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The Grace to Forgive a Porn Addiction

Ed Heath - 700 Club Producer

Dave recalls, “Even though I had a wonderful wife, and then we had children. And I had a great job. I was walking around lonely all the time, because I truly felt I was the only one dealing with this issue.” Dave had a secret. As a boy, he accidentally found pornography. It seemed to help him deal with loneliness. He said, “I remember distinctly the woman on the front cover. I saw someone who was going to nurture me, was going to take care of me, was going to be there for me.” But, instead, it brought him guilt and shame all the way into adulthood.  Even after he married Meg, he continued his addiction to pornography. Dave said, “The last thing I wanted anyone to know, was to find out what I was doing, and what was going on inside me.” Meg recalls, “From my perspective, our marriage was normal. We had stressors, we had challenges, we'd work them through.” But Dave said, “I very much led a double-life. I was not totally a hundred percent present in anything we did as a family.”

Dave traveled frequently for his sales job. The time alone led to more temptation. He said, “Every time I acted out, there was more reason to believe I was a horrible, rotten person.”  Although he was a Christian, Dave couldn’t fully surrender his addiction. He recalls, “I was praying constantly that God would take it away. But I became discouraged when pressure or anxiety would mount, and I would choose to act out again”

When a friend stepped down from his church leadership position because of sexual addiction, Dave saw it as an opportunity to finally confess. Dave remembers, “But I still held on to some of the darkest parts of my addiction, in fear that she would still end up leaving me.” Meg recalls, “So, I did what I thought I should do as a good Christian wife, I forgave him, and we moved on.”

Dave joined a men’s sexual accountability group at his church. But even there he was afraid to admit everything. He said, “I still wasn’t 100% honest. Because where my addiction had gone, I wasn't hearing anybody else talking about that aspect of it.” Meg recalls, “I'm praying that-that God would give him freedom. I'm praying that he would uh be satisfied, you know, with his wife. I'm praying that he would have integrity in every aspect of his life.” Meg thought their problems were being resolved. But, over the next two years, as Dave’s addiction escalated, shame tightened its hold on him. Dave said, “There were multiple times that I would confess to Meg, but there would always be things I would leave out. And every time I did that, the addiction increased in intensity.”

Then in March of 2001, while on a business trip, Dave moved beyond pornography. He recalls, “I had called a prostitute. She came over, we engaged in sex and at that point, that was it.” He was horrified at how far his porn addiction had taken him. In his despair, he cried out to God. He recalls, “God said, ‘Dave, it is time. You need to confess everything to Meg, and if you don't stop doing what you're doing, you will die.’  I felt Him turn His face from me, and I felt a loneliness that I have never ever felt. I think the significance of that was Him saying, ‘You thought you were alone, but you weren't alone. Because this is what loneliness really looks like. But I'm here’."

Dave returned home early from his trip determined to tell Meg everything. He held a notebook filled with a full confession.  Dave remembers, “And then that fear comes back. ‘Man, you're not even getting halfway through this, and she's out the door. Are you kidding me?’ I feel the pressure of, well, I can't tell her everything. But God is still saying, ‘No, you need to tell her everything’." Over the next three days, he confessed everything… including the affair. Meg remembers, “My flesh wanted to run, wanted to just leave, wanted to figure out the quickest way to make that level of pain stop. I had been praying and asking God for all those three days, ‘Why?’  He said, ‘If you don't extend my grace to him, he may never know it.’  I wasn't responsible for any of the choices Dave made, but now I had a responsibility. How would I respond?  And, so, with a strength that was definitely not my own, I just put my arm on Dave's shoulder and uh, he-he broke.” Dave recalls, “I truly believe I was saved at that point. Not spiritually, but physically saved, forgiven, loved. God's arms around me. That was the most amazing time in my life.”  Meg believes, “I was obedient to God's call for me to act with grace, and so I believe that began the forgiveness process.”

Dave and Meg both got counseling and worked on being open and honest in all areas of their marriage. It was a long road but their love, trust and commitment to one another is stronger than ever. Since 2009 Dave has been free of his sexual addiction. Meg says, "To have someone who you know has your back, who you trust, who you want to spend time with and share the same dreams for the future. That's an incredible gift.” Dave says, “I know that I'm not worthless because of what God has done in my recovery, but, more importantly, in our – in my marriage. I am married to my best friend.” Meg concludes, “Everything that God has done for us, He can do for you."

Check out their book, Hope After Betrayal.

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