Recently we received a question from a woman whose husband views child porn. Christian Counselor Rick Thomas answers her question.
I caught my husband saving child porn. I have a son and a deep love for children. So I held onto these images, even though I told my husband and his parents that I destroyed them. I was in shock for months but knew of my husband’s past of horrific molestation and abuse. I felt sorry for him.
Well, I caught him doing it again—downloading child porn—so this time I involved the FBI. I have begged my husband to get help, prayed, fasted, etc. I feel guilty for turning him in, but child porn is a crime.
If my husband goes to jail, I will keep praying that my marriage be saved and for his salvation, but people are telling me I’m crazy to leave him now. God is love and forgives. So I’m confused, and it’s mentally draining. I’ve suffered so much mental abuse since he is an alcoholic.
Lord, help me…
This kind of question causes my mind to go into gridlock, like a congested intersection with broken traffic lights. I’m sad, hurt, mad, sick, and grieved all at the same time.
I’m left in a surreal state, staring at the words on the screen, mostly dumbfounded or in disbelief as to how I should respond. Then my eyes blink and my mind begins to move forward again, but I’m tentative about where to go.
Here are the first five things which came to my mind.
You are not guilty
As my mind began to disengage from the emotional traffic jam which this comment left me in, the first thing I wanted to say was, “You did nothing wrong.” Be released from the manipulative guilt which some of your friends are placing on you.
Your husband committed a crime and you turned him in for what he did. Read this link, “How to Report Child Pornography.” He broke the law and you are biblically within your rights to report him. It is a sin, and it is a crime.
You would be covering up for him if you did not report what you have observed. You have concrete and objective evidence, which you have already confronted him about, as well as letting his parents know. You did right.
Currently, there is a lawsuit against a large ministry organization for allegedly doing something similar. The country is still living through the ordeal of the former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
There should be no doubt in your mind or in the mind of others as to what a person’s recourse should be when children are exploited. I have to wonder how your friends would respond if their children were exploited.
We should not have to bring up what the Bible says (Romans 13) about the law, government, and authority. We also should not have to be discussing what our current legal system requires. These things are self-evident. This is a matter of common sense and human decency.
Innocent children are being exploited. Your husband is deeply addicted to the personal and twisted enjoyment he receives from viewing naked children. And you have a son, who is not insulated from potential abuse.
Your husband has left you with no choice but to turn him in for what he has done. There are times when a husband can disqualify himself from his God-given biblical authority over the home. This is one of those times.
He does not have absolute and unquestioned authority over you. Nobody has this kind of authority, other than the Lord. His sin trumped his authority and he left you with no other option but to appeal to a higher authority.
It isn’t loving to ignore the problem
Another question you will have to work through is a clearer understanding of biblical love. There is a difference of opinion between how you’re loving your husband and how some of your friends believe you should love your husband.
As noted, I think they would be thinking differently about this if their child was being sexually exploited. A more sure authority must be invoked. That authority is the Bible, which can easily cut through human emotion.
The first thing you have to do is diagnose your husband. That’s easy to do because you have a large historical sample size. It’s not like this is an episode. He has a pattern of thinking and behaving which covers most of his life.
When thinking about people in situational difficulties, one of the things you want to discern is whether what you’re observing is episodic or a pattern. Your husband has a pattern of sexual abuse, whether he was the one being abused or he is the one doing the abuse.
The accumulative effect of his life is that he is a sexual addict. This is who he is and you must be clear about this. It’s no different from a doctor who is diagnosing a patient for some malady. The important thing here is a correct diagnosis.
Sometimes the diagnosis can be mysterious or elusive, but in this case, it is not. Your husband is an addict who needs help. The most unloving thing you could do for him is cover up his sin by ignoring, justifying, or blaming.
If my doctor found out something about me and did not tell me, or, even worse, made excuses, played it down, or pretended it did not exist, I would stop seeing him. He would not be my friend. He would not be loving me.
Your friends are not loving him or you. They are foolish in their assessments and their proposed plan. Sometimes love requires a person to do hard things for the glory of God and the sake of a soul. You did a hard thing, but it was the right thing.
For him: Get help
Your husband needs help. He is addicted to a sin which goes deeper than what he has been viewing on the Internet. The addiction is in his heart. Read my article, “When looking for porn, begin in the heart.”
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
The word Paul used, when translated into English, was caught. What our culture calls addiction, Paul called caught. Your husband is caught in a trap which he cannot extricate himself from, and your friends are in denial.
Paul says you should seek to restore him from the caught-ness of his sin. You see this same word—restore—in Mark 1:19, where it is translated into the English word, mended.
In that text the writer is talking about mending nets. This is a good descriptor of your husband—his fishing net has broken apart and it needs to be mended. This is the idea Paul is conveying when he says restore.
The worst thing you could have done for your husband is ignore the brokenness of his soul. He has been addicted to sexual sin long before he met you and even after your many appeals, he has not changed.
The truth is that he cannot change on his own. He needs external pressure placed upon him in order to change. It is extremely rare for a sexual addict to break free from his/her sin without the aid of external help.
Though it may not feel this way to you, what you have done is probably the best thing you could have done for him. I realize you had no choice because you were obeying the law, but it was the right thing for the sake of his soul.
There are times when the only thing which will work is the worst thing a person can experience. Your husband will go through many dark nights of the soul, but if his focus is fixated on God alone, there is a strong chance he can be transformed.
For you: Get help
It sounds from your comment you may need to think through who are going to be your friends. Not only does your husband need help, but you do too and friends who are blaming you are not biblical friends.
The best place for you to go is your local church. You need to surround yourself with a community of like-minded friends who have the biblical wisdom to walk you through the coming weeks and months.
It is not good for you to be alone with your thoughts or with friends who don’t know how to think biblically. If you don’t have solid biblical companions, I would recommend you find some.
We offer a Membership Site, where some of our Members find community because they live in places where caring friends do not exist. You may want to check that out as an option.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals'” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
You may have to have some hard conversations with your family and friends. Being family does not give a person the right to offer unbiblical advice. Being family does not mean the advice will always be biblical.
Be careful about who you surround yourself with and how your companions speak into your life. When I use the word companions, I’m not just thinking about human beings. I’m thinking about all the things which stream into your mind.
Surround yourself with God-centered music. Read your Bible every day, but not willy-nilly. Read specific passages for specific purposes. Read biblical websites to encourage your soul. Pray without ceasing.
Connect with your local church or at least pray for one good friend you can meet with on a regular basis. The battle is for your mind and if you’re not proactive and intentional, you’ll lose that battle.
Don’t blame yourself
Remember, this is not about you, and this is not because of you. Your husband chose to sin, not you. Your husband was doing this long before he met you. Don’t fall into the trap of would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. That is a black hole from which you may not return.
If you have committed sin against your husband, confess it to God and your husband and seek their forgiveness. Live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness and do not, under any circumstances, punish yourself for what your husband did or what you have been forgiven from and subsequently set free.
It would not have mattered who your husband would have married. He would have done the same thing. It’s not about his wife, but about his addictive lust to sin.
To be honest with you, it is remarkable how you are seeking to restore him to God. I’ve counseled many women in similar straits and the grace of God was not nearly as evident as you’re displaying.
You’re like the lady walking down the street and was hit by a fire truck. It was not her fault, but she was in harm’s way. The incredible thing here is your desire to be part of the restoration of your husband. This is amazing grace. This is the Gospel.
You are cooperating with God in a great redemptive work. Your husband said, by his decision to become a believer, he was going to be a follower of Christ. The bad news is that he brought a significant addiction into his relationship with the Lord.
Mercifully, the Lord accepts us just as we are and from the point of our rebirth, He sets us on a course of transformation. God is in control of this situation and His desire is to finish what He has begun (Philippians 1:6).
He will finish, though sometimes God has to bring a storm into our lives and even incarcerate us in order to get our attention. Your husband is not the first person the Lord incarcerated in order to redeem a situation (Genesis 39:20; Daniel 6:16; Jonah 1:17; Matthew 14:3 ; Acts 16:23).