During a Facebook Live video a woman asked: “How can a wife give her husband accountability in the area of sexual purity?” I interpreted this to be a question about pornography, which I see causing terrible problems in homes and churches. It robs men of their dignity, makes them passive, and destroys initiative and motivation. It stops men from being the leaders they should be in the home and the church. When men look at pornography they won’t feel comfortable praying, reading the Word, or leading in their home or church.
As a result of these consequences, I was glad to answer the woman’s question. Although, since I didn’t have time to prepare my response, I wasn’t as thorough as I would’ve liked. You can watch the video containing my answer, but the below post is more thorough.
1. Pray for his salvation if he’s unsaved
A pattern of unbroken sin is evidence of being unsaved (1 John 3:4-9). First John 3:4-9 says:
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.
There’s a good chance that a husband who habitually looks at pornography isn’t saved. Pray for his salvation. As an unregenerate man there’s little chance he’ll develop victory over his addiction in his own effort. He needs the indwelling Holy Spirit helping him.
2. Communicate how difficult it is to respect him when he looks at pornography
When our children are only a few months old we don’t punish them, because they don’t know better and they lack self-control. Growing up means knowing better and developing self-control. When men look at things they shouldn’t it’s not masculine. Instead, they’re showing they’re like babies who have no self-control. Pornography turns men into boys (or babies). This is why few (if any) things destroy a wife’s respect for her husband faster than pornography. A wife should pray for the opportunity to share with her husband respectfully, but honestly, how difficult his sin makes it for her to respect him.
3. Encourage him to find an accountability partner
When I counsel a man struggling with pornography, I do not send him back to his wife for accountability:
- She will understandably be speaking more out of her personal hurt. This prevents her from giving him the objective, honest counsel he needs. It’s beneficial when another man can look him in the eyes and tell him the problems he’s causing himself and his wife.
- Women have different struggles with men. She will not be able to relate to her husband the way another man can. Men tend to struggle with purity visually. Women tend to struggle with purity emotionally, thinking of how much better another man would treat her.
- A husband will not want to share his failure with his wife, because of shame, but also because of the pain he knows it will cause her.
For these reasons it’s best if men receive accountability from other men. Perhaps a godly friend or elder in the church who can correct him.
4. Strive for brokenness over anger
Understandably wives are angry when their husbands look at pornography, but James 1:20 says, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Often the anger produces fighting and arguments. A wife’s brokenness over her husband’s sin will encourage him to feel terrible about what he’s doing.
5. Set an example that convicts him
First Peter 3:1-2 says:
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
If a wife wants her husband to a godly man, she should be a godly woman. No husband with a spiritual wife can sit at home being unspiritual and lame without feeling ashamed. The wife’s Christ-like example will convict him to change, and this is one of the best ways for a her to be her husband’s helper.
Be encouraged that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would convict
In John 16:8 Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin.” A husband might pretend that he is not convicted, and his wife might not be able to tell by looking at him that he feels convicted, but he does. In contrast, when a wife is unsubmissive, angry, and nagging, the husband does not see God through her and as a result avoids feeling convicted at all.
- What other ways can a wife help her husband with accountability?
- Do you see some other encouragements for wives when their husbands struggle with pornography?