I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Curis Solomon called, Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography. His wife, Jenny Solomon, also wrote a companion book called Reclaim Your Marriage: Grace for Wives Who Have Been Hurt by Pornography. Solomon is a biblical counselor and serves as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
The topic of pornography is important for biblical counselors to address. Unfortunately, the message in our culture seems to be that porn is no big deal, and my experience in the church is that many people struggle but few people talk about the issue. This new book by Solomon felt you were sitting with a friend over coffee who offered hope and wisdom to deal with this common struggle with sin. I appreciate the transparency from his own life and how he held the tension of calling pornography evil while not condemning the one struggling. Instead, he brings the hope of the gospel to the struggler.
Many books that I have read on this subject dealt primarily with changing behavior. For example, the goal is to stop looking at pornography as if this is the only sin struggle. Although this is a good goal, simple behavior change is not the goal of biblical counselors. The additional complexity of the human heart is that stopping a behavior does not necessarily mean the desire has changed. Therefore, Solomon is careful to address this subject with Christ at the center, “My goal, first and foremost, is to point you to Christ.” Only Christ can change the heart, both desires, and behavior.
This book has ten chapters dealing with different aspects of the struggling husband. Although he addresses husbands, single people and women could benefit from the principles in this book. I appreciate that he began with a chapter on lament. He showed how lament is a helpful tool for the wife to grieve the pain she has experienced because of her husband’s sins. He showed how the husband could grieve his sin, and porn has twisted a good desire for sex into something twisted. The process of lament leads the husband back to the Lord.
A significant chapter in the book was on repentance. I have struggled with many authors I have read in the past who make repentance sound so simple. For example, teaching on repentance is often presented that you will never struggle again with a particular sin if you have true repentance. Solomon deals with repentance on the heart level, “thoughts, beliefs, desires, affections, and choices.” Solomon addresses three elements of repentance: intellectual, emotional, and volition. He takes these ideas from Louis Berkhof, which describes repentance as focusing on the heart and not mere behavioral change. He also addresses true and false repentance and some misconceptions when this is taught. He says, “While genuine repentance does involve a turn away from sin in our attitudes and actions, recurrence of that sin in our lives does not necessarily mean that our repentance was inauthentic or otherwise faulty.” This is a helpful statement since believers still struggle with their flesh and will never be free from sin until heaven. He explains, “The image of repentance in the Bible is not someone who turns away from sin and never looks back, but someone who changes their orientation to sin and then repeatedly fights to keep moving away from it.”
Solomon provided a helpful acronym in the book to fight the sin of pornography. He called it AAA (admiration, accountability, and amputation). I thought these were helpful tools when thinking about fighting pornography on a heart level. He begins with the primary purpose in life, “to worship and admire Christ” (Romans 11:36). (This reminded me of another author I read in the past, Thomas Chalmers. He wrote a helpful article called “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” He talked about how our affections for Christ are used to fight sin). Solomon also identified the root problem of pornography (and sin in general), which is a worship problem.
Since he was addressing this book to husbands, he had a lot of helpful counsel for marriage. For example, he addressed something important for all husbands to hear who struggle with pornography. He said that “having more sex with her or “better ” sex with her is not the solution to your pornography problem.” This statement is crucial because it does not allow husbands to make excuses for their sins. This is also important because it helps husbands see that the solution to their problem is not having their desire fulfilled but growing in Christlikeness.
One part of the book that I found very helpful was the appendix. Yes, the appendix! There were three topics in the appendix:
- Porn and Abuse
- Ministry after Porn
- Is Pornography Use Grounds for Divorce?
These are important topics and questions, and I thought he did a good job addressing them. He made some excellent arguments and was not dogmatic with his conclusions.
I would recommend this book to husbands who struggle with porn and those trying to help others who struggle and want to grow in their understanding. This book does not provide simplistic answers, nor does he overpromise in his counsel. Instead, he approaches this complex sin with humility, giving grace and truth to all those affected. This book aims to bring Christ to the struggler, so the struggler might learn what it means to have true hope for change in their lives. He ended the book with a reminder of the great hope of the gospel that Jesus paid the debt we all deserve, and his blood redeemed us.