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When They Don’t Want to Change: Counseling Someone in Sexual Sin

Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

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

Whether the problem is pornography, cybersex, or physical adultery, confronting sexual sin is not always met with signs of genuine repentance. If the comments throughout our blog are any indication, often husbands or wives can show little to no remorse for their sexual wrongdoings.

Winston Smith, counselor at CCEF, speaks in this video about how to counsel someone who expresses no desire to change.

Sexual sin is a kind of madness.

  • Everybody knows, by their God-given conscience, that sin is worthy of God’s judgment (Romans 1:32; 2:15).
  • We also see beginning signs of this punishment every time God allows us to experience the personal, social, and physical consequences of our sexual sin (Romans 1:24-27).
  • Further, every human being can look into the created world and know a powerful and divine Creator exists who is worthy of our worship and thanks. And yet we choose to divert our affection, attention, and devotion to created things, and we make these things the center of our lives (Romans 1:18-23). Instead of worshiping God we worship sexual pleasure itself, or a particular person who gives us gratification, or a fantasy experience that gives us what we really want (pleasure, significance, desire to be loved, control, power, comfort, etc.). We do this despite our knowledge that nothing is worthy of that kind of ultimate attention except God Himself.
  • Lastly, those who have learned about God from the Bible are doubly guilty: the clearest revelation has been given about the evil of sin, but we still run headlong into it.

Winston advices those who have no desire to change to ask themselves why. Why do I want what I know is wrong? Behind the answer to this question is evidence that we cannot change ourselves. Our desires are depraved. Someone outside of ourselves must change us. We don’t just need forgiveness: we need transformation. For someone who does not want to repent of sexual sin, this is the place to start.

Winston Smith is the author of the new book, Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change Through Ordinary Moments, which came out this month.

You can hear Winston and many other qualified counselors speak at the upcoming CCEF marriage conference, ONE: For Better and Worse.

  • Comments on: When They Don’t Want to Change: Counseling Someone in Sexual Sin
    1. sonia

      MY marriage is about to end, my husband is addicted to porn, and he doesn’t think its wrong, we’ve been to counseling many times over the last 3 years and he refuses to think that its wrong or that he should stop, I’ve died inside, and I weep constantly fell into depression, may I add that I married a non christian 15 years ago but only the past 3 years I came to know of his problem, can you please help me? we’ve not been intimate now for a year, and i no longer have any desire to be intimate with him or any other for that matter, my inclination is to separate, let me add that we have 3 children, and we love them very much, I love him as the father of children, but can no longer see him in a normal way, in my eyes he is an abuser. Please if you can give me advice, I’m open to any suggestions.

      Thank you

      • Aliza

        Hi Sonja,
        I read your post and I want you to know you are not alone. Your situation is so similar to mine. “I’ve died inside and I weep” has been what I’ve been doing this past year–grieving like you. I realized though recently that no matter how much I plead or tell him how much this hurts me he doesn’t change. My husband continues to lie and in the same breath tell me he’s on “a good path”. I don’t want to wait around my entire life being miserable over his choices. I somehow have to figure out how to live. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know quite how to do this, but I’ve given him way to much power in my life to let his sin make me miserable.
        Okay.. this is some things that have been helpful for me. I hope it helps you…
        1) All I know is that the enemy is Satan. This is also a spiritual battle. God has been pressing on my heart to get as close as I can to him — to let him be the lover of my soul. I’m first married to Christ and he is my husband.
        2) CCEF website has audio clips. A marriage Broken by Pornography” was helpful to me.
        3) Another gal mentioned the COSA teleconference calls.
        4) I started to tell some very close friends what is going on. I was surprised at the relief of not having this secret be such a burden in my heart. They are praying for me and supporting me.
        5) The book “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship via Leslie Vernick was helpful.

        I have been sleeping apart from my husband for a year now as well. We have kids and I am considering separating, but I know in my heart I need to come from a strong place. I need to work through my grief so I can look him in the eyes and act in love toward him by doing the hard thing. Is it leaving? I don’t know yet. Is it sleeping separately (have done that and nothing changes). He still is looking at porn.
        Sonia, I will pray for you as I am praying for my situation. It doesn’t seem right to continue to allow sexual immorality reign in our homes. I feel this is adultery, but I know many people don’t. I’m searching the Scriptures. Right now I am preparing to leave, but preparing to stay if God tells me otherwise. May God give both of us the courage first seek Him and do what He tells us to do.

    2. David Frazier

      He (both husbands) need to go to Pure Life Ministries immediately! Get on purelifeministries.org and see what they have to say. I was the “husband” both of you are dealing with, and allow me to say, that now as a biblical counselor MA, books will not do, sermons are pointless, drastic measures on your part have a short-lived affect, 12-step groups are worldly and vastly unbiblical. He (they) needs to be separated from the world and unto God so He can get your husband(s) on His operating table alone, and perform a heart transplant.
      I went to PLM and graduated in 2008. I am NOT the same person inside to out. What Jesus did for me in that wonderful place is almost inexplicable! He made a self-righteous, twisted, black-hearted, drug-addicted, sexual idolatrous Pharisee into a “foot-washing servant husband.” I have a beautiful marriage, a ministry, a life, and a purpose which is lost and immersed into the precious Life of Jesus. Everything I do is others’ focused. “But God, rich in mercy…”
      It will take holy boldness on your parts to give the ultimatum. But God did the same thing to the Israelites and it was the most merciful thing He could have done…turn them over and let them go, knowing they would come to the end of themselves and cry out to God for deliverance. “GO TO PURE LIFE, OR GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!”

    3. Lorena

      Hello… I am 19 years old and I have several things I’m struggling with. I want God’s truth but at the same time I tend to (knowingly) push Him aside when I want to sin (masturbate/lust). I’ve noticed patterns, prayer, fasted, etc but this time I feel like I don’t even wanna ask for forgiveness. I CHOSE to sin and though I believe it’s worn I do t completely feel sorry… And this makes me question my own faith. I’m not as passionate as I once was about God and I feel like I’m almost going through life aimlessly and just desiring pleasure that I know will never fulfill me. Why would I? Is my love for others/things/ self gre ed talk for God? Is there any hope for me or am I eternally I condemned? I know I need to make a decision to stop and love God above all else bu I seriously lack desire. I’m not supposed to live life based on feelings but they seem to row stronger…. And what’s worse is that I had recently volunteered to be the youth leader at my church and now all I wanna do is run from it… I’m not fit…

    4. Lorena

      Noticed some typose: I don’t completely feel sorry; is my love for other greater than for God? Please pray for me..

      • Hi Lorena,

        I really understand this struggle. I do. I didn’t get married until I was 28, and in those single years, I remember my love for God slowly waning.

        First, I would say your realization that you don’t even want forgiveness at times, that you just want sin, is your window to see just how badly you need the grace of Christ. The reality is that all of us are in your shoes. None of us would want God unless first drew us to himself. That’s just how sinful sin is. You have a front row seat of your own inability. You aren’t living under any illusion like most of the human race. Others merely deny sin or think it is controllable: not you. Count yourself blessed. The Holy Spirit has convicted you of your need, not just for forgiveness, but for your need to even want to be forgiven.

        Knowing nothing else about you, I would say this is a good sign that you are not totally lost. You may not feel “sorry” for your sin, but you want to be sorry. There is hope for you, yes.

        While you shouldn’t live a life based on feelings, passion is a central part of who you are. You are designed to be passionate. Don’t deny this part of you.

        A desire for sex is not sinful. A desire for love is not sinful. These are good desires. They become idols when they displace a love for God. So embrace who you are: “I am a sexual being, created by God. I am in the image of God. My desire for sex is good. But it is also an idol in my life. I cry out to You, God, for mercy to help me put this desire in its place.”

        While your problem may not be pornography per se, I highly recommend you read this article. It might give you some perspective.

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