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The Gift of Truth: Recovering from Porn Addiction

The Gift of Truth: Recovering from Porn Addiction November 7, 2014

by Jen Ferguson

There were no bows. No pretty paper to unwrap. No tag or tissue paper. No ribbons to untie.

But it was still a gift. A priceless gift.

A few years ago when I asked my husband Craig “When’s the last time you looked at porn?” I wasn’t expecting the answer he gave me.

I had expected something like this:

It’s been a long time.

I can’t remember the last time.

I’ve been tempted, but I haven’t given in.

Instead, what I heard was this:

“Last month when I was traveling.”

At that moment I realized all those times before when I had asked him the question under the guise of accountability, I hadn’t really wanted the truth.

The words left his mouth and punctured my heart. I couldn’t speak. For a moment, I lost my breath.

But God’s name is Yahweh, the Hebrew word for “breath.” And when I was without for those moments, He came in and breathed for me.

It was only with His presence that I was able to decide between two options: Give into the anger and fear or rejoice that for the first time in the history of his porn addiction, he had confessed to me instead of hiding his sin and shame.

What I wanted to do upon hearing these words was yell at him, berate him, show him the old scars he’d wrought upon my heart, and reveal the fresh blood his words had pricked.

But God. God whispered and by His grace, I heard Him.

“What’s lying before you is a gift, the gift of unadulterated truth. Will you choose to accept it?” He asked.

In John 8:32, Jesus says “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The truth is a gift. But Jesus doesn’t promise the truth won’t hurt. He doesn’t promise it will feel like a healing balm, even though it is. Would I want to disregard this gift at the cost of freedom?  Because if I chose to reject Craig’s offering, I would run the great risk of him never confessing to me again.

“Truth allows light to enter dark places. And where there is light, there is progress. So no matter how troublesome and dismal the truth, the very utterance of it breathes hope.” — Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography

I chose to accept Craig’s gift and this act bore much fruit in our marriage. Just as Craig confessed for the first time, I was able to offer compassion to him for the first time, at least as it pertained to his pornography addiction.

God knew, though, that I still needed space to deal with my own pain. There was nothing I could say to Craig in that moment that would make him feel anymore guilty or aware of my anguish. I had used plenty of words the times I had caught him in the act. The hurtful words I could have uttered that morning would have simply been fodder for the enemy to use against him.

Craig left for work and God and I met so that this anger and pain would not take root and start growing something ugly. In His graciousness, He gave me an image to help me understand this gift I had been given, an image of a dark closet.

Every lie Craig told me was like keeping me in a dark closet– lights off, door shut tightly.  When Craig opened the door, when he confessed, he let in the light. My eyes squinted and the light pained me for a moment until they had time to adjust.

The more light my eyes could take in, the more I could see, really see, Craig.  And when God showed me he is much more than a porn addict, I was moved by compassion. I was able to see him as God sees Him.

In at least two Gospel stories, we find God is moved by compassion just prior to bestowing forgiveness. We see it in the parables of the unforgiving debtor and the prodigal son.  Why is it that for the majority of our marriage until this moment of confession, could I not forgive as God asked me to forgive? Why couldn’t I feel this same sense of compassion that God felt towards Craig?

I sat in God’s light and He revealed more truth. More truth that was painful. He showed me that I had acted like the unforgiving debtor and the older brother of the prodigal son when I had confronted Craig with his porn.

“You see, Jen, you’re a sinner, too. Just as Craig needs my love, compassion, and forgiveness, so do you,” God said.

How many times has God forgiven me? But I had mistakenly ranked my sin far below the sin of my husband. And this pride, this bitterness and anger, it hardened my heart so much I couldn’t access compassion for him. I couldn’t understand that offering forgiveness didn’t mean I was giving into his porn addiction.

As someone who has pretty much been a “good girl” all her life, I am the elder son incarnate [from the Prodigal son parable]. I have spent way too much time looking haughtily at people who have made “big” mistakes. This false hierarchy has blinded me from realizing that my very attitude of pride is causing me to sin just as greatly in the eyes of my Father as someone who has committed murder or had an affair.

Because I felt needed to be forgiven little, I, therefore, forgave little. I had no room in my heart for compassion because I was already too full of myself. I chose to see my own hurt and self-indignation before I recognized my own faults. I chose to demand perfection before recognizing my own imperfection. And to prevent further damage to my heart, I sometimes chose to cloak myself in anger and push away my spouse or my friend or a complete stranger so that I didn’t find myself vulnerable again.

Oh, but God! How many times have I hurt Him and He just welcomes me back? How many times have I struck out in my own legalism, and yet He still welcomes me home due to His grace and not my own careful rule following? I have no justification except through the eyes of Jesus. It is when I become aware of my own neediness and the sheer amount of compassion God has for me that I realize I have no reason—or right—to withhold forgiveness from anyone else.

Craig’s utterance of truth brought freedom for both of us. In exposing his own sin, God’s light also shined on my own. Shedding the unforgiveness, shame, and anger left room for God to clothe us with new things such as love, “which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

Good thing I was already in the closet.

 


 

Jen Ferguson is passionate about Jesus, her husband, and her two girls. She is the facilitator of The Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood and loves to encourage women to bring their true selves out into the light.  She is the co-author of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography.  You can find out more about the book by visiting their new site, www.PureEyesCleanHeart.com.

[Photo by Daniel Horacio Agostini, used under a creative commons license, sourced via Flickr.]

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