What does Easter mean if porn addiction has a death grip on your marriage?
If Jesus came to die for ALL sin, then ALL is ALL. There isn’t anything Jesus’ death and resurrection don’t cover.
Is your brain already disagreeing with the 100% forgiveness God offers? Is your heart secretly putting your spouse’s sin on the “I’m not so sure this is forgiven” list?
I’m talking about forgiveness here. Not consequences.
We put limitations on God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Because we are limited. In our pain and disillusionment, we fail to understand God’s view of grace and mercy. We want to be forgiven but want the other person punished and, in some cases, damned to hell.
Before your hurting heart is tempted to tune me out, please listen carefully.
You’re sidestepping authenticity to call them the same; they aren’t.
Jesus taught us this.
Look at the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus. Here are a few facts as taken from the Bible in Luke’s book:
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus forgave the criminal for his sin but did not remove him from the cross or from suffering the legal consequences of his criminal acts.
You can be forgiven and still be required to pay the consequence of your sin.
The criminal who requested forgiveness and acknowledged who Jesus is received grace and mercy. This criminal saw Jesus and accepted that He is the Son of God—Immanuel, God with us. Jesus knew this criminal’s heart and redeemed it in the moments before his death. If the criminal were “faking it,” saying the right words to try and get himself out of a sticky situation, believe me, Jesus would have known.
Do you see the distinction here?
When my husband confessed his porn addiction, he faced real consequences in our relationship, and so did I.
For instance, I lost all trust and belief in anything he told me. I reasoned if he’d lied to me for 25 years about this porn addiction, what other things has he lied about. Therefore, even though I knew I needed to forgive him to set myself free from bitterness and anger, our relationship suffered major damage. It took months and months to prove through his behavior more than his words that he chose me over porn.
As I wrestle deeply with the co-existing truths of forgiveness and consequences, I admit I can’t always reconcile life through Jesus’ lens.
Evil appears to run rampant in our world. What’s wrong is called right; right is condemned as old-fashioned or wrong.
But Jesus’s death on the cross, His sacrifice to redeem the entire world from sin’s curse, paid it all. ALL. He didn’t skip anything or anyone. And as hard as that is to reconcile most days, it’s still true.
And recovery from the aftershocks of porn addiction requires stepping into the tension of this reality.
There is forgiveness, but there are also consequences.
Jesus repeatedly dealt with sticky, dirty, shocking situations as he walked the earth. He is not immune to scandal. He does not classify any person or avoid any situation as too far gone or too naughty to dirty His hands with. Jesus is ready for all the details of your situation.
When I think about what Jesus did, how can I not forgive my husband? How can I not forgive the pain he caused me because of his porn addiction? He freely chose to do what he did in our home and at work. Who am I to say that God cannot forgive this sin? Who am I not to forgive him when he has asked for it? How does that help either of us?
I did forgive Dave. And I do. Some days after that decade-old pain rises to the surface after a coaching call with a wounded wife, I have to choose to forgive him all over again.
My forgiveness didn’t set Dave free; it set ME free.
Free to heal, to take my next step forward, to discover more about the God I profess to follow. It challenged me to look at Jesus and trust Him to deal with my pain, wounds, bleeding heart, confusion, fears, struggles, and desire for revenge.
Forgiveness also required I release Dave to God to deal with. There’s the rub. I couldn’t control Dave’s decisions or recovery. I had to let it go and trust God to do His perfect will for Dave and me.
This forgiveness took daily, sometimes minute-by-minute decisions to trust God. Then, God did something amazing. He kept His word to me. Me. It wasn’t about Dave at all. It was all about my relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each decision to forgive freed me to lean deeper into my relationship with God. And He does not disappoint. He broke the next link in the chain holding me captive to bitterness, fear, and thoughts of revenge.
The consequences of recovery are real—mine and Dave’s.
Some of those consequences for me include:
- Developing healthy boundaries
- Telling myself the truth so I can be truthful with others
- Giving up some habits and beliefs that cause personal harm and wound others
- Identifying where my responsibility begins and ends
- Learning that God is my stable place, not Dave
Dave’s consequences include:
- Building trust destroyed by his porn addiction
- Developing healthy boundaries
- Telling himself the truth so he can be truthful with others
- Giving up some habits and beliefs that cause personal harm and wounds others
- Identifying where his responsibility begins and ends
Did you catch the similarities in our recovery? To rebuild our marriage, we worked on issues from both sides of the equation. And in that process, God gave us more than a rebuilt marriage. He gave us a new relationship with Himself first. Then, God remade our marriage one vulnerable step at a time.
So this Easter season, look to Jesus. What would He say to a repentant porn addict?
Yep. “I forgive you.”
He forgave all your sin and mine. No one you know is outside God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Including your spouse who’s hurt you. Including you! Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
Once you’ve truly forgiven, it’s time to deal with the consequences one by one. Accept the grace God offers you today. When you fully grasp the depth and breadth of God’s grace, you see others through Jesus’ eyes. Not perfect, but forgiven and need of our Savior Jesus.