My Personal Struggle With Pornography and Lust as a Wife
Summary: We are sexual beings. God created us with a beautiful way of expressing deep love in marriage through the physical action of being one with our spouse, and it is the way he designed us, humans, to recreate, to multiply his image. Just like any wonderful and necessary part of God’s design and purpose, the enemy has found a way to destroy it. The last episode we talked about Aaron's struggle with pornography and how it affected our marriage. Today we thought we would share my struggle and pull into the light the truth that pornography is not just a guy problem. Dear Lord, We pray first and foremost that husbands and wives would give you their hearts, that they would obey all that you command in your word and that they would love you with all of their hearts. We pray that if any of them are addicted or struggling with pornography that they would choose to stop today. Holy Spirit, please remind us daily of Your desire for us to live holy and pure lives. We pray we would not live in hiding, but rather, may we be transparent with others, confessing our sin and repenting of it, so that it will not have a stronghold in our lives. Give us stamina to pray for protection against the enemy and against our flesh. Remind us every day to pray for ourselves, for our spouses, for our children, and for our children's future spouses. May we be men and women who choose to walk faithfully with You. In Jesus’ name, amen! Support this podcast by grabbing one of our marriage books. http://shop.marriageaftergod.com READ: [Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God. [Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage. And today, we're gonna talk about my personal struggle with pornography and lust as a wife. [Aaron] 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-- [Aaron] Love-- [Jennifer] 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. [Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us on another podcast episode. Last week's episode was super, super powerful and impactful. We've had tons of messages from people just sharing how my story of addiction to pornography and how God freed me from it has blessed them and has brought them freedom. And again, it's not me. It's God working through my testimony. And in reality, it's his testimony 'cause of what he did in my life. But we thank you for joining us on this week's episode which is also gonna be very vulnerable and very sensitive to us, but we pray that it has an impact in your life. And if you've been enjoying our podcast and you haven't done so yet, we'd love to invite you to leave us a review, a star review, a star rating, and a text review. Those help other people find our podcast and we love reading 'em. They're really encouraging. [Jennifer] Also, we just wanted to invite you guys to take a minute to check out shop.marriageaftergod.com. That's a great way that you can help support our podcast, the Marriage After God podcast, by shopping through our store. And just to highlight one specific book, The Unveiled Wife, we're gonna be sharing on this sensitive topic today about my personal struggle with pornography and lust as a wife. And I share even more detail in The Unveiled Wife. So if you are on the store and you want to check that book out. You know, if this episode stirs anything in your heart and you just feel like you need an additional resource, check out The Unveiled Wife. [Aaron] Awesome. So here's the icebreaker question for this week. Who is the best cook in our marriage? [Jennifer] Before I answer that, I feel like I'm glad this question was a little bit light hearted because we're going into some sensitive stuff. So at least we can get all the laugh and everything out of the way. [Aaron] We'll laugh a little bit, I think. I'm nervous. We'll be careful. Yes, it is a nerve racking topic. [Jennifer] Okay, who's the best cook? I am. [Aaron] Yeah, okay. [Jennifer] You are? [Aaron] We both are. I would say I think we have strengths in different areas of cooking. [Jennifer] I was gonna say you are. [Aaron] You are an incredible baker. Your biscuits are amazing. And I love smoking stuff in my Traeger. [Jennifer] You're great at it. [Aaron] Yeah, so I think we're good. We didn't use to be good at it. We have some funny stories. [Jennifer] We were terrible at cooking. [Aaron] Remember that one time you made spaghetti and you forgot to boil the noodles? [Jennifer] Yeah, so it was baked ziti. [Aaron] Oh yeah, baked ziti. [Jennifer] And it's one of those dishes where you kind of like layer and then bake. And so I just threw everything together and started baking away, and we had friends coming over. [Aaron] We pull it out of the oven. [Jennifer] It was like nine o'clock at night and I'm like you guys, it's still not done. I don't know. [Aaron] We try eating it. It's like crunchy. We had to pull all the noodles out and boil 'em-- [Jennifer] Yup, and then mix everything back together. [Aaron] But you have totally redeemed yourself because the baked ziti you brought to church this last Sunday was incredible. [Jennifer] Thanks. [Aaron] So. Yeah, I would say we're both really good cooks. [Jennifer] I appreciate your love of cooking because it helps me out on times that I'm not interested or can't get to it. So I think we make a good team in the kitchen. [Aaron] Yeah, cool. That was a good question. Alright. So I'm gonna read a quote. We try and do a quote every week. And this is a quote from my own devotional which you can get at shop.marriageaftergod.com. It's called Husband After God. It's a 30 day devotional for husbands. And of course, we have the wife companion devotional called Wife After God as well but this is a quote from my book. And it says this on page 65. What you bring into your heart, you bring into your home. It's a short quote but I think it's a powerful statement that what's in our hearts, whether people see it, whether it's visible, whether our spouse knows about it, it is brought into our home and one way or another, it's gonna come out. It's gonna come out in the way we treat our spouse and in the way we treat our children. And it may even become visible, like you know with pornography, if it's something I'm searching on my computer, on my phone, or some roundabout way, my children, my wife, someone in my home's gonna stumble upon it. It's gonna affect the way I think, the way I act, and not just me, but us. So just a good reminder and especially going into the topic we're going to talk about. What we bring into our heart, we bring into our home and we have a responsibility to protect what we are viewing, listening to, consuming as Christians. [Jennifer] Yeah, I was gonna ask you to explain really quickly what it means to bring something into your heart. Like is it just, you know, an overall what you expose yourself to? Or do you actually have to like receive it? Like what does that look like? [Aaron] To be honest-- [Jennifer] 'Cause you know people are gonna try and justify that line of like what, well, I didn't bring that in. Just because I did that thing doesn't mean I, you know, brought it into my heart. [Aaron] No, that's a good point. I think just usually it's gonna come from things that we enjoy. I enjoy movies, right? And I used to be able to justify well, there was only that one little scene but the rest of the movie was okay. And what I'm doing is I'm allowing something into my heart through my eyes, through something I'm entertaining and enjoying. And those things, they come in. And unless we deal with them. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive. Unless we deal with the things that we're allowing into our heart. I may listen to certain music, right? And they just the kinds of salacious lyrics and the kinds of things that I'm listening to over, and over, and over again. The Bible calls that meditation. And that's how we bring the scripture into our hearts is be meditating on it, regurgitating it, going over, and over, and over again, repeating it, memorizing it. So if we're doing that with other things, that's how things get into our heart. That's how we absorb things. [Jennifer] And the bottom line is we're choosing it. [Aaron] We're choosing it, yeah. Like I wouldn't say walking down the street and then just something happens. I don't have to let that into my heart. Now, if I'm dwelling on something and I see something, or someone, or a poster, or something on a TV screen in a shop or whatever, I could let it in because I want it. So we have to be careful what things we allow into our hearts 'cause as the Bible says, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. And so there's things that we could be allowing in and we may not think directly it's affecting those in our home, but in some way or another, it is or will. [Jennifer] Come out. [Aaron] Come out, yeah. [Jennifer] Good. Okay, so just to be real honest. I think I mentioned in the last episode that I was nervous about it and I didn't really want to do the episode but I knew it was important. And even more so, I really don't want to do this episode but I know it's important. [Aaron] Yeah, last episode, we focused a lot on my walk and how I dealt with pornography and how it affected us. But not a lot of people know your side of the story. Not just your perspective on my sin but your own walk with it. [Jennifer] Yeah. And so naturally, when we're even trying to discuss the title for this episode, it was like I don't want my name attached. I don't want the word wife in there. [Aaron] It was 15 minutes of us. I'm like babe, how are people gonna figure this out? They need to know. She's like I don't want it to be put in there, but it's about you. [Jennifer] It's so hard to talk about our past struggles, and sins, and things that just make you feel so ugly and messy. And I know that God was redeemed me and that I no longer am that person. You know, that's an old self and I don't choose to walk in that way anymore which, you know, God gets that glory for sure, but it still is uncomfortable to talk about. But the reason that I'm willing, the reason that Aaron and I wanted to share this episode with you today is because we know that there are a lot of women who struggle with pornography, lust, and you know-- [Aaron] Sexual sins of this nature, yeah. [Jennifer] Sexual sins. And it's not being talked about a lot. I think it's starting to be. I think that people are starting to recognize that you know, it's not just a man's issue, that it's not just a husband's issue or even a young man's issue. I think that there are. I mean, there are a lot of people, a lot of women who do struggle with it. [Aaron] Naturally, our world is becoming more and more desensitized. We're oversexualized. Every single commercial, every single movie. You can't watch a PG-13 movie without some sort of sexual reference or partial nudity. The oversexualization of everything in our society is making it more and more common. [Jennifer] And so accepting. [Aaron] Well, that's what I'm saying. It's becoming more accepting. And so you have boys and men who expect a certain thing and then you have women who are like well, that's what everyone's expecting now. So there's this nasty cycle of expectation, and desensitization, and oversexualization. As believers, we actually can combat this darkness, right? [Jennifer] Yeah. I think a reason that a lot of people don't say anything or say a lot about women struggling with pornography use is just because it's embarrassing or maybe they feel like they can actually hide it and get away with it because everyone's so focused on it being a man's issue. And so we wanted to bring this to light and kind of just drag this topic out into the open and say hey, if there is a problem, we need to be talking about it. And so hopefully this is that stepping into freedom for anyone who is struggling with it today. [Aaron] Yeah, our prayer before this was that God would open the eyes and hearts of believers who might be walking in this, men and women. And you said that people might not talk about it because of fear or embarrassment. But it's also possible, and we've seen evidence of this, of people just thinking that there's nothing wrong with it. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] And so they're like why would I talk about it? There's nothing wrong with it. We do this in our marriage. I enjoy this in this way and we're gonna talk about some of the definitions of pornography so we can shine that light on it completely, but that's the goal is that as believers, we would be white as snow. We would be a pure bride for our king. And so I appreciate you, Jennifer, for being so fearless. I know there's a little bit of fear in this. But for sharing your testimony in this area. [Jennifer] Well, I feel like we are, like human nature, we are sexual beings. God created us with this beautiful way of expressing our deep love in marriage for one another in this way through the physical action of being one. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] Right? And it's his way, it's the way that he designed us to recreate and to multiply his image through childbearing and expressing that love. But just like any wonderful and necessary part of God's design and purpose, the enemy has found a way to destroy it. [Aaron] He's only here to seek out whom he may devour to kill, steal, and destroy. He takes the things that God's created and he manipulates them, mutates them, destroys them, ruins them, perverts them. And so that beautiful thing that God created, you know, sex, and the confines that he created it to exist in, marriage, he's constantly attacking and saying actually no, sex is better outside of marriage. Actually, sex is better when there's multiple partners. Sex is better when you do it this way instead of God's way. And he's done that by tempting believers and everyone in many different ways. But we get to look at the word of God and the way he's invented it and created it and why it's so beautiful. And we get to walk that way. [Jennifer] Okay, so the last episode, you kind of started with just your journey and exposure to pornography so I thought I'd kind of start there with mine. So I was about 10 or 11 when I saw a shredded up piece of a magazine that looked like it had been run over by cars and things laying in a gutter. [Aaron] Weird. That's like how my story started. [Jennifer] I know. I thought about what when you shared it. So I didn't pick that up though. [Aaron] 'Cause it was in the gutter. [Jennifer] Not 'cause it was in a gutter, because it freaked me out but the image was seared into my heart like instantly. It was like okay. And then I thought about it and dwelt on it and that was my first exposure to it. And shortly after that, just some exposure through finding magazines and fantasy books at family member's houses. [Aaron] So when I think about you say it seared into your heart almost immediately. [Jennifer] In my mind. Like I could see it in my mind. [Aaron] What I realize is the way God created us with all of our hormones and the chemicals in our body, and especially at such a young age. Or think of Song of Solomon. It says don't open up love before it's time. And there's a physical reason, a physical response to those sexual hormones. You saw that image and they evoked the correct kind of hormones in you but at the wrong time, and in the wrong way, and that's why it was like so instant in your flesh because your body was like that was something that I've never seen before. That was something I don't know what to do with. And yet, your body was functioning the way it was supposed to. Just in the wrong time, and in the wrong way, and in the wrong environment. [Jennifer] Yeah. And I don't feel like I was taught about sexual purity or even my body really. I wasn't taught to guard or protect my eyes. I didn't know what pornography was. And so in that moment, I didn't know what to do with it so I just kept to myself. I didn't know if I should tell someone. I didn't know how to combat those thoughts that I got from that point, you know, onward. I didn't know how to deal with it. I don't remember my parents really talking to me about sex, except I was told not to do it. [Aaron] Yeah, sex is sin. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Until you're married. And then it's not sin anymore. [Jennifer] They didn't even use the word sin. I just remember being told like not to do it. But no one ever explained why. I don't remember there being a strong why. You know that God created it but there was no affirmation that it is a good thing once you're married. [Aaron] Or that your body is something special that needs to be protected and kept for someone. Not many people, but someone. [Jennifer] And now that I'm thinking about it, even the idea of marriage wasn't really talked about in light of an affirming way. It wasn't like, you know. When I think about my kids, they get really excited to be married one day. [Aaron] I know, poor Olive. [Jennifer] Olive, we were driving in the car and she goes, "Mom, I just want to be a mommy right now." Like she doesn't want to wait at all and I get the opportunity and the privilege to affirm that in her and say Olive, you will be married one day. Just wait for it in God's timing. And I don't really remember having a positive perspective of marriage from a young age and I've shared this before, but my parents were divorced when I was really young, around four years old. And so even seeing the example wasn't really present from an early age. Yeah, I think that really impacted me as a young person. [Aaron] If anything, it didn't give you an environment to go, and unintentionally, I don't believe that your parents probably wanted you to feel this way. They probably didn't know how to help you. [Jennifer] They probably didn't know how to navigate it, yeah. [Aaron] But you didn't even know what to do with the feelings you had after seeing that image. You didn't know where to go. You didn't know if you'd be in trouble or if you were feeling was normal and you just didn't know why you felt abnormal. So you didn't even have the environment to help you to do that. And I don't feel like I did either actually. I don't feel like there was an intentional marriage conversation of. I know my mom always had us pray for our future wives. [Jennifer] That's awesome. [Aaron] Yeah. [Jennifer] That's so cool. [Aaron] So there was definitely positive elements but I don't know if there was a direct like hey, this is how you're gonna be as a husband. This is how you're gonna be. Maybe like here and there sporadically but. But yeah, that's probably most people's lives growing up, not having intentional, direct, like hey, if you come across something like this, if you ever feel this way, come right to us and we will walk you through it. We will tell you how to think, and how to feel, and we'll help protect you. [Jennifer] So as a note for those listening, if you're parents of just young kids, we have that obligation and opportunity to affirm them in this way and to have these conversations with them. And I think that's important that we do. [Aaron] Yeah, 'cause if we don't, guess who will? [Jennifer] The world. [Aaron] The world will. It did it for us. We were taught about sex not from the safety and Biblical perspective from our homes. We were taught from the world. And so thank you for reminding the parents that are listening if they're parents to take that responsibility seriously. [Jennifer] So the first time that I did hear anything about pornography in the church setting was when we were in our 20s and the pastor spoke on this specific issue and even didn't shy away from hey, women struggle with it too. Like that was the first time that I really heard pornography preached from the pulpit that it's wrong, and it should be avoided, and that it affects our home. And that too, I share about-- [Aaron] In your 20s? That was the first time? [Jennifer] When we were married. [Aaron] Wow. [Jennifer] So I actually mentioned this story in The Unveiled Wife, but we were sitting in church and this was right after I had confessed everything to you. I confessed my struggles with pornography which up until this point, I hadn't. Okay, so I feel like I'm jumping ahead. So let me just backtrack just a little bit. So I wouldn't say that I ever had like an addiction to pornography, but I was exposed to fantasy books, and magazines, and things like that, and so I was prone to that sin in my heart already. [Aaron] 'Cause I agree. I don't think you were addicted the same way I was but did you use lust, pornography, fantasy books, for coping with what we were going through with-- [Jennifer] Yeah, that's what I wanted to touch on before I hit this story that I write about in The Unveiled Wife. So those first couple years of our marriage were so difficult and so challenging for several reasons but one of them, the major one was we were not sexually intimate with each other. I had physical pain every time that we tried and so I was really depressed and I felt broken. I felt like my body was broken. And on the other side of things, you had mentioned last episode that you were still struggling with pornography at this time. [Aaron] Pretty regularly. [Jennifer] Pretty regularly. And you had confessed to me about your sin and we would have to find a way to reconcile. So with all of this happening, there was some things going on in my heart where because I felt broken, I was searching out the thing that I wanted to be which I wanted to be sexy in our marriage. I wanted to be a woman who wasn't broken. [Aaron] And you wanted to feel that pleasure that we couldn't experience. [Jennifer] Exactly. And then because you had confessed to me, eventually, I got to a place where I was curious. Like what is this thing he keeps going back to and I'm not participating in. And so there was all these things that drove my heart and motivation for struggling with pornography and lust. And even fantasy books like-- [Aaron] Yeah, you'd escape to these love stories. [Jennifer] Love stories. Relational things that-- [Aaron] That some of them had sexual content in 'em, but really it was the-- [Jennifer] It was the emotional affection. [Aaron] That emotional, romantic love story. [Jennifer] That I was being fulfilled in aside from our marriage. So even outside of pornography, I felt. This is why we need to define what pornography is and we're gonna get there in a minute, but I just wanted to be honest and say I did struggle and it was very difficult for me and painful. It makes you feel shameful, and guilty, and not pure. [Aaron] It defiles our marriage bed. So just like that quote I read at the beginning, what you bring into your heart, you bring into your home. So husbands listening, men listening, if you're bringing this into your home, you're involving your family. My wife, she just admitted that because she was hearing it from me, and not that I made her sin, but I invited her-- [Jennifer] There's influence. [Aaron] And showed her. I influenced her. [Jennifer] We influence each other. And that verse that you're talking about is Hebrews 13:4. It says let marriage be held in honor among all and that the marriage bed be undefiled for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. And just like we share that story about me talking to you about your addiction to pornography and how it was adultery in our marriage, I knew that as well and I really didn't want that, you know? This verse came to my mind and I came to a place where it was like I don't want to be that person. I want to live above reproach. I want to live in purity. And so before all of this, I was hiding it from you. I wasn't openly communicating the things that I was struggling with and I broke. And I knew that I had to confess these things and so I, you know, sat on our bed and told you I needed to talk to you. And about two hours later after so many tears and divulging, and exposing all of my heart. I didn't keep anything from you. I received healing, and comfort, and reconciliation with you that I hadn't before because I always had this area of my heart that was only mine. And I remember that moment being so powerful in our marriage because I had the courage to tell you what I was really doing. And I remember kind of writing about this in The Unveiled Wife that you can't truly love someone unless you really know them. Like in that moment of me confessing everything to you, you had a choice. You could continue to love me and be with me or not. [Aaron] Or stop loving you, yeah. [Jennifer] And for me to know that I could share my entire heart and life with you and you still choose to love me, that was powerful. That's unconditional love. [Aaron] Yeah, there's a song out right now that says to be fully known and still be fully loved, right? Like then that's the idea of what you're saying. That you were fully known to me and still fully loved. Now, there are still consequences to our sin and we talked about this in my episode. You know, us learning how to walk in trust, us learning how to walk in freedom and practicing righteousness, and not bringing this into our children's lives. So yes, I think that was the last time you? [Jennifer] So what happened was that happened on like a Friday, Saturday, and that following Sunday was the church service that the pastor spoke from the pulpit. Nothing's a coincidence. The Lord was like-- [Aaron] Yeah, no coincidences. [Jennifer] Out of, you know, how many people at that service? 5,000 people? 10,000 people in that one service sitting there? I felt like the spotlight was on me. I couldn't stop crying. My mascara was down to my chin and the pastor just kept speaking one truth after another about the lies and deceit about pornography use, about how it's not just a man's issue. He gave statistics on it being a women's issue too and that gets really sticky because a lot of Christian women won't even participate in surveys like that 'cause they don't want to be known in that way. And so he called from the stage and said if any of you have been struggling with this, come forward and we will pray with you and we'll connect you with people who can walk you through this. [Aaron] And did you go forward? [Jennifer] Yeah, well, so I remember standing up, holding your hand with my head on your shoulder and you squeezed my hand when he said come forward. And a song started playing and I was so embarrassed 'cause I knew if I started walking, our friends would see. [Aaron] It would be known to our community. [Jennifer] We would be known. [Aaron] Crazy. I think we have an episode about that. [Jennifer] That was such a hard moment for me but it was defining, which was important. And so we went forward. The pastor prayed and then we went off to this, they call it the decision room where some other friends of ours who had been counseling us in our marriage sat down with us and then we got to be even more fully known with them. [Aaron] I totally forgot about all of this, wow. [Jennifer] It was heartbreaking but so heart-needed. Like it was so necessary for me to address this issue and confess what I was doing, and repent of it. And I did choose that day to walk differently. [Aaron] You know what I think about when I think about like that it's painful but it's so good when there's a broken bone in our body, they don't just wrap it up in a cast and call it a day. Often times, they have to reset the broken bone. They can't just. And if you don't reset it and you let it heal, it heals broken. And then you have to break it again to reheal it, heal it correctly. And so it's almost like God's like no, no, no, I know that you're mine and I know that I love you but I have to heal you and I want to heal you. And this brokenness you feel now is so that you can be whole later. 'Cause that's what he wants from us is wholeness. And so I remember that. and I want to ask you 'cause we talked about defining pornography and I know that the men and the women listening, when they think of pornography, when I think of pornography, the first thing I think of is like videos, photos, those sorts of things, right? The internet's just full of it. We can get it anywhere at any time for free, for money, whatever. But are there other things that we define as pornography that Christians should be thinking of and being aware of, and repent of if they're walking in those ways? [Jennifer] Yeah, so I want to note a couple things. So why is it important to define what pornography is? It's important because if we don't define what it is then our flesh will constantly justify where that line is and keep just pushing it so that you can keep doing the things that you want to do. [Aaron] I'm fine doing this because it's not that. I can keep doing this. Don't talk to me about this because this isn't that. [Jennifer] And even I have a really hard time saying that I struggled with pornography because how I want to define it is videos where that necessarily wasn't my struggle. And that way, I don't have to attach my name and my life to what that sin is. I don't want to be attached to it. Even like I said, struggling with naming this episode. Like I don't want to be attached to that because I hate it so much. But I think it's really important for us to define what it is and be honest with ourselves about what it is. And I think it can include things like what we mentioned, any sort of explicit photos or immodest photos. [Aaron] Like would you feel comfortable if I was like reading Sports Illustrated? [Jennifer] No, I would not. [Aaron] Or like any men's magazine that just is-- [Jennifer] I think it's important that we guard our eyes from immodest. [Aaron] What if I was following, you know, a girl online that she's famous but I just like her movies but she's always in bathing suits and always-- [Jennifer] Immodest. [Aaron] Yeah, it wouldn't make you feel good. And I would feel the same way if you were following. I mean, I doubt very many girls do this but like sexy man online or something that's always half-dressed or whatever. [Jennifer] And I just gotta make another little side note that if you're listening and you're a wife who posts pictures that are immodest-- [Aaron] Oh, good point. [Jennifer] I don't even need to question you on it but just let that sink into your heart and what it means for other people following you. Some other things that I don't want to forget to talk about are fantasy books. You know, things that-- [Aaron] Like when you say fantasy books 'cause fantasy could be. Are you talking about? [Jennifer] Not science fiction. I'm talking about what kinds of plot lines and actions are the characters doing. And if it's impure, and sexual, and I would even go as far as to say if I was reading things that had that emotional relationship fulfillment aspect. Like we need to be careful that we're not going there instead of being fulfilled in our own marriage. And I think that's the key. Now, 'cause there are Christian romance novels. I've never read any of 'em. But would you say that someone could be falling into sin in those books also if they're using those books to escape? [Jennifer] I think if they're using them as an escape because they're not being fulfilled in the marriage, they need to ask themselves what God thinks about that. [Aaron] That's a good point. And then more directly, what about books that have explicit sexual stories? Would you say that's pornographic? [Jennifer] I would. [Aaron] Yeah, because what it does is the exact same thing. Even though it's not visual, the thing is is we are-- [Jennifer] Stimulating that part of our bodies. [Aaron] Sexually stimulating ourselves in a way other than our spouse. For me, I've made it a point, because even after walking in freedom from pornography, I would justify going and seeing a movie that had a minimal sex scene in it, or some sort of brief nudity, or those kinds of things. What do I do now? [Jennifer] Well, you have to review it, research it, make sure that-- [Aaron] I read up. [Jennifer] You usually just end up not going. [Aaron] No, 'cause every movie nowadays has something in it. What I do is now I go to Plugged In. It's a site that reviews movies. It's a Christian site but it gives a pretty full synopsis. And if a movie has sexual content in it, it's a no. And you know what? There's been a bunch of movies I wanted to see that I haven't gone and seen because there would have been a scene in it. And lots of Christians, men are saying well, it doesn't affect me that way. I just shut my eyes or it's not a big deal. I'm not interested in even having a little bit of it in my life. And so I'm constantly asking myself like hey, is this even worth it? [Jennifer] Yeah, I was gonna say that just now. Like people might look at this list we're giving them and going wait a minute. Like so everything basically? But I want them to hear our hearts on this is what benefit does it really have? Our flesh wants to fight to be entertained by these things but what benefit does it have in our marriages and in our families? [Aaron] Yeah, Proverbs says that eye is never seen enough. Like it never has enough. You know, our ears have never heard enough and I think that's a good question, Jennifer, that you asked. Like what benefit does it have? And usually, the benefit is escape, fulfillment. We're looking for something in that piece of entertainment to justify the reason for going and partaking in it, and eating of it, and devouring it, and consuming it, and allowing it into our hearts. And yeah, you're right. I used to go to the movies like pretty much weekly 'cause I love movies. Often, I was escaping my difficult life or I wanted to just. I knew I was gonna go to a movie that might have a scene in it that was going to sexually stimulate me for a moment. But now, I rarely can go see a movie because there's something in it. I'm like okay, well. And you know what? I'm not like missing out on anything. [Jennifer] It continues to build that trust between us because I see you make those choices and I go, I have a good man. [Aaron] And I'm not just making them for you. Like I've intentionally-- [Jennifer] But it impacts me and it impacts our relationship and I appreciate that. You know, when you say that you used to put yourself in these positions or situations, I think that a lot of us do that hoping that we be fulfilled. You know, that our flesh would be fulfilled. And it makes me think of in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were tempted and the serpent's going, basically he's saying it's not that big of a deal. [Aaron] Yeah, like you really think you're gonna die if you even touch it? Which is not what God said. [Jennifer] I know, but it basically boils this thing that they weren't supposed to be doing to it's not really that big of a deal and I think so many people do that in their lives. They say it's really not that big of a deal. [Aaron] Well, and then he even says that Eve saw that it was good for looking at and good for eating. And like we do that. We're like well, it's art. And this is entertainment. It's good for my spirit 'cause I need to relax and it gets me excited and enjoyment. Or we had Christians comment on our posts in the past saying well, it's good as long as we do it together and as long as it heightens our sexual experience and it makes us closer. That's good. That's exactly what Eve saw from sin in the Garden of Eden. She looked at the fruit that God said not to touch. Actually said don't eat of it. Satan said did he really say not to touch it? He lied to her. And she's like. She saw that it was good to the sight and good for eating. And that's what we do. We're like well, yeah, but I know that that's probably not the best thing for me but look, it looks good. It's gonna taste good. And then in the end, it's gonna kill us. And I don't think that's worth it. At the end of the day, my prayer is that my children would never have to deal with this sin. They'll never have to deal with this struggle. That doesn't mean they're not gonna be tempted. It doesn't mean the world's not gonna try as hard as it can to grab their hearts. But it is not going to be because I have it in the house. [Jennifer] Yeah, and I think that important to note here is that we're setting an example through our actions and behavior as parents. I think that it's vital and necessary for us to be warring and battle through prayer for ourselves, for each other, our spouses, and our children, and even our children's future spouses. [Aaron] Oh yeah. [Jennifer] We need to be on guard in this way. We need to know that this is a growing problem, that it's affecting our children. [Aaron] It's cancer in the church. [Jennifer] Well, in the world. Like it's everywhere. [Aaron] Yeah, but we can't expect people who aren't regenerated by the Holy Spirit, that people who don't follow Christ to change in this area. They need salvation first. But you listening to this, you believer, you person who says you're a Christ follower, this is a serious, serious issue that we need to submit before the Lord and confess, and repent of, and walk away from, and never touch again. [Jennifer] And you can't sit there and say well, my addiction is to fill in the blank. It's too hard. It's too difficult. [Aaron] You don't understand. I've done this for too long. [Jennifer] But if you claim to be a Christian, you have the spirit living inside of you, empowering you to walk the way. He has not just called you but created you to walk. [Aaron] And so my wife, you struggled with this. [Jennifer] I did. [Aaron] I struggled with this. And thank God for God's patience with us. But we have been shown that he has already given us everything that pertains to life and Godliness. Second Peter 1:3 says that. And you listening, you have that same spirit, same spirit that raised Christ from the dead. He's living in you and he's empowering you to walk in freedom. And the Bible tells us that even when temptation, whatever temptation comes, first of all, it's not uncommon to man. It's like every temptation's common. It's not unique to you. But secondly, it says that Christ will make a way of escape so that you can escape that temptation every single time. [Jennifer] So before we close out 'cause I feel like we're coming to the end here of this episode, I do want to point out something that I wanted to mention earlier and that is that one of the biggest reasons why I didn't expose my sin to you for a while was because I didn't want it to minimize your sin. I thought-- [Aaron] You don't want me to say, so, we're the same so stop judging me. [Jennifer] Yes, exactly. I thought that had I said that we did struggle with the same thing, that I wouldn't be allowed to express such deep emotions over your failures because of mine. And that kept me isolated, and I was deceived, and I believed that it was better to hide from you than to tell you the truth. [Aaron] So it was a false authority that you would come to me and. Where when Jesus says don't have a plank eye, like, the reason we take the plank out of our eye so that we can see clearly in our brothers. So you walking in purity, you would have been able to see clearly in my life, not just emotionally, but actually spiritually. Like hey, like that time when you came to me. [Jennifer] Which I was pure then so maybe that's why I saw it then. [Aaron] And vice versa. You know, when we walk in holiness, when we walk in righteousness, we can without being a hypocrite go to our brothers and sisters and say hey, you've got to change this area of your life. And them say like wow, if you can do it, I can do it. So I think that's a good point to highlight is that we don't want to be plank eye Christians. We want to walk in holiness so that we can see clearly in our brother's and sister's eyes for their sake and not just because we want to be a holier art thou, you know, and be above and look down. That's not why. We want to walk in holiness ourselves because we love God. And then we want to walk in holiness so that we can walk with our brothers who are not walking in holiness and encourage them to walk in holiness. That's a good point, babe. So I feel like that was a lot and good and you did really well. [Jennifer] I'm still sitting here afraid. I don't know. It's so hard to talk about this issue but I want to be open and honest so that if another wife is listening right now, I hope that if she's struggling with any sort of pornography and lust, impure thoughts, that she would have the courage to be transparent with her spouse and talk about these things. [Aaron] Confess these things. [Jennifer] Yeah. [Aaron] Yeah. And confess with the purpose of repentance so that you both can walk in holiness. [Jennifer] And be reconciled to each other and to God. [Aaron] Yeah, so that we can fulfill the mission he has for us in life. To be lights in this world. To proclaim the gospel to the lost. Yeah. So we thank you for joining us this week. We thank you for listening to our testimonies and our prayer is that you and your spouse would have the same testimony. It's the only testimony that we get. It's from Jesus Christ. It's what he's done in us and through us. And he's the healer. He's the provider. He's our rock. And so before we close out, I'd love to invite you to pray with us. [Jennifer] Dear Lord, we pray first and foremost that husbands and wives would give you their hearts, that they would obey all that you command in your word and that they would love you with all of their hearts. We pray that if any of them are addicted or struggling with pornography, that they would choose to stop today. Holy Spirit, please remind us daily of your desire for us to live holy and pure lives. We pray we would not live in hiding, but rather may we be transparent with others, confessing our sin and repenting of it so that it will not have a stronghold in our lives. Give us stamina to pray for protection against the enemy and against our flesh. Remind us everyday to pray for ourselves, pray for our spouses, pray for our children, and pray for our children's future spouses. May we be men and women who choose to walk faithfully with you. In Jesus' name. Amen. [Aaron] Amen. Thanks for joining us this week and we look forward to having you next week. See you next time. 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.