I’ve always appreciated the helpful insights provided by the counselors at CCEF (Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). For over 40 years this group has set the standard for a biblical counseling model.
This video is of David Powlison, one of their faculty, answers the tough question, “When a husband confesses an instance of lust to his wife, how specific should he be? General confession? Detailed confession? Somewhere in between?”
Powlison calls for what he calls a “generic specificity” in this sort of confession. The confession must be specific: the wife must know what sort of sin she is forgiving, the gravity of it. At the same time, the confession should be general: there is no need to spell out gory details.
Powlison offers the story of David and Bathsheba as a good model of sharing detail.
If you liked this, you’ll love some of Powlison’s other materials:
- “Breaking Pornography Addiction” (article)
- “Sexual Sin is a Deeper Battle” (video from Desiring God 2004 National Conference)
Before I was married, I was in constant pursuit of pornography, mainly out of curiosity. I made a general confession to my then wife-to-be, and she was satisfied and understanding and merciful at that point.
It wasn’t until about a year into our marriage that I broke down and confessed to having viewed pornography while we were married.
From there it was a painful process of admitting that I watched hard core porn, then soft core porn, then R rated film trailers, then commercials, then pictures, then audio, then articles, etc.
I would always make it out to be less than it was. One night while she was away I watched something that merely suggested the act, and I was completely undone the moment I clicked away. I called her first thing in the morning in a panic telling her I was in sin, and it was my heart, not necessarily what I saw. I knew no matter how I twisted it, my heart was directing my hands.
At that point her trust in me was restored, by God’s grace alone. She told me she was joyful that I hadn’t tried to make less of it and simply admit my sin was internal.
From there I have been met with failure after failure though with an ever increasing sensitivity to my inner bent toward immorality.
I’ve not viewed hardcore or softcore for quite some time now, but even lingering on a suggestive photo or entertaining a suggestive thought sends chills through me the very moment I realize I’m in sin, and I ache (psalm 32) until I’ve confessed my sin to my wife; and that with as much honesty and cander as I can without causing her to stumble.
Sometimes my confessions can go through multiple stages of getting the entire truth of my sin out to her, mainly due to fear of her reaction and the consideration of the sheer stupidity and heinousness of what I’ve done.
She has yet to refrain from embracing me and forgiving me and encouraging me to prayer and the word and Christ.
Every time she forgives me, I’m more undone and humiliated over my sinfulness.