So..long story. I'll try to condense and still make sense.
Daniel had been into pornography since he was about 12 years old. He found his father's stash in his brother's room. I've learned usually sexual sin is generational, so this makes sense. Daniel found his mother dead in her bedroom when he was 8 years old. He grew up with a lot to handle and process with a father who didn't know how to help him. I'm not making excuses for my husband, I'm just explaining why sin was such an attractive substitute for coping with life. He told me about his "addiction" when we were dating in college, but I was a naive girl who knew nothing about this sin, so I thought; "Ok, he hates it, so he should be able to stop it." Six months into our marriage, his sin came into play again. I was devastated...we were newly weds, we had a healthy sex life I thought (sorry if this is too much info for some of you) But why a husband is into pornography has NOTHING to do with his wife..I learned...eventually. I thought I'd gained too much weight, I wasn't "sexy" enough, excuses, excuses. All the while, Daniel told me it had nothing to with me, but why should I have believed him, right? We were in the ministry, and I had no idea who to talk to. I thought Daniel was the only Christian guy who was struggling with this, and even though his sin was hurting me too, I didn't want anyone to unfairly judge him...I wanted help without condemnation. And I didn't think I'd find it in the church. So Daniel would fight this sin off and on with few victories...usually lying when he wasn't having victory consistantly. And he would fight alone, because we had to keep this all secret. We were the freaks dealing with this sin that no other Christians dealt with after all. No one else in church ever talked about their sins, so we didn't either.
We eventually moved to Tyler to do music/education and youth ministry there. After nine months Daniel felt heavily convicted and guilty about his sin. He knew he wanted to stop, but he didn't know how to learn to hate it enough. (I over eat...gluttony is a sin. I hate that I sin in this way, but I don't hate it enough to stop eating more than I need. You have a sin like this too. Insert it here instead of pornography. The consequences may be vastly different, but the root of sin is the same. Selfishness. Pride.) Anyway, we finally with much, much nervousness told our pastor. Daniel confessed everything to him, risking judgement, but hoping and asking for help. (I love this man, but here's what he said): "Yeah, that's bad alright. You've got to stop that." The End. That's all. Looking back, I think he was probably struggling with it too and didn't know how to stop or help anyone else stop either.
So, with time and Daniel still not knowing how to fight and beat this sin, we move to Arlington to do youth and music ministry. All this time, Daniel is questioning whether or not we should still be doing ministry, seeing as how in order to do ministry in most churches you have to pretend like you have your life all together. I mean, other people can confess their sins, but minister's can't. They have to be perfect in order to lead. Oh, we never say that, but that's what we teach with our actions. (NOTE: Let the ministers in your church be human. Let them know it's safe to fail.)
Anyway, after 2 years there. Daniel tells a small group that meets in our house about his sin. There are 3 other guys there that were about our age. Only one couple stays and talks to us about it. The guy talks to Daniel and eventually becomes one of Daniel's best friends who helps him learn to fight. Thankfully, Daniel doesn't feel so alone anymore in his fight. He learns that it is possible to beat this sin, that there can be consistant victory. We start going to marriage counceling. This helps Daniel SOOOOOOO much. He begins to realize that just with any other addiction, this sin is just a cover up for not knowing how to cope with life. (we all have something that we go to when we're stressed out...eating, shopping, gossiping, busying ourselves away from God...doing something to ease the pain; no matter how short lived the ease is.) Again, I'm not making excuses for him; I'm just saying we all do this to some degree. The consequences of our sins are very different, but it's all still putting ourselves before God and others.
In may of 2007, my great-grandmother died. Daniel, being in the ministry felt that he couldn't take off that Sunday to be with me in Ennis. so he stayed in Arlington and sinned. He told me soon after and we separated. I don't know what you're thinking, but at some point over 5 years, there had to be more consequences to pornography than just me crying and him saying he wouldn't do it again. When we started going to counceling, Daniel decided that if he sinned in this way again, I should leave him for a time. So, I did. It was THE hardest thing I've ever done. I got scolded for leaving him, I got encouraged to divorce him. There was very little middle ground at this time. Daniel confessed his sin to the entire church. The pastor and deacons first, then the church. That was part of the consequence of his sin, but he was also crying out for someone to really help him. And the church responded in a very unexpected and gracious way. They relieved him of his job, but allowed him to have a month to pack and move and payed him for the next 3 or 4 weeks too. They also payed a LOT of money for him to go to the "Every Man's Battle" conference. I'm not advertising here, but this conference literally changed his life. There he met pastors, ex-pastors, ministers and lay leaders of churches who struggled with this same sin. The statistic are that about 90% of men have at some point or currently do struggle with pornography and lust. 90%. Let me say that again: 90% That means your husband, brothers, fathers, sunday school teachers, pastors, mail man and doctor have or currently struggles with pornography and lust. BUT WE JUST DON'T TALK ABOUT IT.
Daniel has come a LONG way. We got back together 3 weeks later and continued marriage counceling. Daniel also continued counceling with an expert in this area for several months after this. We couldn't afford the counceling, but someone saw the efforts Daniel was making and paid for it for him. Strangely, since then we have found MANY other people who struggled with this too. Other married couples. Other youth ministers. And God has used Daniel to help them to find victory and freedom. Despite Daniel's selfishness and sin, God never gave up on Daniel. Even when I wanted to give up on Daniel, God wouldn't let me. Daniel has had consistant victory for a year and half now. He is walking in victory and freedom because he was honest and open about his sin. He got help, took it and gives God the glory.
We didn't know if we'd ever do ministry again. We thought we might be disqualified because of his past and disobedience. When we moved to Marshall last summer, I was going to finish my college degree and Daniel was going to find some kind of job to just get by. But then, we got pregnant unexpectedly and then had a threatened miscarriage. The doctors said that I could still go to school, but they couldn't promise I wouldn't lose the baby. They said that there was nothing they could do (I was only 8 weeks along) to stop the miscarriage. But I put myself on bed rest; and after two weeks, everything somehow went back to completely normal!! (It really was a miracle to us.) So, I dropped out of school because those two weeks were the first two weeks of class. Therefore, we had to find a place to live. (we'd been living in school housing) The ONLY job Daniel could find was for a music minister at the church we'd been at when we got married. They provided salary and a house for our family. Because we didn't know if we were supposed to do ministry again, we did everything we could to not get the job. We were completlely open with the pastor and deacons about Daniel's PAST struggles. And they admired him for being so honest and open. They took us in and loved us into healing...along with other friends we made there too. We had lots of trials this past year; we were robbed twice, our car crashed, my pregnancy had many (though minor, thankfully) complications; we learned I wouldn't be able to have any more children, Daniel's other part time job ended due to lack of funding...but Daniel never returned to his sin. He really is free...I never thought we'd be here....but we're walking in victory and it feels AMAZING. We are closer than we've ever been, and we're closer than most other married couples because we've dealt with this and worked through it together.
And yet, we may not be able to continue to do ministry. In May we left our church and the music ministry to pursue youth ministry again. We prayed about it for forever...we tested and tried to make sure we were correct in our desires. However, apparently because of Daniel's past; so far no church has wanted us. The church we have been going to even asked Daniel not to volunteer with their youth anymore because "they want to keep their children safe.' Safe from Daniel?? What exactly does our church family think he's capable of??? I understand the naivety of sexual sin in our church, and the judgement that comes from that naivety...but here's what i don't understand:
-Daniel confessed his sin, no one "caught him" at anything
-Daniel never did anything illegal or inappropriate in or to the church
-Daniel received help and changed (dramatically) his whole life...this really is in his PAST. Not present.
-If Daniel tells a church about his sin, surely he'd be the LAST person to act out then. It's the people still keeping this sin secret that you should be worried about.
I thought the whole wonderful amazing news about Christ coming and dwelling with us, is that He can change us. Through us He can change the world...by changing us. But if people aren't capable of changing...then what's so amazing about grace?
The church crucifies their wounded. We have to keep our sins and struggles secret for fear of being stoned. That's why those "messed up" people outside of the church aren't breaking down the doors to get in our pretty buildings. They find more acceptance elsewhere. By no means am I saying that we should accept and condone sin within the church, but when someone confesses and asks for help...remove the plank in your eye so you can see better to throw your stone at someone for who they USED to be.
This wasn't short at all. Sorry :)