A Letter for Wives After Their Christian Husband’s Lust Has Hurt Them Again
After years in ministry, I know that lust is often one of the biggest challenges in a Christian man’s life. In our society, it does not even wait for men to come after it. Rather, it pursues them relentlessly. In the wake of these struggles, countless wives are left hurt, confused, and numb time and time again. This letter is for them. This letter is for wives who need something to help them keep their head straight after they have been hurt again. It is not exhaustive, but it does focus on the principles of Scripture that will help wives keep their focus on Christ and their hearts from becoming hard and falling into their own sinful patterns.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Galatians 6:1
I am so sorry you are having to endure this pain. Romans 12:15 tells us to weep with those who weep. Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry one another’s burdens. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to comfort the discouraged. I want to do those things for you right now.
First, I want to say that I am burdened and in sorrow about this. I am grieving, though certainly not at the level you must be feeling. You need your church, godly sisters in Christ, now so that you are not bearing this burden alone without comfort and hope.
Also, I want to encourage you with some words of my own but most importantly with God’s. I want you to know that your husband’s failure to endure that temptation was his failure, not yours. His failure to cut off that avenue for temptation was his failure, not yours. Where I want to encourage you the most is reminding you that hope is not lost.
“14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold as a slave under sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. 22 For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin.” Romans 7:14-24
Your husband is in a process. Sometimes it feels like a hopeless process, but it is not. Even if you feel that way, I doubt you want to believe that. The struggles your husband is having could be your own children’s struggles one day. If your son or daughter ends up fighting these same battles, hurting their spouse the same way, how will you treat them? How will you view them? How would you try to help them? Your husband’s heart is new in Christ, but his flesh is not. There is a war going on between the new spiritual man and the old fleshly man. When you read Paul’s words in Romans 7, it almost seems like he is speaking about a hopeless situation, but then he gives thanks. He thanks God because through Christ there is hope. There is surely hope for the time after this life that we are glorified with new bodies and no more sin, but there is hope in this life for the process of sanctification and God’s forgiveness.
“My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one.” 1 John 2:1
God doesn’t take sin lightly, and neither should we. Your husband’s sin should not be overlooked. It should not be cast aside without proper rebuke. He should not be allowed to just keep on as usual with no changes. But he also has an advocate. Jesus advocates for his forgiveness as long as he is repentant. Just before in 1 John we read,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
You may question your husband’s repentance, and that is completely understandable. It can even be healthy. It is not okay to give lip service and continue speaking about change with no change, but we also must evaluate change appropriately. Can you point to concrete ways in which he has made efforts to change? Can you point to more ways in which he needs to make efforts? He should be challenged with Scripture. First, I would read him 1 Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Likely, your husband sometimes desires for his temptations to just cease, but we are not given any promises that our temptations will go away. However, we are given the promise that God provides a way to endure them without giving in. The other thing I would challenge him with is Matthew 5:29-30.
“29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30
He needs to do whatever it takes to change and show you that he is changing. Changing does not mean arrived, though. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:12-14.
“12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
It will always be possible that your husband could lose another battle. Maybe he lost one recently. Hopelessness often tries to grab ahold of us after a battle is lost, but the war rages on. I know that you want this to be over. I know it might feel impossible to forgive him, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 applies to all our temptations, including temptations to not forgive. Paul also teaches,
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Whenever it feels impossible to forgive, we must remember that we are in no position to withhold forgiveness. We have no ground to stand on because we deserve the fire of Hell. If we refuse forgiveness to others, we are staking our life on asking Jesus to do for us what we refuse to do for others.
“But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15
I’m sure you have noticed lately that there is a plague of unforgiveness in our country. We have become a nation that holds grudges and tries to punish people for things in their past that they have already asked forgiveness for. Yet, Jesus told his disciples,
“Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
Your husband has wronged you. If you have children, he has wronged them. He has wronged Christ. He should be rebuked for that, but he also must be forgiven. Forgiveness does not mean you forget his sin. It does not mean you must act like it never happened and let him go back to doing the same things he did before. It does, however, mean that you should not hurt him in retaliation for his sin. You should not seek vengeance on him for his sin. Even if you were to consider him your enemy, you must learn to love him and bless him.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” Romans 12:17
Pornography has no place in the Christian life, but neither does unforgiveness. If your marriage has a cycle of sin, repentance, bitterness, and unforgiveness, it needs to be broken. You both must be a part of that. He needs to do whatever it takes to show you that you and God are more important than lust. He needs to let you make the rules. If it means watching no more TV, then do it. If it means having no more phone, then do it. If it means quitting his job, then do it. If it means going to a residential rehab facility, then do it.
I also challenge you to be willing to make whatever boundaries you think are necessary for you to feel that your husband is showing his willingness to sacrifice and put your desires above his own. I challenge you to not let bitterness, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness take hold of your heart.
“2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-3
This is a trial for you. You are being sinned against. It is testing your faith. Don’t underestimate the value of endurance. Your husband is learning to endure his temptations. God is not just taking them away. You could take the route of just avoiding the temptation by getting a divorce, but then you would not be letting endurance have its full effect. You would be away from him but still harboring things in your heart and lacking forgiveness. Those things will follow you wherever you go. That is not the road to a healthy life or family.
You must acknowledge that your husband is not going to beat this overnight. What you likely want most is honesty. You want him to not lie about it, not try to excuse it, not try to diminish it, etc. If he sins and confesses, don’t punish him for his confession. Think about how life would be if God did that with us. There is nothing wrong with your husband facing consequences for his sin, but make sure those consequences are not dealt out from a sinful heart or meant as vengeance.
I want to encourage you that hope is not lost. Let endurance produce its full effect. It is worth the end reward. Love is worth the cost. It will be worth it for you, for your husband, for your children, and one day for others that you can help learn the same.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-6
You are doing ministry in your family. You are a minister to your husband and your children right now. You both are setting the example for them to follow. That example can be one of giving up and giving in or one of hard love and endurance. Your husband cannot comfort you right now, but God is able.
I know it might feel hopeless, but I assure you that is a lie from Satan. Don’t underestimate the power of having healthy community, support, accountability, and counsel. It is important to make sure that everything you think and do is being guided by proper counsel through a right understanding of God’s Word. Be careful to put in the right things. The world is full of people, teachers, blogs, and podcasts that will tell you what you want to hear right now. The internet can take anyone down any path they want to go on and make them feel good about it, but a clear conscience is not always a good indicator of righteousness.
“My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Corinthians 4:4
Your husband might have an addiction. Maybe not. Addictions don’t go away easily. Giving up will help neither of you. I hope you desire for him to beat this as well. You might be to the point that you just don’t care anymore. You might feel numb, but I assure you an attitude like that is not from God. He needs your help in this battle. Helping him get victory will be better for him, you, your children, and God.
Please do not bear this burden alone. Please do not give up hope. Please consider these Scriptures and words and realize that they are coming from someone who just wants to see your family come to a healthy place of glorifying God together and fully believes that is within reach. I believe it because God has said so in Scripture. I just want to end with one last passage that I hope you will meditate on.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things. Philippians 4:6-8