Keeping Your Marriage Bed Undefiled

Marriage Bed Undefiled - AdobeStock_105352728“Undefiled” is not a word we hear often in our 21st century language. But what’s most important however, is that it was used 12 times in the Bible. Even though we may not use the word much today, we shouldn’t take this word lightly because it’s important to God. That’s especially true in the context of the marriage bed as it relates to Hebrews 13:4:

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.(Hebrews 13:4)

The Got Questions web site clarifies this:

“In other words, the sexual intimacy shared between a husband and wife is to be reserved for that couple alone. God created the sexual union to be between a husband and a wife. Period. Only. No other use of sexuality is ever condoned in Scripture. To abuse or misuse God’s gift of sex is to defile the marriage bed.”

The Undefiled Marriage Bed

With so clear of a Biblical mandate (which Christ-followers are committed in principle to follow) why are so many “Christian” marriages being torn apart by sexual sin—in particular, pornography? Current research shows that the number of people who use porn in the church is higher than most Christians can imagine. We’re not sharing the following info to throw stones or cast blame. We’re doing this to shed light onto what is happening and how to break free this sin. I (Steve) share my story in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS TO GROW YOUR MARRIAGE.

Like many men it started for me at a very young age (12) when I found my dad’s porn stash. I was hooked immediately. It consumed my life throughout my adolescence. I mistakenly thought that once I married Cindy (at 22) I could stop. After I became a Christian at 24 I believed with all my heart that Christ would instantly heal me of my addiction. But for many more years I seesawed between long periods of purity and then fall back into my “secret sin.” The guilt and shame was overwhelming.

Yes, this did affect our marriage because when I would defile our marriage bed it would hurt Cindy tremendously. She knew I wanted to be free from this insidious sin and be pure both in thought and deed. I was blessed because she was patient. Knowing how much it hurt her added to my guilt and shame. So, how was I able to break free and ultimately find healing? I got fed up with being “sick and tired” of my sin. It’s then that I truly got serious with God about it.

Having the Heart to Break Free

It’s like what Gary Thomas says:

“While how-to marriage books and seminars certainly have their value and place, on their own they miss the key issue. But it’s not really about HOW to. Far more often, it’s about whether we have the HEART to. We must have the heart to change before we will truly take the initiative to find out how to change wrong behavior. That is what it will take for any kind of real change to occur over the long haul. If we don’t make an intentional shift in our thinking and our actions, we will eventually go right back to it.”

When I got serious (the “heart to”) about becoming free I realized the key was going to be accountability. I had to confess my sin to another (godly) man who would hold my feet to the fire to make sure I stayed on the track for Biblical purity. This is also why Cindy and I believe so strongly in the use of a tool like COVENANT EYES (filtering software for all electronic media). It’s like they say, “A porn free marriage is a strong marriage.” It is one of THE best ways to stay accountable in a quest for purity. But that was the beginning of the journey to keep our marriage bed undefiled from that day forward.

Coming to Grips With My Sin

I was a porn/sex addict for more than 30 years. I knew I was addicted. And I didn’t want to be addicted. I would pray for victory, and then experience a time of victory. But then I would succumb to temptation once again. It was torturous, to say the least. I was like the dog who returns to its own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). I fully understand the angst the Apostle Paul talked about when he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.(Romans 7:15) I absolutely hated what I was doing. But I did it anyway! There’s no way of justifying this behavior. It was just plain sin… no way around that!

As I explain in our book I was like most Christian guys who struggle with this. I would beg God and cry out to Him to take this from me. It was as if my prayers were bouncing off the ceiling. I was convinced that I was the ONLY Christian guy in ministry, and in my church, who had this problem. Sadly, I now know I wasn’t. But I definitely needed to break free from the bondage of this sin. At a critical turning point, I finally surrendered all and had the “heart to” do the hard work necessary so I wouldn’t be enslaved to this sinful addiction.

That is when I experienced the feeling of the shame leave me and a boldness to address my addiction start to take hold. It didn’t happen overnight; this began the process. It’s amazing the clarity of mind that came when I started investigating the grip this had on me.

Addictive Nature of Porn

I didn’t really understand for so long the science behind my addiction:

“There is an addictive nature to pornography. Porn is much like a narcotic. You will need a bigger and bigger dose to get the same buzz. Research indicates that even non-sex addicts while viewing pornography, will show brain reactions on PET scans similar to those taking cocaine. Pornography is potent, addictive and permanently implanted in the brain. Even minimal users of pornography show signs of significant impact. In a series of studies, researchers observed numerous significant changes in people exposed to porn for just six one-hour sessions a week. Imagine what is happening to those men and women who are indulging for twelve, twenty, or more hours weekly.” (Mark Gungor, from his book, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage)

I also didn’t know how to break from my porn habit. And yes, I called it sin and knew I was sinning against God and my wife, hence the guilt and shame. It’s amazing the clarity of mind that came when I started investigating the grip this had on me. For instance, here are some important principles that point out what I learned:

Did You Realize?

“Your eyes are the windows of your soul. What you repeatedly expose yourself to will influence your imagination, your actions, and finally your character. There are three things you need to know about pornography. (1) It’s addictive. Family counselor Gail Hoone said, ‘Pornography is more addictive than drugs. And thanks to the First Amendment, it’s getting bigger every day.’ (2) It’s selfish. Porn trains you to see people as playthings to be played with, and all for one purpose —self-gratification. Intimacy, responsibility, and commitment are not even in the picture. (3) It’s shaming. Unlike the lepers in the Bible, pornography doesn’t ring a bell and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’

“Yet when you fall under its control, you find yourself responding to it in ways that leave you feeling cheapened and unclean. But there’s good news. Every leper who came to Jesus was cleansed. And through His blood you can be cleansed too! Furthermore, you can be empowered by His Spirit to cast down every imagination, and take every thought captive(2 Corinthians 10:5). (From the devotional, Word for You Today)

So, an important step to taking my thoughts captive was securing an accountability partner. This accountability partner was someone I met with monthly to ask me hard questions about my purity. He had the freedom to call me up any time to check on me in between our meetings. But another important step was doing what the above verse says: “cast down every imagination (lustful thought). And take every lustful thought captive.” But how was I going to do this since that’s what I had always struggled with?

Working “The Plan”

Thankfully, God led me to the book, Every Man’s Battle. The subtitle is: “Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time.” It is written by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. If I had to pick one book that should be a “must read” for all men, this is it! Arterburn and Stoeker tackle the issue of sexual temptation and lust in an honest, hard-hitting way. They’re writing from first-hand experience. Plus they use the stories of dozens of other men. What helped me the most was they give a practical, detailed plan for men who desire sexual purity.

I grabbed onto that plan and put it to work in my life. What’s truly amazing is that afterward I had virtually retrained my brain. But I give God the credit for using their plan as the tool to help me make the changes. They weren’t easy changes, but they were absolutely necessary ones that I needed to make. I can write thousands of additional thoughts on this, but I won’t. What I will say is that for the past 18 years I have been clean and sober. I have not intentionally looked at any image with the intent of lusting after another woman. There is only ONE woman I lust after, and that is my beautiful wife, Cindy.

I want to hasten to add that I am not a fool. I realize that Satan lurks and looks for any opportunity (1 Peter 5:8) to trip me up and get me to fall back into that awful addiction. All it would take is one intentional exposure where I allow my mind to go where it does not belong. That’s why I and any man fighting this, who wants to keep his marriage bed undefiled, needs to stay “sober minded and alert.

It Goes Beyond Porn to Keep the Marriage Bed Undefiled

Sadly, Cindy and I have come to realize from the e-mails we receive and the comments left on our web site that if Satan can’t tear a marriage apart through porn addiction there are plenty of other sinister tools to use to destroy marriages.

Here is a portion of an e-mail blog we received from Christian Psychologist, Dr David E. Clarke. In it he says that adultery comes in many forms:

“Many persons believe that the only activity that counts as adultery is having sex with a member of the opposite sex. These persons are wrong. Sex with anyone other than your spouse is certainly adultery, but there are other types of adultery.”

Dr. Clarke goes on to talk about emotional adultery:

“Any relationship, in person or long distance, that’s clearly beyond a business or friendship level is adultery. Developing an emotional attachment to someone not your spouse is serious sin. Sharing personal details about your life, your attraction to this person, your unhappiness with your spouse… this is adultery. …Emotional adultery could be with a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or someone you knew years ago. Phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media can be used to develop such a relationship. Do not connect with persons you used to date. …If you are ‘connecting’ emotionally with someone other than your spouse, stop it immediately.”

Any type of fantasy that you entertain with anyone other than your spouse takes you into dangerous territory.

Protect Your Heart to Keep Your Marriage Bed Undefiled

Many of us will go to extremes (financially and otherwise) to protect our homes against a potential break in. The home security business is a multi billion dollar industry every year. If only we Christ followers were willing to go to the same lengths to protect our marriages and hearts from sexual sin breaking in and destroying everything we hold dear! What’s even sadder is the fact that so many marriages are breaking up over porn and sexual sin. But it’s not happening because Satan “broke down the door.” No… so many of us let our guard down and willingly open the door.

We Have to Start Someplace

It’s like what Gary and Mona Shriver wrote in their book, Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity:

“The fact is that very few of us start out to disrupt marital intimacy. Sometimes we simply fail to establish it. Sometimes we fail to maintain it. More often we fail to protect it. ‘It just happened’ is a common explanation for adultery. It exposes how little we understand the steps that got us there. When we don’t have appropriate hedges in place we invite it to happen.

“…You have to admit your vulnerability before you can recognize the need for protective measures. Safety glasses were created because someone got hurt. Don’t let that someone be you or your spouse.”

Protecting Your Marriage Bed

Cindy and I are passionate on this subject of protecting our marriage bed. Our prayer is that the thousands who read through this Insight will recognize that God brought you here for a reason. This could be YOUR wake-up call to make sure your marriage bed is undefiled. God may be telling you that NOW IS THE TIME TO DO SOMETHING to break whatever stronghold is keeping you tied up in your sexual sin. Here are the four easy steps I used to jump start my healing. It’s one I recommend to you, if you are wanting to the same healing:

1. Confess your sin to God. Don’t hold back from confessing to all of the ugliness you have allowed into your thoughts and actions. Tell Him you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being held in this bondage. Also tell Him that you will do ANYTHING to get free and STAY free to keep marriage bed undefiled from this day forward.

2. Ask God to give you the “Heart To” follow through and go deeper into His Word.

3. Become accountable. Start through software that tracks all on line activity, like COVENANT EYES. Then, find another godly man who can help you stay on track. It has to be someone who would not be afraid to confront you if he caught you lying or falling back into sinful behaviors.

4. Develop a plan like the one given in Every Man’s Battle. Protect your marriage bed in every way you can. And the best way you can protect your intimate marital relationship is to get closer to God. Here is a great article that can help you in this journey:

END PORN BRAIN: 5 Ways to Walk in Righteousness

Also:

Please know that we have other recommended resources, quotes, and articles posted in the Pornography and Cybersex topic of this web site to further help you on this important journey.

May your prayer (as it has been ours) follow the pattern of King David:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Steve and Cindy Wright

— ADDITIONALLY —

We give a lot of practical tips to help you grow your marriage in this area and others in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else so you can invest in their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:

Essentials

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