The Fallout of Porn: How the Church Can Help Hurting Wives

This article first appeared at Pure Desire Ministries

By Kayla Sullivan

Until recently, sex and pornography addiction have been taboo topics not to be discussed in the church. Meanwhile, the world continues to push its sexual agendas through every outlet possible – television, music, internet searches, video games, and more.

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The combination of noise from the world and silence from the church has been having devastating consequences. According to a study conducted by Pure Desire Ministries, 68% of church-going men view porn on a regular basis. The Barna Group reported that 55% of married men admit to seeking out porn at least once per month.

These are indeed alarming statistics, ones that have not gone unnoticed.

The Awakening of the Church & The Significant Impact
Churches all around the world are rising up! Thanks to the powerful, Biblically and scientifically based teaching found in the Conquer Series, pastors and small group leaders now feel better equipped to tackle this subject. Testimonies pour in daily from men who are finding freedom from this dark struggle. Some share that they have battled for multiple decades.

Daniel in OKC shared, “I got hooked as a young man at 12 years. I’m 71 years now, and it took longer than I think it should have, but I’ve been free now for almost five years!”
Paul in Sydney, Australia said, “I, like many men, was addicted to porn. I was desperate to find healing. This ministry has changed my life!”

This movement of men stepping forward to find freedom also creates another tsunami wave that the church may not be prepared for. When men have to disclose their struggles to their wives, and they will, how can the church help these ladies heal?

Outward Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Her outward appearance on a Sunday morning may cause those around her to believe that nothing is wrong. For those who know her family’s secret, they may think that she is handling things well. Too often, nothing could be further from the truth.
She is constantly judging herself, questioning herself, and trying to figure out what she should do next. Torn between the love that she had for her husband and the gut-wrenching pain that she’s carrying around in her heart leaves her feeling anxious and uncertain. Doubt and fear have become her guide right now. And honestly, she feels isolated and alone.

Who should she turn to? What will people think? What happens if her husband never makes a commitment to change? Does she think that she can trust her husband again? How will this affect the kids? How on earth did she miss this? What was she doing wrong?

Churches need to have a strong support group for these women. Give them the space to really grieve. Let them cry and shout, as all of their raw emotions need released. Provide an atmosphere where their voices and concerns can be heard.

Danielle Bernock, author, writes, “Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated, the silent screams continue internally, heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, healing can begin.”

By entering into someone’s pain, we are not suggesting codependently allowing their chaos to become yours. Instead, you are simply being there in the ashes and listening. You’re providing compassionate empathy. Be willing to take their hand, and help them move forward. Continue to remind them that God isn’t surprised by what is happening in their lives right now.

Don’t Pressure Her to Get Over It
As Christians, we know that forgiveness is not optional. It’s mandatory. But forgiveness is often the fruit that flourishes as a result of healing. Trauma to this extent, which has completely violated the marriage vows, is going to take time to heal.

Many women want to forgive their husbands. They desire a restored marriage. Most of them probably would prefer to wake up and realize that this has all been a bad dream.
Be careful not to confuse trust and forgiveness. They are two very separate things. Forgiveness is a choice that is made, though sometimes it will require asking God to help your feelings catch up with that decision. Trust is an empire, one that is built over time.
For a woman whose husband struggles with sexual addiction, the safety and security of the trust that they had in their marriage just came crashing down. Like a high-rise condominium, it takes time to lay its foundations and build all the floors. Though destroyed quickly, it can take years to rebuild. And that’s okay.

Rushing for things to return to normal as quickly as possible can result in the wife never feeling fully safe within the relationship. Men who have embarked on their healing journey through the use of the Conquer Series know that their journey can take 2-5 years. When a man divulges his secrets to his wife, it is no longer his journey but becomes their journey. The healing process may look totally different for each of them, but they’re working towards one restoration — the restoration of their marriage.

Avoid Blaming Her
Many who do not fully understand the nature of addiction are quick to point a finger at the wife. Often, the suggestion is made that her man would not have struggled had she been more readily available.

This is a lie. The fact is that nearly every person who struggles with any type of addiction does so because they are medicating pain in their lives. It is likely that the struggle with pornography was brought into the marriage. As Eric Hovind shares in the Conquer Series, some believe that marriage will fix it — but it won’t.

Avoid telling the wife that she is the biggest asset to her husband’s healing provided she provides sex on-demand. Yes, intimacy will need to be restored. Biblically, there is a purpose for sex that exceeds child-bearing. But sex is not intimacy and intimacy is not sex.

Author Erwin Raphael McManus shares, “Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love, but we are only lying to ourselves when we act as if sex is proof of love. Too many men demand sex as proof of love; too many women have given sex in hopes of love. We live in a world of users where we abuse each other to dull the pain of aloneness. We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment.”

It is important for couples to work on rebuilding the marriage outside of the bedroom. They should learn to talk to one another, laugh together, and enjoy each other’s company all over again. Because of the deception of the past, couples should not seek to have things return to how they once were. Instead, they should seek to fall madly in love with one another all over again. They can learn and grow together, and watch as sparks are rekindled. Intimacy flows when someone feels completely accepted just the way that they are.

Take a Proactive Approach
Put tools into her hands that will help remind her that she is not alone while enabling her to process the pain and understand her husband’s struggle. Some churches have taken it upon themselves to begin Conquer Series groups for the ladies.

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