Question:

I have a wonderful wife and family. I have been happily married, and we wonderful children. Our life is great.

However, I have let sin into my life. I started looking a porn about a year ago and thought nothing of it. However, it has crept in, and I think I have a problem.

The other night I paid one of those online video sites to have video sex with a stranger. Unfortunately, I had been drinking so my guard was down. No, I am not blaming that but realize that it did result in my not caring how I would feel after and what damage this would cause.

I feel so guilty and know I have betrayed my wife. She is a wonderful person and better Christian than I could ever be. She looks at me like I walked on water and has always said that she would forgive me for anything.

However, I feel the need to tell her. Although I know we would never divorce, but this would cause harm to her just for me to relieve my conscience which seems selfish in itself. I feel extreme guilt and shame toward her and my kids. I have asked for forgiveness from the Lord and have received it. I have thrown all the alcohol in the house away and swear not to look at porn any more. However, my shame will not go away. I do not want to cause her pain just to relieve my conscious. She deserves so much better, and I have failed her. Did I commit adultery? I think so. Even though there was not any physical contact. I know at least I betrayed God, her, and my family. I should be a leader and this is no way for me to set an example for my kids, even though they do not know. I preach to them about the evils of the Internet and warn them about such behavior. I am such a failure as a Christian and hypocrite. The wretched man, I am.


Answer:

Yes, you gravely sinned. You were drinking when God says a Christian is to remain sober. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:13). And you sought out pornography when God said not to pursue lust. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). From there you went even further into lewd behavior. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:13-14). It wasn't adultery, but you were not far from crossing that boundary as well.

Yes, you feel guilt and shame. You ought to because you sinned. It is the people who sin and feel no guilt that worry me. The guilt and shame at the memory of what you did should serve as warning to keep you from repeating your sins. What has started and ought to continue is such a radical change in behavior that no one in the future would ever believe you did such things in the past. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

You are correct that telling your wife does not benefit her, your marriage, or your children. You feel guilty and understand that you ought to be punished. But by deciding to tell her of your sins, you would be putting yourself in the role of judge, prosecutor, and jury. Punishment exists to get the guilty to realize the gravity of their sins and to encourage them not to sin again. You've already had your wake-up call and have turned from your sins. Forcing your wife to share your pain would not be an act of love.

Think of it this way: We know that God will forgive all sins, but that doesn't give us the right to sin and claim that God will forgive me. As Jesus told Satan, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God'" (Matthew 4:7). In the same line of reasoning, just because your wife is willing to forgive you of sins, it doesn't follow that you force her into the position of having to forgive you.

You don't really want the shame to go away. Otherwise, you'll eventually convince yourself that what you didn't wasn't so bad and you'll go back into your sins. Instead, you'll have a more accurate view of yourself (Romans 12:3) and you won't let your guard down so carelessly (I Corinthians 10:12).

But also realize that you aren't the man you were just a bit ago. You've changed, and for the better. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). Just as you don't want to go back to being who you were, you can accept that you are now a different man.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1).

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Sometimes, I wonder how I let sin in my life. It sneaks in when I know I should do better. Thanks again.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).