For the Women Who Love the Men Who Love Porn

Bill was a hard-working, family man, a guy who took his daughters on dates, led family devotions and remembered his wedding anniversary. So when his wife, Carol, found a rash of 900 numbers listed on their phone bill, she had no idea what she was looking at. She called the first number, and that’s when she learned the family budget was supporting Bill’s phone sex habit. It came out of the blue, and it nearly destroyed her.

Unfortunately, pornography and sex addiction are growing phenomena in the digital age, and mature, Christian men are not exempt from their pull. While resources are becoming more available to support and provide accountability for these men, their wives are often left in the lurch, furious and confused about who they can tell or how to go forward. If you happen to be one of them, let’s talk. There are a few things I’d like you to know.

It’s Not Your Fault

Even if it’s not a conscious thought, most women in your situation eventually wonder why they weren’t enough, and whether their husbands would have turned to porn if they were doing everything right. Please notice this insidious lie when it rears its ugly head. It’s not your fault. Even if you have been withholding sex entirely (which I am not condoning unless it is part of an open and progressive plan toward healing), even then, it is not your fault. Your husband has a responsibility before God to remain faithful in his mind, his heart and his actions, whether he is married or single, satisfied or not. If you need to work on sexuality in your marriage, do that work because you want to please the Lord, not because you want to manipulate your husband – even to ‘keep him faithful.’ That responsibility doesn’t belong to you.

It’s Not Personal

Every wife I have ever worked with in this situation, believes that her husband has aimed his sin as a weapon directly at her. Every porn-addicted man I have ever worked with has told me it has nothing to do with his wife, personally. It’s not about whether he loves you or finds you attractive. The sexual instinct of a male gets triggered many times every day, often in innocuous circumstances; this has nothing to do with the person he loves at home. He is not consciously trying to betray you when he looks too long at the bartender’s cleavage or watches that video late at night. Does he realize you would not like what he is doing? Probably. But it’s not about you as a person any more than sneaking out of the office early is about the man or woman who owns the corporation.

Processing Betrayal

Perhaps you think I am excusing what your husband has done or minimizing it in some way. I do not intend to. What your husband has done is a deep sin which goes to the heart of his masculinity, his relationship with Christ and his relationship with his family. He has deceived you. Christ calls the sin of lust every bit as bad as adultery itself. Your husband’s love for God must result in a real, humble, heartfelt and determined repentance. And it is part of your healing process to grieve and repudiate his sin which has broken your innocence, your trust and your dreams. Just as God, Himself, feels angry with evil and grieves all our sins (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 4:30), both anger and mourning are a valid part of your journey. It can be helpful to use a workbook or see a counselor to help you work through those feelings.

Finding Support

I wish I could tell you there are lots of good options for women in your situation. If you live in certain parts of the country, you may be able to find a support group you can connect with, but in many cases that will not be available. If you cannot find one, you could create your own. I don’t mean you should start asking strangers if their husbands look at porn, but you may already know someone you could share with. If he is in recovery, your husband may also be able to help you find one or two other, healthy wives a little farther down the road. If you are in an intimate, safe small group, that might be an option, too. Please involve your husband in this decision if you are working toward healing together.

Prayer support is essential. That can be as simple as turning in a prayer request at church: “Please pray for my family while we wrestle with some hard things.” But if you have praying friends you can share some or all with, that is even better. You may be able to ask your pastor to pray for and with you, but, again, involve your husband, if possible. I hope you and your husband can pray together about this issue, too. I’d encourage you to keep it on the table for a long time.

Where Do You Go from Here?

In part, where you go from here depends on your husband’s willingness to get help and be honest with at least a few others. But there are things you can do, in any case.

  • Find a good, Christian counselor or an experienced, empathetic pastor and talk through your feelings and your options with them.
  • Consider reading a Christian book about pornography addiction to gain a better understanding of what your spouse is doing and going through.
  • Connect with at least one other person who cares about you and your marriage to encourage you and pray for you.
  • Dig deep into your relationship with God. Find your worth, your strength and your wisdom in Him in new ways as you pass through this valley. Cling to His promises to work all things for good for those He calls (Rom. 8:28), and meditate on the inability of sin or circumstances to separate you from His love (Rom. 8:35).

It took Bill a while to admit he couldn’t overcome his addiction alone, but he now meets weekly with a group of men who hold him accountable and support him in the struggle. He and Carol started seeing a counselor who helped them talk about the damage to their marriage and where to begin healing. Carol has put a few boundaries in place to help her rebuild the trust she’s lost, and with Bill’s blessing, she has a few good friends who support her in prayer. They are also talking about starting a small group in their church which would minister to the men and women impacted by pornography. They realize it will start small, but one thing they have learned is that keeping this demon in the dark only gives it more power. Working together to overcome pornography has, ironically, been good for their marriage. In fact, Carol thinks there might be a few more areas which could use the same level of attention. Bill has learned that covering over sin doesn’t make it go away, but facing it together just might.

Related Material:

A real-life story from CRU
A real-life story from The Gospel Coalition
Pastors and porn
Free spouse support groups in the St. Louis area
Fee-based spouse support groups
Do I have an addiction?

The Illustrated NIrV for Kids: a book review

Zondervan and The International Bible Society (aka Biblica) have just published The Illustrated NIrV Holy Bible for Kids. Created “for children who want to read on their own or with an adult nearby,” this latest daughter of the NIV is child-friendly in many ways (though not all). But its value for your family will depend on how it’s used.

The NIrV first appeared in 1994 as a spin-off of the New International Version (NIV), the most popular modern translation of the Bible. Editors of the NIrV replaced longer words and phrases with simpler language at a 3rd-grade reading level. This style is called a thought-for-thought translation rather than word-for-word. Since 1994, Zondervan has updated and republished the NIrV in multiple formats, including a children’s version featuring The Berenstain Bears. So, what is different about this new edition?

What You Might Like

The adorable illustrations by Bible Story Map (contributing editor, Stephanie Holleman), are worth the $29.99 cover price alone. Holleman’s studio produces attractive and helpful Bible posters for sale online, some of which have been reproduced in this volume. They also designed new illustrations for the text, approximately one for every two-page spread. And a two-sided poster comes tucked into the back cover with the Holy Land on one side and a genealogy of Bible characters on the other.

I also particularly liked the parenthetical chapter and verse references for quotes from another part of Scripture. However, the editors’ decision not to number each verse in the text greatly reduces their usefulness. These references and the division of chapters into smaller sections with added titles constitute the only extra-Biblical material. No other introductory or explanatory study notes are included because they “can be very distracting for kids.”

What You Might Not Like

Besides the lack of verse numbers, another problem for new readers and children (not to mention the over-50 crowd, like me) is the very small, 9-point font. Zondervan advertises an “easy-to-read” typeface for this edition, but only twenty-somethings are likely to find it so easy. I used to buy large-print Bibles for my early-reading children (12-point font or higher), and I still think that is preferable.

Sample text (enlarged). See parenthetical note and lack of verse numbers.

Should You Buy It?

When I was a fresh-faced, home-schooling mom, I naively believed my young children were going to read their Bibles. This new edition would be really nice for that purpose. In reality, my kids only used their Bibles to complete assignments at home and at church. If that is true for your young readers, then a Bible with larger print and verse numbers might be a better choice. How do you look up John 3:16 when there is no “16” in your book?

And for reading to a child, I prefer Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible, with its Christ-centered approach and full-page illustrations. I’m also looking forward to the Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids by Veggie Tales creator, Phil Vischer, due out Sept. 10th. Neither of these books contain the complete text of Scripture as does the The NIrV Illustrated Holy Bible for Kids, but let’s face it – you probably aren’t going to read much of Deuteronomy or Lamentations to your first-grader anyway.

I think my children liked having their own Bibles, and the grown-ups around them liked it, too. It was the start of a good, life-long habit, even if it was a bit more symbolic than practical. Gift-buying grandparents will be attracted to this new edition, and the illustrations are probably your best hope that kids might open it up on their own. So, whether you want to purchase this new Bible depends largely on how you believe it will be used. I can honestly say it is the most attractive, complete children’s version of Scripture that I’ve seen. But, please, Zondervan! Put the verse numbers back!


As a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I was given a promotional copy of the book in exchange for this review.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

I hate that expression. I only use it when I’m discouraged. I only hear it from people who are depressed. When you don’t feel like obeying or being happy or maintaining belief, just fake it ’til you make it. Put on a mask so that other people think you are kind or joyful or faithful. That doesn’t ever solve my problems. And it makes you wonder why Jesus wasted all that time talking about the inner man if He just wanted us to fake it. No, I don’t think the man who called Himself “The Truth” wants His disciples to put on an act.

On the other hand, there are times when our minds, our bodies or our circumstances simply can’t reach a place of peace or joy. Pretending isn’t a good solution, and giving in to rage, terror or hopelessness isn’t either. Thank God there is another way of being.

God gave us each a mind (the thinking part of the brain), a heart (the seat of emotions) and a will (for choices and actions). Various translations of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Mark 12:30 express this trinity: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength. God created each part of the human spirit to seek Him and to reflect His image in the world. God Himself provides what we need to keep those parts operational. He feeds us truth for our minds, His great love for our hearts and a wise and measured discipline for our wills (both in the limits He gives us and in the strength He offers us to stay within those limits). It is surprising how often you find all three of these concepts addressed in short passages of Scripture, for example Psalm 119:41-44 or Phil 4:7-9.

Now, for the bad news. All three of these parts are fallen. Our minds have the tendency to believe lies, our hearts have a tendency to fear, and our will has a tendency toward rebellion. Scripture tells us that our idols speak deceit (Zech. 10:2), our hearts do not fear God alone (Is. 8:12, 13), and we are inclined toward evil in our habits and choices (Gen. 6:5).

It is God’s grace that when one part fails, we have the others to pull us upward. There are Scriptural examples for each. We are to be transformed through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). But sometimes it is the heart which leads with love (Ruth 1:16). And our will must be conformed to the image of Christ, even when we don’t really want to go there (James 1:22). In the case of those who talk about faking it, I think they are actually saying their mind or their will is leading them toward God while their heart feels far from Him. The will, acting upon truth rather than feelings, is in no way a pretense − any more than the widow’s mite is a pretense (her will acted from feelings of worship and compassion rather than logic).

In God’s original plan, heart, mind and will were perfectly aligned in the image of our Maker. There is no longer perfection or harmony between souls or inside of them, but just as we have the community of God to help us when we are weak, so we have three means of approaching God from within. It is important for us to use whatever godly impulse we have in our heart, mind or will to reach for the empowering Spirit who enables us to approach the throne of grace from many angles. That struggle is very human, very valuable and very real.


This essay was first posted here in June of 2012.