I often have conversations with women who seem perplexed when I tell them the ministry of Unveil is not just for men but women too. When we talk about lust, they usually talk about their boyfriend, fiancé, or husband who is struggling with pornography, masturbation or adultery. To consider going through our material for themselves makes no sense because they don’t have the same problems as the man in their life. “He needs this, not me, right!?”
My husband and I started dating in high school. We still face challenges with lust, but the victory in our lives is huge, and I want to share about our healing process for the sake of encouraging you. We both saw dramatic results when we changed how we look at the core problem–lust.
In our case, when I learned of my husband’s struggles with lust, I usually reacted with an outburst followed by shutting down emotionally. Then I quickly sifted into “fix it” mode. I had all these great ideas to help him: plant a beautifully framed picture of myself next to the computer, go to the nearest Christian bookstore to read self-help books and even carefully suggest a few to him. I thought about encouraging him to get an accountability partner, surfing the web for the most efficient content filter or throwing the TV out the window.
As time went by, I did what many of us do who share this struggle. I fearfully asked questions to see if he “did it again” or just manipulated the conversation to see if I could coax an answer out of him. Essentially I wound up feeling powerless, frustrated, defeated, cheated and hopeless. And so did he. We were stuck. Can you relate?
Many of us have been there with the man in our life. The pain is deep and feels earth shaking–sometimes all we can think about is how to help him stop. So we do what women often do–we try to control the problem. What I want to challenge you to do is look at “the problem” differently.
The Christian man in our life is in a spiritual battle. He is under great attack all the time, just as we are. When he faces sexual temptation and sin, it is an attack aimed to defeat both him and us. During these painful times, we have to know who our true enemy is (Ephesians 6:12) and what his goals are. He desires to poison our relationships with shame, hopelessness, defeat, darkness, division, deception, and despair. In his crafty attempts to destroy us, one of the best things he can do is attack our boyfriend, fiancé, or husband in ways that would undermine the power and strength of his manhood, leadership and childlike faith.
While attacking our man, the enemy is also working hard to thwart our confidence as women–our purpose, desirability, beauty and gentleness. The enemy’s goal is to use lust in our man’s life to bring defeat to both of us. And what happens then? Division. In the eyes of the evil one, that is the perfect outcome!
When the man you love, believe in and desire is struggling with these things, it’s important to remember the main problem is not the pornography, masturbation or whatever the symptoms are. The main problem is ALWAYS the thoughts he his having before, during and after and the lies he is choosing to believe.
As we face the effects of lust, we are not abnormal when we hurt. It is painful, and there is reason to grieve. It hurts to know he was looking at other images besides you. What actually hurts more (the real problem in us) are the thoughts that come to mind about ourselves: You are not enough; not pretty enough, skinny enough, sexy enough, fun enough, loveable enough, etc. Then we go to him and compound the problem by asking a question like, “Am I not attractive or desirable enough to you?” Here’s the deal–the actual problem isn’t about us, and it isn’t even about him. Misunderstanding this only produces more shame and confusion.
As women, the most helpful thing we can do in these times is speak the truth of their identity in Christ as well as our own (as the first chapter of Unveil teaches–our identity does not come from what we have done but rather what Jesus has done for us). We must deal with our own emotions in a productive way so we can see the real problem and fight for each other.
As for the lies we are faced with, we have to recognize the truth that we are perfectly adored, beautiful, desired, acceptable and chosen by our first love–our Creator. We have to choose to believe the truth no matter the circumstances around us. So when you discover your man responding to lust, you have one of two choices. You believe the lies coming at you about your worth, beauty and desirability and respond with disgust, shaming comments, defeat, withdrawal and punishment; or you take a moment by yourself with God to submit your thoughts and emotions to Him, renounce the lies in Jesus’ name and make the choice to believe the truth about yourself and you man. Then you are better able to see the real problem (the spiritual opposition and lies) and fight against them with him.
My husband and I have had quite the journey together, but when he went through Dangerous Men in college, freedom began to be something he understood and fought for. I realized my “great ideas” weren’t helping–in fact I was making things more challenging for him and our relationship. I had a lot of pain and confusion of my own to deal with. I went through Unveil and the Steps to Freedom and the spiritual battle at hand became glaringly obvious to me. I was able to see the affects of the sin of lust not only in his life, but also in mine.
We still face painful times now and then, and I don’t always respond well, nor does he. But here is an example of a really productive process for us: Somehow I will find out he bought into lustful temptation. He will share with me what happened, and I will pause for a moment, hearing all the lies tempting me, yet choosing not to believe them. I pull him into my arms and tell him I love him–that he is perfect to me, and I know who he is, who he belongs to and that this had NOTHING to do with him, but everything to do with who his enemy is. Now it’s his choice whether he chooses to believe that or not.
It isn’t always so eloquent, but it goes something like that. If he hasn’t already, I encourage him to call a friend he is accountable with and talk through the details. If it is true that WHAT he did isn’t the problem, then I don’t need to concern myself with the details (which in times past I wanted to know, so I could have more control). I know what the problem is–his freedom as God’s boy was attacked by our enemy. I want to intercede for him and encourage him. I want him and his accountability/fighting partners to work through the details and the rest of the healing process. I have to trust that. If I take it all into my own hands, I will be a ragged, controlling mess.
Let’s get back to us as women. Like our men, we need to learn about the spiritual battle at work against us, so we’re free to experience the perfection of sexuality and love. It starts with us reframing how we think about our identity, sexuality and temptations. We need to fight TOGETHER and not be divided by lies and deception. We must intercede for the man in our life, remembering he is God’s boy–he is one dangerous man and that’s good!
We can be part of our man’s road to truth, healing and freedom, or we can be part of the shameful force keeping him feeling defeated and silent. Let’s live from our hearts where we actually believe what God says about us. Then we can add HIS strength in us to this battle. It’s a fun process, so let’s armor up and learn how to fight together! For our struggle is not against flesh and blood (our husbands) but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
— Jamie Book