About the Guest
Pornography is devastating to a marriage. Craig and Jen Ferguson talk openly about Craig's battle with pornography. Find out what Craig did to break this stronghold in his life. Also hear Jen coach other wives who may be facing a similar situation in their marriage.
Craig and Jen FergusonCraig & Jen Ferguson have been married since 2000. They love spending their time with their lovely daughters and two (rather high maintenance) dogs in Austin, Texas.
Craig and Jen Ferguson talk openly about Craig’s battle with pornography. Find out what Craig did to break this stronghold in his life. Also hear Jen coach other wives who may be facing a similar situation in their marriage.
Bob: After Craig Ferguson had been caught looking at pornography and confessed to his wife that this had been a pattern in their marriage, there were still relapses—relapses that his wife Jen had to process emotionally.
Jen: God led me though this process of “How do I still have hope when he’s still sinning in this sexual way?” And the first thing was—is that my sin is no different than his sin. I was like the older brother in the prodigal son, “Why are you celebrating that he’s coming home when, here, I have been so faithful this whole time?” God had to cure me of my self-righteousness and my pride. When God showed me that I was just as much of a sinner as he was, I had compassion on him.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. It’s important, as husbands and wives, that we know how to confess our sins to one another and that we know how to respond when our spouse is confessing.
We’re going to talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. The subject we’re talking about this week is an issue that a lot of couples have had to face in their marriage relationship. It’s something that we talk about at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway—the issue of how you deal with pornography if it’s a pattern in a marriage relationship.
Let me just encourage our listeners, here, at the beginning of today’s program. We have a special offer going on this week where couples can sign up to attend one of our upcoming getaways. If you pay the regular rate for yourself to come, your spouse comes free. It’s really the best offer we make all year.
It’s your opportunity to take advantage of a special rate, but this rate expires this week.
Take advantage by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and finding out more about when a weekend getaway is happening in a city near where you live. Get signed up for that getaway and take advantage of the special offer. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can answer any questions you have or get you signed up for what really is a great getaway weekend for couples—a weekend where you can relax, and refresh, enjoy being together—and then tackle some of the issues that are present in your marriage in a place where it’s safe to do so / you’re getting some coaching on how to do it.
In fact, whenever I have the opportunity to speak at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways, I will, on Sunday morning, address the issue of pornography with the guys. What I will say to the guys is: “If this is an issue in your life, then I think there are three things you need to do:
“First, you need to get with God. You need to confess to Him that what you’re doing is a sin against Him—that looking at pornography is something that is a violation of God’s design for marriage and for us, as human beings.”
Then second, I will say: “You need to get with a friend / somebody you trust, who can hold you accountable to this. And sometime, in the next seven days, get with that friend—confess what’s going on and ask him to hold you accountable.”
But then I say there’s a third thing you’ve got to do. I say, “This is the hardest of all.” I say: “Sometime, in the next 30 days, you’ve got to sit down with your wife. You’ve got to say, ‘I have to tell you something.’” I say, “I don’t know a guy, who has gotten free from this issue, until he’s taken that step.”
Now, I’ve had some guys come up to me and say: “If I do that in my marriage, there will be a volcanic eruption. I don’t know if we’ll recover from that moment.”
I’m just curious because I’ve asked myself, Dennis: “Am I sending guys into the end of their marriage by recommending that they confess to their spouse what’s going on?”
Dennis: No, I think that, if they’re tied into a good church and have some meaningful relationships in that church / some people that will walk through this valley with them, because it’s not going to be a short valley. Men who get caught or men who come clean in the midst of dealing with pornography wish there was a switch you could walk to on the wall, flip it, and move beyond it; but it’s going to take a while to get beyond it. But there is hope.
I think that anyone, who’s listening to us and has been listening to us this week on FamilyLife Today—this ought to be a severe warning to every man or woman who would dabble in pornography.
I think a part of what has made this story of dealing with pornography so helpful is—we’ve had a couple with us who have been extremely real. They have allowed us to peer in to their marriage / into their lives—as a husband, as a wife, as a mom, as a dad. I just appreciate Craig and Jen Ferguson for allowing us to do that. Welcome back to Family Life Today.
Jen: Thank you so much.
Craig: Yes; thank you for having us.
Dennis: You guys have now been married coming up on 16 years. You have two daughters—an 11-year-old / a 9-year-old.
You write in your book that you haven’t totally moved passed this, but you’re in process—that there—I forget exactly how you say it, here on the back. I just want to read this—it says: “We’re happily married and thankful for God’s ongoing work in our lives. There is hope for a couple who are experiencing the devastation of pornography.”
Jen: There’s always hope. I think, for so long in my life, I viewed hope as something that I have after I’ve resolved all my problems. What I realized in this walk—if I don’t have hope in the middle of the storm, then, I’m just going to drown. One of the verses that was so powerful to me was in Hebrews, Chapter 6—in Hebrews, Chapter 6, he is talking about how we can always flee to Him for refuge. In verse 18 it says, “Therefore we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”
As a wife, I did—we made rules—we said: “Okay we’re going to turn the computer around so that, when I walk in the room, I can see. Don’t have the study door closed. Make sure you have a quiet time every day. Go to your counseling. Don’t clear your history.” I would just exhaust myself checking up after him.
When you have two little kids, and a house to manage, and other volunteer opportunities, you just don’t have the capacity. Why?—because God didn’t create you to have that capacity.
Dennis: I’ve got to stop you there because I’m sitting here—I’m just sitting here, thinking, “What kind of industry do you work in?”
Craig: The tech industry.
Dennis: You’re surrounded by screens—everywhere.
Bob: If we put filters, you’d know how to get passed them; wouldn’t you?
Craig: Sure. If I didn’t, I’d figure it out.
Dennis: See, I’m listening to what you’re saying. Jen, as a woman—I can’t imagine how a woman would feel—but it makes sense that they’d want to control everything and say, “Let’s get those filters and doors open.”
We actually had a couple, here on FamilyLife Today—you would have no way of knowing this—but it was a great story of redemption, just like yours. A bit different—this guy actually lost his job as a result of his pornography addiction. They literally took away every screen / every screen in his life; and he went to work for, I think, Home Depot, where there were no screens.
Bob: Right. Where he couldn’t travel and he didn’t have a computer access; right?
Dennis: Yes. Two years later, there was the beginning / the vestige of hope that he had rebuilt enough trust to move forward in their marriage—and, today, has a great story of what God did in his life / her life—but it really was a come-to-Jesus moment; wasn’t it?
Jen: Right. It was a come-to-Jesus moment for me, just as it was for him, because God had to say to me: “Jen, you’re not the savior. You don’t get to heal him—that’s My job.” God lead me through this process of “How do I still have hope when he’s still sinning in this sexual way?”
The first thing was that my sin is no different than his sin; and my exceeding my role, as his wife, is a sin because I’m trying to control and take God’s place.
So that was number one—God had to say, “Stop trying to be a savior, and let Me do My job.”
And number two was: “Get off your high horse.” I was kind of like the older brother in the prodigal son, “Why are you celebrating that he’s coming home when, here, I’ve been so faithful this whole time?” So God had to cure me of my self-righteousness and my pride.
The third one was to just realize pornography is a hole-filler. I have had my share of hole-fillers too—I’ve turned to food / I’ve turned to shopping—all of it is idolatry. When God showed me that I was just as much of a sinner as he was, I had compassion on him.
It made the fear of the unknown—because I’d be like: “Oh, what if he sins again? What if he looks at porn? What if the world comes crashing down and our ministry’s over?” and everything. God had to just say: “Stop! Take today for what is today. Is he walking in victory today? Praise Me for that! Pray the armor of God over your family.
Trust Me to go before you. Keep turning to the light,”—because, whenever I would bring out my fear and my controlling, it would just make him shut down because then he feels disrespected, and not loved, and that I don’t trust him.
One of you has to make the decision to start trusting. I had to start trusting that he wouldn’t look at porn. He had to start trusting me that I wasn’t going to treat him like a kid. So “Who’s going to start first?” It might as well be you because you’re both in this together.
Bob: Craig, let me take you back to that volcano—that I talk to men about—that may go off if they confess. A lot of guys are saying, “If I told my wife…” / they hear your story and say: “If I came clean with my wife, she would pack the bags. Our marriage would be over!”
Craig: Yes; that is a risk, right, that people have to reconcile with. What I was thinking about, as you were saying that, is—a volcano is an extremely destructive event that you cannot control—
—but what happens after the volcano and how God restores that—I mean, some of the most fertile land you can plant stuff in is volcanic ash.
I think, cognitively, I didn’t really go through, “Okay; if I tell Jen, then she could leave,” or “…she’s going to leave.” There were probably moments that I did think about that; but we keep going back to relationship—and what relationship is—and relationship is not about rules. Relationship is about being honest, and open, and transparent, and loving one another. God didn’t want to give us a bunch of rules—He only gave us one to begin with—“Don’t eat from that tree.”
Craig: It just seemed like we were the ones, who were saying: “We want more rules,” “We want more rules,” “We want more rules.” So He says: “Fine. You want more rules? I’ll give you six hundred and forty-some-odd that you’re not going to be able to do until the very culmination of: ‘Okay; just believe and accept the gift that I’m giving you.’”
God wants relationship with us. He wants us to have relationship with one another.
Marriage is the manifestation of the relationship between Christ and the church. He uses that imagery on purpose—it’s very intentional. He wants us to be intentional with one another in that you can’t do that without being honest. Being honest requires risk—it could be bad / there could be separation. There’s going to be hurt, and there’s going to be pain associated with that—but at the end of that—if you invest the time and if you persevere through that time—what’s on the other side of that is absolutely amazing. It’s—I would venture that—if you have a spouse, who’s engaging in pornography and is not honest with their wife or their husband—their relationship is not what it can be; right?
Dennis: That’s right.
Craig: So to get in on the other side of that is something they could possibly not even imagine at that point.
Dennis: Your story reminded me of a couple of things we teach at the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
We, first of all, teach that: “Your spouse is a gift from God and that God knows what He’s doing when He brings two people together,”—
Dennis: —and you actually have a chapter titled this. The other thing we teach is: “Your spouse is not your enemy.”
As I read your story—and now, over the past couple of broadcasts, as I’ve listened to it in person—I have to look at you, Craig, and go—I was going to say, “If you wanted to be addicted to pornography, you married the wrong woman [Laughter] because this woman, across the table from you, is tenacious.” It’s not that she is able to control you to keep you from getting away with something because you know, full well, you can get away with what you want to get away with.
Dennis: She is a picture of God’s love for you—to love you out of your solitude / out of the safety of your isolation—
—out of the lack of confidence of wanting a real relationship with a real person. I’ve just got to say: “I know you’ve been married about 16 years right now. I can tell you, from having been married 43 years to a very strong woman too—the best is yet to be.
Craig: That’s good!
Dennis: “I mean, you have no idea how God wants to use you two in your children’s lives, in the lives of other couples as you do the dance; and you’re going to step on one another’s toes when you do the dance. But if you keep dancing—and don’t lose hope and keep building the trust—then there’s a great story to be told here.” And you guys are telling it!
Bob: I just want to know, Craig: “What’s different today in terms of the temptation, and why is it that you’re less susceptible to the temptation today than you were?” “How do guys get out of this?”—I guess is the question I’m asking.
Dennis: Besides putting your name on a book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart. [Laughter]
Bob: A little accountability there.
Dennis: Just to be honest about this—when you really came clean was in the process of writing this book!
Craig: Absolutely; yes. To answer your question, it’s not relying on me—I had to give that up. I had to realize that I had to truly rely on God. So, when the temptation comes, I turn to Him / I turn to Jen. When I feel my life getting out of control / when I feel the stress of work getting out of control, I will go to Jen and say: “Look; I’m really stressed out. I could use your prayer.” I do have a group of guys that I meet with regularly, and they know about my struggles.
So for me—ultimately, it’s running to God. And number two—it’s engaging with my partner that God provided for me, and relying on her, and really depending upon her like she depends on me.
Dennis: Speak to this—she’s really dangerous; isn’t she?
Craig: Yes! [Laughter]
Dennis: I don’t want to turn you into a football coach because you’re a woman; okay?—not that a woman couldn’t coach a football team—but I do want to turn you into a coach for a wife. I want you to do your best job of speaking into her life—she’s married to a man who’s disappointed her—maybe it’s not pornography—maybe it’s drugs, it’s alcohol, it’s women, it’s being flirtatious. It’s just tough; there’s nothing pretty about what’s taking place. Speak to that woman, right now, with the kind of courage she needs to have to face the future.
Jen: I just want you to know that you are incredibly loved by God. When it seems like the man who is supposed to love and take care of you forever is falling down on his job, you have a God who will never fail you.
All of your hopes, all of your dreams, all of your worries, and your fears and anxiety—He’s holding them right now. You are not alone. You are not worthy of this treatment; you didn’t do anything to deserve this.
Society tells you that: “If you look better…” “If you were thinner…” “If you had this job or you made that amount of money…” or “If you were this kind of mom…”—then “…you’d be fully accepted.” I want you to know that that’s a lie! You’re already accepted by Jesus, and He died on the cross so that He could accept you every single day.
I just want you to come before Him, right now, with everything you have and just lay it down because I have lived a life of trying to control everything to protect myself, and it doesn’t work! My encouragement to you is to bring it all to your Father, who loves you, and who sees you, and who knows you inside out.
Bring it to Him. Then sit at His feet, and feel His love, and let Him empower you and equip you. Take it day by day because, when you walk this life with Jesus Christ, there is always hope.
Pray over yourself, pray over your spouse, pray over your children. Ask God to move into the places that He has not been because He hasn’t been allowed. Give Him the invitation, and then see where He takes you. It is going to be hard—you’re going to feel like you’re drowning—but you have hope / Hebrews 6:18—you put on that life jacket, and you keep breathing, and you keep moving one step at a time, and you watch how God will transform your life!
Dennis: As you were saying that Jen, I just kept coming back to Ephesians,
Chapter 3 [verses 20-21].
That was almost as a prayer. This is a prayer—the Apostle Paul says, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Dennis: I think there are likely wives and husbands listening to us—maybe some single folks, who are on the precipice of maybe making the decision to get married, where some of these matters may need to be brought out into the light before they get married—that just need to realize that this decision to say, “I do,” to another imperfect human being is not just about two people. It’s about what God’s doing on planet earth. He chose to use two broken people—for whatever reason, a man and a woman in a marriage relationship—to impact generations.
You guys have two daughters, Barbara and I have six children, Bob—five. We’re all in the process of fulfilling our vows, trying to work out our covenant as best God will enable us to do so, imperfectly as it is; but there’s a lot at stake in your marriage. I just want—I want the listener, right now, wherever you are / whatever you’re facing:
“It’s not just about you. It’s not just about your happiness, as the world would want you to believe. It is about what God’s up to in your life, in your spouse’s life, your children’s lives, your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren, and beyond because this marriage relationship is a part of a generational relay. Run the race well.”
That’s my charge to you two—Craig/Jen: “Keep running the race well and keep sharing your story of God’s redemption.” I want to express my appreciation, again, for being so open and honest and allowing us to peer into a great story of redemption that’s not done.
Bob: I’d just say to the listeners, who may find themselves in the midst of the battle—Craig and Jen offer a road map to hope in their book, Pure Eyes, Clean Heart. It’s a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy of the book. Or you can call us and order by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Let me also remind you that this week is the last opportunity you have to sign up for an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, where you can take advantage of a special offer that we are making before the season begins. When you sign up before Sunday, you pay regular rate for yourself and your spouse comes free. So take advantage of this special offer. It’s the best offer we make available all year long. It’s good through Sunday.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to sign up for a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Especially those of you, who have listened to FamilyLife Today for years and you’ve never been to one of our getaways, make this spring the spring that you come out and join us for a weekend that is fun, and relaxing, and refreshing. It comes with a money-back guarantee—if for any reasons you’re not happy with the weekend, we will refund your registration fee with no questions asked. So you’ve got nothing to lose; right?
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to register; or call 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” and register over the phone.
Speaking of the Weekend to Remember, we have some friends who have attended a couple of these events in their 16 years of marriage together. Today is their anniversary—Alejandro and Jaqueline Noriega, who live in Livingston, Texas. We want to say, “Happy Anniversary!” to you guys celebrating 16 years together today. We’re excited about your anniversary.
This is an anniversary year for us, here at FamilyLife. We have been doing ministry for 40 years, and we want to thank those of you who partner with us in this ministry—those of you who are Legacy Partners or those of you who will donate, occasionally, in support of what we’re doing, here at FamilyLife Today. We couldn’t do what we do without you—we’re grateful for your support.
You can make a donation today by going to FamilyLifeToday.com—donating online—or calling 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we are going to talk to a wife who went through what the Fergusons have been through. Her husband confessed to looking at pornography. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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