Advice for a woman who’s husband is a missionary pastor and into porn

sad-womanI recently responded to some comments in a discussion thread started with a request for help by a woman who was struggling because her husband (pastor and missionary) was into pornography. Should she confront him (again)? Along with this question was the concern about whether using web filtering software (in her case Covenant Eyes) was really helping. Here’s what I said in response:

Very good article, and thoughtful comments. I’m a pastor who’s dealt with this area of struggle, and for five years I took a break from church ministry and worked full time leading workshops and counseling men in recovery from sexual addiction. Now I’m back in a church ministry role. Out of my experience – and my work with other men in recovery (many of them pastors and missionaries – I would make the following observations:

1) I agree with those who’ve encouraged the woman who wrote in here to make this her last confrontation. Be ready to leave and/or go to those in authority over your husband. Men who are shielded from consequences by their spouse don’t recover.

2) It’s very hard to fathom the consequences — personal, professional, financial — of having your husband take a break to get help. Imagine the worst case scenario, and ask yourself: could I live with this? Could God help me face this? I know people who’ve lost ministries, friends, even their homes … and they were still glad they made the choice they did to get help.

I think the unhappiest people I know are those who continue to suffer in silence … not being willing to bite the bullet and make the changes they need to make … but hating their life.

3) I would be surprised if the ministry she is a part of does not offer some sort of ministry leave policy to get help. Experience and work with MANY pastors and missionaries have made clear a very important point to keep in mind: men who come forward and ask for help get WAY MORE GRACE AND HELP than those who are caught. Urge/force your husband to seek help … it will be much easier for him to get help, and stay in ministry if he seeks help now, instead of waiting and getting caught later. And he WILL get caught … always assume that it’s just a matter of time before the truth comes out.

4) If the ministry you’re a part of does not have a policy of offering grace and support to people in need who are dealing with sexual sin … you have to ask yourself if you really should be involved in that ministry anyway. It’s really hard for men who struggle with sexual sin who in environments that don’t recognize and offer grace to people who struggle. It makes the shame and secrecy so much worse for everyone … if a pastor or missionary can’t be honest about his own life in a ministry … then he should not be part of that ministry.

5) Finally, I would offer the reminder that things like covenant eyes, xwatch, and other technological solutions all have their place. But this is not essentially a technological problem … and therefore the solution is not going to be found with technology. No technology is fool proof … and sexual sin can be had in all kinds of ways if someone really wants to look for it. Use the tools, but don’t trust the tools or blame the tools for not being fool-proof.

There are tons of great resources out there to help people — and some that are not so great (let’s be honest). I have a lot of information on my website: http://sexualsanity.com, including a link to confidential, home study program. (Of course a home study program only works in concert with other face to face solutions.) I also used to work with Dr. Mark Laaser at Faithful and True Ministries, helping with his three day intensive workshops for men. I’m no longer involved – and have no stake in them – but I cannot recommend those three day workshops highly enough for men in crisis.

Blessings to all you who are struggling with this in your lives and marriages. Recovery happens!! Hang in there.

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