I have been having an online affair with a woman I have never met. (Since my teenage years I have struggled with the sin of looking at pornography.) I am a Christian and active in my church. My wife has no idea this has been going on. I have deceived my wife, my family and my church because none of these people know my struggles. I am too ashamed to tell them. Should I confess to my family and church? Should I get rid of my computer? How can I be free from this burden? Will God forgive me? Please help. I am desperate to be free.
By all means, confess to your wife and ask her help. Immediately and irrevocably cut off your relationship with this person online. That’s a non-negotiable. If you are a follower of Christ you must do this, and do it right away. Bare your soul to your wife, confessing this and not protecting yourself by leaving out what would make you look bad.
I would advise you to get rid of your computer. That’s much less radical than cutting off your hand or gouging out your eye (Matthew 5:29, 30), yet it is an attempt to honor Christ’s call to take radical measures to separate yourself from recurring temptation.
One other possibility is to put the computer in a living area with the screen visible to others in the room. Have your wife set up the password for internet access, not tell you that password, AND agree to not leave you alone in the room after having brought up the internet. However, if you find yourself attempting to get around this, then internet access should be cut off. If you are tempted to bring home pornographic images on disc, etc., then get rid of the computer entirely. Scripture nowhere tells us to have a computer, but it does tell us to flee from sexual temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18)...not to hang around it and just set ourselves up for falling again.
When you confess to your wife it will be painful for you both, but you MUST do this. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
However, you need to do more than confess to your wife. You should have one or more godly men to whom you confess this and have them ask you regularly, perhaps daily at first, “How are you doing?” You must be ruthlessly honest. I would also confess to one of my pastors, and ask for his accountability too. This is humbling, of course, but in my experience no one who tries to dig out of this by himself ultimately succeeds. We need the Lord, but we need His people to help and confront and ask and stand with us.
You must develop a whole new thought pattern of godliness, meditating on Scripture and guarding yourself from the kinds of images, TV shows, movies, etc., that will take you down.
Yes, God will fully forgive you. No question. But you will face difficulties and temptations that will make change a rough road. That’s why you must take radical steps and get lots of help.
I recommend the links below from our website. If you are to access them, of course, you will need your wife’s assistance if you follow the counsel I’m giving. Don’t use the need to access these as a rationalization for delaying confession. You need to do that as soon as possible.
Helpful Online Resources
Articles on sexual purity can found on our website here, including:
Sexual Purity: What You Need To Know and Do (designed for teenagers, their parents and youth workers)
Strategies To Keep from Falling
Ministries that Help with Sexual Addictions:
Pure Life Ministries: www.purelifeministries.org
New Life Partners: www.newlifepartners.org (Help for wives of sexual addicts)
Stone Gate Resources: www.stonegateresources.org
Be Broken Ministries: www.bebroken.com
Setting Captives Free: www.settingcaptivesfree.com/home
Website Filter and/or Website Accountability:
Covenant Eyes: www.covenanteyes.com
Photo by Max Duzij on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.