The following is a post written by author Jen Ferguson . . . Jen and her husband, Craig, released Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography, a book about their journey through pornography addiction yesterday. It’s a great read – even if you haven’t walked through this exact situation.

If you’ve ever needed to forgive, this book is for you. If you’ve ever sinned, this book is for you. And if you ever want to throw things at your spouse, this book is for you.

I have a copy to give away so after Jen’s post, I’ll pose a question and you can answer it. I’ll choose the winner Wednesday night and announce it on Thursday!

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I’m a grudge-holder. I really hate this about myself. I want to forgive easily, be slow to anger, and not hold onto the past. But, truthfully, in order for me to follow in the footsteps (and face it, the commands) of Jesus, it takes some serious hard work for me to behave in this manner.

I also can fall into legalistic traps. I think to myself (and actually often say to my children) “If you are saying you’re sorry, that means you are turning away from that behavior and you’re not going to continue to do the same thing again!” (Yes, I do realize this is futile in relation to my children.)

So when it came to forgiving my husband after I found him engaging with porn, I found myself to be in a very challenging place. First, I equated his porn use with adultery. I felt so betrayed – how could I be slow to anger about this? How could I be quick to forgive about this? How could I not use the past to protect me from future acts like this?

Furthermore, like most addictions, his porn use was much more than a one-time thing. Yes, he would say he was sorry, but he would return to the same behavior again. How do I keep forgiving when I don’t see change? When his repeated attempts to stop fail?

God showed me how to do this by simply holding up a mirror to my own face.

What did I see?

A sinner.

The hard truth? God has no hierarchy scale of sin. I decided Craig’s sin of betrayal and porn use was greater than my own sin: my harbored anger, my harsh words, my legalistic and prideful heart.

 And guess what? I’m not God. I don’t get to declare one sin worse than the other.

“There once was a woman on a path of life filled with sexual sin. One day she was caught in the act of adultery and brought into the temple by the Pharisees as Jesus taught the people. Not only were the Pharisees interested in shaming the woman who broke the law, but they intended to trap Jesus. Either He would enforce the Jewish law (and break Roman law) by executing her, or He would violate Jewish law by exonerating her. Jesus’ answer was brilliant: “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7).
One by one, all the religious leaders dropped their stones to the ground and left. None of them were without sin. Jesus told her: “Go and sin no more” (8:11).

 We don’t know if this woman ever sinned again by committing adultery, but we do know that she sinned. We know this not because the Bible tells us, but because we know ourselves. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of god’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

 Jesus’ command wasn’t to show her this was her last chance. It wasn’t a final warning that she’d better make good because He spared her from brutal punishment. Rather, He told her to leave her life of sin because of the pain she was causing herself by engaging in a practice that leads to brokenness and separation from God. He told her to leave her old ways not as a threat, but as a path to love and a fulfilling life.

 If Jesus were to find her a few weeks later in the same situation, would He do the same thing? Would He extend forgiveness, even though He had already forgiven her once? Yes!

 If Jesus were to find you in front of the computer again looking at naked women after asking forgiveness for looking at porn yesterday, would He forgive you? Yes!

 If Jesus were listening to your degrading comments and barbed remarks as you sit on your high horse about how you can’t believe your husband would do this again, even though you had confessed to having a prideful heart last week, would He forgive you? Yes!

 Does He expect us to forgive each other for the same sins we commit over and over again? Yes!

 Peter, Jesus’ disciple, asked Him how often he should forgive his brother who sins against him (Matthew 18:21). Peter quite generously (he thought) suggested that we forgive seven times. Rabbinic code dictated that only three times was necessary. But that isn’t sufficient for the standard of grace Jesus holds. He replied to Peter, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!” (18:22).

 In case you’re like me and can’t do math quickly in your head, that’s four hundred and ninety times. But the point isn’t the actual number; it’s the vast scope of the number in comparison to Peter’s initial thought. Jesus’ point is this: Always forgive.” {excerpt from Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography}

When I figured out and finally admitted to myself how much I need God’s grace and forgiveness every day, it became harder to withhold that grace and forgiveness from Craig. I fall short of the glory of God and I understand Craig will, too. Even free from pornography, he will sin against me in other ways. Even free from the need to control (well, maybe I’m still working on that), I will still sin against him, too. We will both sin against God.

But we can either allow our weaknesses to drive us closer to Jesus and to each other, or we can choose to sit in our own personal prisons of anger, resentment, and legalism.

Which do you choose?

For a chance to win a copy of Pure Eyes, Clean Heart: A Couple’s Journey to Freedom from Pornography, tell us:

What have you learned through forgiveness?

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