Thursday, April 23, 2015

Porn is Okay

What? Did you hear me correctly? Yes, I said that porn is okay.

Of course I don't personally believe that to be true. However, apparently it is widely acceptable by many couples. Just this morning I ran across a LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) blog that suggested porn is acceptable for a married couple, as long as it's not kept as a secret. This is a FLAT OUT LIE. Todd Creager, the author of the blog, must have missed a couple of key elements about what porn does to a man.

From a non-religious standpoint, porn devalues women, period. Men who view pornography learn to view women as mere objects of sexual gratification. The God-given need for relationship gives way to a consumerist mindset of pure consumption.

I can't speak about the way porn affects a woman when she watches it, but I can tell you how it makes her feel when her husband does.

Luke Gilkerson, author at Covenant Eyes posted statistical facts about porn, including this: "64% of self-identified Christian men and 15% of self-identified Christian women view pornography at least once a month." It's time for us to take each other by the hand, look to Christ, and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! 

Dr. Grant Mullen says, "A woman whose husband has been viewing pornography experiences no different feelings than if he had had a physical affair. It is just as painful, demoralizing and real."  My wife, who has experienced both aspects (me viewing pornography, as well as physical infidelity) will tell you that they both hurt deeply. Both situations cause a woman to "feel less than good enough. Their self image, self respect, and self worth will have been thrust so far down that you might wonder if they can ever be built back up again" as I said in my post entitled, "Rough Waters."

Geoff Steurer, another LMFT says, "In all of my years of counseling individuals and couples, I have never seen any other behavior produce a pattern of pain and misery as predictable as that which happens to an individual and his marriage when he views pornography."

Jesus tells us that it is a matter of the heart, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt 5:28) You see, Jesus, the creator of the universe says that viewing pornography is in fact, CHEATING. There isn't a single man out there who can look me in the eye, and tell me that he's not lusting when he's looking at porn.

From my own experience, I know that pornography played an important role in my own infidelity. It started way back in the early 1980's with an act of innocent curiosity.

Even though my wife and I are on the road to restoration, I've already injured her. What about you? Are you willing to take steps to remain faithful to your spouse? Are you willing to stop viewing porn immediately? Are you willing to help educate those around you about the dangers of pornography?

Here's a great resource called Pink Cross Foundation that helps heal lives from pornography:

The founder of Pink Cross gives an incredible lecture to high school students in this youtube video:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Side-Note From My Wife

My wife reads this blog.

This blog isn't something I'm writing secretly or without her consent. Based on my history, I refuse to do anything secretly. Secrecy destroys trust. I'm not talking about the occasional secret that you're planning with your spouse in mind, like a surprise getaway or something like that. I'm talking about lies, deception, misrepresentation of the truth, lack of full communication (ie. hopes, dreams, plans, wishes, thoughts, or anything else that you might choose to withhold from your spouse). A successful marriage takes full-disclosure, vulnerability, transparency, and trust.

This blog is painful for my wife to read.

Although everything is out in the open, when she reads my words it serves as a painful reminder of what I've done. It hurts to learn that you've been betrayed. It also hurts when you are reminded of it. In spite of that, my wife has graciously allowed me to tell our story (or at least my perspective) with the hope that it will save someone from the pain of infidelity, or even save marriages from divorce after a spouse has been unfaithful.

I have a side-note from my wife.

Sometimes when she reads a new entry, she asks about the way she's being portrayed. For example, a couple of entries ago in my post entitled, "Rough Waters," she was concerned that it might seem like she's over-dramatizing things that are behind us.

Here are her words:

I felt like I was possibly being conveyed as harsh and unreasonable...holding onto the past because questions still arise...and that I am a fragile being because I don't view myself as beautiful or valuable to you because I was unwanted and thrown away. The truth is, I may never feel that I am beautiful or valuable in your eyes.

Here is my response, not only to her, but to anyone who might have perceived her in that light:

I don't feel that I'm portraying my wife as fragile or weak. It takes the strongest of people to look an offender in the face and say, "I forgive you." It takes the Spirit of Christ Jesus living inside of someone to look the person who harmed you in the eye and say, "I truly love you."

Yes, I did throw my wife away. Yes, I did forsake our marriage vows. That was in direct correlation to the way I viewed myself as completely worthless based on my own history of pain (detailed in a previous post entitled, "Shapes from the Past."

I am striving every day to build her up, encourage her, reassure her, and help her to believe that my heart is completely hers. I love her fully, and completely. However, the result of cheating ultimately causes the wounded person to perpetually question and wonder what can be believed as truth.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It Won't Be An Easy Fix

This post is addressed to offenders, cheaters, unfaithful spouses, and any other label you want to put onto someone in that category.

If you have decided to repent (which means to turn away from your sin), ask for forgiveness, make amends with the person you have wronged/hurt/shattered, and to restore your relationship, please be prepared for a journey.

When I use the word, 'journey,' I am not implying a short walk by any means. This will be a long road with many dips, hills, valleys, sheer cliffs, and treacherous terrain.

In the American culture (a culture overly-saturated with a consumerist mindset), we buy, use, and then throw away. We can immediately replace what we've thrown away with something completely new. Somehow, this mindset and cultural behavior has translated into the realm of human relationships.

We enter into new relationships with false expectations. We place unrealistic hopes and dreams into another flawed human who can't possibly satisfy us completely. I learned in marriage counseling that "P + P = C," meaning that Person plus Person equals Conflict.

We were designed for a committed relationship with a member of the opposite gender, however that relationship wasn't meant to replace the relationship and/or worship of Christ Jesus (who came to give us abundant life). He alone can fully satisfy and fill the empty void within each one of us.

Even though we as offenders/cheaters/unfaithful spouses were the ones who caused the pain and destruction through our actions, we sometimes get frustrated with aspects of the journey. We look at our spouse and wonder, "Why can't we just move forward?" "Why are there more questions?" "How long will it be until life gets back to normal?" We ask these, and many other similar questions.

I'll address the three questions I mentioned specifically.

Why cant we just move forward?
The truth is, you are moving forward. I can't say it enough - this is not a quick fix. Believe it or not, the painful destruction we've caused in our loved one doesn't heal with a little antibacterial ointment and a band-aid. The healing not only takes divine intervention, but metaphorical open heart surgery, and sutures. You are moving forward, but the steps you take together are sometimes almost invisible to the naked eye.

Why are there more questions?
Almost anything can trigger questions about 'what happened' when the infidelity occurred. Unfaithfulness causes your spouse to question their self worth, "Why wasn't I good enough...pretty enough?" Allow the questions to come as they will. Be patient and gracious (remember which offense(s) your loved one has forgiven you of). Avoid agitation, irritation, and defensiveness at all costs.

How long will it be until life gets back to normal?
This is a new normal. Things can't and won't return to the way they were before the infidelity occurred. Trust has been broken. Pain has been dealt with a heavy blow. However, that doesn't mean that life won't be beautiful and enjoyable ever again. Realize that with any major decision in life, things aren't going to be "normal" as before. Things will always be changing. Life will always be different as we move forward. However, a marriage restored is more beautiful than a marriage destroyed.