Happily Even After: Let God Redeem Your Marriage

It’s the type of book you might read “for a friend because nothing like that would ever happen to me.”

Even so, 70 percent of men use porn. One in six women struggles with addiction to porn. Being part of the Church doesn’t exempt us when 50 percent of pastors use porn too.

Porn is everywhere. It touches all of us causing wounds, seen and unseen, but always felt even if we don’t understand their source.

Bob and Dannah Gresh have felt the hard slap of porn addiction in their marriage too.

And unlike many other Christians, they aren’t hiding their struggle. They’re showing us their journey to help us along ours.

“One book won’t fix a marriage.” That’s how Dannah opens her newly released book Happily Even After: Let God Redeem Your Marriage.

The book specifically addresses couples who struggle with his porn addiction and her response to it. Yet the advice is applicable to a variety of challenges couples may face.

Dannah writes in a tone that makes you want to pour a cup of tea for yourself and relax as if she were right across the table from you understanding your every heartache.

Her personal story, introduced with an account from her husband Bob includes sound, step-by-step counsel.

  • “stop pretending everything is okay
  • strengthen yourself in the Lord
  • fight for your husband instead of with him
  • discover 6 essential beliefs every marriage needs to survive broken places
  • participate in your husband’s redemption story”

Books like this one are important because they touch our lives right where we wrestle. Right where we feel that we can’t let anyone else know what our inner combat is all about.

Disclosure: I’ve known Bob and Dannah for more than a decade and a half. I received a free copy of this book for review as part of the launch team. That doesn’t color my conviction that years from now, because of this book, couples will be together who wouldn’t be without having heeded its message.

And if they’ve taken this book (and others Dannah recommends) to heart, their marriages just might be thriving.

Read this book. Cover to cover. Use the supplemental materials. Follow the directions. Cry. Pray. Cry. Share your burden. Cry with someone else. Heal. Forgive. Heal.

And follow God’s path on the good way forward.

Even if you’re just asking for a friend.

Photo Credit: Cover photo [of Dannah’s book] of pictures clipped to wire copyright © 2019 by martin-dm/iStock (1178573531).
Cover illustration of plant pattern copyright © 2019 by Asya_mix/iStock (1186132289)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Satan Stops Lying

“[T]hat ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 ESV).

Satan loves to lie. He loves to help us justify our actions. He loves to convince us that his way is the only way.

Ultimately we see the truth. And that’s okay with him too. The knife of his lie is in us. Realizing the truth twists the knife.

In her forthcoming book Happily Even After: Let God Redeem Your Marriage, Dannah Gresh points out the effects of our realization of truth: shame.

“The enemy of our souls is so double-minded.
He convinces us that sin isn’t so bad before we do it.
But afterward he tortures us with our unworthiness
because our sin is so very bad.”

Some sins we can recover from. Others leave lasting consequences.

“After my abortions, I couldn’t listen to a baby cry. If I was in a store or restaurant and heard a baby’s cry, it sent a chill up my spine. Think about our nervous system and how everything that happens to us is stored there. There’s a reason that a baby crying did this to me,” Emily Rarick.

And that reason is truth–the realization that abortion, what seemed to be the apparent easy way out at the time, was no such thing. Emily realized that abortion kills babies. She knew it killed her babies.

Another big lie of our times debunked–that we can change who we are:

“I want to tell everyone what they took from us, what irreversible really means, and what that reality looks like for us [trans people].

“No one told me any of what I’m going to tell you now.”

. . . Now, now I’m trapped in the wrong body” TullipR (de-transitioned man)

The lie that TullipR followed changed his life permanently and irrevocably.

That lie states that God made a mistake.

God doesn’t make mistakes. Only we can do that. He’s trying to save us from ourselves.

Sex change surgery is supposed to be an easy (or easier) way out. You think this way, and we can adjust your body to meet the hopes of your thoughts. It would be harder work to adjust your thoughts and feelings to what your chromosomes and body chemistry and structure already are. That’s the lie.

“[T]he medical evidence suggests that sex reassignment does not adequately address the psychosocial difficulties faced by people who identify as transgender. Even when the procedures are successful technically and cosmetically, and even in cultures that are relatively “trans-friendly,” transitioners still face poor outcomes. Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.

Poor outcomes. And convincing the rest of us that it’s right doesn’t change the outcomes.

The lies that aborting unborn babies and changing the sex of children when they’re too young to decide and too easily manipulated eventually come to light for most.

It takes time, sometimes.

One study claims 95 percent of women have no regrets five years post-abortion. The study has a low participation rate (37.5 percent, despite paying the participants). It disregards what happens to the non-responding participants for the first five years and the responding percentage of women over the next five years.

“In 2010, at the age of 18, I had two abortions a mere six months apart. My regret was not instant, in fact, it was years before I truly realized what I had done. It crept in slowly, little by little, taking pieces of me and breaking me in ways that I never imagined possible.” Emily Rarick

Pamela Whitehead, executive director of ProLove Ministries, said it took her a decade to identify the effects of terminating her pregnancy. Just days after her abortion in 2001, the 9/11 terrorist attack happened, and she buried her grief. In the following years, she attempted suicide, became addicted to drugs, and lived in a homosexual relationship even though she wasn’t a lesbian. It wasn’t until 2011 that Whitehead realized her abortion had been the ‘precipitating factor’ of her self-destructive decisions. ‘I could trace it back to that event,’ she said.”

Regarding transition surgery, a controversial study but one quoted by the Obama Administration in 2016 says:

“We note, mortality [death, most often from suicide] from this patient population did not become apparent until after 10 years. The risk for psychiatric hospitalization was 2.8 times greater than in controls even after adjustment for prior psychiatric disease. “

The lawsuits filed by detransitioners who’ve realized the truth–that their desire to change was transitory– have begun in earnest.

Truth comes to light eventually.

Too late for many.

Desire truth. Embrace truth. Speak truth.

And so save some.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Habakkuk: A Bible Study by Dannah Gresh

“Look among the nations, and see;
    wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
    that you would not believe if told.” Hab. 1:5, ESV~

Dannah Gresh’s Habakkuk: Remembering God’s Faithfulness When He Seems Silent is a six-week study that immerses us in the minor prophet’s three chapters with side journeys to the writings of a major prophet, Daniel, and other passages, Old and New Testament. Related weekly podcast episodes enhance the study. Videos are available for group study.

Habakkuk presents questions we often ask in our time of cultural disintegration and moral decline:

“Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
“Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
“So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
“For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.” Hab 1:3-4
, ESV~

Habakkuk provides context for our own times.

Providing the means to deep study and meaningful meditation. Dannah leads us on a journey from wrestling with God when we live in unsettled times, to watching for God to work, asking questions embedded with truth, watching for God’s answers, fearing God, and singing praise to Him.

It’s discouraging to watch the news or even go to the grocery store today, yet we can trust that God is doing a work in our days that we cannot imagine.

Dannah Gresh reminds us of that truth through her study of Habakkuk. Do the study. Reap encouragement.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Our Culture’s Perspective of Sex

Republished from Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, October 26, 2019

I remember watching a segment CBS journalist Harry Reasoner did—perhaps for one of those television news magazines—in the early or mid-1970s. It was about our changing perspective of sex. The most powerful words Reasoner said came at the end of his piece. They went something like this:

It may be that the head cheerleader would give in and have sex with the quarterback. But she knew she was giving away something important. And he knew he was getting something very valuable.

Reasoner bemoaned the shift in America’s thinking that told the young woman she was giving away something trivial. And the young man was not receiving something precious and irreplaceable.

That perspective shift turned into big changes in our culture. The cheerleader and the quarterback who had sex in the back seat of the car would likely marry and likely stay married.

In that back seat, he knew he wanted to. She knew she wasn’t supposed to. Often, they both understood the risks were grave—upset parents, loss of reputation, untimely pregnancy, disappointed hopes for the future.

Today, he still wants to. But she believes she’s supposed to want to also. And neither has any fear of consequences.

The key today is whether she wants to. Whether she consents. In theory, it sounds fair, sensible, progressive. But it doesn’t play out quite so simply in reality.

David French: “You can sum up the sexual ethic of the sexual revolutionary in one sentence: Except in the most extreme circumstances (such as incest), consenting adults define their own moral norms. . . . Desire is elevated over fidelity and certainly over propriety, so bosses bully, spouses stray, hearts break, and families fracture.”

Nearly 60 years after the birth control pill and 46 years of legal abortion in America, we may be waking up to the idea that casual sex has opened the door to exploitation on a level unseen since the dawn of Christianity.

Jennifer Joyner is one who has awakened. She had thought casual sex would be pleasurable and empowering. But it wasn’t. She calls it a “rigged game.”

“Whether we like it or not, sex is intrinsically biased against the woman: biological reality dictates that she carries the brunt of sexual risks while he wields the majority of sexual power.”

But women aren’t the only ones to lose at the rigged game. A male reader provides this insight into his post-abortion world.

As a man who found myself an un-knowing and un-willing participant in an abortion almost 25 years ago, my life became a very dark place. It was 20 years before I ever allowed myself to say the word and then God, somehow opened the floodgates of denial. The last 5 years or so have been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs (mostly downs), as I have tried to come to grips with the loss alone. There have been a few close friends that kept watch over me when I was in the deepest pits, and I am grateful they were there. . . . [Two] days before the anniversary) I found myself back in one of my pits. I walked to my closet and retrieved my 45 handgun, and stood there for a moment crying. I honestly couldn’t tell you if I was trying to decide whether to pull the trigger, or trying to talk myself out of it.

His situation began with human connection—perhaps a deep emotional connection. He still has a deep connection to his child. But he finds it difficult to work through his grief.

A typical situation begins with two people who come together in passing or in love–but always in passion.

She becomes pregnant.

He doesn’t resist when she says she’ll have an abortion—even though she may be hoping he will take a stand on behalf of their child—that he will choose to stand by her.

Or perhaps he pushes her to abort the baby. Or perhaps, like our reader, he will learn of the abortion only after it’s already happened.

Since before Roe v. Wade, we’ve heard that abortion is between a woman and her doctor. It’s nobody else’s business.

Except it doesn’t work that way–even though it may take some men years to understand that the wound from abortion is like a stone that has been weighing them down.

In The Tears of the Fisherman, Kevin Burke writes:

“[Many men] do not associate the symptoms they are suffering [depression, addiction, inability to maintain relationships] with that abortion event in their past. Even if a man is aware that he is hurting from participating in the death of his unborn child, there is no safe place to share that burden.”

He has no place to go–either because no one else knows about the abortion or because those who do know don’t want to discuss it. The reader quoted above was blessed to have people encouraging him to work through his pain to a better place of healing.

Burke explains why healing is so important:

“When you went through that abortion experience the natural need for you to grieve the loss of your child and your parental relationship with your son or daughter was also aborted. For some men and women, forgiving self and letting go of the burden of self-condemnation feels like letting go of the only real connection with their unborn child or children.”

Yet there is hope—for both women and men.

A pregnancy scare at 19 turned Jennifer Joyner’s thinking around. She realized that her sex partners were gaining all the pleasure of the act (which she often found painful) and she was carrying all the risk. Instead of playing a rigged game, she could change her behavior. She could play a “long game.” She writes:

What’s attractive to me today is the sort of romance that lasts a lifetime. Men who seek this know it requires patience, wisdom, and a firm grip on their own reins. Because he’s responsible, he restrains his sexuality until he’s ready to share her sexual risks—including that of parenthood. . . . Until then, he’s researching the contours of her character rather than those of her anatomy; he’s focused on the long game.

And more from our post-abortion male reader:

When I started this walk, I was completely alone, with no idea where to turn. I have friends who have supported me once I broke my silence, and I love them to death. But through no fault of their own, I really didn’t trust anyone with the storms that were constantly raging inside me.

I knew there were programs out there, but for a variety of reasons, (pride mostly, but I have to confess to a degree of distrust as well) I wouldn’t reach out. . . . I guess I was waiting on something to just fall in my lap. Once I took a few small steps that is exactly what happened.

There are other men like me out there, many of them probably less informed than I was. Still, it took a lot of searching before I knew what was out there. Anything, and anyone who helps get that message out is a tremendous blessing.

Women can play the long game instead of the rigged one. And men can find healing after the tragedy of abortion.

But that requires a supportive community and the right resources.

A woman seeking to pursue sexual purity (with or without an abortion in her past) will find a wonderful resource in Dannah Gresh’s And the Bride Wore White.

A helpful community comes in the form of Pregnancy Resource Centers and Clinics. CareNet is a network of such organizations who help with crisis pregnancy, STD diagnosis, post-abortion recovery, and wise counsel.

For post-abortion men and women, hope comes, not in forgetting, but in honoring and remembering. Healing ministries provide the opportunity to remember, to name the child, to repent, to find forgiveness. Burke’s book lists the following resources:

Abortionforgiveness.com is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Menandabortion.net helps men find healing and works to raise awareness of men’s abortion pain in counselors, pro-life workers, and society at large.

And Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry for married couples, parents, and grandparents. This ministry provides the stone that symbolizes the burden of abortion.

The rigged game is a lie too many of us have bought into and lost. The foundational lie behind the game is that we belong to ourselves. We think our bodies are ours to do with as we please—and we seek only to please ourselves.

What happens to the other is not our concern.

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Yet the game’s prize for all players is emptiness and a devaluing of our very souls. Every selfish act brings an eventual negative return. Every selfish act is a refusal to let God own us.

Young people convince themselves—or our culture has convinced them—that their sexual purity is of little value. And even our nation’s laws have told them that the result of their casual unions is inconsequential.

In the forty-six years since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion from conception until birth, uncommitted sex has destroyed the lives of 60 million unborn and countless adults.

David French once more: “An ethic that indulges [the sex] drive while also denying the emotional significance of sex will inevitably wreck lives. The wise person understands that desire — even mutual desire — can be dangerous. How many happily married men and women look back on the momentary temptations of the past and wish they’d indulged? How many are grateful that they had the self-discipline and moral character to refuse to do what — at that moment — they wanted to do?”

And how many still carry the burden of an unwise choice during a moment of temptation?

It’s time for society to admit that the sexual revolution is over and our ownership of self has been only destructive.

It’s time for us to give up the lie of the rigged game, to give ourselves back to God.

It’s time for us stop living for ourselves—and in so doing—to make our lives even better than we thought they could be.

Photo Credit: Jared Sluyter and Aaron Burden, respectively

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”