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Husbands Who Watch Porn (Part 5) – A Message to Christian Husbands

Last Updated: July 30, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Back in March I wrote a post called “Husbands Who Watch Porn.” I was unprepared for the slew of comments on this post we received from women. Since then our category, “Wives of Porn Addicts,” has been our most viewed link on this blog.

After some recent comments we have received, I am compelled now to write directly to the men, to the husbands who watch porn.

Real Stories From Hurting Wives

Rae met her husband in Bible college. They have been married for 11 years. About three and a half years into their marriage he started regularly and secretly watching porn, mostly whenever Rae would leave the house. Since the truth has come out he tells her that he’s making provisions to change, but she has not seen any real underlying change for months. They are seeing a counselor and going through a program at their local church. At times, she says, she struggles with deep anger for what he has brought into their home and family. She feels dishonored, disrespected, and cheated on. Worse yet, she feels entirely alone. Her friends and family don’t know what to say to her. Others simply tell her that she should be “over it” by now.

Then there’s Daphne, a woman who has caught her husband looking at porn over and over again. Each time he says he’s sorry, that he won’t do it again, but after hearing it so many times, she’s almost given up. She’s on the brink of leaving him and doesn’t know how she can trust him again. He has finally agreed to go to counseling. She asked us to “pray that he commits fully to giving it to God so our marriage can be restored.”

Another woman, Peggy, recently commented that her husband watches “a few hours of porn a week.” He says that it isn’t a problem, it isn’t a sin, and he can “control it.” Peggy disagrees. She believes his use of porn “is the root of every part of weird and cold behavior he exhibits.” Strangely, she also says that her husband is a “Bible scholar.”

Then there’s Lisa. Lisa’s husband has a continuing addiction to porn. She has gone through years of trying, striving, forgiving, reaching out, feeling devalued in the marriage, and feeling guilty day by day that her love is dying. She describes him going through programs, only later to have her hopes dashed to the ground. She feels hurt and overlooked by her husband, that “his fantasy world has wasted 17 years of my life.” Recently their teenage daughter found out about his addiction and Lisa asked him to leave. She has been told by her prayer partner that she is in sin for kicking him out. She says that fellow Christians keep telling her to “deal with her pride” and “get her healing” so she can support her husband in treating his addiction. She’s tired of him not following through on anything and wonders when enough is enough. “I have no place to rest . . . no place to stand . . . and I’m tired.”

It isn’t supposed to be this way.

Porn-Again Christians

For you Christian husbands who regularly watch porn, let me say this: Good intentions are not enough. Repentance starts in the heart and mind, but it always bears fruit if it is genuine. You may be a part of a church that applauds you when you say you want to change your ways, a church that knows you “mean well,” but doesn’t hold you accountable for real change, or discipline you in a biblical manner.

You can live for the rest of your life in the room of good intentions, but when you stand before the Judge of the Living and the Dead, He will hold you accountable for every careless word you have spoken (Matthew 12:36-37).

I fear many Christian men may have been fed what the apostle Paul calls “empty words”: this idea that God is somehow not personally offended by sexual immorality, impurity or selfish greed. He most certainly is, and those who live in persistent sin will not inherit Christ’s kingdom. Because of sexual sins like pornography use, “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:3-6).

Frankly we should all be concerned about those who profess a personal faith in Jesus but still live self-absorbed lives.

Grace that Transforms

That is the bad news, but here’s the good news: God’s grace can change us. Here’s what Paul writes:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14).

1. True grace from God has appeared in human history.

For the grace of God has appeared” . . . The word “appeared” carries the idea of shedding a light on something. The fullness of God’s grace was concealed for a time, like dark clouds hiding the stars. But then one day the clouds broke open and suddenly God’s grace became clearly visible to us, charting the path we needed to take.

God’s “grace,” meaning God’s favor, has finally appeared. At the right moment in human history, God offered sinful, rebellious people his favor, despite all the ways people had wandered away from Him. When the Son of God entered human history, he ushered in a new age, an age when sins are forgiven and remembered no more, the long-awaited age of the Holy Spirit being poured out on God’s people. It was not only a grace of forgiveness, but a grace that offered adoption into God’s family for all eternity.

When God reveals his grace to us, it is like a blinding light that exposes how unworthy we are of this kind of favor, yet gives that favor anyway.

Paul writes here that Jesus was the conduit of this grace by giving himself “to redeem us” from our lawless lives. His death on the cross accomplished that. For more information about how the cross helps us break free of our porn addictions, see “A Message For Those Struggling with Pornography.”

2. True grace trains us to hate sin.

Paul was often accused of proclaiming a grace that was so free, so amazing, that it would lead people towards a lawless lifestyle. People argued, if God is so free to forgive us, then what is to prevent me from sinning again and again? If God will simply show me grace when I sin, then why not continue to sin? (Romans 6:1).

But if we are in touch with authentic grace then it will do the exact opposite: it brings a salvation that not only liberates us from guilt, but liberates us from the attractiveness of sin. This text gives us a clue as to how this happens. It says that we are trained by grace to renounce two things: (1) ungodliness, and (2) worldly passions.

Ungodliness is the Greek word ἀσέβεια, and it essentially means a lack of devotion, reverence, or worship of God. When God gives us such undeserved favor a shift takes place in us. We begin looking with disgust at our former lives of irreverence, when we used to do our own thing, having no regard or acknowledgment of God at all. When the clouds part and we see God’s grace as it really is it causes us to see why God ought to be revered and praised.

Worldly passion is translated from the Greek phrase κοσμικὰς ἐπιθυμίας, and it refers to the desires, passions, strong cravings, and longings that are marked by the character of the corrupt age in which we live. This certainly includes, among other things, our compulsive use of pornography. When we see what it’s like to have God’s favor, we begin to see these worldly cravings as twisted and ugly. When we see God’s grace for what it is we are introduced to a new passion, a new longing which trumps old desires.

3. True grace creates “a people” that belong to God.

Paul writes that Jesus gave himself for us in order to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good.” Notice this not merely individuals who are transformed, but a whole people, a special tribe, a new family.

Herein is an important concept: God often does not purify people alone. He transforms whole groups, not just individuals.

For more information about how to be transformed in a community of people, see “Breaking the Lure of Internet Porn.”

4. True grace trains us to live with a new inward focus, outward focus, and upward focus.

Grace trains us to live a self-controlled life (inward focus). The word here could also be translated “sober.” It carries the idea of coming to one’s senses and not being ruled by our impulses anymore.

How does the revelation of the God’s favor train us to sobriety? The key is in the word, “waiting.” Paul is not advocating a stoic self-control, rather a passionate self-control that is waiting for the “blessed hope,” when Jesus appears again in fullness of glory. We can now reign in our passions, our cravings for satisfaction, and completely channel them in the direction of this future hope. We resist the urge to give into sinful patterns because we are focused on the new world Jesus will create, the new Eden.

Grace trains us to live an upright life (outward focus). The word here means that we live in accordance with justice: rendering to others what they are due, and sinning against no one. This has a very broad application to all of our duties: our marriages, our child-raising, our employment, our finances, our charity and hospitality to the needy and oppressed, and our general goodwill to other human beings.

How does the revelation of God’s grace train us to live uprightly? Again the key is in the word “waiting.” Paul is not promoting a selfless service for its own sake. Rather, he is saying that our upright and just lifestyle should be lived out in light of the world to come. When Jesus returns, the world will be full of justice, no sinning against any neighbors, complete harmony amidst rich diversity. When the just Judge arrives, all wrongs will be made right. Knowing that this is the ultimate destiny we face, we live just lives in light of it.

Grace trains us to live a godly life (upward focus). The word here speaks of devotion to God, a worshipful life.

How does the revelation of God’s grace train us to live with great devotion to God? Again, the key word is “waiting.” We do not worship an invisible God just for our own peace of mind or psychological stability. Rather, we are devoted to the “great God and Savior Jesus Christ” who will actually appear one day in blinding glory. In light of this great day to come, it only makes sense that we align our lives with this startling reality now.

Making It Personal

All this talk of the second coming of Jesus may seem strange to some of us. I grew up between two Christian subcultures. One group rarely spoke of the second coming at all. It was an abstract doctrine that got brief mention in creeds and confessions. The other group spoke of the second coming all the time, but the focus was on end-times calendars, searching for the Antichrist among new political regimes, millennium charts, and complicated interpretations of the book of Revelation.

But in reality, the second coming is neither a back-burner belief, nor does it have to be extremely complicated. The New Testament calls us to live in light of Jesus’ return every day.

I remember when I was sincerely struggling with porn addiction; nothing was more jarring to me than thinking about the return of Christ. When I put this idea out of my head, I could easily turn my faith into an internal and private matter, and I could easily run after my addictions. But when I considered the reality of Christ’s return, it was as if I was jolted out of my comfortable theology and I was forced to ask the question, “Do I really believe this is true?”

The grace that transforms us and trains us to live differently is a future-oriented grace. If you are a believer in Christ, you have been woken up early, as it were. The dawn is coming: Jesus will return someday, and he will bring a kingdom that overturns this world. Until then, you’ve been awakened by God and you can see the twilight of that coming world on the horizon.

In this age, your self-control, your uprightness and your godliness make no sense. But when we look at the age to come, they make perfect sense. When this future-oriented grace becomes the ruling standard in our minds, we will begin to live differently.

More Info for Hurting Wives:

Husbands Who Watch Porn – What Are Their Wives Saying?

Husbands Who Watch Porn – Wives Are Asking, “What’s Wrong With Me?”

More Info for Struggling Husbands:

Covenant Eyes – it’s not just a software; it’s a lifestyle

No Such Thing As Free Porn

Six Reasons Why Guys Like Porn (and how to break free)

Taking Accountability to the Next Level

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