Last week we looked at some of the scriptures that are often used to abuse (i.e. berate, blame, trap) wives of sex addicts. Today we will look at some scriptures that would seem to say something quite different to us. We will end by exploring how we know where to focus and what to do.
Thank you for the many responses to this article on Facebook, including a message from community member, Amy Kate (aka the Psalm 40 Warrior) who added that she, and others she works with have struggled with Matthew 19:26, "nothing is impossible with God." She says woman are at times guilty of "taking the hope of the bible and twisting it to stay no matter the cost, because he MIGHT choose repentance."
Love: Unconditional. Relationship… Nuh-Uh
Here are some scripture verses that would seem to offer us different advice from those we looked at last week. I've shortened some of the longer sections, especially the Matthew 18 passage, so please do go look up these verses if you want to explore further.
- Teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. — Colossians 3:16
- Warn those who are idle and disruptive. — 1 Thessalonians 5:14
- But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality… for because of such things God’s wrath comes… therefore do no be partners with them. — Ephesians 5:3-6
- Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. — James 5:20
- If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. —Galatians 6:1
- If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.… then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. – Matthew 18:15-17
- Submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ. — Ephesians 5:21 (See Beyond Betrayal for more on the Hebrew understanding of submission).
God has grace for your husband. He loves him even in the midst of his sin. However, He does not walk closely with your husband in the midst of that sin. The love is unconditional. The relationship is not (John 3:36, Jeremiah 16:5-12 and many chapters of scripture including a lot of Jeremiah and Isaiah).
Sin, by nature, separates. Jesus loved the Pharisees… enough to speak truth to them when they didn’t want to hear it. Many of them walked away in the face of that truth: but some didn’t. Some chose to accept it, repent and return to relationship. So it is with some husbands — but not all.
Then How Do we Know What to Do???
With some scriptures apparently telling us to do one things and others the opposite… how are we supposed to know what to do when it comes to living (or not) with a porn or sex addict?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Scripture is the “general revelation” of God to his people; not the specific revelation to you about your specific circumstances today with your husband. Likewise, the bible doesn't tell you whether or not to take that job offer, or whether your car should go into the shop this week or next.
- The bible has been around for less than 1700 years of our 6000 years of recorded history. The old testament scriptures themselves were only assembled (for the most part) 2500 years ago. For most of history people (including those who wrote the scriptures) have had to rely on relationship with God or his people/prophets in order to understand God’s direction
- Even the “scripture experts” (e.g. the Pharisees) can get it wrong.
We worship the ever-living God who spoke in and through scripture, not the scriptures themselves. Thus be careful about accepting a scriptural “yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). Understanding God’s character—as revealed in scripture (particularly the gospels) and time spent in connection with Him — are more likely to help us answer the tough questions set before us about day-to-day life with a porn or sex addict.
So...Do I Stay or Not?
I know that one of the soul-searing, heart-wrenching questions women grapple with early after disclosure is "should I stay with this man or should I go?" I completely understand why we want an answer to that question... now.
For myself, I began in time to see that God was not going to give me the long-term view of my relationship, so I could know whether or not it was worth staying. Instead he took me on a day-to-day journey where I learned to ask myself: "How best can I love my husband right now?"
Some day the answer to that question may well be, "by leaving." But for the past seven years of Michael's healing journey, the daily answers has been more complex. They've included confronting the lies, cultivating compassion and showing it, using protective boundaries with wisdom, and allowing some of Michael's newly developed goodness into my heart.
Tomorrow, the answer may be as simple as "leave." However, that answer will come from the Holy Spirit directly: that brilliant, loving, inspirer of the scriptures. Learning to lean on Him gives me more than insight, it gives me strength to do all things (Philippians 4:13).