Feedback From A Reader: Hurtful Experiences at Church

Feedback from Readers

Today I am going to respond to some questions left on the Feedback From Readers Page.

This was the comment that one reader left:

I just found this website and I am SO BLESSED and thankful already and I have only spent a short time reading some of the entries and comments.
Is there any information on here about how to find SAFE PEOPLE at CHURCH? My husband and I were New Believers who joined a Small Group and most of the couples in the group were dealing with addiction by showing the men GRACE. I was incredibly frustrated and was given messages such as… “Just love your husband”… “Be the face of Christ”… “That’s his problem to deal with”… “I don’t ask him about that”, and my favorite… “We’re not going to deal with the Pornography Addiction when the real problem is the marriage”.
It was a large church so we went to the Area Director, Small Groups Pastor, and then a Lead Pastor. At every level we were met with invalidation, told our EXPECTATIONS were too high, and that the Small Group Leader and Group was SAFE. That it just wasn’t a good fit for us. I became the scapegoat really. I was in such a vulnerable place at the time that I started to believe that maybe I was the problem. It was awful and I was deeply hurt, and fought depression, extreme social anxiety, and a host of health issues. I felt unloved and unsafe in my marriage, in my family of origin, and the final blow… I felt unsafe at church.
It took 2 years to get back on my feet. When I say get back on my feet I mean I struggled to get out of bed, leave the house, and function without flashback and triggered thoughts pulling me under. It was scary. I thought I was going crazy. Depression medication barely made a dent. I was spiritually crushed. I had a lot of past stuff hitting at the same time, so there was a lot to sort through. I was hanging on by a thread, but the Lord didn’t let go of me.

I see a lot of recommendations on this website and others to contact a counselor or PASTOR… but when we did look to our church leaders… they did more harm than good. The leaders and pastors were not at all equipped or trained to handle addiction. It really set us both back.

How do we move forward after being “de-churched”? What do we need to look for moving forward, what are some questions we can ask?

I would first like to say that I think most people are very quiet on the issue of pornography in marriage. This is especially true in the “Christian” population. Many husbands and wives are afraid to bring up these problems in the church. Moreover, some marriages think the church is the last place they would go to for help with this. I truly believe that pornography in Christian marriages is a silent sin. It is something that no one wants to talk about and no one wants to confess. However, marriages are suffering. Because of this silence, people are alone and trapped.

Experiences like the one above can be very common. This is one of the main reasons that I started this website. When I first found out that my husband was viewing pornography, I felt very alone. I truly felt like I had no where to go. We weren’t going to a church at the time. My husband was trapped in many other sins and was very far from God. So, it was awhile before we even started going to church again. We also felt that there wasn’t anyone in our life that we could trust to help us with this. We didn’t know any Godly marriage that had been through what we were going through. Additionally, I searched the whole internet for something that was a community for wives who were hurting from this. I could not find anything. That is why God led me to start this site.

Once I started this site, I understood even more how alone many women feel. Many have told me that they have no one they can tell about this. I find this sad. But, I understand.

I always do try to recommend couples to see a counselor or pastor, but the reality of that is that often this does not solve all that someone is going through. My husband and I did go to counseling for awhile. It really did not help us. I think this is because the counselor did not have specific training and experience in sexual sins in marriage. Therefore, I think it is essential that when you do decide to go to a pastor or a counselor, you try to find one that has had a lot of experience in this area.

As for the questions that this reader has asked, I believe there are many people who teach wives to just show their husbands grace and to love them more. This does not solve the problem and it isn’t biblical. I had believed that for ten years of marriage. You can read more about that here. But, that belief never helped my husband turn away from sin.

One of the most important things that helped my husband to turn from sin was setting boundaries. Most of the books that I recommend encourage these ideas in marriage. We actually found more healing in excellent books than from any person. The devotional Draw Close is a wonderful way to guide your marriage towards following God.

We must be careful with whom we choose to share the intimate details of our marriage and then rely on for help. This should be done wisely because, as this reader experienced, a lot more hurt can be done to the marriage. Ideally, it can be most helpful to grow from a Godly couple that has been through this and has rebuilt their marriage.

It is just a sad fact that most churches are very quiet about this. Based on surveys that show the amount of Godly marriages that are suffering from pornography, this should not be ignored by the church.

For this reader, I suggest that she can ask any future church what their experience is when dealing with sexual sin in marriage. How do you guide the husband and wife to restoration? What are your beliefs about boundaries? Do you have accountability groups for men and women?

I pray for the silence on this sin to be broken. Satan has a grip on keeping marriages trapped in the devastation of pornography instead of being restored. Let us grow together as women who have been through this in our marriages. Let us take a stand that we will follow God in our marriages to help our husbands break free from lust. We must pray that God would take away our pain and guide us each day so that we can become stronger and help other women who are also trapped in silence. We can grow as a community so that marriages can find the help they need from God. I thank each one of you that follow this site. I thank you for your prayers. Please know that I am praying for all of you. God bless each one of you. 

Do you have some suggestions to offer this wife? Have you ever been in this situation with a church or counselor? Please leave your thoughts and advice below. 

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One thought on “Feedback From A Reader: Hurtful Experiences at Church

  1. I talked to church leaders, but what helped me most was talking to a Christian counselor who had specifically studied pornography and the effects it has on marriages. It is something that is not understood by a lot of people. I also think it helps to look at the way Christ handled those who sinned. He always forgave, but He encouraged them over and over to “sin no more.” It is not loving or merciful to simple let our husbands continue to sin. We do love them, even with all they are doing, but that does not mean we simply ignore what they are doing.

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