“My husband views pornography.”
“My husband loses his temper.”
“My husband has a drinking problem.”
“My husband lies.”
Perhaps you’ve not only heard Christian women make these statements but you could say one of them yourself. What can you do when your husband has a sin problem? What should you do? If you missed part one of this study, you can check out the first five suggestions here.
6. Seek Outside Help If Needed
If the sin problem is some kind of addiction (like pornography or alcohol), it would be wise to get help from those who have experience helping others overcome these types of struggles. Sometimes bringing in a third party adds an accountability factor that makes it easier for your husband to put away the addiction.
Just remember to check your motives before involving others. If you want to publicly shame your husband because you’re angry, you’ll surely make matters worse. If you truly have your husband’s best interests at heart, you can prayerfully seek help or counsel from a godly source.
7. Study the Word
This can’t be neglected. The world has their own opinions about marriage and much of it is not biblical. Some friends or co-workers may encourage you to get revenge or to look out for yourself first. Some, because of their indignation on your behalf, may suggest actions that just aren’t right. The world promotes pride and selfishness. The Word commands humility, selflessness, and putting the needs of others first (Phil. 2). The world says you can give up on your marriage whenever you want. The Word teaches that marriage is for life, with the exception of adultery (Matt. 19:3-9).
Without Bible study, there is confusion and that can be dangerous. For example, some have decided that pornography is grounds for scriptural divorce. “You have heard that it was said of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:23,24). This verse is the reason some believe that viewing pornography equals adultery. In Matt. 19:9, Jesus gives one valid reason for divorce. The word He uses is porneia, which means “sexual immorality.” This is unfaithfulness in marriage by having sexual intercourse with someone who is not one’s spouse. While the adultery of the heart mentioned in Matt. 5:24 may eventually lead to the physical act of adultery, it does not carry the same immediate consequences as the physical act.
Pornography is still a sin and anyone guilty of it will give an account on the Day of Judgment, but it is not a scriptural reason for divorce. In Matt. 5, Jesus was teaching that adultery begins in the heart, just as murder begins in the heart (v. 21,22). But that doesn’t mean we can cart someone off to jail for being very angry with someone (even though it could lead to the physical act of murder if left unchecked). Furthermore, there is the practical matter of determining how much pornography a husband must view in order to be guilty of adultery. Just once? Once a month? For years? With physical adultery, there is no guessing game. A husband who has sexual intercourse one time wth someone who is not his wife is guilty of adultery, and the wife has the scriptural right to put him away if she so chooses.
Bible study is essential in knowing how to handle a sin problem in a way that pleases God. Feelings can be strong but unreliable. It’s important to see what God has to say about it.
8. Continue to Be a Good Wife
It can be hard to respect your husband if you don’t feel he deserves it. It can be hard to submit to your husband if you don’t respect him. When your husband disappoints you, you may recognize that you must still take care of him but feel you don’t have to cherish him or treat him special. You may even go so far as to let the house go or let yourself go and feel justified. These types of thoughts fall under the category of “wisdom of the world” (James 3:13-17). They may be natural feelings but they’re not biblical. The Bible teaches that one’s good behavior is not dependent on another’s worthiness (as we saw in last week’s post).
You’re accountable for your own actions so you must continue to be godly, pleasant, and sweet. You can’t refuse to obey God just because your husband has. Continue to love and respect your husband because you hope for his repentance, no matter how long it takes (Gal. 6:9). If you disrespect your husband, you will make it easier for him to justify his sinful habit. And you will one day look back and regret your attitude. If you continue to be loving and committed to a gentle, Christ-like sweetness, you will have no reason to look back with regret. You will know you did the right thing (1 Pet. 3:1,2).
The final part of this series next week will deal with rebuking, shaming, anger, and convictions.