Pornography leads to abuse. The myth that women secretly want to be raped is a big part of pornography. Many of our young people believe this myth. A study of 1,700 junior high teens found that 65 percent of the boys and 57 percent of the girls believe it's OK for a male to force a female to have sex if they have been dating for six months.
Pornography also causes more subtle forms of abuse. In pornography, a woman does whatever a man wants her to do. For example, there's one interactive CD on which it's possible to have over a million virtual sex experiences with a woman--you simply program in what you want her to do.
The normal needs of a live woman anger a man who has been used to being in total control of fantasy women. That may be why the states that have the highest readership of pornography also have the highest rates of domestic violence.
Recently, I heard a talk show host tell a caller that as long as no body fluids were exchanged, she needn't worry about her husband's exploration of Internet porn. The talk show host was wrong--pornography kills love.
Has pornography hurt your life or the life of someone you love? Don't despair. There are steps you can take to restore what the enemy has stolen (see p. 37).ll tenderly gather you into My arms, and I will have compassion on you" (Is. 54:5-7, paraphased).
And you can take solace in God's word to you: "Your Maker is Your Husband--and I'm not just any husband. I'm the God of the whole earth, the Lord of Hosts, and your Redeemer. I'm calling to you.
"I know you feel forsaken. I know you're heartbroken. You were wooed and won in your youth. Now you've been rejected and scorned. Listen to Me. I'll tenderly gather you into My arms, and I will have compassion on you" (Is. 54:5-7, paraphased).
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF PORNOGRAPHY, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Cry out to God. Realize that your heavenly Father cares about how you have been affected by your spouse's addiction. Allow Him to share this burden with you.
2. Identify your feelings. In his book Questions Women Ask in Private, H. Norman Wright states, "Pornography is especially degrading to women and puts them in a state of being victimized." As a victim of pornography, you may experience a host of emotions, including shock, betrayal, anger and devastation. You will begin to heal when you can name and validate your feelings.
3. Eschew blame. Understand this: You are not to blame for your husband's behavior! Say this over and over until the Holy Spirit convicts you of the truth.
There are many factors that can contribute to your husband's addiction, including personality disorders and psychopathology. He may have become involved in temptation-filled situations or had esteem needs that were never met.
4. Seek support from your pastor, a trusted friend or a counselor. In his Guide for Sexual Addiction Recovery, D. Weiss, Ph.D., tells the sexual addict: "Your...spouse has probably suffered in many ways from your addiction, possibly including your inability to be emotionally intimate, financial losses, humiliation and the list goes on." If you have suffered as Weiss describes, you may need help receiving healing in areas where you have been wounded.
5. If you have decided to participate in your husband's recovery, educate yourself. Books such as Now That I Know, What Should I Do? by D. Weiss answer some of the questions that wives ask. There is also some helpful information for spouses on communication and accountability in Weiss's guidebook, 101 Practical Exercises. Check in your area for churches with counseling ministries that offer support groups for families of loved ones who are addicted.
6. Forgive your husband. Forgiveness will probably be the most difficult yet most important step in the restoration of your marriage. Forgiveness precedes the rebuilding of trust.
Forgiving your husband does not mean that you accept his sinful behavior. It also does not mean that you deny your feelings or the hurts his addiction has caused. And it does not erase all the consequences of sin. It does, however, mean that you pardon him.
One very effective exercise is to make a list of all the ways your spouse has hurt you and identify the feelings you have experienced in each situation. Reading each offense out loud, choose to forgive your husband for every one.
When you have finished, throw the paper away. If you have been genuine in your intentions to forgive, you will feel a tremendous burden lift from your spirit.
7. Encourage your husband's efforts toward healing.Speak words of life (see Prov. 18:21) to him, and praise every act toward wholeness and restoration. Develop a prayer list, and intercede for his healing. Thank God for your increasing understanding of Him as Healer and Deliverer.
Laurie Hall learned of her husband's addiction to pornography after 18 years of marriage. Since then, she has supported countless women in similar situations. She is the author of An Affair of the Mind (Tyndale) and The Cleavers Don't Live Here Anymore (Vine Books).
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