This post is a follow-up to the last one which asked “Are you REALLY “struggling” against Habitual Sin?” Recent events have convinced me that it’s time to be real about the sins that are killing us and hurting others, and my wife and I pray these posts will encourage you, challenge you, and give you hope for a future in Christ, and therefore in freedom.
When you are ready to confess your sins to your spouse there are two things you need to know and do.
1. Tell her everything
Before we get to the specifics let me address a common question asked: Do I have to tell her? Yes. You have been using your body in ways that suggest it is your own, and it is not. If you are a Christian, your body belongs to God (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and if you are married, it additionally belongs to your spouse (1 Cor. 7:4). When you are involved in sexual sin, whether online or otherwise, you are both desecrating the temple in which God dwells (your body) and depriving your spouse of a right that belongs solely to him or her. So yes, you must tell your spouse, and you must tell her everything.
Everything inside of you will want to minimize. Don’t do this. You will be tempted to scale back what you have actually done. And you will do this under the delusion that you are being noble and kind, sparing your fragile wife from pain she can not handle.
Don’t do that. It’s not for you to decide what your wife can handle. You forfeited that right when you started looking at things you shouldn’t be looking at, and touching things you shouldn’t be touching.
This means instead of telling her you simply look at porn “every now and then” you tell her the truth, which is more like, “I look at it every chance I get, and when I’m not, I am thinking about when I can.” Instead of telling her that you have been with one woman but only briefly and it meant nothing, you tell her the truth, which is more like, “I’ve been with 9, and I had feelings for one.”
My wife puts it this way:
When you first reveal your sin, it’s like cutting her heart with a knife. It’s incredibly painful. During this time you (the betrayed spouse) wonder if you can ever trust again. When later, it is discovered that there is more involved, that you only got part of the story, it’s like taking that wound and pouring salt into it, and the question of whether or not I can ever trust again is magnified 100 fold.
And be sure of this, the whole truth will come out. Jesus promised this…
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:2-3)
I have proven this to be true countless times! So tell your spouse everything. To stop short here only defrauds the entire process, making a sham of repentance and thus closing off the power of God to restore what your sin has broken.
2. Tell her nothing
After you have confessed everything, offer no excuse. Do not attempt to rationalize what you have done, minimize it, or justify it. You have basically three responses from now on:
I’m so very sorry, and, You’re right, and, I love you.
Whether or not you are truly broken over your sin will be evident by how willing you are to bear the pain, the shock, the hurt-filled and angry words that your spouse is about to unload on you, not just after the initial confession but for days, weeks, months and perhaps years to come. Yes, it gets better, but how better it gets and how quickly it gets there is determined in large part by whether you are experiencing godly sorrow over your sin or just worldly sorrow (see 2 Cor. 7:10). Godly sorrow reckons with the fact that your sin has been against both your wife AND God, and you are desperate to make amends because you desire nothing more than to be in fellowship with Christ. As such, you will look like Christ who bore your sins without uttering a word, without defending himself, but became a meek and lowly lamb. This is the posture of the truly repentant. If you are merely worldly sorrowful, then you are really only sorry that you have been found out and that which you truly love (your sin) cannot be indulged in any longer (at least not for now). You can be assured that you will be back in the pig sty before long.
How do you know if you have godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow? It’s easy: You won’t care what becomes of your life from here on out, so long as you have Jesus. You won’t care if the entire world crumbles around you, that you have to give up your plans for the future, or that you have to even die for your sins, so long as you can be made righteous. You will want so badly to bear your wife’s pain and suffering that you will take any abuse that might come your way, no matter how she might respond (yes, even if she responds in kind in order to “get even”), because you own the fact that your sins have brought this upon your house, and now you must make restitution.
So you tell her nothing, apart from I’m sorry, I love you, you are right, and so on.
Do these 2 things. And may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Stay tuned for how to win back his/her trust.