My Personal Struggle With Pornography as A Husband
Summary: NOTE: We don't share any graphic detials in this episode but this is not an episode to listen to around children. To support this podcast please pick up one of our marriage books at https://shop.marriageaftergod.com In this episode, I share my history with an addiction to pornography and how it affected Jennifer. Jennifer And I both discuss how it made her feel and how it affected every aspect of our marriage but ultimately how the Lord freed me from this sin. Our prayer is that by being open and vulnerable about this sensitive and taboo subject that a light would be shown and that many other men and women would find freedom and healing. READ: [Aaron] Hey we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God, [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. [Aaron] And today we're gonna share our personal journey with pornography in our marriage. Welcome to the Marriage After God Podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after. [Jennifer] I'm Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] And I'm Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution. [Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade. [Aaron] And so far we have four young children. [Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media. [Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith everyday. [Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life. Love. And power. [Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God. [Jennifer] Together. [Aaron] Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together. [Jennifer] This is Marriage After God. Thank you all for joining us this week on our podcast and we just wanted to invite you to leave us a review. This is just one way to help us get the word out about the Marriage After God podcast and let's other people find us and we really appreciate it, it just encourages our hearts. We love 'em. [Jennifer] So if you could just scroll to the bottom of the podcast app and leave us a review. [Aaron] Yeah a star rating is the easiest way to do it. All you have to do is hit a star, but if you have extra time we'd love a text review as well. [Jennifer] Thank you guys. [Aaron] Hey we wanna thank you for joining us and we also want to invite you if you've been enjoying the podcast to consider supporting our podcast. And the way that you do that is go to shop.marriageaftergod.com and pick up one of our books that we've written. The ones we wanna talk about today is our 31 Prayers for My Husband and 31 Prayers for My Wife bundle. We call it our prayer challenge and we encourage couples to do it. Thousands of couples have already gone through the challenge and they've loved it. They go through it multiple times actually a year so go to shop.marriageaftergod.com, pick up a copy of our 31 Marriage Prayers Challenge and that would support our podcast, thank you. [Jennifer] Okay moving right along, we are gonna jump into our icebreaker question, which is which one of you said I love you first? [Aaron] That's an easy one. [Jennifer] Give them a second to guess. You guys guess. Jennifer. Who is me. I couldn't wait any longer. [Aaron] Did I actually say I love you back? [Jennifer] So what happened was we were, I don't know if we were on a date or just hanging out but I remember I was getting out of your car-- [Aaron] I'm up in front of your house by your red mailbox. [Jennifer] No, actually Aaron has a terrible memory. [Aaron]Oh, it's not right there? -We were-- Where was this at? [Jennifer] It's okay honey. I'm not mad. We were in the church parking lot. Oh, oh. I was getting out of your black Honda, and I was getting into my car. And I got out, and I stood up-- I remember now. [Jennifer] And then I leaned back in, and I said, "Oh, by the way, I love you." 'Cause I was waiting, waiting-- Did I skid away, and the door slammed shut, or? [Jennifer] No, that didn't happen. But you did let a very long pause happen before you said anything, and it made me feel super awkward, and I said, I might have even said, "Okay, I'm gonna go now," or something like that, and then you were like, "I'm just kidding." You start laughing and you're like, "I love you too." Almost as if I had already known, but you never said it. [Aaron] Well, you did already know. [Jennifer] Yeah, I did. But it was-- That's really funny I made you wait. It felt good to have said it, and I'm glad I said it. I don't remember-- Yeah and we say it a lot now. Yeah, I do love you. And I won't make you wait. I'll tell you all day every day. [Jennifer] All day every day? [Aaron]Yeah. Oh good. So Jennifer said I love you first, and then I made her wait a few seconds-- [Jennifer] Super awkward. Super long seconds. And then you laughed, and then you said I love you back. [Aaron] Yeah. All right. So why don't we do a quick quote from a book. Okay. And this book is your book. [Jennifer] Yeah, we chose one from The Unveiled Wife, so it's not a typical quote that we've kind of been sharing with you guys. It's a little bit more personal. Okay this is found in The Unveiled Wife on page 153, and it says, "We were devoted to making ourselves "known to God and known to each other. "I finally felt free from the bondage "that was holding me captive. "I could breathe deeply without fear "of someone finding out who I was "because I had chosen to make myself known." [Aaron] And this was a part of our story where we were divulging to each other our deep dark secrets. Where we were sharing our sins, things we were struggling with. Actually, divulged everything. Talked about everything in our hearts. That was a pretty pivotal moment in our marriage. And that goes into what we're gonna be talking about, that's why we picked the quote because we're gonna be talking about that season of our marriage, we're gonna be talking about a pretty large season actually, of my life, and it has to do with pornography. [Jennifer] Yeah, which I actually, well we both didn't wanna do this episode. [Aaron] We've been putting it off for months. [Jennifer] Because I don't know why, it's just, I think it's one of those topics that's hard to dive into and expose, but like that quote said, I chose to make myself known, in our marriage, you've chose to make yourself known, and I've, I believe that that created a safe place for trust to be built, and I think it's really important for husbands and wives to hear our story and to hear, just to hear how we've exposed our hearts to each other, and hopefully they could do that too. [Aaron] And not only have we exposed it to each other, but we've exposed it to others. We've exposed the things that we've gone through, our dark secrets to other believers and through our platforms, there are ministries of the world. And one of the things that I love about how we are, you use the word expose, I love that word. The Bible tells us to drag that which is in the darkness into the light because that which is in the light becomes light. And that was our sin. The more it was hidden, the easier it was to keep doin' it. And so we've been draggin' it out ever since and keeping it out in public, keeping it out in the light so that it doesn't live in us. So I wanna start off by reading a scripture. And it's in Ephesians five verse three. It says, "But sexual immorality and all impurity "or covetousness must not even be named among you, "as is proper among saints." Paul's telling the Ephesians, you're saints, you're saints of the most high, and sexual morality and impurity and covetousness, they should not even be named among you. Meaning not even a little bit. In other translations it says there shouldn't be a hint of sexual morality. That's insane. Because in our current culture, in our current world, in my own life experience, I had not just a hint of sexual morality in my life, I was drenched in sexual morality. And Ephesians five verse three is very clear and it's, this isn't the only scripture that talks about this, that there shouldn't even be a hint of it among Christians. [Jennifer] Which is so weird because I mean, through our online platforms, we've shared about the topic of pornography before, and people even Christians, have shared their acceptance of it. And I think we're living in a culture, in an age where it's widely accepted even if people aren't talking about it. [Aaron] Yeah, we're desensitized to the grotesqueness of our sin. [Jennifer] Which is another reason why we knew we had to do this episode. We need to be willing to talk about it. [Aaron] Yeah, pretty much every time we've ever posted about pornography and how it's wrong, and shouldn't even be in a marriage, and how, and not that we're coming from perfection, we're coming from, well actually no, we've experienced this, it's wrong, and the Bible says we shouldn't do it, and God hates it. Christians, people claiming to be Christians in our comments will say, "Well, you're wrong actually, it's fine as long as." And then fill in the blank. And I'm like blown away. But we shouldn't be surprised by that 'cause the world's being, the world's gonna be deceived. So our heart today is to expose our story, and I hope my, our prayer we just prayed before this is that you listening, if this is your story, would begin to walk in freedom today. So that it, that sexual morality and impurity and covetousness might not even be named in your marriage. That there would be no hint of it. And so let's start, we're gonna start with my experience, and there's a bunch of questions I'm gonna answer and, but before we go to some of the questions I'm gonna answer about my experience with pornography and where it came from and how I walked in it and my story behind that, I just wanna read a letter I wrote to pornography in 2014. And it's on my blog, and it says this. "Dear pornography, "We have known each other since I was a child "and I feel as though I can tell you things "that I can never tell anyone else. "You know all my secrets and all my fantasies, "and you have been by my side "in the good times and in the bad. "You spent time with me when I was lonely or bored, "and you comforted me when I was angry or hurt. "It feels like you have always been there for me, "but I need to get a few things off my chest. "You promised me that after I got married, "I wouldn't need you anymore. "You made me believe that what we had was just a fling. "I realize now that you never loved me. "I am finally seeing your endgame. "You have stolen a piece of me like a master thief. "You wanted everything from me, not just my eyes, "but also my mind, heart, soul and strength. "You have promised a world to me that doesn't exist. "You have threatened my marriage and my children. "You have hurt my friends and family, "you have destroyed the lives of girls, boys, men and women "all over the world and used me to help. "All the while assuring me that no one would get hurt. "Our relationship has been nothing but lies. "You are not, nor have you ever been my friend. "You are the reason I have lived "with so much shame and embarrassment. "You are the reason my wife has been so hurt. "You have warped my perception of women in the world. "I needed to write you this letter "to let you know that it's over. "I would tell you in person, "but that would give you too much satisfaction. "I have found a true friend, his name is Jesus." I wrote this letter a long time ago and posted it. It resonated with a ton of people. It got 4,000 shares. And it was just me verbalizing out loud the relationship I had with pornography, so that I made it real. I was like oh, I don't wanna pretend like, oh, I'm just struggling and this that, like I actually verbalized what it was that I, how I related to it. [Jennifer] It actually makes me really sad just hearing you read it out loud, 'cause it makes it even more so feel like such an intimate thing, such an intimate relationship that you had with this thing, and I just, I, makes me heartbroken over the many people who are doing it, who are addicted to it, who have this kind of relationship with it. [Aaron] And it's true it's a lie. And it, in reality, it destroys us, it leads to death, and it destroys the people that, were, are being consumed by it, in the images. And it, do we care about those people? Do we care about ourselves, do we care about our families? And we need to consider those things. So I'm gonna be getting into some information about kind of where it started with me, and if you have questions as we go, Jennifer, you can ask me. How old was I when I was exposed first to pornography? I actually don't know. I feel like maybe seven, eight years old. I can't, I don't have a very good memory of my younger years. But I do remember one of the first experiences I had with it was I was walking home from school and I found a, it was like a playing card on the ground with a nude woman on it, and I remember keeping it. And I remember that being my first experience with it. I don't remember how I got connected on the internet with it, I don't remember how I've seen it on TV, but I've been exposed to pornography for many, many, many years. And not just exposed to it, but I've exposed myself to it and craved it, and sought after it since a very young age. And it went with me, I literally thought when I was younger that all I need to do is get married and it would fix my lustful cravings. 'Cause it, what they did was they, being exposed so young and right at that, puberty, when I'm already gonna be naturally more hormonal, and more testosterone, and all those things that come with puberty, I, it was heightened, extremely from a young age. And it just continued on until even, into marriage. [Jennifer] I actually remember before we got married, we did talk about that aspect of feeling like, 'cause you admitted to me that you struggled, pornography, and I also wrote it off as like well doesn't every guy do that? That was my perspective of it. And we both believed that it would be like a non-issue when we got married, that it would just go away. [Aaron] Right, so while we were dating, you had no red flags about it. [Jennifer] I mean, I hated it then and it hurt me then, but I figured marriage would be the solution. [Aaron] Well what you said was that you thought, well, I guess every guy struggles with that, and we'll just, when we get married we'll walk together and we'll figure it out, and it'll be fixed. And I actually believed that too, but I was so entrenched in it that I couldn't imagine men not struggling with it, and I think there was two reasons I did that. One, pretty much everything I heard from other believers, and pastors, and mentors was like, well yeah, everyone struggles with that and there's that book, Every Man's Battle, like we, that's the thing we've heard about this, so I just believed literally every man struggled with it and it was normal. Yeah, it was wrong, and we shouldn't do it, and I felt shameful, and I should be better at it, but I wasn't actually ever told by anyone that I didn't have to do it, that I wasn't slave to it, that as a believer I could walk in freedom from it, and that it was gonna destroy me. I don't remember hearing that ever. I remember how it made me feel. [Jennifer] How did it make you feel? [Aaron] Well,it made me feel gross. I hated that I couldn't stop it, probably like any addict. Like why do I keep doing this? Why can't I stop? I feel like I have no control. But then at the same time, I wanted it, I enjoyed it, I loved it, I couldn't say that out loud. When I would talk about it, it was always like, "I hate this, I don't wanna do this anymore." But internally, I really did love it, even though I didn't recognize that back then. And I can't remember ever having a real conversation about sexual purity. I remember being told I shouldn't have sex before marriage, I remember being talked about it a little bit, but I don't remember purity discussion. I remember being caught a few times with pornography and having a short discussion of how it's not good and we shouldn't do that, but I couldn't, I don't remember having these serious discussions of this can't happen. It is going to destroy you. You need to stop. I don't remember that. And it maybe did happen, but I don't remember it being, it wasn't memorable for me. It wasn't something that changed my direction from anyone, my parents, from pastors-- Youth pastors, yeah. [Aaron] Friends. In reality, even when I would try and, ways I would try and deal with it was just abstinence. Like, well I'm just gonna try and go, oh, I went a month. And I didn't mess up, was my term. I would have accountability partners. That's what we all do. But all my accountability partners also struggled with pornography and weren't changing. So all we would do was come together and commiserate and say, "Well, God's good, grace of God." Those kinds of things, but no one ever changed, no one ever had authority in my life to say like, "Hey, I'm walking in purity, you should too." I didn't, I actually didn't know anyone. I've never met someone back then that walked in purity, that didn't struggle with pornography, which gave me a very small world view actually. 'Cause I thought, I literally thought everyone struggled with it. And I'm sure there's people listening right now thinking like, "Well doesn't everyone?" No, everyone doesn't struggle with it. Many do, but it's a lie from Satan to believe that it's just the thing that everyone's gonna struggle with. [Jennifer] Well if we believe that everybody struggles with it, it just makes it more normal and then, like it's just-- Yeah, why change? [Jennifer] It's another justification for it, yeah. [Aaron] I would confess to God all the time, and just remember that God loves me, and remind myself. I would read scripture that would make me actually feel more shameful because I'd be like, "Wait a minute, why don't, why doesn't my life "line up with what the Bible says?" Like shouldn't it? Shouldn't, when I read this, oh, that's what a believer is. I would have to in round about ways work around what the Bible says to be who I was, as a quote unquote, Christian. Which is wrong, 'cause we're supposed to align our lives with what the Bible says not with how we feel, and then try and make the Bible fit into that, which is what I had to do because it, my life didn't line up with it at all. [Jennifer] So then we got married, and it didn't stop. [Aaron] No, it actually, I feel like at times, it got worse. [Jennifer] Well just to catch people up on our story, the first four years of our marriage, actually it's kind of humorous now that I think about it with your addiction, our biggest struggle was-- Sex. Sex. And-- Yeah, I remember telling God like, "God, just give me a wife, "I just wanna be able to have sex with my wife, "and I'll stop doing this." And then,gettin' married, and it's literally-- [Jennifer] The hardest thing possible. [Aaron] The thing that we can't do. [Jennifer] So I experienced excruciating pain every time we tried, and so for four years, our marriage just got tougher and tougher as far as our relationship because of this issue. And because we weren't coming together and being, experiencing that part of our relationship, you dove even further into-- I-- Pornography. [Aaron] Definitely used it as a excuse and a justification. 'Cause I thought to myself, like well I can't even have the one person I should be able to have, so, I got this over here. And it was wrong, completely wrong. But looking back, God absolutely used our struggle with sex to show the depravity in my own heart, and yours-- I was gonna say both of us. About lust, pornography, and these things-- [Jennifer] I'm like a lot of that is sin. Sexual, yeah lots of things. But He's, He was definitely saying like, "I don't want any of this." And He was willing to discipline us, and I believe that's what it was. I believe that that season of our life was discipline because He's like, "You're My children." And He says, "I discipline those who I love, "and I love you." And I, He was done with us walking our own way, and walking in that sort of sin, and, now I can't say like, we walked free from it, and then boom, we were healed. It was much more complex than that. But looking back, I know that's what God was doing in us. [Jennifer] So are you saying that we struggled with sexual intimacy because you struggled with pornography? [Aaron] I believe so, I believe that God was disciplining us, He was disciplining me. I told Him, the one thing I wanted was a wife I can have sex with, and He's like, "That's not gonna fix it." And it, and He, and I should be able to walk in freedom with Him, regardless if my marriage is perfect. I, it's not a justification, having a broken marriage, having a broken sex life, having these things that I think give me permission to break His heart, and His laws, and walk opposite of how He's called me to walk, when my greatest relationship should be with Him, which is what I've always said I have, like no, everything is about God, and I love God. And He's like, "Well," as Jesus says, "if you love Me, you'll keep My commands. "If you love Me," In 1 John, He says, "Those who practice righteousness "are righteous." And I wasn't practicing righteousness, I was, I had no integrity. When I was alone, I knew what I was gonna do, and you knew too. [Jennifer] I didn't trust you. [Aaron] No, I didn't trust myself. [Jennifer] I'd just go back to that point though, I wanna talk about trust, but I wanna go back to you saying that our, let's call it a drought, 'cause that's what it was, it was a sexual drought, and our marriage was correlated with this addiction to pornography, 'cause as much as I see that, I also know that it was layered because He used that time for so many other things, to reveal a lot to us. And I don't want that, I don't want them listening just to go, oh, that's kinda strange, but a cool little revelation, there was a lot more that-- [Aaron] Well of course, like God is infinite, and He orchestrated a lot of things in our life, for many purposes, to put us on this journey with this ministry, to make us, our unity and our oneness stronger, to use us in the lives of others, like lots of things to teach us things. [Jennifer] To teach us things, yeah. [Aaron] But it tells us that the, in the Bible that that our Father in Heaven disciplines His children. And if He didn't discipline us, we'd be illegitimate children. But because we're His children, He disciplines us. I just wanted to highlight that to show that we, in going through those things, that what our heart should be is to recognize what God's doing and that He loves us, and that He cares for us. It's that quota, He loves us the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us there, and so He changes us. And He draws us to Himself, and He makes us more like His son, Jesus. [Jennifer] He definitely used that time to do that in our life. [Aaron] Yeah. What for you, Jennifer, 'cause I brought this into my marriage, and I didn't know if you struggled with anything at the time, early in the marriage, but what did my addiction to pornography, how did it make you feel? How did you deal with it? What were some of the highlights, or lowlights, I should say-- [Jennifer] Yeah, I'm like, there were no highlights. [Aaron] From our, from that's part of our story? [Jennifer] Knowing that you struggled with this was painful, and I felt betrayed, as your wife. And there was a lot of deep hurt, a lot of pain, but what's interesting is also wrapped up in a lot of insecurity, and I felt like it was pointed back at me, as if I wasn't good enough for you. And so on top of the pain of betrayal and mistrust, there was also this layer of, "I'm not good enough for you and it's my fault." [Aaron] Right, like you're causing me to like, well, if I was prettier, or if could give him this-- [Jennifer] Or if my-- Part of my body. Yeah, if my body actually worked-- Yeah. [Jennifer] And we were experiencing an awesome sex life, maybe he wouldn't, maybe marriage would have fixed it. So then I felt at fault for it, and that was really painful. And so anytime that you confessed to me, or that the truth was exposed, I felt just as at fault for it. [Aaron] Yeah, and I remember you would say those sorts of things and I would try and like comfort you, and be like, "No, no, no, not at all, not at all." But what's unfortunate is I was only comforting you back then and trying to help you back then for the sake of my own shame. Like I didn't like that I made you feel that way, I didn't like that you responded that way, but instead of changing, I just tried to help you cope with it. Which is wrong of me, I wasn't a very good spiritual leader back then. [Jennifer] Well we didn't know back then, where I feel like spiritually, we were so immature that we didn't know how to navigate this right. [Aaron] We didn't have much close fellowship back then. We've talked about that in past episodes. Which would have helped us see it sooner probably, if we had people closer to us, knowing us. Not just people but spiritually mature people. People who would challenge this area of our life. But again, we have to expose it and we have to tell people how we're struggling if we want that kind of correction. Yeah, and we kind of-- Which most people don't. [Aaron] Kept it to ourselves. [Jennifer] So I also remember anytime that you would say, "Hey we have to talk," my heart would drop, 'cause I'd be waiting for the bomb, the truth bomb of like, "I have to confess again." And I hated that feeling, and my heart also ached with anxiety every time I left you at home alone because I just knew. [Aaron] You knew it was gonna come when you got back, yeah. [Jennifer] And when I did come home, and you told me you messed up, like you said you would say, it just affirmed my distrust in you. [Aaron] Were you ever surprised? No. Yeah, 'cause you knew I was gonna, which is such an unfortunate thing to make my wife only know that about me. That I'm not a trustworthy person, that I have no integrity, and she's gonna feel small, and insignificant because of something I'm choosing to do. And I think the reason, no I don't think, the reason we are getting real with this stuff, is because these are the things that aren't said to us. And so we can easily minimize what we're doing. I minimized it a lot with you. I would just be like, "Well it was only for a little bit here, "I, it was, like, it was nothing, it was not a big deal." And like, all I ever tried to do when I was apologizing to you was minimize the shame and the guilt that I saw in your face. And I deeply regret that part of our marriage, and the things that I walked in, that I didn't believe the truth that I've seen and read in the Bible that I thought that was for other people, not myself. I believed I was still trapped by it, even though I was a believer. I believed that I was still trapped in my sin. I believed that it had power over me that it didn't actually have. And I let it into our marriage. And in the Bible it tells us to keep the marriage very pure, and I didn't. And so I thank God that He showed me these things and He was patient with me because half the time, you feel like, "Man I'm surprised God just didn't strike me down." 'Cause like He's sovereign, He's a good God, but He's a just God, and man I justly deserved not what I've been given. The patience, and the reconciliation, and a wife who remained with me when you probably had a good reason and a good right to leave me, for breaking our vows so many times. Because the next truth we wanna make everyone listening realize is that pornography's not just, like oh, this little sin that I did over here, and like it's not a big deal, it's not attached to anything. The Bible tells us clear that sexual sin is special. It does something different to us because it's against our own bodies, and especially in marriage when you and your wife are one. [Jennifer] I was gonna say, it's against your oneness. [Aaron] It's against your body. It's against my wife, and this is the truth bomb, pornography is adultery. It's adultery. I was a cheater on my wife. I broke her trust time and time again. I broke faithfulness with her, and that's the reality, and if anyone's, that's listening right now is walking in this and is telling themselves, "Well, it's only every once in awhile. "It's not that big of a deal. "I can stop anytime." Whatever we, words we use, we are committing adultery on our spouse, and we are not practicing righteousness, and we are not walking in light as He is in the light. And those are truths that we need to say out loud, and we need to recognize them for what they are. [Jennifer] I just wanna be honest, this episode has been so hard for me, and I just feel like I, there's things that I wanna share, and then I get this lump in my throat, and my eyes start watering. We've had to stop three times just to pause so I can breathe. But pornography hurts. Pornography kills, and it kills oneness, and unity in marriage, it kills trust, it kills love, it kills-- [Aaron] Faith. [Jennifer] Faith, and-- [Aaron] It severs our relationship with the Father. [Jennifer] Yeah, it severs our relationship between husband and wife. Like our relationship was crumbling because of this. And I just, I feel so emotional I think, even sitting here listening again to our story because I know we're not the only ones who have been hurt by the pain of pornography. There are so many husbands and wives, maybe them listening right now, have walked this, or experiencing it, or maybe just last night, they had that hard conversation where they're in tears over it because they want it gone so badly, and it just keeps coming, and keeps coming, and keeps coming and it's gonna keep coming-- Or if they're about to have the conversation-- The enemy-- Today. The enemy hates marriage. The enemy hates what we're doing, and it's going to keep coming because he knows that it will destroy what we have. [Aaron] And I wanna, your words are powerful, but I wanna remind us that our words are powerful. And you keep saying "Pornography, it's coming, it's coming," as if it's something coming at us, and this is one of the lies I believed, that pornography was something happening to me. And when something happens to us, it's out of our control. Pornography was not happening to me. Yes, the same issue kept coming up and we had to keep dealing with it, but, and I'm not correcting you, Jennifer, but I want the people listening to not take anything we say and say, "See? "There it is, it's coming at me." [Jennifer] No, and when I said it's coming, I mean the enemy is dangling that temptation in front of us because he knows our flesh is weak. And we have to be willing to stand strong against it. [Aaron] And so if we think it's something happening to us, we'll never walk strong. It's something I believed. I believed it was a outward force that I had no control over. But it is not. 'Cause if that was the case, then no one's free. And the things that the Bible tells us are lies. Our encouragement to those listening is to believe the truth. Proclaim the truth, so confession, which is saying what's going on. Saying what you're doing. What you are choosing to do, which is the key. Not coming like, "Oh, it happened again. "Oh, I messed up again. "Oh, "I slipped and fell into this thing again now." Confessing that you chose again to cheat on your spouse, that you chose again to walk in unfaithfulness with your God. That's true confession. And then repentance is to turn the other way. I am no longer gonna choose to walk in that. Because if it's something that we accidentally fall into, if it's something that happens to us, then there is no need to repent because you don't know if you're gonna slip. You're walking on this journey, and you're just gonna fall into the pit by accident, and that's just your destiny. But that's actually not true because that goes against everything Jesus came to do on the cross. He came to set us free from the bonds of sin and death. And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that will bring life to our mortal bodies. That's what the Bible tells us. And in a little bit, we're gonna get through more scripture just so you listening can hear the truth about this. And I wanna bring up something, you said, Jennifer, that pornography hurts us, and it destroys us, and I wanna highlight one more truth, it was something that I never realized until I started walking in purity. And God was revealing to me who I was, and the things I was doing, is that pornography doesn't just hurt us, the ones consuming the pornography. We are literally condoning and cheering on, and paying for things that we would never condone, or cheer on, or pay for a Christian to do. And a lot of these men, women, whoever's in these videos or photos, many of them are forced into it. And even the ones that choose it, were literally saying, "Yeah, keep doin' that. "Keep doin' that." We're choosing to hold hands with someone to Hell, by the thing we are consuming. And if Christians would realize that, if I would have realized that earlier, would I have stopped? Maybe. If I woulda realized like, man, I'm actually like, partaking, participating in someone's journey, to a journey away from God. And it's easy for us to think like, well they're just things, it's just a video. Well no, those are people in those videos. Real people that are made in God's image. And I just hope that this is hitting home with those listening, I hope that people are hearing our hearts of concern and love, and are also being, having their eyes opened, and their hearts opened, and that true Godly repentance would come from this. [Jennifer] So I remember there was two pivotal moments in our marriage, that stand out to me. I think you'll know what I'm talking about, but they are pivotal because they helped you change in this area. And so I wanna share 'em so that those listening can be inspired by it and hopefully it, this, hopefully this moment right here becomes a pivotal moment for them. [Aaron] Amen, yeah. [Jennifer] So I remember it was just after we had Elliot, he was just a little baby, and I was sitting in a rocking chair midday, trying to rock him. And you were sitting at the desk in our bedroom, and you started telling me and confessing how you had-- -Again. [Jennifer] Messed up again. And normally, I mean, list an emotion, and I've expressed it. Tears, uncontrollably, like just all of it. Sadness-- All rightfully so, 'cause of what I've done to you. [Jennifer] But this time, I just sat pretty much gripping Elliot's little body, and patting his back, and my heart was just so burdened for you. And I remember-- It was actually your first time thinking about me in that way, because of what I was going through. [Jennifer] Yeah, yeah, like if tables were turned, yeah, putting myself in your shoes, but I just, I questioned you on your faithfulness to me. Because on the outside, we were Christians moving forward in our marriage and at this point, we actually had already been reconciled and determined to stay together. And you messed up again, and I questioned you on your faithfulness and I reminded you what scripture says about it being adultery, and I know you have already mentioned that today, but I remember just reminding you in this, in that moment that you were committing adultery against me. And I questioned how you would want our future to go, I questioned how you would want our son's future to go. [Aaron] I remember all this. You asked me if I actually feared God. You asked me if I actually loved God. You were challenging me at the core of what I was doing. Not just this one event, oh, I forgive you for the event, you told me like, you need to realize what you are doing Aaron. And I remember it was like, shocking. It was like oh my gosh. This is different first of all, 'cause usually I'm like looking forward to you, not looking forward to it, but I'm expecting an outburst, a reprimand-- A reprimand, yeah. [Aaron] "What, you did it again? "Don't you know how this makes me feel?" But you went from, you actually loved me, selflessly, 'cause even though you were totally hurt, you instead told me the truth in love. You said, "Aaron, you are committing adultery." And I think that was actually the first time I, we recognized that's what I was doing. I'm laughing 'cause I'm embarrassed. That was a pivotal moment, and that began actually, over the next few years, me walking in-- [Jennifer] The start of the true change. [Aaron] Like it, I did still have-- [Jennifer] A weakness. [Aaron] I still fell back into it, I don't wanna say fell back in it, I still chose it, but it was, it became much less, and much less, and then what the next event that happened was the straw that broke the camel's back. Like the, the like it was the thing like, so you opened my eyes to like, "Man, I have to change. "This is not okay what I'm doing." And then this next moment, I'm sitting in my car with our pastor and mentor, and he's, and we just had dinner and we were hangin' out, and he said, "Aaron, are you walkin' in purity?" And I said, "Well, no, recently I did this." 'Cause I wanna be honest, that I'm tryin' to walk in repentance and openness and light. And he says, "Well Aaron," he's like, "nothing's gonna change "until you believe the truth." He's like, "You need to believe the truth." And I said, "Well, what do you mean?" Because the way I talked was, oh, it happened to me again, I fell into, I stumbled into, oh, woe is me, like as if something was happening to me, so, 'cause I was still not thinking clearly about this even though you challenged me correctly. I still wasn't thinking clearly. And he said, "You are not a slave "to your addiction to pornography. "Pornography is not something that has control over you." Which I didn't believe when he was saying it, 'cause I believed it controlled me. And then he said, "And also, Aaron, "you need to admit and confess that you love your sin." He said, "You need to say it because you do." And I said, "I don't love it." And he's like, "Well, your actions are proving different. "You say with your mouth that you don't, "and then you say with your actions that you do." And it went right into my heart. And it was the first time in my life that I was able to say with my mouth out loud, that I actually loved pornography. And what that meant was is I actually was able to fully confess, 'cause before I was confessing about the fruit of my sin, not confessing the sin that I loved my lust. [Jennifer] Which if people are wondering, my response is I hate hearing it, I hate knowing it, I hate, I hate all of that, but I think it's necessary in order to overcome-- [Aaron] Well, a true confession is necessary, I had to be able to admit the truth, 'cause I was walking in lies. And the lies were keeping me in the darkness, and the lies were keeping me trapped, when the trap was my lies, it was, there was no trap. There was no chains, 'cause God broke those chains on the cross. And he's like, "You need to recognize that, "that that is the truth. "You have not stopped sinning because you love your sin." And so I, once he said it out loud and once I said it out loud, I realized, wait a minute, I don't want to love my sin. And so I confessed, "Lord, forgive me for my love of my sin, "and change me." And that was the last time. I think there was one other little time after that, that was, and I'm not trying to minimize, significantly different kind of sinning, but in the same area. And I confessed that out loud to Matt, and to you, and that was it. And it's been how many years now? [Jennifer] Five. [Aaron] Five. But those are the pivotal conversations, was you telling me the truth in love, and then another brother telling me the truth in love. Not, "Aw, sorry, yeah we all, we're all gonna struggle. "Let's just get back up, "and let's just try harder next time." But that's not, that is not what God's asking us to do. He's not asking us to try harder, He's asking us to walk in the truth. And the truth is, let's read some of these verses. The truth is, Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; "stand firm therefore, "and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." And that's what I was doing, I kept submitting to a yoke of slavery that didn't exist. I was allowing a yoke to be put on me that didn't need to be there. So I'm free. That's what Christ came for, freedom. Would you read Romans 6:6? [Jennifer] "We know that our old self "was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin "might be brought to nothing, "so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." [Aaron] Oh, so it's not that I have to try harder, I am not enslaved to sin. So I need to walk in the actual truth-- [Jennifer] Which is 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. "The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." [Aaron] So am I walking in this old self while pretending to be a new self? [Jennifer] Talk about a marriage fixing things. [Aaron] Yeah, and the marriage doesn't fix it, Christ has already fixed it. [Jennifer] No, the marriage of Christ, the being one. Oh, yeah, we're being one with the body of Christ, we're His bride, and it says that He's gonna come back to a pure white, and without blemish bride. That's who, that's what I'm a part of, that's who I am. That's who you are listening. [Jennifer] Yeah, how dare Him come back to a bride that's been-- [Aaron]Dancing in the mud, with her dress. [Jennifer] Sad. [Aaron] So those listening, your old self has been crucified. It's been crucified. Christ set us free on the cross. Ephesians 4:17 through 24, "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, "that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, "in the futility of their minds. "They are darkened in their understanding, "and alienated from the life of God "because of the ignorance that is in them," that was my life, I was walking as, He's telling Christians to not walk as Gentiles were, I was walking that way in my ignorance. "Alienated from the life of God "because of the ignorance that is in them, "due to their hardness of hearts. "They have become callous "and have given themselves up to sensuality, "greedy to practice every kind of impurity. "But this is not the way you learned Christ, "assuming that you have heard about him "and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, "to put off your old self," Aaron, put off your old self. "Which belongs to your former manner of life "and is corrupt through deceitful desires," I, that's crazy that it uses the word deceitful desires. They trick us, they're desires that are deceitful. "And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, "and to put on the new self, "created after the likeness of God "in true righteousness and holiness." So my trying harder is actually just putting on the new self. Christ's likeness. 1 John 2:1, "My little children, "I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. "But if anyone does sin, "we have an advocate with the Father, "Jesus Christ the righteous." What's awesome about that is when we're walking in righteousness, and we stumble because we've chosen to, or we haven't, we weren't walking in the, we weren't walking in the Spirit, but we were walking in the flesh, we have an advocate. But the things that we're reading right now have been written so that we won't sin. So that we will actually walk in the truth. 1 John 2:28 and 29, "And now, little children, "abide in him, so that when he appears "we may have confidence and not shrink from him "in shame at his coming. "If you know that he is righteous, "you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness "has been born of him." I love that it says practice first of all, 'cause that that means is that we are not yet righteous, but we are becoming righteous. And as we practice it, we get better at it. So am I practicing my sinful desires and getting better at those things, or am I practicing righteousness and getting worse at my sinful desires? And that was, that's my life now, is I'm getting worse at my sinful desires and I'm actually getting better at avoiding temptation, and knowing what temptation is, and being strong under the temptation, and fleeing from the temptation, and talking about the temptation. And now encouraging others to do the same. [Jennifer] So actually I was gonna mention that, how you walk in authority now and challenge other believers, and I can be confident that you're gonna walk our children through these things, that you can teach them, and I don't know, I just, I love that you have this authority that you can say, "I've overcome this, you can too." [Aaron] Which is amazing, because when we see other people overcome something, it makes it that much more believable that we can. And so you're listening to this, and if you're thinking, "Man, I can't do that." Stop believing the lies, you have been set free by Christ. You have the power of the Holy Spirit in you. You've been given everything that pertains to life and Godliness, just like I have. I'm not special, I haven't been giving, given something that you haven't been given, Jennifer hasn't been given something that you haven't been given. We have Christ in us. We have, we could put on the new self, created after the likeness of God. [Jennifer] Something that we mention in our book coming out, Marriage After God, is that Jesus didn't come back to kind of save you, He came back to save you. [Aaron] He came back to fully save us, today, when Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray, He says, "Thy will be done on Earth, "as it is in Heaven." Which is cool because we can actually have His will on Earth, in our life. Now we haven't, our bodies are still gonna decay and we're gonna still see death, and these bodies are gonna fall apart because they're not yet redeemed. But you know what is fully redeemed? Our spirit. And He's renewing us day by day, and He's giving us a new mind, and new spirit, and He's, and through His word, and through walking in community, and through being, walking in light and truth, we can actually walk the way God has enabled us to walk. It tells us in Malachi, that He will write His laws on our hearts, on tablets of flesh. They're no longer on stones that can be broken, they're on hearts of flesh. His laws are written on our hearts, and not only has He showed us in our hearts how we can, how we should walk, but He's empowered us to do so through the power of His son and His spirit. I don't know, I hope that was vulnerable enough, and again, our prayer is that those listening, you, would not be freed from this addiction, and this struggle with sin, and pornography, but that you would recognize that you are free, and that you do not have to choose to be submitted to it. You don't have to choose it. You can choose actually to walk away, you could choose actually to turn the computer off, you can choose actually to put your phone down, you can choose to run away as fast as you can. We can choose that, and we are empowered to do so through the Holy Spirit. [Jennifer] So if this episode encourages them to go have a conversation, and there's confession and reconciliation, do you wanna share some things that we've learned over time that could help them? [Aaron] Yeah, I will say on my part, or for those that are going to do the confessing, and we talked about confession in one of our episodes, and they should go back and listen to that actually, don't minimize, meaning, well, it was just this, it wasn't as big as deal you think, it was only for a moment. Just say I did this. And then the second thing I would always try and do that I shouldn't do, was I tried to control your reaction. Please don't be mad, I know that I was wrong, please don't be sad, please don't be frustrated-- Or why are you crying. [Aaron] Or why are you crying. And so I, when I started walking in purity, I purposed that if I was gonna confess to you, I was just going to tell you what I did, when I did it, and then I was gonna be quiet. [Jennifer] And so on my part, I mean, as the person receiving the confession, something that I've learned is, well the first thing is, God created us with a lot of different range of emotions, but He created us with emotions. And so the first thing is acknowledging that you feel, and the second one is you're still called to have self-control in those feelings. And-- And you're allowed to have the feelings. And you're allowed to have those feelings, so you may cry, you may get angry, you may get all of the things, but you still are required to have self-control in them, and that doesn't mean that you just shut it off and you don't express those emotions, it just means that you don't sin in your emotions. And so I just wanted to share that as the counterpart to what you-- [Aaron] And on the person receiving the confession, the other spouse, your job is to not just love your spouse, but to speak truth in love. Like you did that day. You very calmly and lovingly said, "You are walking a very dangerous line. "You are committing adultery, "and you are harming our marriage, "and what you're doing will destroy us. "And you must change." [Jennifer] And then the biggest thing after all of that, is reconciliation. It should always be for the purpose of reconciliation and we hope that it's for reconciliation in your guy's marriages. [Aaron] And reconciliation can happen even though trust is still broken. Because the reconciliation is knowing that hey, we are still one, but we are going to work on this trust thing. Because you have hurt me and we're gonna walk it out together, and I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna avoid being healed, but it's going to take time and that's gotta be okay. Because it's not like a switch that gets flipped. There's been unfaithfulness, there's been brokenness, there's been sin, and there's consequences to that sin. But as a team, you walk towards healing and restoration, on both parties, and you do that by prayer, you do that by fasting, you do that by walking faithfully-- [Jennifer] And abiding in the word of God. [Aaron] And abiding in the word of God, and you also do that in community. You don't do it alone. If you're a brother dealing with this, you find other brothers that are gonna say, "Dude, stop it." That have authority in your life because they walk in purity also. If you're the wife, you find girls that are gonna be like, "You can't do this. "You need to walk in purity." And the goal is oneness, unity, healing, righteousness, holiness for the purpose that we always go back to is that God has a job for our marriages. He's got a ministry for us to do, and we will not be able to do it if we're stuck in sin. [Jennifer] Yeah, we need to be pure, and we need to present His bride, pure. [Aaron] And that's what we get to do, we get to purify ourselves, we get to practice righteousness, and we get to chase after God every day, and I just pray that this brings freedom today. I pray that hundreds, thousands of couples today would find not just healing, but realize the freedom that they have. And that they would be the ones that people look at and say, "I didn't know you could walk in freedom like that." And then they'll say, "Actually, this is what the Bible says." And they'll be able to help other Christians walk that way as well. [Jennifer] What an incredible ripple effect for the body of Christ. Oh yeah. [Jennifer] Well thank you guys so much for joining us on this episode. It was, it was vulnerable, and I appreciate you sharing, Aaron. And I can see that there's probably gonna be a lot of questions, probably come up from this. Probably. [Jennifer] And we might have to do another episode, but that's okay. But we do wanna invite you guys to pray with us, and close out the episode with this prayer from Aaron. [Aaron] Dear Lord, thank You for Your loving patience and kindness towards us. Thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness. Lord, I pray as Christian men and women we would practice walking in righteousness. I pray we would pursue purity, as You are pure. I pray that as Christian men and women who proclaim You to be Lord in our life, that we would not walk in this sin anymore. Change us, transform us, and cut out any dead flesh and wicked way that is in us. Help us to fear You and love You. Help us to see the truth about pornography, that it is destructive, sinful, immoral, and that it is adultery. Your word tells us that there should not even be a hint of sexual morality named among us as Christians. Help us to live with integrity, help us to be transparent and honest in marriage, help us to choose reconciliation over isolation in marriage. We are Your saints, and I pray we would walk in a manner worthy of Your call in our lives. In Jesus name, Amen. Thanks for joining us this week, and we look forward to what the Lord's gonna do in your life. And the testimonies that are gonna come from the truth that people heard today. [Jennifer] We'll see ya next week. [Aaron] Did you enjoy today's show? Find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.