sunday june 28, 2009
Forgive or Forget Him
This question is probably not one you are used to. If I thought I could find the answer in a relationship book I would have already because I've read like 30 Christian relationship books so this one is not typical. I have lived a pure life for the past 4 years, never has sex and gave that area of my life completely to God 4 years ago when I was 17. I changed from reading romance novels and watching chick flicks to eliminating most movies and reading Christian relationship books instead. I wanted to know Gods way and follow it. Upon God's constant peace and leading I began a relationship with a Christian young man 3 months ago and recently he confessed that he struggled with pornography from middle school until the end of freshmen year in college (2 years ago). I want so badly to forgive him and move on but I know for a fact that these images will forever be in his mind and that he is obviously very weak to this temptation. I also know that the greatest amounts of porn sold are often pastor’s conventions and plague my generation 10 fold. I was content with finding my all in the Lord and now I feel tempted to break it off because I'm scared to death to marry someone who is so vulnerable to porn. I don't even want him to ever see me naked knowing the standard I'm up against. What happens when I've had 3 children and my body is no longer desirable? Do men just not understand how deeply their decision to fill their head with this garbage effects us women? Do they know that it doesn't just hurt them it kills their future wives and makes them feel like nothing more than sex objects? Why is it even the Christian men are no different? Do any of them live faithful? What's even worse is that I have prayed so much for my future husband’s purity, especially that year when my boyfriend struggled with it the most. Did God not hear my prayers!? Or should I take this as a sign that my boyfriend is not my future husband even though I have felt God lead and wants me to stay in this relationship? Am I just unforgiving? I am mad. I'm mad he gave into sin and I am even more mad that it has made me question God's faithfulness to answer my prayers? Why didn't he intervene or protect him?
Please, as a Christian woman who married a man who struggled with this, help!
-a frustrated girl
Hi, my friend! I am sorry you are frustrated. I want to encourage you to let God’s peace rule your heart; the defining word being “let”. You have a choice to let God’s peace rule your life. Isn’t that incredible? Behind curtain number 1:peace. Behind curtain number 2: frustration and anger. Which one will you choose? God’s word brings peace. It’s not magic. It’s truth. What we choose to do with that truth makes all the difference. You with me? I want to share truth with you that will help you embrace the peace God has waiting for you. Please know I am not the answer to all your concerns. God is. It is on His Word that I rely for this letter to you. And it is to His Word I hope you will turn when you evaluate all I am going to say to you. Please consider His Word most carefully. God’s Word cannot fail.
I am so excited to hear about your passion for God. That you gave your life to Him is precious, and powerful, and exciting. There is so much in store for you in Christ! You are a beautiful, multifaceted creation of God. Your relationship to one man for the rest of your life is only one potential aspect of your total being. Don’t limit yourself to see only one part of all you are. You’ve read a lot of Christian books on relationships. There’s so much more to know of God! So much to realize about His purpose for your life. Check out the Proverbs 31 woman. She had much to do about town, and her dealings extended far beyond that of her relationship to her husband. We have so much to learn about God! Move on in your studies, sweet girl! Peace Making Women (by Barthel and Dabler) is a great book. If you like to be intellectually stimulated, any book by Lee Strobel, C.S. Lewis and Erwin McManus are a few authors worth checking out. Kay Arthur has a lot of books that will help unlock God’s Word for you. I love her studies. I think you might, too. Read on!
Now, let’s talk about your concerns with your boyfriend. He is a believer in Christ and he has confessed to you his past struggle with pornography. Guess what. His struggle– although past – is going to continue. How’s that for truth? However, his struggle now will look very different than it did then. He is probably walking in victory now – at least I hope he is, but he is still probably battling the temptation that pornography offers in this day and age. Maybe not every day, and maybe not to a difficult degree – but the struggle is still probably very real at times.
Consider with me your own sin nature. You still sin, right? You probably feel the temptation before you commit the sin, correct? Do you have victory over past sins – like gossip for example? I don't know you personally or if this is or has been an issue in your life, but let's use it for the sake of an easy example. This could have been a constant source of sin in your life once upon a time, and now because you have grown in your relationship with God – it isn’t. You might feel an urge to gossip every now and then, but you work through it with God’s Word in your mind and heart. And maybe you have shared this struggle with a friend who prays for you and with you, and may hold you accountable by asking you how you are doing in your walk with God from time to time. Sin is sin. Although the consequences and specifics are different - it's all vomit to God. It all makes Him sick. So consider that your sin, like your boyfriend's, can be forgiven, overcome, and help bring glory to God as He changes you. Does that make sense?
Back to your boyfriend. The temptation to look at pornography can be a very difficult struggle. True, some may struggle with this temptation more than others, not all men are wired the same way. That’s absolutely true. But the fact is that the man in your life – in my life – is wired that way. What are you and I going to do about it? You may choose to walk away from your boyfriend entirely. But you may find yourself in the same situation again. So, here's my thinking as influenced by God's Word. The man in my life is my husband, so that's slightly different from your situation, but there are some similarities for you to consider. He is flesh and blood. He has a sin nature. (It comes with his skin.) HOWEVER -He loves God. He made a defining choice to turn from his sin - (turn from idols) and serve God (I Thess. 1:9). Do you see this with your boyfriend? If the men in our life want to live for God, then their commitment to God is evident. My friend, I see evidence of my husband's love for God all over his life - consistently. I choose to love and forgive, and encourage the man in my life with God’s Word – God’s love, and not hold his past against him in any way, any shape, any form. We grow together in Christ, and not apart. His past is triumphed and overshadowed by the Spirit of God that indwells him. This is clear and real to me every single day (II Corin. 4). Can you say this of your boyfriend? Your answer to that question is critical to the future of your relationship.
Consider this, sweet one: Jesus never said that we would not be tempted if we followed Him. You won’t find that anywhere. Look up temptation in the concordance of your Bible and see what you find. You’ll be amazed. Jesus himself was tempted in every way we are tempted. Crazy, huh? God facing temptation? The key difference is He did not succumb to it. And in the book of James we read if we resist the devil – as Jesus did time and again by using the Word of God – the devil will flee from us (James 4:7). Victory is ours daily with one critical element: choice. As believers we aren’t temptation free – we are free to choose Christ. Your boyfriend, sweet one, is going to be tempted. You are still tempted to sin, aren’t you? Maybe pornography does not taunt you, but something does. And for both of you – however you are wired in your flesh, you both have a choice. What are you going to do in the midst of that temptation? That he told you he struggled with it is very cool to me. He is laying it out on the table – to be held accountable and to be prayed for in his struggle. I respect that. Trust and accountability are two critical relationship elements. I’m sure you have read that in your studies. Confessing our sins to each other is an amazing gift to help us heal from those sins (James 5:16). He probably doesn’t tell everybody about this – but he chose to tell you. What you do with that information is very defining for both of you in your relationship. Did you hear him out about the other things he has done to rid himself of this sin? Has he told a close guy friend to help keep him accountable? Has he put a block on his computer? Has he put his computer in a place where he is not alone somewhere? Whatever measures he has taken to keep his life free from sin are to be respected.
You made some very strong statements in your email. I’m not sure about pastors' conventions that sell porn; I’ve never been to any myself, but I do know pornography is readily available and it’s a fight for godly men to avoid it. Please pray for godly men in our nation! Please pray for our pastors (II Ch. 7:14)! Specific to your boyfriend, you said, “I know those images will be forever in his mind and that he is obviously very weak to this temptation.” Sweet one, God is a healer, and in Him we are strong. I believe this. I live this truth daily. The images locked in my mind from my past could prevail if it were not for God’s Word that has washed over me and changed my life – my husband’s life. Psalm 119! True I could recall them at any given moment, but because of the love of Christ – I choose not to. And He – His love has made all the difference. God forgives, blesses, redeems, restores, washes, heals, and empowers us to live out of purity, grace, and truth. I could go on and on about the value of God’s Word in my life and how it has changed me and my husband. We withstand the temptations that the enemy seeks to destroy us with because of God and our love for Him, and second to that our love for one another. Kemper’s love for God is what makes Him love me beautifully. My love for God is what teaches me to love and honor my husband. I cannot stress this enough. If you are in a relationship with a man who loves God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength, and you are a woman who loves God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, then you do not need to fear what will become of a potential marriage. Individually you will grow in Christ – and together you will grow strong in Christ, and your marriage will be blessed.
Forgiveness is hard, but it is worth it. I most certainly do not want you to be ignorant of what could be an ongoing sin – and please hear me– I said sin – which is the act – not the temptation. Be sure – if you remain with him – that has made every effort to rid himself of circumstances that might foster this temptation, and that he has some good Christian guy friends that are living for God with him. You should see evidence of his love for God consistently in his life. Any inconsistencies are worth noting and talking about together. Be wise. Be slow to anger (James 1:19); balance your inquiries with love, patience and grace. In other words, don’t disrespect him. But, yes, my friend – if you really love this guy, yes, you need to forgive him. You need to love him authentically and that means offering him complete forgiveness. If you can’t forgive him, then love him enough to let him go so that he might have the opportunity to experience this kind of love from someone who can offer it. Because, ultimately – I believe someone will. Will you go to your Bible concordance, look up the word forgive or forgiveness, and take some time with God to study those passages? I think you will be encouraged about what God has to say with regard to forgiving others.
Purity is a beautiful thing to pray for concerning your future spouse. I want to encourage you, sweet one, God has heard your prayers and protected your future mate completely. He died for his sins past, present, and future – just as he died for yours. The young man you are dating is pure – as you are pure. Your boyfriend made a choice that has hurt you, and for that he is seeking your forgiveness. But please consider this – his sin is against God and, dear one you are not above God who forgave Him already even in the midst of his sin. Continue to pray for him – that he will live a life worthy of the Lord; – Colossians 1:9-11. Prayer is powerful. Our God is faithful, and able, and He will accomplish His good and perfect will.
posted by laura lewis