Today's post, the first in a two-part series, tackles a common myth circulating in the church, and beyond, that men wouldn't "wander" (i.e. use porn, lust, act out sexually with others) if their wives were just working harder to please them sexually. In other words... it's our fault when they have these issues.
It's a pleasure to have guest blogger, Jane Howcroft, debunking this myth over the next two weeks. Jane is the author of a bible study for those ministering to wives of porn/sex addicts published through the Naked Truth Project in the U.K.
Today a friend sent me a link to a blog—she warned me it would likely make me angry. She wasn’t wrong! I read this blog post, Making It Easy For Your Husband to Not Lust by "transformed wife" and my heart sank that such a post could be written in this day and age. I felt so strongly about what I read that I just had to reply.
I am the wife of a recovering porn addict and the advice given in this blog was not only disheartening, it was potentially damaging to a wife who is desperately seeking help for the situation she finds herself in. In fact, the complete absolution of the husband's responsibility for himself simply promotes his use of gaslighting, whereby he gets to excuse his behaviour and blame his wife for any actions resulting from lust. And the fact that this outdated viewpoint came from another woman—unbelievable.
There are so many mixed messages out there with regards to how to deal with porn addiction (PA) or sex addiction (SA) within the context of a Christian marriage. And this blog, by "transformed wife," regarding a husband’s temptation to lust is far from helpful. If we wish to tackle PA/SA in a Biblical way, can we at least agree that "lust" is the central problem? And lust, according to Jesus, is a heart issue.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." —Matthew 5:27-28 (NIVUK)
And Jesus’ solution to people who struggle with lust?
"If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." —Matthew 5:29-32 (NIVUK)
Basically Jesus says do whatever it takes to cut lust out of your life because it’s so serious it can lead to you being separated from God. Lust is not inevitable, it’s a choice. Nowhere does Jesus say, “Hey wives you need to satisfy your man better so he doesn’t lust!”
Scripture in its Context
And while, the quote from 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 used by "transformed wife" to support her argument that a man and wife ought to be having sex may be valid, to keep its message in context we should first consider 1 Corinthians 6:13(b)-20.
"The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body... Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies."
This says that we each have the personal responsibility to keep ourselves pure because we are united with God and carry Him with us wherever we go. Yes, marriage is for intimacy, and the uniting of one flesh is a way of honouring God—indeed sex should perhaps be thought of as a form of worship, since united as one we fully reflect the nature and wholeness of God. But sexual purity is a state of heart.
And whilst I am responsible for my heart, my husband is responsible for his. I am not responsible for my husband’s purity and I was not responsible for his porn addiction.
Next week, Jane's post continues with more thoughts on who bears responsibility for what in a marriage where one partner has a sexual addiction.
Please note that the Naked Truth Project ministry will be represented at the Redeeming Sexuality and Intimacy conference in Houston by Cat Etherington and ministry founder, Ian Henderson. Ian will be speaking on the practical steps that churches can take towards developing a strategic approach to addressing pornography and sexual sin. Please encourage all you know who could benefit from such a discussion (and can make it to the conference) to attend.