When we get sick we often desire immediate relief of the symptoms (backache, headache, fever, etc.) and we are less concerned with the illness itself in the heat of the moment. We just want the pain to go away. That’s often how we treat spiritual illnesses. We pray for God to deliver us from the symptoms, but we never address the illness itself.
Let’s start with a husband whose wife just found out about his lust disease.
Initial Diagnosis: Lustful Passions
Possible Symptoms May Include Some or All of the Following: Lying, Selfishness, Betrayal, Lack of Intimacy with Wife or Lack of Pure Intimacy with Wife, Lust and Objectification of Others, Pride, Self-Justification, Wearer of Many Masks, Self-Righteous, Angry, Controlling, Secretive, Impure, Unable to Love Wife with Whole Heart
Final Diagnosis: Pride & Self-Centeredness
Now that we have the husband’s issues laid out, let’s take a look at the woman who just found out her husband has been looking at porn:
Initial Diagnosis: Wounded by Betrayer
Possible Symptoms May Include Some or All of the Following: Depression, Anger, Bitterness, Hopelessness, Distance from Relationships, Moody, Irritable, Hardness, Walls Around Heart, Pain, Endless Crying, Headaches, Anxiety, Nausea, Fear, Insecurity, Selfishness, Revenge, Pride, Self-Justification, Wearer of Many Masks, Self-Righteous, Angry, Controlling, Manipulative, Forceful, Unable to Love Husband through Betrayal
Final Diagnosis: Pride & Self-Centeredness
Why We’re Both Guilty
As we can see in the above diagnosis’s and symptoms, the man is the betrayer due to his lustful passion, the woman is the wounded one, and the symptoms vary–some the same, some different. What we conclude, however, is the same final diagnosis.
Now, we often run to God for immediate gratification. We want to be “healed” of our symptoms, so we seek God begging him to relieve us of our spiritual aches and pains–the depression, the lust, the insecurity, the anger. We want the symptoms gone. The problem is that we so often lack the desire to get rid of the illness itself. Pride is the root of all spiritual illnesses. Yes, including depression, insecurity, lust, all of it.
So when we run to God and ask for our husbands to love us more or to heal our insecurities, what we’re really saying is, “God, can you give me some pain meds?”
And let’s just play out a fictional conversation between us and Dr. God.
“Well, Ashley…I can give you some pain medication, but you know I do have a cure for your illness, right?”
“That’s nice! What is it?”
“Well, it starts with trusting in Me. Loving Me more than the world or the things in the world or the opinion of others, and seeking Me for satisfaction.”
“I already do that. What’s next? Hurry up now, I don’t have time for this. I’m hurting so bad right now!”
“I know, sweetheart. I’ve seen you cry yourself to sleep every night. I’ve seen you fall into traps of anxiety every time your husband walks into a gas station with all those magazine covers in front of his face. I’ve seen you lock the bathroom door when you take showers so that he won’t see you without clothes. I know you’re hurting. I know it all, but I’m telling you I have a way out of this. The pain medication will only help for a few hours. You can rely on these medications to take away your pain, but underneath the medication is still an illness that needs to be treated.”
“Right…So, I already love You more than the world, what’s next?”
“If you loved Me more than the world You wouldn’t come to me only when you need relief from the pains of the world.”
“Anyway, what else is involved in your treatment process?”
“Fire. Pruning. Burning away all of those lies, sins, and passions, until you are standing in front of Me with a pure heart and utter humility.”
“Oh. The pain medication sounds fine for now.”
“Are you sure? I can take away your depression, your anxiety, your insecurity. If you have your husband come to me for healing I can also take away his desire for other women, his anger, his lying tongue. I can take every symptom away and give you a new body, completely healed.”
“That sounds impossible.”
“Nothing is impossible for Me. But I cannot force this treatment on you. It’s yours if you are willing. It may hurt a little bit to prune back some branches that are stuck in the things of this world, especially that huge trunk you have that’s stuck in what others think of you. And after the pruning it may hurt to have some of your dead branches burned away, but the pain is worth it when it comes to the end result.”
“What’s the end result?”
“Freedom, my dear.”
“Okay, well … that sounds really difficult. Right now I’d just like to take some pain medication, if that’s okay. Maybe sometime soon when I’m ready I will get the treatment.”
“As you wish. Now, can you send your husband in for Me?”
“Oh, Lord, please help me. My wife is driving me crazy. I’m really trying to do everything I can for her and she doesn’t believe anything I say.”
“I know. And you have been making some great surface modifications. I saw that you got rid of the TV, and you look away from magazines in stores, but you do still occasionally second glance at an attractive woman. And you have a horrible temper and natural reaction toward self-justification when your wife tries to share her heart.”
“Well, first of all, is it really possible not to notice other attractive women walking down the street? Second of all, my wife doesn’t just share her heart, she shoves daggers in my own heart! I know I don’t react the best, but that’s why I’m coming to You. I need help.”
“It’s not the noticing of attractive women that’s wrong, it’s the fact that you don’t think all humans are beautiful. You still treat women as objects of your lust because your heart hasn’t truly changed. And you haven’t come to Me for help, son, you’ve once again come to Me to get your way and move on so you can forget about your offenses.”
“No, no, I really want help this time. Whatever it takes. I’m willing.”
“Okay, well, there are 2 options. You can take some medication to temporarily relieve you from your symptoms. There are supplied by the world, so you won’t need Me for that. They are generally things like behavior modification, temporary road blocks, temporary changes, etc. Or you can seek treatment for your illness which is Pride and the symptoms will go away after you are treated.”
“Well, the treatment sounds nice. I’d like to be a better person. I can’t imagine how virtuous I’d be if I had that treatment you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, well … that’s the thing. The treatment can’t happen until you desire the treatment out of love for Me, not love for yourself and your reputation.”
“Okay… Well, I love you, Lord… so how do I get this treatment?”
“You desire it and it will come to you.”
“Well, what does it entail? Can you at least give me the scoop?”
“Lots of pruning and melting. Burning away all of those lies, sins, and passions, until you are standing in front of Me with a pure heart and utter humility.”
“Pruning and melting? Does it hurt?”
“Does it hurt worse than the symptoms I already have?”
“Because the symptoms of pride are actually things that feel good in a sense. The symptoms of pride make us feel like victims, wounded, they are even things some people admire us for sometimes. (Oh, look at him, he loves his wife so much and she still won’t forgive him.) While these things hurt sometimes, and annoy us sometimes, they can also be heavily enjoyed by a heart in love with Pride, its illness. When you let go of the world and seek Me, you will be pruned of your attachments to the world, your reputation, and all of your passions you roam the earth for. The pruning wouldn’t hurt if you weren’t so attached to the things of this world, but since you are, it will take much refining to get you to a state of purity.”
“Yikes. That sounds interesting.”
“You could say that.”
“So, I can take the temporary relief every day for the rest of my life and skate by… or I can decide to go through this terrible process of coals and torches and saws and find true freedom from my illness?”
“Yes. The choice is yours. You stand before two paths. Now, you must choose.”
“Alright. Let me take the meds and I’ll come back later after I think about it.”
The choice is yours: God’s healing or the world’s meds.
I am wondering how many hurting and wounded wives would receive this article with an accepting spirit. I can’t speak for the wives because I am not one. But I can speak for many men out there who have broken trust with their wives and the constant theme I hear:
“My wife does not want any help. I have got the p0rn problem, I am the one that sinned and she didn’t do anything to deserve what I have been putting her through.”
Or something to that effect.
If I have 60-65 married men active in their own recovery, we might get 20 wives to attend a support group meeting. The other wives are not interested in their own recovery. Even so, all of them might resent being compared (spiritually) to their perverted husbands…even though what you prescribe is true.
@Jerry – I think that’s exactly why we have Ashley write for us: she really gets the importance of wives growing spiritually through the pain of their husband’s sin and taking stock of their own lives. I agree with you, Jerry: I see many wives not willing to receive this kind of advice. But at the same time, Ashley is such an encouragement to wives because she’s a living testimony of this kind of attitude.
If the behaviors of the husband have been occuring in the marriage for quite a while and most often they have been. Then you have a wife who has been trained not to act or to take steps into publically talking about what has been happening, and is only trying to cope with yet another blow. I think your “discussion with God” is not real. In this case the soul is so messy and bashed that clearly hearing God is almost impossible. And as for pride and self-centeredness, you can bet that they have been already dealt with through the miriad of episodes of forgiveness that preceded this final betrayal.
This article is pure crap.
@Kim – Wow. Care to be more specific?
Thank you for giving mr something to think about.
Dear Ashley, I don’t know where to start. I have so much anger in my heart for my husband. I found porn on his phone and 3 DVD’s in his garage. I haven’t told him. I’m not sure if I should. I know all he is going to do is get mad and be in denial about it all. Or some how turn it around on me because I was nosey. We both are Christians. I’m deeper in my faith then he is. However, I know he knows it is wrong. I love this man with all my heart. I can’t stopen crying…I don’t know what to say. I was reading your article about the letter to a hurting wife. Thank you. I will never give up on my marriage….never. I know the devil hates marriage……he will not get ours. This is really hurting me…all I want to do is run….quit….give up….but I have no where to go…and I don’t want to go. I want to forgive him. But, what if he never stops. I will never look like those girls ever!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sincerely, Angie
I really appreciate this article, thought provoking and real. Thank you~