In this post—the first of a new, three-part series—guest blogger, “C,” shares her story, and the insights gained on her journey to healing from sexual betrayal.
C is writing from the perspective of a pastor’s wife and her reflections will be particularly valuable to women whose husbands are Christian ministers. For the purposes of this article, the term "ministers" is understood to include pastors, Christian leaders, missionaries, etc. C will also assume that in the majority of cases it will be a woman married to a man in ministry, but male spouses of those in ministry, as well as those contemplating marrying someone in ministry, will also glean insight.
"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." —Psalm 91:4
Dear ladies, I have researched, pondered over, and prayed about this article. I often had to take breaks as my heart broke. I wept in so much empathy for you, for I know that you would not be reading this if you weren't concerned that your husband has a lust problem… at the very least. I hate that ministries like "Beyond Betrayal" have to exist! I wish I could say that I have all the answers and that complete healing for both of you will be miraculously instant, or will come by year x; but that would be misleading. The reality is that I wish I had read or heard info on this topic years ago, so that my husband and I could have taken the necessary steps to move toward health much sooner.
My husband, "G," has been a Christian since a young age, and grew up in a loving home with no abuse in his life. He became an adult and got into ministry prior to the internet, and I thought we had a loving marriage. I had always admired him for his love for God and passion to reach the lost for Jesus Christ. I trusted him implicitly. I believe now that I put G on a pedestal, where he did not belong. Thus, I was incredibly shocked when I found 10's of 1000s of undeleted porn sites in our computer history—the work of over two nights binging. My trust in God was severely shaken for the first time in my life. This happened exactly two years ago as of the date of this posting: on our 35th wedding anniversary. That discovery began a long journey to healing and health for both of us, which is still very much in progress. Even a year ago I wouldn't have believed that this year I am able to actually look forward to celebrating. I want to emphasize that there is hope!
How did G, who had pastored two churches and been on several missions trips, fall so far? It began in middle age, when he clicked on a porn site out of curiosity, back when the internet first entered our home. That was an open door for the enemy of our souls to attempt to destroy our marriage and any ministry God wanted for us. I believe that porn became a stronghold when G ignored what scripture says, and began to believe the lie that it “wasn't so bad,” that no one was being hurt as long as he could do it in secret, and that it "wasn't as bad as an affair." This behavior progressed into a full-blown addiction to chemicals in the brain… chemicals that God meant to be produced in a healthy intimate relationship, but which satan has perverted.
There is definitely a progressive nature to sexual addiction. Initially G lied about having memberships on dating sites, which destroyed any glimmer of hope I’d gained from his admission that he had a "porn problem." He had progressed to claiming to be single on several such sites, and flirting with foreign girls on Facebook. I have no doubt that eventually he would have had an online affair (at the very least), had I not discovered the porn.
The Struggle with Lust… and More
If you think, but are not sure, that your minister husband is caught in a sexual stronghold of some sort, I would encourage you not to live in denial, but to ask him, compassionately ("if possible," Lisa adds), if he struggles with lust. Make sure you choose the time and place wisely; but do not avoid the subject for fear of the consequences. If he admits to a struggle, encourage him to tell you when he's having a rough time, so that you can pray through it together. If your husband has a lust issue—whether it is "just" curiosity or an occasional indulgence—it will only get worse if it is not dealt with. Otherwise, it may progress to become more serious, with the struggle becoming a stronghold, then an addiction to the chemicals released in the brain. Sexual addiction includes a wide range of behaviors: watching porn, lusting, leering at other girls/women, watching inappropriate movies or shows on TV, buying the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, having affairs, etc.
I believe that satan is attacking Christ and the Body of Christ by attacking and desecrating marriages because they mirror the relationship between Christ and the Church, and he knows that if he can destroy the leadership, he has won the jackpot. 1Tim. 3 and Titus 1:5-9; 15-16 talk about the fact that Christian leaders are to be held to a higher standard than that of lay people (Luke 12:48). The scripture that caught my attention early on is 1Peter 3:7, and I wondered how many prayers hadn't been answered because of G's addiction.
I beg you, please count the cost of not dealing with this. I know by experience that it is tempting to hide in denial and pretend that nothing is wrong. You have a responsibility not only to your marriage and family, but also to your flock to get help for both of you.
And please don’t try to deal with a porn or sexual addiction on your own. The sooner you and your husband can get accountability and professional help, the sooner health can be restored to each/marriage. Dr Phil has a famous saying, "You cannot change what you do not acknowledge."
Again, I want to emphasize—there is hope! If you haven't yet, I would strongly encourage you to read Lisa Taylor's book, Beyond Betrayal, the best of many that I have read on the subject.