Last week, I touched on why not watching porn alone will not save your marriage. The next few posts will be what genuine repentance does and doesn’t look like and today will be specifically about what it doesn’t look like. First, let’s talk a little bit about why it matters.

Without genuine repentance from a deeply embedded sexual addiction, there is no freedom, no restoration of the marriage and there is no victory. For those trapped in sexual sin, the most amazing news you will ever hear is that there absolutely is freedom, forgiveness, and restoration in your life, relationships, and sexuality, found at the foot of the cross. You don’t have to be a slave to your sin anymore and you don’t have to lose everything that ever mattered to you. Praise God His mercies are new every morning. I have seen men walking in victory from sexual sin and it is a beautiful sight to see. I have seen wives with forgiveness and restoration washing over them as their husband’s gain the victory and their marriages rebuilt to something beautiful. Those things can ONLY happen with genuine repentance though.

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:5

Simply stated, repentance is a state of heart that leads to a change in actions. When someone repents from a soul-eating sin like sexual addiction, the way they look at everything changes. They hate their sin. They hate the sin more than the wounded wife does. A repentant man becomes a different man. Not because of some therapist, group or workbook changed him. Because he was a new creation.

A repentant heart doesn’t have to be given a laundry list of basic boundaries saying things about not watching porn and doing work to becoming the man God called him to be. A repentant heart seeks these out on his own. Not out of fear of consequences and not because he wants his wife to stop complaining but simply because his sin breaks his heart. His fear is in God first.

Genuine repentance often gets confused with worldly sorrow or even the words sobriety and recovery. These words are often misused and thrown in the faces of the wives looking for a concrete change. The abuse that happens AFTER the discovery of a sexual addiction, at the hands of a falsely repentant man, is often more damaging than the actual addiction. The reality is that if a woman finds herself with an unrepentant sexual addict still abusing her and claiming recovery, repentance or sobriety, he is still active in his addiction. Repentance and active addiction cannot happen at the same time. They are opposites.

What repentance is NOT:

Repentance is NOT simply the act of abstaining from porn.

Repentance is NOT checking off a list handed to you by your wife to avoid the doghouse or divorce.

Repentance is NOT rushing her healing and thumping her with bible verses saying she has to forgive you.

Repentance is NOT playing the martyr when she asks for boundaries to help her feel safe.

Repentance is NOT smugly declaring she should trust you now because you have changed.

Repentance is NOT blaming her for your destructive actions.

Repentance is NOT refusing to answer her questions or continuing to lie when you do answer them.

Repentance is NOT running from your consequences, hoping the problem just goes away.

Repentance is NOT justifying your sin by abstaining from the “big” sexual sins like prostitutes and “only” doing the “smaller” sexual sins like masturbating.

Repentance is NOT playing the victim when the pain you inflicted on her shows up in her trauma responses.

Repentance is NOT putting on a show at church, in groups or at the counselor’s office of how healed you are and talking about how out of control she is in her trauma responses.

Repentance is NOT self-condemnation.

Repentance is one of the most beautiful things I have ever had the honor of seeing and feeling in my own life. Repentance changes lives and softens hearts, restores marriages and most importantly, restores your relationship with your creator. It is time someone loved you enough to tell you the truth.

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:5

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