I don't know you, but your wife emailed me today looking for help and advice.
Apparently, you travel a lot and, when you do, you spend a lot of time at night on your computer, looking at porn. She's not sure, probably because she doesn't want to admit to herself that it could really be that bad, but she suspects your addiction hasn't stopped at just the computer screen.
You've told her you don't think this is wrong, though you'll flat out deny that you do it if anyone asks. Except for your wife who found out by accident, since computer technology makes it pretty hard to hide anything these days.
Since you know she knows, you've told her it's no big deal, that what you're doing isn't wrong, it's certainly not adultery. You've told her she should be thinking about what's wrong with her. You're good at quoting Scripture to her, and you've marked all the passages where it talks about how wives need to submit to their husbands and overlook their husband's faults.
So why am I writing you? Because apparently she noticed you bought my book, "My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife," for your Kindle. Her heart fell to her stomach because no doubt you bought it planning to read about a "real" submissive wife who doesn't give lip and is fine taking orders, and you lined up your legal pad, ready to take a lot of notes to give her when you get back from your latest trip.
And that's where we need to have a little talk.
First, I hope you realize just how wrong your original notion was. I'm as lippy and stubborn as the next gal, but God's done a whole lot in my life the last few years, teaching me what it means to be a godly wife and mom. I am very much a work in progress.
Second, I'd like to introduce you to my husband Cliff. He's not a perfect man, but he is a loving man. He is a man who wants to follow after God, who doesn't always get it right, but doesn't give up trying. He is a loving husband who lets me know every day how much he loves me.
Lately, he likes telling me, "I love you desperately." He loves me as God calls him to love me, "as Christ loves the church." That is not an easy thing (remember my comment about lippy and stubborn).
Cliff knows his leadership in our marriage has a direct influence on whether I follow him or not. He knows he can't force me to submit to him. But he can lead me, and if he leads well, submission isn't an issue. It only becomes an issue if his life with Christ isn't right and it spills out in his attitude and actions and words.
You have a precious wife. I can tell by what she says in her email that she loves you. But her heart is breaking.
Pornography is wrong at so many levels. It is emotional adultery. You are lusting after other women in your heart, and Jesus speaks to that (like - don't do it). The intense anger that you show toward your wife, the Scripture you throw her way, the control and manipulation is all an attempt to keep your sin a secret. But all sin comes out eventually. Because God already knows.
The thing is, though, you don't have to keep living like this. There is joy in sexual intimacy with your wife. But what you've done has defiled your mind and your relationship with your wife because you've allowed immorality into your life and subsequently into your home.
I prayed for you and your wife this morning, that God will change your heart and that he will restore your relationship with him. When you invite sin into your life, like you do every time you sit down in front of a porn site in your hotel room (or anywhere), you are putting one more wall up between you and God. And all he wants to do is just knock those walls down and know you.
God has plans for you as a husband and a leader for your home. Good plans. Amazing plans. But you are throwing them away for things that will never make you truly happy. And you are destroying a relationship that God fully intended to use to help you be the man he wants you to be. Your actions - not your wife's - are damaging it severely.
I hope you really have been reading my book. And I hope you've realized a few important points that my husband and I both learned during that year:
1) You cannot change your spouse. You can only change yourself. So before you keep worrying about what your wife is or isn't doing for you, take a little time to examine what you need to be doing and what you need to change.
2) Change in a spouse happens most directly when there is change in you. I saw firsthand the influence I had on my husband's life - and I also saw the influence he had on mine, but neither one of us was the best influence we could be when we weren't fully following God first.
3) Biblical submission is not the job of a husband to enforce. It is only in your God-fearing and God-loving leadership, emulating the very love of Christ that a wife will respond to that leadership and choose to be submissive.
I am praying that you will go to one of the pastors at your church and start a sincere dialogue on how you can break free from your addiction to porn. I am praying that you find a godly man who will be a mentor for you and show you what being a godly husband looks like. And I am praying that God restores your marriage to be the full, amazing, loving relationship he desires it to be.
So please, stop quoting Scriptures to your wife when your own heart needs time in the Word first. Find ways to show her love, and not anger, neglect or resentment. God did not give you your wife to be your slave or to take the brunt of your anger. He gave her to you to be your helper, and if you were a smart man, which I think you can be, you would also realize he gave her to you for you to treasure.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word," Ephesians 5:25-29 states. "He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church...."
Jesus loves you. He loves you so much he was willing to go to a cross for you. When you can fully accept that truth and then read what his Word says in Ephesians above, and equate the two, I pray it changes you, that you will realize that the lust you are experiencing with porn will never satisfy, that the only true satisfaction you can receive from intimacy comes from him.
(C) Baptist Press. Used with permission.
Sara Horn is the author of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife a sequel to her book, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife and, slated for October release, How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret. Horn also is the founder of Wives of Faith, a military wives ministry.
Publication date: September 26, 2014