, healing, truth, and freedom. In other words, to let Him sweep away the bitterness commonly termed unforgiveness (Christianese I’ve not found in any English dictionary.)

Note this “forgiveness” is purely a heart matter; releasing the anger to God through lament. It does not restore right relationship. It does not restore the trust sin destroys along with fellowship. It is not biblical to reconcile with someone who hurt you unless they have shown fruits worthy of repentance, a serious desire and effort to change.

But we are to forgive as God forgives. Now, God does not sit around brooding angrily, reliving again and again the hurts mockers pile on Him. He loves them, does good to them, and longs for reconciliation and right relationship with them, but He can’t and won’t allow sin into His presence. Thus, if they willfully choose to remain in sin, He does, with great sadness, send them away from His presence into an utter darkness no one should wish to be the permanent abode of anyone.

You have every right to tell the men in your life, if they choose to look at porn, you will choose to not be in relationship with them. In fact, combined with lamenting and working through the painful feelings, that is the most loving and godly thing you can do.

Concerning your husband in particular, it is biblical to separate from him, remain alone, and pray and hope your husband makes the right choice and reconciles to you and the Lord. What the men in your life are doing is destroying their relationship with God as it should be destroying their relationship with you.

But, for all reading this, a strong caution: this is the relational nuclear option. Never go nuclear over trivial matters or without confidence of the Lord’s leading.

Finally, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Reading Your Male: An Invitation to Understand and Influence Your Man’s Sexuality. While not exclusively about porn addiction, it covers the topic in depth, and will help women understand why so many of our men so easily fall into sexual sin, and what you can do to help them, especially those not already caught in it.

In the case of those already caught, one thing it does affirm: a man cannot over come porn addiction unless and until he reaches a point where he is totally and absolutely disgusted with his habit. You can help him get there by allowing him to suffer through the natural, severe consequences for his behavior. One of which is losing you. Hopefully only temporarily, but if you have a marriage left to save, that should be the most painful consequence of all and may well be all the medicine he needs to shape up.

To do otherwise is to enable sin and enabling sin is the most hateful thing you can do to a person. This will surprise some, as the truth is contrary to the world’s definition of love that many immature believers unquestioningly swallow, and I know I have struggled to overcome the lie myself. But the reality is, there’s nothing loving about enabling sin as that’s helping them down the road to Hell. They have the right to choose that path, certainly, but if you love them, you won’t get in God’s way when he allows them to suffer the consequences of their sin, or otherwise brings pain into their lives to dissuade them from a path that leads to everlasting torment.

By the way, this tough love is in the children’s best interest, too. A father’s sexual addiction affects how he relates to his children as well and the damage it leaves in their hearts is both severe and permanent without divine intervention–and the full consequences for them may not surface until years down the road.

Thus, your children would be better off not being raised by a porn/sex addict. Not only is the highly probable exposure to inappropriate sexual comments, behaviors, and images a covert form of sexual abuse, porn can lead to overt sexual abuse as well. For their sakes as well as his, you must quit enabling him, you must quit merely nagging, and allow him to suffer the consequences of his sin.

By the way, the concern for your children is another reason I recommended Reading Your Male. The book will give you loads of information that will help empower you to influence your son away from the bad example his father has been.