Marriage Won't Fix a Sin Problem
Can marriage cure a lustful heart? Many may think it can, but only the Lord can change a man’s heart. Couples considering marriage should seek to be overcoming in their walk with the Lord before committing to marriage.
Pure Life Ministries co-founder and former Director of Women’s Counseling Kathy Gallagher shares with Jim Lewis practical insight about the problem of pornography and if marriage can cure a lustful heart.
We recently received an e-mail here at Purity for Life from a young woman who wants to know, should I move forward in my engagement with my fiancé now that I have discovered he has an issue with pornography? How would you answer that question?
I would answer that question by saying you probably should wait. I definitely would not marry a guy who is struggling with pornography, because getting married is not going to make that problem go away. A lot of people think it would. A lot of people believe that getting married is the answer to their lust, their fantasy life, to their passions for each other. But marriage (temporarily) may calm that down some, but the issue is not marriage. Getting married will not change a heart, and that is what lust is: a heart issue. It's a sin issue, so yeah, I definitely would tell this young woman, or any woman for that matter, who's contemplating getting married, if a man is struggling with pornography, it's better to wait, definitely better to wait.
Kathy, so many times we see this in the men who come to Pure Life. They sincerely believed that when they got married, this problem with porn would just go away. And we also see women who knew of their husbands’ issue before they got married, but she believed the same thing: when we get married, he'll get better. What would you say to the engaged couple to warn them?
I would definitely be dealing with them looking at each other as the answer to their passions. You know, there is the side to people that love each other, and they want to be together and obviously the union the sexual union is a tremendous thing for a couple, when they get together. I don't want to discount that or minimize the power of that connection that a man and a woman have together.
But for a guy who's struggling with pornography, and that's been his “go to” to satisfy the lust that's in his heart, and that's the issue, it's a lust issue, it's not just a physical build up, it's that, but it's lust, and if he's been giving over to that, that has been his way of life, he may find that marriage is disappointing. Because what happens with pornography and what happens in person are very different.
And men tend to be very visual, and it just does not play out the same way in married life. If you've been corrupted by pornography you don't see things right; you don't think right about sex, and so for a woman to marry into that corrupted thinking, she's asking for trouble.
She's asking for problems, she's asking for heartbreak, because he needs to go through a period of some serious counseling and some serious repentance and getting his heart and his mind right, and bringing his body under control of the Holy Spirit before he goes into marriage instead of thinking “if I marry, if we get married right away, then I won't have to deal with this anymore.” That is a lie. You will still deal with it because it's in your heart. It's a heart issue, and that's what has to be dealt with.
So you absolutely believe that this man needs help. He needs to get help. He can't handle this on his own. Would you also recommend that the woman get help and counsel as well?
Absolutely! Yes, she needs help. She needs to know what she's stepping into and go into it with her eyes open. Now any woman that understands the power of addiction, sexual sin in particular, pornography specifically, and she has studied it, researched, learned about it, even been to counseling, and then decides to go into it, then you know, yeah, what are you going to say? I can just tell you from a lot of experience, personal and just counseling for decades, women who have done that, who have gone into it with kind of a Pollyanna sort of a rose-colored glasses mentality about that, that I am going to be enough for him -- I had the same thought. I really did believe that it wasn't before I got married, but I, after Steve and I were married, and all this stuff came out, I really thought that if I did certain things, that he would see how amazing I am, and that I could satisfy all his desires. That was such a lie and such a … I was in so much denial and didn't want to face the truth or the reality of what he was in and what he was dealing with, and so, yeah, I highly recommend getting into counseling with people who know what they're talking about when it comes to sexual sin. Not just go to some psychotherapist and whatever, but people who have really been down the road and understand what sexual sin is and how it should be dealt with in a biblical way, because you're not going to be able -- you're not enough. I hate to say that but it's true, you are not enough to keep him from wanting to go back to that place where is very comfortable and very soothing to go back into the pit of pornography.
We have to believe that this is a Christian woman writing us to ask this question and probably a church member. How important is it to bring this issue into the light with spiritual authority to take this issue to the pastor who may not know, and allow him to guide them and give them his counsel?
Yeah, definitely the thing to do. They should both humble themselves. They both would have to, especially the man, requires a great deal of humility or humbling yourself to get to go to somebody, a spiritual leader, especially someone that you probably want to impress and acknowledge and be real with and open about. And the woman as well, needs to -- it's humiliating for her as well. So they need to come together in that sense and go before a spiritual leader. But I would say this: it is so important to understand the heart of your pastor and what kind of counseling are you going to get, because there's a lot of people who are spiritual leaders, not all for sure, but there are spiritual leaders who would say, who believe that if you got married, the whole thing will just blow over, and it's just not the case. I've been doing this for too long and it's really important for both of you to get good solid Biblical counseling from godly people who know what they're talking about.
Let's take a best case scenario, and say that this young man gets counseling that his fiancée gets counseling as well. He is overcoming his sexual sin, he's walking it out. Is there a rule of thumb? How long should they wait before they finally get married?
Well, that's kind of a hard thing to say, because it really does depend on him. How well is he actually doing? How, you know, all of that… I guess for me, and I tend to be on the cautious side, I would say give it a year. I know that sounds like an eternity for young people, but believe me, you both will not regret waiting, praying, and walking in the victory. If that's what you have, if you are, overcoming is a better word, I don't like the word victory, if you are overcoming, if you're an overcoming believer, and you're doing that for a good solid year, I would say then you're both more prepared for the future, and yeah, to be a married, to be a one unit. I’m calling it a one-unit couple, you become one at marriage, then you'll be much more prepared for that relationship if you wait, the longer you wait.
Well this has been an important conversation and I want to thank you for your counsel and for being here with us today.
This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “Should I Marry a Guy Struggling with Porn?” Episode #352.
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