Sitting at my computer, I scrolled through the list of the web sites most recently visited on my computer. I couldn’t believe my eyes. With a click of my mouse, I watched in horror as sexually illicit pictures appeared on my monitor screen.
I couldn’t breathe. It felt as though my lungs collapsed and I was suffocating. I sat there, staring in disbelief. How could he?
John and I had been married for six years. We attended church regularly, read the Bible, prayed together, and shared the same faith in God — or so I thought.
John seemed to love me like no other had. In fact, when he learned what my previous marriage had cost my children and me, he vowed that he was nothing like that. And I believed him.
A Searing Confrontation
Unfortunately, pornography and I had come to terms before. But I definitely thought I had put it behind me. Suddenly, the years of hurt, abuse, and incest returned, surging like poison through my blood.
A million questions flooded my mind. Was John just like my ex-husband? Would he hurt us too? Could he be living a closet life, acting one way, when really he was someone else — someone I never knew?
Had he been involved with pornography our entire marriage?
I quickly made my way to the bedroom, where John was sleeping soundly. I didn’t care that he’d just gotten home from work. Enraged at how he could sleep so peacefully, I grabbed him by the arm.
His red eyes popped open. “What’s wrong, honey?”
“What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong!” Taking him by the hand, I led him out to the computer.
“I can explain.” John looked deep into my teary eyes. “It’s not what you think. You were gone, and I — I was lonely.”
Lonely? How could he be lonely? I was only filling a temporary position as a home healthcare provider for three days — three measly days.
I thought John was different. I trusted him. I believed in him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. My hopes and dreams were shattered. Suddenly our vows, our commitment, and our marriage lay destitute, like the remains of a deadly earthquake.
Truth that Cannot Hide
As I listened to John’s tearful explanation, my body turned numb. I felt as though I was lost in a dream and couldn’t move. My head grew foggy, trying to sort the lies from the truth.
In John’s first confession, he told me he had only visited a pornography site once. But if that were true, why were three different web sites listed? After some careful research, I discovered that I had good reason to question him. He later confessed that he had visited a different porn site each day I was away.
The truth hit me like a slap in the face. This wasn’t just a one-time fall. Something compelled John to keep going back. Something had a hold on him — so strong that he couldn’t even break it the second time. Finally, the third time, he repented, put an end to it, and hoped I would never find out.
But in those three short days, John’s whole attitude changed. When I returned home from work one night, his face was rigid. He ranted and raved over a defective wiper blade on our van, and yelled at me repeatedly as though it were my fault. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew something had happened.
I later learned that John felt so dirty, shameful and disgusting for what he had done, he couldn’t forgive himself. By trying to push blame onto me, he was hoping to rid those horrible feelings that were tormenting him He wanted to tell me, but he thought I’d divorce him. So he kept it hidden — or so he thought.
The Power of Grace
When John told the truth and confessed everything openly, that’s when our marriage turned around. We began to communicate, share, and pray for one another in a whole new way. As John continued to confess his weaknesses and struggles in this area, although it hurt me, I learned to trust him again and pray for him.
God changed both of our hearts. Instead of seeing John as a sexual pervert, I began to see him as a child of God who had fallen. Someone who needed the support of others. Someone who Jesus loved and died for. And someone that I promised to love and honor until death do us part.
The Bible says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16 KJV). I believe the reason sexual addiction and pornography have escalated to an all time high is because we, as a society, have labeled these individuals outcasts.
We’ve given them the mark of Cain and pushed them to a distance. We haven’t taken time to hear their desperate cries and see how badly they want to get out. We’ve only looked at their sin.
We Have all Sinned
When John and I were going through the struggle of reconciling our marriage after this devastating blow, God led me to the scripture passage in John 8:3-11, about the woman caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers stood all around, ready to stone her to death, as was the custom in that day. But Jesus interrupted the death row ritual, stepped forward and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus set her free. She wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t anybody special. In fact, she was probably a prostitute. But Jesus loved her and forgave her sin.
Jesus once said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31,32 NIV) He meant that those who know the truth and the way, need to help the weaker ones, the sinners, those struggling — not judge them for what they’ve done.
I had to learn this same principle in my marriage. John was still a child of God, struggling to get out of the pit. He wasn’t sinless, perfect and holy. He was saved by grace just like me. As I began to forgive him for what he had done, he showed an even greater love and respect for me.
John and I both know that just one look can ruin a lifetime commitment if God is not at the center of your life and marriage. But we also know, without love, forgiveness, compassion and prayer, this demon pornography will continue to rule the minds and hearts of men and women around the world today.
John has been free from the spirit of lust for over a year now. However, there are still trying times, as with anything in life. But when that disgusting spirit rears its ugly head, we pray together, binding it in the name of Jesus, knowing that just one look above will save us and set us free.
Copyright © 2001 Elisabeth A. Freeman. Used with permission.
A licensed minister and award-winning writer, Elisabeth Freeman founded Stay Pure, a monthly e-zine designed to help those recovering from sexual addictions.
Elisabeth has authored Coming Out of Sexual Addiction and The Pictures that Destroy the Mind.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a pornography addiction, we encourage you to seek help from a pastor or Christian counselor.