The Reality & Truth About Sexual Sin in Marriage

Kate says . . .

We champion them. We herald them our heroes. We watch as they share their faith in bold ways, standing out against the crowd. They inspire us. We see them everywhere-friends, neighbors, family, pastors, leaders, authors, performers, actors, singers-they stand firm in Jesus and we love them for it.

Then one of them steps into the world of sexual sin. Suddenly we are disgusted, claiming how much they have hurt the kingdom and those around them.

We simply cannot stop and see the hurt and brokenness in these one time heroes.

It is my hope that we as a church who are followers of Jesus, can choose to look and respond to those around us who are struggling with sexual sin in a different, yet Biblical way.hurting people often hurt others. It doesn’t

Before I go any further, I want to define what I mean by sexual sin in marriage. The sexual sin I’m referring to is, seeking sex with another consenting adult who is not your spouse, including but not limited to pornography, online relationships and affairs.

Understanding broken people

When you look into the eyes of someone struggling with the reality of their sexual sin you see both the hurt they feel as well as the weight of the hurt they have caused. You see deep brokenness.

There is not any part of that person who likes what they have done. For many of them, they have hated it even while making those choices over and over again. They hate it and say they will never do it again, only to turn around and do just that. Sexual sin is like a drug and one of the most powerful kind. A wise friend of mine recently said:

“We need to remember that hurt people, hurt people and they aren’t always trying to hurt people.”

These are God’s children, who love him, but who are struggling deeply.

We are all broken and need the love and grace that Jesus freely offers. Some of us suffer such depths of brokenness that they not only have no idea how to deal with it, but end up seeking to temporarily sooth the brokenness with sex.

Whether that is through pornography, online sexual relationships or affairs. They are using something God intended for good, that feels good, to sooth and help them delay dealing with brokenness. To fill a hole.

Love, Grace and Truth

We are called to show and share God’s love, grace and his truth. We cannot leave out one of these components. But how we love and deliver the truth says a lot about ourselves.

We work with couples all the time that are going through very similar things as Josh and Anna Duggar. The first thing I want them to know is that we love them and God loves them. Because honestly, they know what they have done is wrong. They know they have caused a world of hurt. If they are in denial about their wrong doing, we will work through that with them. However, that is usually not the case. We spend much of our time showing them Biblically how God feels about them.

Bulls Eye

I love how Jennifer White puts it in her book “Prayers for New Brides”, “When you said ‘I do’ to the faithful, lifelong love commitment of marriage, an enormous bulls-eye landed on your holy union.”

I’d like to add to that, if you are leading people in any way, that bulls-eye becomes even bigger and more pronounced. The enemy doesn’t want marriage to succeed, but especially those that are in front of others. If the enemy can get a hold of those marriages, he can effect so many-sort of like the spider web effect. We all have the bulls-eye!

Grace does not remove consequences

When we sin, there many times are earthly consequences. This is especially true where sexual sin is concerned. So when I say that we need to, as believers in Jesus, love those around us who have chosen some pretty awful stuff that doesn’t mean there are not consequences.

The consequences are always unique to each situation, just as every marriage is unique. They are often hard, emotional and take time. Having the church come along side of these couples while they navigate and continue on their marriage journey is how we can show them grace and love. Not pointing fingers and feeling as though we are somehow better because we haven’t sinned in a sexual way, or because no one has ever discovered that we have in fact. Either way, don’t throw stones.

Conversation and accountability

As we serve in marriage ministry, we are frequently talking about temptation and having proper boundaries with people of the opposite sex. We seek to be transparent and intentional in our own marriage. Not because we don’t trust each other, but because our marriage is worth protecting.

Along with frequent conversations we have trusted people around us that we want to let us know if they see something they should not. Those trusted couples and individuals are present in our lives and will speak truth and love!

My Challenge to You

We have walked the road of sexual sin in our marriage. So we are no strangers to it. But here is the crucial thing for me, sexual sin does not take a person out of God’s reach. It does not mean these people are disgusting, it means they are hurting. And hurting people often hurt others. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the marriage. The journey forward will be rocky and incredibly hard at times, but the refinement that God will do is beautiful.

Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (NLT)

It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. We are called to be like Jesus, who is a reflection of the Father, therefore we too should love our brothers and sisters who have struggled with sexual sin. Come along side of them and be God’s people!

What they have done is wrong and not what God wants for their marriage. But he loves them immensely and that has not changed. Now he wants to use this awful mess they have made to change them and reflect Him. We as the church should not make them feel as though they are unloved or that God is done with them, because he surely isn’t.

To think that we need to hate these people who have sinned sexually, to throw stones and to ostracize them is not something I want to be a part of.

I want to continue to see marriages restored and those marriages in turn continue to impact the Kingdom.

I humbly suggest that we cannot do this when we are throw stones.

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15 Responses to The Reality & Truth About Sexual Sin in Marriage

  1. My husband had an affair, and it is true. He hated it, but he just didn’t know how to stop. It was like an addiction. Finally it ended when he confessed to me. If he had the affair because he was hurting, how do we discover why he was hurting? I do not want to drive him to it again. (It was not from lack of sex, so please do not suggest that.)

    • Hi Melodie,
      Thanks so much for writing and sharing where you and your husband are. My heart aches for all that you both have gone through. First off, please know that sex within the marriage is not always a factor in sexual sin. I am glad you brought up that point. Even if it is a factor for a married couple, it does not make the choice to step outside the marriage ok.

      As far as discovering why your husband is hurting, it most times involves digging and sifting through his past. Not always, but that is many times where the hurt and brokenness that they have gone through has not been dealt with. Having a pastor, a trusted sex positive married couple at church, or a Christian counselor to walk you through digging and healing is good thing. Having your husband share with that person that he sought out sex where he should not have and doesn’t know why. I will be honest that sometimes having a pastor or trusted couple help, might not be enough. Simply because they are not trained in helping you sift and look at the past. If you find that to be true, reach out to a counselor. That is what God has gifted them in and what they are trained to do.

      As far as you, as his wife. The only thing you can do is to love, serve and respect your husband as God is asking you to do. Your showing him love and grace with be the best thing for him. Asking him if there is anything you can do to help him. Understanding that you cannot be his only accountability. He needs to have a man who loves him, but will also challenge him.

      You sound like you have an incredible heart for you husband and a deep understanding of God’s love and grace. Continue to seek God on how to best love and respect your husband, even when he has hurt you deeply. You will have your times of deep hurt and sadness and that is ok. Ask God to give you His eyes to see your husband.

      Please know I am lifting you both up right now! Blessings, Kate

  2. Kate,

    Fabulous post! Grace and truth motivated by love. That is to be our response to every sin situation. Sexual sin was no exception for Jesus and it should not be for us either.

  3. I am living this now. A nightmare. My belief is that when there is sexual sin against you, that you are free to leave. It’s been almost 2 yrs since I discovered porn on my husbands phone. You say: The only thing you can do is to love, serve and respect your husband as God is asking you to do. I can’t do that. How can I love and respect someone that has done this to me?

    • Hi Kate S,

      Thanks for writing and sharing where you and your husband are. My heart aches for you both. First let me share that I was in the exact place you are, many years ago. So when I share my thoughts you will know that I am speaking as one who has walked this road before you. I know it is not an easy road by any means, but we are a testament to what can happen when you trust that God can create beautiful things in your marriage walking through the mess. It is through that mess that God was able to refine us and bring us to this amazing place. I know that what you say is true, the Bible does give the choice for a spouse to leave when their husband/wife has committed adultery against them. But that doesn’t have to be the only option. God can do great and wonderful things when we allow him to work through our hurt.

      Loving, serving and respecting your husband does not have to be about him, but about what God as called you to do as his wife. Sometimes trust and respect are earned and then sometimes we have to give a little, even when they don’t deserve it. You are the one person, other then Jesus, in your husbands life that can show him a living, breathing picture of God’s grace and love. How powerful is that? I would imagine your husband hates what he has done to you. Your willingness to walk with him through his bad choices and love him still is well, biblical.

      As I said in my post, sexual sin does not have to be the end of a marriage. It will change things forever. There are consequences and much hurt to work through, but it doesn’t have to be the end. God can and will do great things through this world of hurt, if you will let him.

      If you would like to talk to me further, please email me anytime!

      Please know that I am praying for you as you walk through hurt and anger, knowing that I have been there too. Blessings, Kate

      • But what about the fact that God himself said that “by no means shall man break the covenant of marriage, except for fornication”?

        This means fornication on either part of the marriage, women are not simply stuck being abused and cheated on forever. For most people it is simply impossible to live as man and wife or even friends after any) type of infidelity. You dont have to hate your husband or ex husband but i do not personally know any couples who have decided to remain together and dont continue to bear those scars for years and years.

        The very real fact that fornication is a choice, and one with dire consequences also seems to be ignored. So what if your husbands “addiction” causes him to physically abuse you or brings home some herpes and aids for you to catch? Even if you are an attractive, sexy, understanding and loving wife you cant change your husbands choices. God gave you the right to leave due to infidelity as well-it is not wrong and women who chose to leave should be supported and not shamed.

        Also, the verse that says “any man who looks with a woman with lust in his eyes has already committed adultery with her in his heart” dors not appear mysterious to me in any way. Masturbation and porn addiction are choices, and they are adultery and grounds to leave a marriage. The way it makes you feel when you look at all your husbands porn should be enough to tell you that!

        And by the same token, if your husband can have his cow and everyone elses too with no consequences why would he ever want to stop? I firmly believe that men who cheat need to lose their loving wives and families and go through rocky divorces to even consider changing their ways.

        Staying isnt wrong but neither is leaving your marriage due to infidelity.

        • Hi Ex Life,

          Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts. Nothing you say is wrong, however just because God gives permission doesn’t mean we have to give up on our marriage at the first out. God can do so much with a broken marriage. We are living proof of that.

          We often think and fear that giving grace will be giving permission of them to hurt us again or to continue their behavior. Which are choices as you stated. But grace doesn’t work like that. Grace changes people. It shows love, not condemnation. The grace of God that we can show to our spouse can truly change marriages. Again we are proof of that. Consequences are not the only thing that motivate change.

          Whenever someone steps outside of the marriage, it is a choice. That does not mean that we shouldn’t take the time to stop and delve into why someone is making these choices. Broken people are just that, broken. We are ALL broken, some struggling more then others. Hurting people, hurt people.

          I would also disagree with chalking addictions up to choices. Addictions are something that we have chosen, but now have an unnatural control over us. Just because they are a choice does not mean we can downplay how hard addictive behaviors are to break. Compassion, grace, love and truth will do so much in helping hurting people to heal.

          Blessings, Kate

  4. I think that when most Christians say these kinds of things, what they are really saying is, “Wives, you’re stuck. So figure out a way to live with it.” It’s true that a marriage can survive adultery, but most people simply don’t have access to the kinds of resources that are needed to help them get through the agonizing pain. So it’s very common that the spouse who did not cheat (very often, the wife) is expected to simply forgive and move on. Anna Duggar is a good example. Given her upbringing and circumstances, there is almost no chance that she and her husband will have access to the kinds of resources that could allow them to work through the nightmare that their marriage has become and create a real marriage on the other side of the pain. What’s more likely is that he will go through a program and be declared “repentant” and “changed,” then she will be expected to tow the line and accept him back with open arms. In the meantime, none of the circumstances that led to his multiple sexual transgressions will have been addressed.

    Yes, we are all broken, and we all sin. But I think that a lot of Christians engage in “sin leveling,” and act as if saying a swear word and committing adultery are the same thing. And act as if the “solution” to the sin is the same – say you’re sorry and you won’t do it again, and move on. Sorry, those things are not in any way the same, and simple solutions cannot deal with the horror that is adultery.

    I’m not accusing you of taking this lightly or telling women to suck it up. But in reading this I felt that you’re assuming that most Christians can access the kind of help they would need to get through adultery with their marriage in some way intact (or reinvented). I’m not at all sure that’s the case, and when it isn’t I think it’s usually the wives who are asked to bear most of the burden and simply deal with it the best they can.

    • I kind of agree.

      I told my husband that if he chooses to have an affair, then do me a favor:

      If it a one time one night stand and he is rock bottom repentant about it, he is to grant me the courtesy to not have sex with me until he gets cleared of all STD’s. (Plus, he needs to take steps to show true repentance, including counseling and accountability).

      If he is planning a long term affair, then I ask that he grant me the courtesy of not dragging me through lies. He is to just say so and leave. It is her or me. Never both. He is to not put me in the position of having to question if God would be ok with me initiating a divorce or having to fruitlessly fight for our marriage, or to have to love and serve him…..basically rewarding him for his sin.

      There is a factor of husbands (and wives, but mostly husbands because of submission) where they know they can get away with sin or gray areas because their spouse “can’t” leave them and is “supposed to” treat them in a loving, serving, Godly way.

      I have heard counseling towards wives of actively cheating husbands to continue to have sex with him. NO!!! It is too dangerous. She does not need an STD or pregnancy. If God clearly tells her to in her spirit, then yes, obey, but the general counsel should not be to continue to sex him up.

      I would be respectful and mature. I would happily work towards marriage rebuilding with a truly repentant husband. But I will not entertain evil and toy with danger and be a pawn with an unrepentant spouse. Love is sometimes tough. His soul is more important than our marriage.

      Thankfully, my husband is faithful.

  5. I just don’t really know what to do. We have no physical relationship any longer. He says he has repented and did go to counseling—and it has helped him a lot. I just have a hard time believing that I am the one that has to forgive…that I am the one that has to ‘give in’…that this whole realationship depends on me forgiving in order for it to get better. I am not the one that got caught. I honestly don’t think I can ever say that I love him again. I cringe at the thought of having a physical relationship again. I am married a long time–over 30 years….but I don’t see how I can go on like this.

    It seems like I am expected to forgive and all will be well again. I don’t see how that can happen.

    You wrote: As far as you, as his wife. The only thing you can do is to love, serve and respect your husband as God is asking you to do. Your showing him love and grace with be the best thing for him. Asking him if there is anything you can do to help him. Understanding that you cannot be his only accountability. He needs to have a man who loves him, but will also challenge him.>>>>>
    Where are the rules that say I have to love, serve and respect someone that has trashed my life?? How can I show someone respect and love that has changed me so drastically?? How do I show grace to someone that has hurt me and rocked my world so much?? My husband does have accountability–I know he does. He has 2 dear male friends (one a pastor) that he can talk to and counsel with. But I have no one and have to live this horror of a life by myself. I cannot even bear to discuss this with anyone or go to counseling for it. I find that too hard to do. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on all by myself–2 yrs seems like a long time.

    • Hi again Kate S,

      Please know that I understand where you are coming from. As I said in my precious comment, I was in your place many years ago, so when you read this post know that I am not saying all of this and never gone through it. I know what it feels like-all of it!

      How can we forgive? Only through the grace that God has extended to us. Because we are forgiven, we can forgive.

      Why should we forgive? Because Jesus asks us to. We tend to think forgiveness is for the other person, but it is as much for us as it is for them. We will carry around bitterness and resentment if we do not forgive.

      I would challenge you to seek to see your husband as God sees him. He does not see him as the sum of his sins, he sees your husband as his beloved child, just as he sees you-even with your sin. We have ALL sinned and fall short. No one sin is worse then another in God’s eyes. Do they have different earthly consequences? Yes they do, but that doesn’t excuse our withholding forgiveness.

      In my post I am talking about how we can help our spouse heal, not saying that we are to do everything and them nothing. That is not the point. But we can only focus on ourselves.

      My question to you is, if your husband has repented, gotten the help he needs and doing what he needs to, why are you withholding forgiveness? Why do you want to keep punishing him and heaping him with shame? What good can come of that?

      I understand that you feel like a victim and you were hurt deeply. Been there too my friend. If we stay in that place of hurt that leads to bitterness nothing good can come out of the relationship. You ask where are the “rules” that say you are to love, respect and serve your husband. We are to love, respect and serve as Jesus did. He is our example. He did all of those things to Judas, knowing that he would betray him and yet he still did them. We ARE called to do likewise, whether we like it or not. Whether we feel like it or not. Whether we feel like our spouse deserves it or not.

      We work with couples everyday who are working to extend grace in the midst of hurt in their relationship. It is the only way towards healing for you both. I know it is not easy, but then again the things in life that truly matter are not easy and worth fighting for.

      I hope you will seek God and ask him to help you forgive your husband and move forward with him. He is repentant and doing what he needs to do. What is holding you back?

      Blessings, Kate

  6. Kate S

    I am praying for you. My heart aches for you. I am so sorry.
    While my situation isn’t the same, I do know the loneliness of having no one to talk with, or share these hard issues with. I pray you will find a close friend or counselor that you can share with.

    Praying for you!
    B

  7. Hi. Reading that most comments of experiences come from hurting wives of husbands indulging or committing sexual sins. Allow me to speak as a husband and share my thoughts.

    If that same scenario happens to me, that is, my wife is committing sexual sin in our marriage, that will hurt me as well. It’ll be very deep, I’m sure.

    Having been married for 24 years, me and my wife have gone through ups and downs as Christians. Mess of different kinds would come that almost brought our marriage to total destruction. It didn’t have anything to do with sexual sins.

    What God had taught me right when we shared ‘I do’ is to never break the covenant we had with each other in the eyes of God and of the witnesses. During the time of shaking of our marriage, the word Covenant keeps ringing in my ear. The Lord taught me regardless whose fault it was, one of us should stand to fight for our marriage. In other words, I stood; I prayed and trusted God to restore us. And the Lord moved. My wife and I realized our wrongs and decided to move toward healing and restoration.

    Sexual sins are just one tool our real enemy uses against marriage in order to destroy it. There is also insecurity, self-centeredness, pride, etc. that either one struggles with.

    Regardless of whose fault, the Lord is no respecter of persons. He reminds us both will be accountable. Both should come in good terms with Him. Both should make a decision to give his/her heart to Him and begin to trust Him about the marriage which God Himself ordained.

    ONE should take the stand to work with God to pray, to humble and to fight in the spiritual realm. Human strength and wisdom aren’t enough. The realization that only God can restore us didn’t come easily. But it came because God worked in us and one of us responded and made a decision.

    I hope and pray for enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to come to every husbands and wives. Shalom.

    The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.
    Psalm 37:39-40