Many women who have been betrayed and abused believe in God and the Bible. Many of them have gone to their clergy for help. Some of them come away confused and wonder how they could have misunderstood.

To these women, the Bible clearly states that the things their husband has done is a sin.

Their clergy disagreed. “He didn’t have sex with another woman,” said her clergy, “You should have more sex with him.”

Even in the Christian world, there is debate about whether or not viewing pornography is a sin.

Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, talks to Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer, about why someone who views pornography is committing a sin, but committing several other sins as well.

Tim also serves as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, where he mentors and provides discipleship. He is a book reviewer for World Magazine, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and is the author of several books.

Anne invited Tim on the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast after reading his blogpost called, “8 Sins You Commit Whenever You Look at Porn.”

Anne was impressed with something Tim said in his article.

“One of the reasons I was extremely impressed with the article is that it said that men who use pornography are participating in sexual assault, which I couldn’t agree with more.” -Anne, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery

3 Sins People Commit By Watching Pornography

One thing that Tim discovered was regarding those involved in the making of pornography. A vast majority of the “stars” are involved against their will or because they saw it as their only option. Many of these people come from impoverished countries or homes.

He realized that watching pornography supports the violence that many of these people endure, which means those who watch are supporting the violence.

“If we participate in a sin that demands violence, we’re participating in that violence as well.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Another thing people don’t realize is that the majority of women involved in making pornography have been trafficked. They’re also, more often than not, being abused, emotionally, psychologically, physically and sexually.

Tim said he became interested in this topic after many discussions with young men, who were looking forward to getting married. As he really listened to them and really heard them, he was astonished to learn a sad reality.

“I realized that a lot of them, one of the real desires they had in getting married, was to find someone upon whom they could act out all the porn they had seen over the years. That just showed me how much today’s young men have been immersed in pornography.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

To someone who didn’t grow up with the internet, this unfortunate trend piqued Tim’s interest, so he started writing about.

Tim soon saw that pornography was more than just sex.

It wasn’t only that pornography involved the sacred act of sex, but the fact that so many Christians were participating in it, going against the very commandments of God.

“We find early in the Bible the Ten Commandments. These commandments that govern human behavior. Both in our relationship to God and our relationship to other people.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

In his article, Tim talks about eight sins that people commit when they watch pornography, but he and Anne focused on three of them.

3 Sins People Commit By Watching Pornography

  • The sin of lust
  • The sin of greed
  • The sin of lying

Some of the sins are very obvious and undebatable. Others, as Tim and Anne discussed have, unfortunately, become controversial among Christians.

More Than Adultery, Pornography Breeds Lust

Christian belief is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, which can be found in the Bible. As a pastor, Tim uses it to teach his congregation. Christians all over the world use the Bible for their scripture study or base their values on its teachings.

Tim talks about how many people believe that, “As long as you don’t commit adultery, you’re fine,” but he says Christ takes it even further.

“Then He would say, ‘But I say to you, anyone who looks at another person lustfully is guilty of breaking that law.’ He took the very defined and specific law and made it very broad.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim says that when Christ broadened the law to include lust as adultery, He was really just defining what God meant all along by the original commandment.

“It was meant to be that way, all along, to hold that standard of ‘do not commit adultery.’ It’s not just to not fall into bed with somebody to whom you’re not married, but it’s to honor other people sexually. It’s to not think lustfully about them, and so on.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim says this is something that should be taken seriously. Lust does more than just commit adultery, it turns a person into an object, something to be used and discarded.

“Just looking through what Jesus says, committing adultery is not just having a sexual relationship with someone to whom you’re not married, but it’s even lusting after that person. It’s even desiring that person, looking at that person as an object, objectifying that person.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Unfortunately, there are still some, even in the Christian world, that still argue that viewing pornography is not committing adultery. Anne asked Tim why he thinks some people believe that way.

“We’re used to seeing sex as entertainment when we watch television and movies, where there’s something that’s very similar to pornography, that we’re watching for entertainment purposes. If you’ve immersed yourself in that, it’s not much of a step into just straight out getting rid of the movie and just watching the sexual component of it.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Lusting after someone leads to another sin being committed.

Lusting Leads To Greed, Pornography Encourages Greed

Lusting after someone who isn’t our spouse means we are wanting someone who isn’t “ours.” In fact, usually, a man is looking for multiple women in a single sitting. He’s trying to get more than he already has. He’s being greedy by wanting others to satisfy his selfish desires.

“According to Jesus’ standard, when your heart desires something—in that way you’ve given your heart to it, you’re allowing your heart to long for it—you’ve already committed that sin. Even if you haven’t gone all the way, you’re still guilty of transgressing that rule.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

In essence, when we lust after something, or someone else, we’re feeding the spirit of greed.

Tim says that when you’re lusting after another with greed, you’re also telling God that you’re dissatisfied with what He’s blessed you with.

“You’re also showing your discontentment with God. You’re criticizing God for not giving you someone or giving you something and you’re expressing this dissatisfaction in how God has related to you, as if He’s holding back blessings or that He would love you more if He gave you this person or this experience.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim explains that another aspect of pornography that has an element of greed is when a person becomes addicted to it.

“When people fall into pornography, initially, a small amount will satisfy, but they have to push themselves into darker stuff and into a greater quantity of stuff. If one moment of girls in bathing suits will satisfy you in year one by year five or ten, chances are, you need hours of it. You need darker and more depraved acts in order to feed the soul.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

As with most addictions, the first time sets the standard. Tim says the body starts to crave the same experience.

“You spend your whole life indulging in it to a deeper degree, trying to recover the shock, the electric feeling you had the first time, and it really is a cascading thing in that sense.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim also says that in 1Thessalonians 4, Paul warns the church against sexual sin.

“Now that you’re a Christian, you’re to abstain from sexual immorality. The positive side of that commandment is to control your own body in holiness and honor. As he talks about that, he warns that nobody should transgress or wrong his brother in this matter because the Lord is an avenger in all these things.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim explains that, in this context, the word “wrong” relates to greed or fraud. Essentially, Paul tells the church that this kind of sexual sin is fraudulent and taking something that isn’t theirs.

When it comes to pornography though, being fraudulent doesn’t just simply mean taking something that isn’t theirs, as in stealing a material item.

Lusting And Greed Lead To Lying About Pornography Use

Most women who’ve been betrayed and abused have experienced the type of fraud that Tim refer to: Lies.

Lying, deceit, manipulation, gaslighting

No matter what you call it, it’s taking something that isn’t theirs.

When someone lies, they take power away from the person being lied to. They take control of the situation.

People usually operate on what they know and, as Anne likes to say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

It’s difficult to make good, solid, clear-cut, decisions when you don’t have all the information.

For instance, the vast majority of pornography addicts DID NOT tell their girlfriend, then fiancé, then wife about their pornography addiction, or other acting out behaviors.

Most of them didn’t tell their wife for years.

They kept it hidden, taking away the opportunity for their wife to have equal power and control in the relationship, taking away her right to be in a relationship with someone who was 100% fully committed to her, and only her.

Another thing they are taking away is time, love and commitment.

“You’re not paying attention to the spouse you’re currently married to or giving her the attention that she deserves or giving her your fidelity or your loyalty. It’s both that you’re harming the person you’re lusting after, and you’re harming the person that you’re ignoring due to that lust.” -Anne, Founder at Betrayal Trauma Recovery

Tim says this is just one way that people who view pornography commit the sin of deceit and lying.

“When people omit this sin, they cover their tracks. That deceit can take different forms. That deceit can be covering up your behavior, so erasing your browser history or erasing Covenant Eyes, or whatever, in the hope that people won’t see it. It can also be failure to report the behavior.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim explains that as a Christian you can even be deceitful in your religious behavior. He expounds on the Lord’s Supper, or the sacrament. This is a ritual that Christians participate in every week that is meant to draw them closer to Christ.

During this time, they are supposed to reflect upon their behavior. They should be asking themselves if they are repentant or if there is anything that they are doing that doesn’t align with what God would have them do.

Tim says this is an opportunity for them to come clean, but if they don’t take it, they are being deceitful.

“If, week after week, I’m participating in the Lord’s Supper, I’m deceiving myself. I’m deceiving the people around me and, in a sense, I’m trying to deceive God in thinking that, ‘No, I’m dealing with this behavior,’ when I’m not. Ultimately, unrepentant sin like that can be proof that I’m not truly a Christian. I’m not truly saved, so self-deceit is a very, very dangerous thing to fall in to.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

This level of deceit and lying, unfortunately, happens too often with pornography addicts.

Pornography Is More Than Just Sex

Using pornography also offends the Holy Spirit, Tim says, because it’s a deep, sensitive sin.

“The Bible says that every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. There’s something innate to humanity that’s offended or that’s caught up in sexual sin in a way other sins, like theft or harming people, is not. Our sexuality is so close to who we are as human beings, it’s an essential part of our humanness.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim says the Spirit dwells within us and tries to keep us away from sin. If we ignore the Spirit often enough, he leaves us. He says that if we listen, we will be able to say, “No.”

“We’ve always got, through the Holy Spirit, what we need to say no to that sin and to do what’s right. Over time, when we give in to a sin like pornography again and again and again, we’re constantly shoving the Spirit away. We’re constantly saying, ‘No, we don’t want to take hold of what you’re offering us.’” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Like Anne, Tim doesn’t believe anyone is a hopeless case. Anyone can change.

Change and Forgiveness Are Possible For Pornography Addicts

As has been said many times, Anne and Betrayal Trauma Recovery believe that anyone can change, if they want to. Tim agrees.

“I want to say, clearly, that nobody is beyond forgiveness in this way and God is gracious and willing to forgive. We have to believe that, for all the eagerness we’ve ever felt toward sin, God is even more eager to extend forgiveness to us. I wouldn’t want any man to think that he has sinned beyond God’s forgiveness.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Tim emphasizes, however, that many Christians have the wrong idea about what forgiveness is and isn’t.

What Christians Often Get Wrong About Forgiveness

  • FORGIVENESS DOES NOT MEAN THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES
  • FORGIVENESS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN RIGHT AWAY

Forgiveness is possible. God is willing to forgive anyone who comes to Him, willing to change his heart for good. The change MUST come from within. No one else can do it for you.

“We work from the inside out, right. What we do simply reflects who we are on the inside. So, we’re to be changed or transformed from the inside out.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

As a Christian, Tim views the Ten Commandments as a guide for how one should live.

“All those ten laws are summarized into, ‘Live for the glory of God.’ To do that, you live for the good of other people.” -Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Anne and Tim both believe that people can change and forgiveness is possible.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery supports women of all faiths as they struggle to find safety and healing through the trauma caused by their husband’s betrayal and abuse. We do believe that people can change, if they choose to, but until they do, safety should be your first priority.

Center for Peace is not an addiction recovery program, but an abuse cessation program. Center for Peace helps men who are exhibiting abusive behaviors such as lying, manipulating, porn use, infidelity, soliciting prostitutes, and other abusive behaviors that are often seen at BTR.

Coach Joi, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coaching Coordinator, runs the program at Center for Peace. BTR works together with Center for Peace as support for the wives of men who are working the program. For more information on Center for Peace, please click here.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I’m really excited to have Tim Challies with me on today’s episode. He is a Christian and a husband to Aileen, and the father of 3 children aged 12-18. He worships and serves as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario where he primarily gives attention to mentoring and discipleship.

He is a book reviewer for World Magazine, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and has written 5 books including The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, The Next Story, Visual Theology, Do More Better, and the newest, A Visual Theology Guide To The Bible. He writes daily at www.challies.com.

Welcome, Tim.

I contacted Tim after I read one of his blog posts at challies.com and it was entitled, “8 Sins You Commit Whenever You Look at Porn.” I was so impressed with this, I just wanted him to come on the podcast to talk about how he came up with this article and some of the concepts that he teaches in the article.

Young Men Wanted Wives To Act Out Their Porn Fantasies With

One of the reasons I was extremely impressed with the article is that it said that men who use pornography are participating in sexual assault, which I couldn’t agree with more. Can you tell me why you came to that conclusion, Tim?

Tim: Sure. A little bit of background is, many years ago now, I had been talking to young men and starting to realize that as they were looking forward to life and looking forward to meeting somebody and marrying and settling into life.

As I started talking to them, and really hearing them, I realized that a lot of them, one of the real desires they had in getting married, was to find someone upon whom they could act out all the porn they had seen over the years.

Yes, they were looking for a wife, but they were really, in a sense, looking for someone they could act out porn with. That just showed me how much today’s young men have been immersed in pornography.

This was something new to me, as somebody who grew up before the internet, I didn’t have that kind of access to it from a young age, as so many people do today.

So, I started writing about the topic. This was at a time before there was a ton of books and podcasts on it, and other stuff, as there is now. I quickly saw that there is something intrinsically violent about pornography. There is something intrinsically violent about that kind of sexual transgression.

Really, I came to see, even more, that most of the people or many of the people, who are involved in making pornography are doing so against their will or they’re doing so because it’s their last option.

I’m sure you know that tons of the pornography in the world comes out of very impoverished countries, where people are taken advantage of or this is the only way they can earn some money. I realized that for us to look at pornography is then to participate in that violence.

The Bible Teaches That Pornography Is Lust

As you look at the Bible, you look at what it’s like to think as a Christian, and you see that God gave His law to us. The God who made us told us how to live in this world. He made us so He can tell us how to live. He can set the standards and set the rules.

We find early in the Bible the Ten Commandments. These commandments that govern human behavior. Both in our relationship to God and our relationship to other people.

As we continue to read the Bible, and Jesus comes, we find out what we should have known—and many people did know all along—which is that these ten laws, these ten rules, these ten words from God, they weren’t binary, as in, “As long as you don’t commit adultery, you’re fine.”

We realized that each one of these laws summarizes a much wider ethic. Jesus would say, “You have heard it said, you shall not commit adultery.” That’s what people have been told that’s what the law says.

Then He would say, “But I say to you, anyone who looks at another person lustfully is guilty of breaking that law.” He took the very defined and specific law and made it very broad. We can see that the very specific law was broadened.

It was meant to be that way, all along, to hold that standard of do not commit adultery. It’s not just to not fall into bed with somebody to whom you’re not married, but it’s to honor other people sexually. It’s to not think lustfully about them, and so on.

As we expand what’s meant by these laws, by this rule God gives us for life, we see that He expects very, very high standards of us. Then, if we participate in a sin that demands violence, we’re participating in that violence as well.

Anne: Absolutely. I think another thing that I have learned, and I’m so grateful for the commandments for this reason, is that they are not just for us as criteria as to whether or not we get into Heaven. For example, “If you commit adultery you won’t go to Heaven and, if you don’t, you will,” or something like that. I like how you said binary.

It is to make sure that in our time here on Earth, that we don’t harm other people. That we’re able to serve them in a way that does not harm them, and we make the world a better place. We make it more peaceful. We make it kinder. We make it like Heaven will be, but here now.

I don’t think a lot of people think of the commandments in that way because, if every single person in the entire world obeyed the commandments, the level of destruction and harm caused to other people would be completely eliminated—or mostly eliminated, because we all make mistakes, obviously—but the level of harm would be seriously and greatly reduced.

Tim: Sure, and you think about how Jesus summarized those laws. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. So, all those ten laws are summarized into, “Live for the glory of God.” To do that, you live for the good of other people.

If everyone on this Earth were living for the glory of God, so they want their behavior to shine a spotlight on God, how do they that? By only ever doing good to other people. Yes, you’d have a perfect world.

Anne: Yeah, which would be awesome. Let’s work toward that.

I recently did an episode about how porn use constitutes adultery and your article outlines why this is true. Why do you think some people discount porn as just entertainment?

Tim: Well, I think there are various ways we can get to that. For one, we’re used to seeing sex as entertainment when we watch television and movies, where there’s something that’s very similar to pornography, that we’re watching for entertainment purposes.

If you’ve immersed yourself in that, it’s not much of a step into just straight out getting rid of the movie and just watching the sexual component of it. That may be part of it.

Again, just looking through what Jesus says, committing adultery is not just having a sexual relationship with someone to whom you’re not married, but it’s even lusting after that person. It’s even desiring that person, looking at that person as an object, objectifying that person.

You do, according to Jesus’ standard, when your heart desires something—in that way you’ve given your heart to it, you’re allowing your heart to long for it—you’ve already committed that sin. Even if you haven’t gone all the way, you’re still guilty of transgressing that rule.

Jesus isn’t just interested in moderating our behavior as if we can have evil desires but as long as we restrain those desires, we’re good. No, we’re to be changed from the inside out so our desires are good and, therefore, our behavior is good.

We work from the inside out, right. What we do simply reflects who we are on the inside. So, we’re to be changed or transformed from the inside out.

Anne: Yeah, and I think that is so important because you’re not just sinning against the other person and lusting after them, but in so doing, because you have an active lust behavior happening, that also means that you’re omitting something on the other side.

You’re not paying attention to the spouse you’re currently married to or giving her the attention that she deserves or giving her your fidelity or your loyalty. It’s both that you’re harming the person you’re lusting after, and you’re harming the person that you’re ignoring due to that lust.

Tim: Right, and then you could go farther to say you’re also showing your discontentment with God. You’re criticizing God for not giving you someone or giving you something and you’re expressing this dissatisfaction in how God has related to you, as if He’s holding back blessings or that he would love you more if He gave you this person or this experience. I don’t think we can overestimate the depravity of human nature that’s displayed in this kind of sin.

Anne: Yeah, I agree with you. At Betrayal Trauma Recovery we call it abusive. We say this type of behavior, of pornography use, is abusive to your spouse. Some people have told me that’s too extreme and I tell them there’s no other word I can think of that shows the severity of this behavior.

It is so harmful that just to say, “Yeah, it’s not good or it hurts someone,” isn’t going far enough because it’s one of the most damaging behaviors that can happen within a marriage.

Tim: Yeah, and before I came on here, I had to spend some time thinking about that and I haven’t totally reached a conclusion yet. I certainly understand why you say it and I completely agree that, in many cases, pornography use is tied closely to abuse or is a form of abuse in its own way. I’m not sure I would go to the extent of saying all pornography use is abusive in every case, but I certainly understand what you’re getting at.

I’d want to distinguish between someone who sort of falls into it, this is a new thing they suddenly find themselves looking at it and their repentant and remorseful versus somebody who’s really just hardened in it and really enjoying this and doesn’t care what his wife thinks about it and all that.

Anne: From my point of view, I would say that every instance is abusive in and of itself. Whether or not the person is an abuser or is an abusive person would be: Do they know that it’s harmful and continue to engage in it, and, do they engage in all of, what I call, the comorbidity behaviors? Do they also lie? Do they also manipulate people in order to hide their behavior?

Pornography Users Become Deceitful

Let’s talk about that for a minute. Let’s talk about the deceit. You mentioned in your article that men commit the sin of deceit when they view porn. Tell me how you came to that conclusion?

Tim: Yeah, I think that’s just by being an accountability to some people and just watching other people’s behavior. I don’t want to flip around, but my wife, too, is involved with helping several women in this issue and the one thing we see again and again is deceit.

That when people omit this sin, they cover their tracks. That deceit can take different forms. That deceit can be covering up your behavior, so erasing your browser history or erasing Covenant Eyes, or whatever, in the hope that people won’t see it. It can also be failure to report the behavior.

When you’ve told someone, “You know, you’re going to help me through this. I’m enlisting you to help me and I really want to overcome this. I will tell you when I’ve fallen into this behavior.” Then you can deceive people by not telling them. It can be sort of active and passive in that sense.

Then there’s the deceit as even a Christian. The Lord’s Supper, this ongoing ritual that Christian’s participate in, that draws us closer to Christ. Before we take the Lord’s Supper we’re meant to examine ourselves to see, “Do I have any behavior in my life that is ongoing and unrepentant that should really alarm me, that I’m refusing in this area to conform my behavior to what God calls me to?”

If, week after week, I’m participating in the Lord’s Supper, I’m deceiving myself. I’m deceiving the people around me and, in a sense, I’m trying to deceive God in thinking that, “No, I’m dealing with this behavior,” when I’m not.

Ultimately, unrepentant sin like that can be proof that I’m not truly a Christian. I’m not truly saved, so self-deceit is a very, very dangerous thing to fall in to.

Anne: Yeah. Many, many of our clients at Betrayal Trauma Recovery, their husbands are participating in that level of deceit. That would be another reason why I use the word abuse, because its repeated deceit, repeated deception, repeated infidelity, which causes so many problems.

Tim: Yeah, and I think we’re all capable of distinguishing between, as I said earlier, that occasional—or I’ve met people who didn’t know—they were just young and immature and fell into it, versus the person who really is being deceptive and hiding it and his behavior is falling down into that comorbidity, as you said, I like that, you know falling into deeper and deeper behaviors.

Pornography Feeds The Spirit Of Greed

Anne: Yeah. Before your article, I hadn’t thought of porn use as a form of greed but that was on your list. Can you describe why porn use is selfish and exploitative in nature, feeding the spirit of greed?

Tim: Sure. I drew that from the Bible, as well, from 1 Thessalonians 4, where Paul is writing to a church. He’s really warning them about sexual immorality. He’s telling them of the importance, as a Christian, you become Christians and how do you behave. Now that you’re a Christian, you’re to abstain from sexual immorality.

The positive side of that commandment is to control your own body in holiness and honor. As he talks about that, he warns that nobody transgresses or wrong his brother in this matter because the Lord is an avenger in all these things.

When he uses that word “wrong,” that’s a word that is related to greed or fraud. He’s, essentially, saying that this kind of sexual sin, which pornography would fall under it, it’s a form of defrauding other people. It’s taking that from them, something that is not yours to have.

There is that aspect to the greed. but there is also the aspect that you can see that when people fall into pornography, initially a small amount will satisfy, but they have to push themselves into darker stuff and into a greater quantity of stuff. If one moment of girls in bathing suits will satisfy in year one by year five or ten, chances are, you need hours of it. You need darker and more depraved acts in order to feed the soul.

As you study the human brain and all these things, you understand why that is, that your body craves deeper and deeper of these chemical experiences. There’s a form of greed there too, in a sense it’s almost like overeating or overindulging in anything. It takes more and more and more to give you the same experience that you wanted.

If you talk to certain people who’ve been addicted to drugs or something, they may say that all their life they’ve been chasing that first high. That first time they experienced heroin, that it gave them some experience that they’ve always been trying to find again.

I think that pornography can be like that. You spend your whole life indulging in it to a deeper degree, trying to recover the shock, the electric feeling you had the first time, and it really is a cascading thing in that sense.

Pornography Offends The Holy Spirit

Anne: Yeah, we see that all the time, how it escalates. As a Christian, I feel like pornography leaves a void where the Spirit won’t go because the Spirit has boundaries. Some of my listeners aren’t religious, but for our Christian friends, why do you think the Spirit is so offended by pornography and why does it warn so strongly against it?

Tim: Well, there is a sense in which sexual sin is a particularly deep or sensitive kind of sin. The Bible says that every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. There’s something innate to humanity that’s offended or that’s caught up in sexual sin in a way other sins, like theft or harming people, is not.

Our sexuality is so close to who we are as human beings, it’s an essential part of our humanness. You can also see in that passage I was talking about earlier, 1 Thessalonians 4, that whoever disregards this—this warning against sexual sin—disregards not man, but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you. We’re told that the Holy Spirit is warning us about this sin.

As Christians, we believe we’re indwelled by the Holy Spirit. When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, His spirit lives within us, and the Spirit engages with us to warn us away from sin and to assure us that we can overcome temptation through His power, so we no longer have to sin. Sin is never inevitable.

We’ve always got, through the Holy Spirit, what we need to say no to that sin and to do what’s right. Over time, when we give in to a sin like pornography again and again and again, we’re constantly shoving the Spirit away. We’re constantly saying, “No, we don’t want to take hold of what you’re offering us.”

Eventually, it’s like the Spirit just kind of allows us to go. He just sort of hands us over to our sin. We read about that slide into sin in Romans Chapter 1. Yeah, the Holy Spirit can be offended, in that sense.

Anne: Ignoring or pushing the Spirit away continually is something that we see frequently with our client’s spouses. I think it’s really interesting because it’s not just with the sexual sin but it’s also with truth. Men who are engaging in this type of abusive behavior are continually refusing to be honest.

They have a fantasy world that they’ve created, where they’re a victim, perhaps of their wife’s lack of love or respect, or something, and, in this way, they’re refusing to stand in truth and take accountability for what they’ve done and for the damage that they’ve caused.

My belief is that through truth, and through standing in truth, that’s their only way out. That’s the only way that they’ll be able to make restitution and to have their hearts changed.

Pornography Users Can Be Forgiven

Tim: Well, I think we have to be very, very careful about pushing away the Spirit and discounting that presence within us that inflicts our conscience and warns us away. I think we have to guard against that hardening of spirit and be very, very concerned if we see it.

On the other hand, I want to say, clearly, that nobody is beyond forgiveness in this way and God is gracious and willing to forgive. We have to believe that, for all the eagerness we’ve ever felt toward sin, God is even more eager to extend forgiveness to us. I wouldn’t want any man to think that he has sinned beyond God’s forgiveness.

Anne: I agree with you. In fact, I think that’s one thing that kept me stuck in an abusive relationship for so long, was my belief in forgiveness.

I want to talk about that for just one minute, in that I was continually forgiving and so grateful for the Lord’s grace and His mercy, knowing that people can repent and looking forward to that, not knowing that I was being lied to and that my now ex’s “repentance” was just a façade and it was not actually true repentance.

That’s what we want to educate people about is what does true repentance actually look like and how does that differ from the façade of repentance, which can keep a woman stuck in the abuse cycle over and over again. How can we differentiate the two, to hold a perpetrator accountable so he actually can change and to keep women safe from infidelity and abuse?

I think that’s really important to make that distinction, because many women are manipulated through that line of reasoning. Their husband or ex would say, “Well, don’t you believe in Jesus?” or, “Don’t you believe in this?” when they haven’t actually changed, so they’re basically asking their wife to just tolerate abuse in the name of Jesus, which is very, very wrong.

We want to make sure women are educated about that, so they can be at the feet of Jesus and partake of His grace and goodness, in some cases, by way of having the Atonement cover the consequences of someone who is choosing not to repent, so that she can move on in peace and happiness, in any way that they need to.

Do you have thoughts about that?

Tim: Yeah, forgiveness does not preclude consequences. “I forgive you and we’re getting a divorce,” are not mutually exclusive things. You can forgive somebody, even while still saying this marriage is over. You have violated your vows within this marriage through committing adultery and, even while I forgive you, that’s not the same as saying I’m going to stay married to you.

That forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean the eradication of all consequences. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll go back to having a relationship again. The abused can’t necessarily maintain a relationship with the abuser, so there may not be that full reconciliation.

I think there still can be that “I’m choosing to forgive because that’s what God says to do and that’s good for me, but that doesn’t mean there still won’t be consequences, even very serious or dire consequences, for what you’ve done.”

I think Christians have often confused those things, where to say, “I forgive you” means, “Oh, and I’m not going to report this behavior to the police.” Or “I forgive you” means, “We have to stay married.” I want to distinguish between those things.

I also think we can be too quick to forgive, in the sense of we haven’t really seen remorse and repentance from that person. So, take the time and work that through, perhaps with counselors, pastors, or friends, and then to make sure that response of forgiveness is genuine.

Anne: From my experience, I was only able to truly forgive when I was safe from the abuse. My ex-husband continues to lie. He continues to manipulate people. He continues to think that he’s the victim in this scenario.

Because of that I have cut off all contact with him, and I look forward to the day where he can live in truth. When he does that, my heart will be very happy. But since that’s not the case now, I continue to hold that no contact boundary. That no contact boundary has also enabled me to have peace in my own heart and forgive him freely for where he currently is.

Currently, he’s in a space where he cannot live in truth, or refuses to, and I can forgive him for being like that. I can say, “Oh, I’m so sorry that you are living in this untruth. I forgive you, go your way. I wish you well, and I am safe.” That’s the difference between trust and forgiveness.

I can forgive him but, because he is not trustworthy, I don’t need to trust him, and I can set boundaries around his continued harmful behavior, which is what we teach people here at Betrayal Trauma Recovery. Get to safety, and then pray and hope that that person can make those changes, in order to be healthy enough or safe enough to interact with.

That is God’s goal. He also wants them to be able to have a healthy, peaceful relationship, but God is not asking us to live in chaos with someone who refuses to stand in truth, which is what amounts to what living with an active abuser looks like. It’s just utter chaos and it’s harmful to our souls.

Tim: Yeah, I guess I’d want us all to think about the value of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of what Jesus has done. She doesn’t live before this person as if he’s the one who judges her as if he’s the one who she has to please.

She lives before Jesus Christ. She’s been fully and finally accepted, and she can now live in peace and freedom. She’s not captive to this other person, this abuser. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just such, such good news.

Anne: I am so grateful for you coming on today’s episode and talking about the commandments. I have such a deep, deep love for God. I guess I should say gratitude for God for giving us these commandments that can help us be safe.

I do want to share that women in this situation, if they’re in a relationship with someone who is refusing to stand in truth and refusing to obey the commandments, you obeying the commandments yourself will bring so much power into your life.

As I have chosen to obey the commandments and so many other women in this situation have, I think that God enables us to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground. When we get across the Red Sea then we have to wander around the wilderness for a long time. It’s not an easy road but as we are obedient the Lord will bless us.

Thank you so much for coming on this episode today Tim.

Tim: You’re very welcome.

A Thank You From Anne

Anne: I realized recently that I haven’t said thank you to you for listening to this podcast. We’re over 330,000 downloads now. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you and to share the stories of so many other victims. It really is humbling to think that so many women are listening because I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, but I really appreciate your support.

This is the last episode in September. Hopefully, things are settling down for everyone with school being in session and getting back into a routine. This is when things really got bad for me. My ex was actually arrested September 18, 2015, so this time of year I think back on that—it’s been 4 years since that time—and how much my life has changed.

How I learned how to set boundaries through my experience, how I’ve met all of you, I started podcasting, and so many things have changed in the 4 years since that happened. My life is genuinely more peaceful and happier. Now I’m focusing on self-care, and I’m focusing on my children, and life feels really good. I have a lot of hope for the future.

If you thought that things would get better and it’s not getting better, please reach out for help. Our Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is the best group in the world with the most amazing women and the most amazing coaches.

We’re always adjusting, for example, we did not have a policy against swearing in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group before. We just figured people could just express how they would like to, but some of the women were feeling unsafe about the language so we made a policy for that.

The cool thing about our group is that we’re always adjusting based on client feedback. Your safety is our top priority and we want to make sure that everyone feels safe and they feel like they belong. Please check out the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group schedule. We’re always adding more sessions so check it frequently because it’s updated often.

Individual session-wise, I still am going to Coach Peggy for meditation sessions. I highly recommend it. For me, it’s the only thing that really helps me at this point because talking isn’t really super helpful. I’m meditating more frequently, attending Yoga, and I’m also trying to cultivate more gratitude and a positive attitude, which is hard when you go through this.

Those who’ve listened to this podcast for a long time you’ve probably heard me, I wouldn’t say negative, but just really living in reality. My reality was sad, and it was dark and hard things had happened.

I’m so excited to be at the point now where my reality is that in being positive or looking on the bright side that I’m not denying that something terrible is happening. I’ve fashioned my life and the boundaries that I have, to be able to have a positive and healthy life, and so can you.

We invite you to join the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. Our professional coaches really get it, and you will talk to them in person and you will see their face and get to know them. I made a conscious choice to never have a video module that you watch and fill out a worksheet or texting where you’re not really actually talking to a real person because isolation is one of the number one reasons that women are having a hard time or they’re not making healthy choices to set boundaries.

That’s what sets Betrayal Trauma Recovery apart from other organizations. It’s daily and frequent, up to 4 group sessions a day, for Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. We have a free forum on Facebook. We have individual sessions that you can go to as frequently as you’d like, and all of it is live.

I’m really proud of what we’ve built here. We have so many women that have come together that make BTR possible. Virginia on social media and digital education, Coach Joi, and—I could name about 20 women who put their heart and soul into BTR. If you’re interested in being a social media volunteer or helping out in any way, please contact us. Go to our Contact page on our site btr.org.

This podcast is brought to you by your recurring donations, so please go to BTR.org, scroll down to the bottom, and set your monthly recurring donation today. Thank you to those of you who have already done it, and if you haven’t yet please do so that I can continue to spread this message of hope and peace to women throughout the world.

Also, a big thank you to women who have rated this podcast on iTunes or other podcasting apps. Every single rating helps women find us.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

Translate »
9 Steps Checklist

The checklist we wish EVERY WOMAN experiencing betrayal trauma had

Subscribe to download the printable 9-step checklist with ACTIONABLE steps you can take TODAY.

Check your inbox for the checklist from Anne from Betrayal Trauma Recovery. We know this checklist can change your life, just like it's changed the lives of thousands of other women!