My husband is a good man who is trying to change. Yes, that change is happening slower than I would like (patience has never been my virtue) but day by day he learns and applies a few more recovery tools to his life.
Recently we read a blog post from a young man who thought he understood addiction and who thought he should write about it. The problem is that this young man didn’t know the first thing about addiction. It would be like me writing blog posts about repairing car engines, which I know nothing about, but I have listened to my Dad and brother talk about cars, so there, now I am qualified to tell you how to fix your broken down car.
My husband decided to send this young blogger a letter, trying to help him understand what pornography addiction really is like. I post my husband’s words here:
Mr So-and So, I read your post yesterday and the comments posted primarily by betrayed spouses who presented some perspectives that you perhaps hadn’t considered. I was disappointed to see you decided to curtail the dialog and issue a personal edict of judgment that we just need to forgive and move on.
The “porn pandemic” you allude to in your postscript reply is not caused by betrayed wives/women choosing to continue living with addicts trying through Christ’s atonement to repent and be forgiven. The pandemic is the result of poor choices made by men (and women), often as children, that seriously impairs their ability to make good choices later in life.
If the problem were just viewing porn (which is terrible enough), then perhaps some of the things you say would be true. But no porn addict ever just watches porn; they masturbate, they fantasize, they objectify, they lust, they lie, they cover their sins, they fornicate, they are adulterers, they demean and belittle, they are abusers (physically and emotionally). I could go on and on. All of these are things are carnal, sensual, and devilish and would certainly disqualify such an unchaste man (viewing pornography is a violation of the law of chastity in my book) from the ability to associate with or marry a virtuous woman.
I am not aware of one person who ever shamed me because of my addiction. No one knew about my addiction because, as an addict, I didn’t reach out for help. When I was forced to face the facts I found nothing but compassion and understanding from those in the church and from family and friends. My shame was self-inflicted and caused me to isolate myself from others. I was doing things I knew were wrong and didn’t want to be a disappointment. Shame is from the devil and rarely originates from others – in or out of the church. Godly sorrow for sins is very different and leads to repentance.
I have not felt judged other than by my Father in Heaven and his appointed servants. That judgment has always been filled with mercy and has definitely erred on the side of giving me hope and the blessings of the gospel. My wife, parents, and others have shown nothing but love. The men I meet with every week in 12-step meetings are some of the most humble, merciful people I have ever met. Believe me there is no judgment in those meetings and those held in LDS chapels the world over are staffed by LDS service missionaries who show nothing but the love of God.
Forgiveness is a very difficult issue. I know my wife has forgiven me for all the addict behavior, but that doesn’t mean that she trusts me. I have come to the realization that forgiveness and trust are very different things and are not intertwined. Mosiah chose to change the government of the Nephite nation because his once-apostate son Aaron was selected to be the next king. Mosiah said “And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.” (Mosiah 29:9). Did Mosiah trust his now repentant son who was serving a mission to the Lamanites? The answer is no and neither should my wife. We have established very clear boundaries that I helped establish for her safety and my own. My choices have consequences and there are things that others can do that I simply cannot if I want to remain clean. Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehis I have had to bury my personal “weapons of war” so that I do not return to my addiction.
I am an addict in recovery. I am a son of God trying to prove myself worthy of returning to His presence through Christ’s atonement. I am a husband who is trying to be the person I always acted like I was. I am a father whose children know of my addiction and may learn more personally the effects of sin and the reality of God’s grace and mercy because they are witnessing my transformation.
Well said, hubby.