The weeks following Jeff’s bombshell were a blur. We said goodbye to our church family, we put our house up for sale, we began to pack… I remember going though the motions, but feeling dead inside.
We immediately sought Christian counseling, going separately for several weeks and then going together as a couple. I felt tremendous anger towards Jeff, for risking our ministry for his selfish pleasures. Its something I explored with my counselor, who was helping me understand pornography addiction.
I was skeptical of the word addiction. It seemed to take him off the hook. But my Christian counselor did a great job of opening my eyes to this issue, which many Christian men (including pastors) were living in bondage too. Yes, they were completely responsible for their actions and yes, it was without a doubt sin. But it wasn’t as easy as just stopping, or at least for most men. Pornography was a drug that brought comfort to my husband. The more he saw, the more he needed. The guiltier he felt the more he needed comforting. It was a cycle that was difficult to break, but certainly not impossible for the Lord, who is able to break the chains of all types of bondage.
At some point, my tremendous disappointment and anger towards Jeff softened. I hadn’t prayed that it would go away. I had no expectation that our marriage would ever be OK. I didn’t even know to ask God for that. I just wanted to “get through this” with my family intact and without personally falling apart.
But within a few weeks of Jeff’s revelations, my heart began to soften. I never doubted he was repentant. Earlier in our marriage, when he shared with me how much he struggled to remain sexually pure, I knew that pornography and masturbation left him feeling disgusting and worthless. He was always repentant when he vowed to never go back. But this time, he was repentant and broken. He had literally lost it all, except me and the boys, and he was devastated.
On top of that, Jeff was feeling incredibly isolated. Ministers that we assumed would walk through this valley with Jeff, didn’t call. They didn’t check to see how he was doing. There was nobody who stepped up and said “Jeff, you aren’t alone. We are here for you.” Restoration was certainly never mentioned.
Our phone, which had been always ringing, was silent. Our house, which was full weekly with church members and their kids, was empty.
As angry as I was with Jeff, I was angrier at the Christian men in Jeff’s life that I thought would be a resource to him. It reminded me of the Pharisees who walked callously by the broken Samaritan laying in the road, unwilling to be bothered by his needs.
So my heart softened towards Jeff. I refused to kick him while he was down. Instead, I began to talk to him. I prayed for him. I encouraged him. Slowly, we began to work as a team. During counseling we began to see that there was hope for couples like us.
Together, we were enduring the consequences that came along with Jeff’s sin. Our goal was to settle our family and heal our marriage. We felt as if we were in a free fall and we just wanted to land. At the time, wee had no idea how long that process would take or how much work it would entail. But the promise of hope is what kept us going and kept us clinging to the Lord.
Marsha Fisher is a professional communicator and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Marsha’s world came to an abrupt hault when her husband’s pornography addiction was exposed ten years into their marriage. Marsha and her husband Jeff launched PornToPurity.com to share hope, encouragement and resources to other individuals and couples struggling with sexual sin.