How To Cultivate deep and meaningful friendships

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We love friendship. And we have had a ton of different friendships over the years. Just thinking about all of the many places in the world we have had the opportunity to cultivate friendships at different times throughout our marriage blows my mind! It’s like no matter where we have been, and no matter for how long, God provided real friendships – deep friendships. But it was up to us to make the choice to invest in those relationships and what they were like. With every one of them, it took time – to spend together and get to know. And there seemed always to be a moment of hard that challenged us and gave us the opportunity to press on in love in those friendships. There were also mistakes made on our part – things we could have done better to love our friends. To make things easier. Just like in marriage, when you are in close proximity to another sometimes there is friction. So we just wanted to touch on today the experiences we have had with friends and their importance.


jennifer: Hi, and welcome to the Marriage After God podcast.

Aaron: We’re your hosts, Aaron and Jennifer Smith.

jennifer: We have been married 15 years and have five sweet children who are growing up way too fast.

Aaron: We love God and we love marriage.

jennifer: And we love to be honest about it all.

Aaron: Marriage is not always a walk in the park, but we do believe it has a powerful purpose.

jennifer: So, our goal here is to open up the conversation to talk about our faith and our marriage.

Aaron: Especially in light of the gospel.

jennifer: We certainly don’t have all the answers, but if you stick around we may just make you laugh.

Aaron: But our hope is to encourage you to chase boldly after God’s purpose for your life together.

jennifer: This is Marriage After God.
Welcome back to another episode of the Marriage After God [inaudible 00:00:52].

Aaron: Podcast. We’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith, and we’re glad you’re here.

jennifer: Okay. But can I just say, in all realness, this was a hard episode to start, to hit that record button on, because-

Aaron: Not just because of the topic, of course.

jennifer: … Aaron and I, we’re having a hard moment in our flesh just now. And he even said, “Maybe we should postpone this. Let’s just wait.” And I said, “No, this is exactly why we started a marriage ministry is because marriage is hard and we’re not exempt from that.” And-

Aaron: Well, I want to be exempt from it, but-

jennifer: But marriage wasn’t hard back then in our early years. Marriage is hard even now. You go through these rhythms and motions where some days you’re really great, and then there’s times where it’s not so easy.

Aaron: This was one of them, but we’re starting and we’re doing this episode whether we like it or not. And I like it. I’m glad we’re moving forward.

jennifer: Well, I guess I just wanted to share all that because I want you guys to know that we said this before, but we don’t know it all and we’re not perfect at marriage. But the reason that we do this is because we’re just like you guys and we know that there are hard days mixed in with a lot of good. And it’s those little bits of encouragement that you get hopefully through our podcast that remind you to just press in and keep going and keep-

Aaron: Continue on?

jennifer: Yeah. Just going. So, here we are.

Aaron: Well, we’re going to do it in today’s episode. We’re going to be chatting about also a hard topic for us, but we’re going to be talking about victory from pornography. Which, the victory’s not hard. That’s awesome. But just the topic of pornography is sensitive. So, thanks for bearing with us today. We’re going to try our best. We love you guys and we’re excited to be here. But before we get into the sponsor for this episode, I just wanted say that we’re so honored that we’re currently getting over 12,000 downloads per episode for this season, which is crazy because that’s actually double, if not more than double what we were getting last season per episode.

jennifer: Nice.

Aaron: Which is crazy. I have no idea why, but it’s awesome and it’s happening.

jennifer: So, I just told a lot more people that we have hard times?

Aaron: Yeah. Double the amount of people, actually. So, that being said, we’d love to see what we can do with this podcast and the community and what it’s capable of. Would you commit to inviting one other couple or person to check out this show this week? The most powerful way for anything to grow is by the community itself and word of mouth. So, I just wanted to encourage you, this week invite someone to listen to this podcast.

jennifer: So, this podcast, or this specific episode, is brought to you by our 31 day marriage devotionals for couples, Husband After God and Wife After God. We wrote these devotionals to encourage husbands and wives around the world to draw closer to God and closer to each other. These devotionals can be done by yourself, so you could just pick up your own copy, or you could do it together with your spouse, which is really awesome because the topics kind of coincide. There’s a couple different ones. But you guys can talk about the topics together, which is really cool. Some of the topics that we cover are God’s purpose for your marriage, the ministry of reconciliation, the parts of marriage, and many more. It also includes a daily prayer, which is really cool. Every day’s topic comes with scripture to read, a prayer, a thought and questions for you to answer, and even journal together if you want.

Aaron: Yeah. So, we want to invite you. It’s Husband and Wife After God devotionals. You can get them on or at

jennifer: Okay. So, you already mentioned that this topic of pornography, even though it’s victory from pornography, is a hard-

Aaron: It’s still a big portion of my story overall, is this journey from pornography.

jennifer: But you mentioned that it’s hard to talk about. Why?

Aaron: It’s ugly. It’s embarrassing. It’s a part of my life that I’m not happy was ever there because of how destructive it was. So, it’s a hard subject. But the reason I talk about it and we’ve talked about it in several episodes in the past, and I share it with anyone I talk to, is because I believe that the more I share it, the more open I am about it, the more light I shine in that darkness, the less dark it is and the less hold it has in my life and the less hold it has in other people’s lives.

jennifer: Yeah, I also think about how it’s so weird, but words like sex or pornography, our culture exposes so much of it and just puts it all out there and yet there’s-

Aaron: Yeah. It’s commonplace. Yeah.

jennifer: Yeah. It’s common and almost normal. But then there’s this element of, you can’t really talk about it without feeling guilt or shame or icky.

Aaron: That should tell you something about it.

jennifer: Yeah, that’s weird. Okay.

Aaron: That’s an interesting thought that they make it seem so common and yet you can’t have healthy conversations around it, which is interesting. So, hopefully we have a healthy conversation around it today. I mean, like we were just talking about, pornography has become so common in many homes.

jennifer: Definitely accessible.

Aaron: Well, it’s way more accessible than it ever has been, but it’s so common. And it’s common now even amongst both men and women more so than it ever has been. You can look up the stance yourself at a later time. And although it shouldn’t be, it’s super common in the church. The bride of Christ.

jennifer: Yeah. The body of…

Aaron: Yeah. So, it’s not enough to talk about it one time in one past episode. It’s something that we need to keep bringing up, especially because we have double the people listening now. Hopefully there’s someone that listens today and walks away from this really encouraged, really reminded of the truth of who they are in Christ, and also freedom from pornography.

jennifer: Yeah. Pornography was something that plagued our marriage in a lot of the early years, and it was really hard to walk through that with you. And it was really painful in a lot of ways. It caused a lot of hurt and harm to our marriage.

Aaron: Well, and it was one of those things, like I’ve talked about in the past, is it plagued my life even before we were married. And I was really hoping that marriage would’ve somehow fixed it, which of course is a lie.

jennifer: It was a habit you had built of-

Aaron: Yeah. It was a habit, an addiction,

jennifer: … coping and going to that-

Aaron: That ugly place. Yeah.

jennifer: … place. Yeah.

Aaron: But God was patient and He was gracious and He helped me, which I love. Because if you think about it, God’s righteous and He didn’t need to be patient with me. But because He is patient and loving, He was. Which is, I just praise God for that. He was. And He’s patient with you listening too. He’s patient with us, but He wants us to know the truth and that’s hopefully what I’m going to get to today. What we’re going to just shine a light on today is that we believe lies which keeps us in our pornography addictions, but there’s truth that sets us free.

jennifer: And there’s hope for you today-

Aaron: There’s hope, yeah. Absolutely.

jennifer: … listening-

Aaron: 100%.

jennifer: … if you are struggling with addiction, to be at a place of freedom and to walk in victory. Aaron, how long has it been now for you?

Aaron: I was trying to calculate this when I was looking through these notes and I believe it was around 2016.

jennifer: Which was six years ago.

Aaron: Six-ish years ago. It could have been earlier or maybe a little later. I was really trying to pinpoint exactly when this conversation that happened with me. But it’s been about six years. I think that’s about right. It feels like it’s been that long because I was actually just walking around today thinking about this episode. And I was thinking about how amazing it is that I don’t have that guilt and shame anymore. Because it used to be so prevalent in my life. It was like every day or every other day or every other other day, but it was constant. And that’s hard for me, but I look back and I’m like, “Man, that’s pretty amazing that it’s not a part of my life anymore.”

jennifer: It’s like a weight lifted off your shoulders.

Aaron: Yeah. And I wanted to just mention that it’s not that it’s not a daily struggle, a battle. I can feel that-

jennifer: Temptation.

Aaron: … temptation. I could feel that urge and I constantly am being reminded from the enemy or just my flesh of that part of my life. But I’m constantly having to submit those thoughts to Christ and pray over them and remind myself that that’s not who I am, that those are not my thoughts, that I don’t want those thoughts, that I want to be pure and holy and healed. But it’s pretty amazing that it’s been so long.

jennifer: That’s awesome. I think for some people listening, they might think, “Well, I could never go that long.” Or-

Aaron: I remember thinking that a lot.

jennifer: Did you?

Aaron: I do. I remember thinking when I was in the midst of it, that there was… I think the longest I ever went was a month, but it never dawned on me that it would actually be permanent. That was never an idea I had in my mind. I just always felt like, “Maybe I can go longer this time. Maybe I can go longer next time.” So, if you’re listening and you think this, that you don’t think you can go that long, then you won’t. If you don’t think you can, you won’t. And that’s a big mind shift, is actually believing you can be free, and even bigger than that, are already free from pornography, which I think we’ll get into a little bit more soon.

jennifer: So, what was it for you, that point of recognition or that moment where you gave it up and you started to believe what was true?

Aaron: And walk in that freedom?

jennifer: Yeah.

Aaron: This is the crux of pretty much everything. Any addiction, anything we walk in, any lies we believe, any of these strongholds in our lives, this is the crux of what changes that. What we believe is how we are going to act. So, if I believe I’m still a slave to pornography, which I did, and I believe that it had a hold on me, I believe it had a power over me, then I’m going to remain a slave to it even if that’s not true. So, even if I have enough willpower to avoid it for a while, eventually I’m going to be right back to it. Because what I believe is why I’m there in the first place. I believe it has the power over me. I believe it controls what I do. I believe that it is happening to me.
So, even if I try and go a month, a week, a day, it doesn’t matter how long I think I can go. I don’t believe I can continue on, like I just mentioned a little bit earlier. What I believe dictates what I do. So, what changed was a brother in Christ telling me that I was believing lies, revealing to me the lies that I was believing. Because I would say, “I want to be free.” But the lie is that I wanted to be free. The truth is I wanted that pornography. I wanted that feeling. I wanted that experience. So, I had to recognize the truth about it. But the even deeper truth that set me free is that I was already free, that I’m actually not a slave to pornography. As a believer in Christ, as someone who saved by the blood of the lamb, as someone who has put his faith in the only name that is above every name, I’m actually already free.
There are no chains. The bonds of sin and death and the fear of death are gone. They’re gone in Christ. But if I think I’m still in bondage, if I think I’m still enslaved to this thing, then I’m going to act like I’m still enslaved to it. And so that was actually a huge moment for me. The Bible tells us that we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds. That was a renewing moment of my mind that I was able to realize in my spirit that, “Oh, wait a minute. I’m not slave to this and I don’t have to do this.” That doesn’t mean it didn’t feel any less strong. But what it did was when those temptations came, I actually knew the truth about it, that I wasn’t a slave to it, that I didn’t need it, that that’s not who I am and I can actually start hearing those things.
It almost made me more sensitive to what the spirit was already trying to say to me in the conviction about the pornography. So, just a recap, what changed me was I began to believe the truth. And I know that sounds maybe oversimplified, but that’s the reality with all these things. If we believe the truth. Jesus came to set us free. It’s for freedom that Christ has come. That’s what He’s giving to us, is freedom from sin and death. And so I’m not a slave to pornography. If you’re listening to this and you’re a believer and you are addicted to pornography, I want you to know something. You are not a slave to pornography. Pornography is not something happening to you. You’re free from it. You’re completely free in Christ Jesus. Once you realize that, then you recognize then what you’re doing is you’re choosing this sin. That’s what I was doing. That’s what Christians do, is we choose the sin rather than the sin doing something to us or controlling us. Because it does not have the control.

jennifer: So, that’s really good. And I really appreciate you sharing that. I just want everyone to know this is really a hard topic for me to go back to and talk about, especially experiences in our past. Because as a wife, it emotionally brings me back to these places that I was like, “Oh, that really hurt,” or, “That was really hard.” And so earlier I mentioned that it hurt our marriage. Do you want to share a little bit about how, like what are the different ways? Because I think it’s important that people hear. Maybe people who are listening who may be doing something like this, they’re not realizing the pain that it could cause. So, maybe hearing our story, maybe hearing how it has hurt our marriage will shed some light.

Aaron: Well, you mentioned how it’s a hard subject for you because of what it brings up for you, those emotions that hurt. Can I just ask you, how did it affect you?

jennifer: It made me feel really insecure. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or I couldn’t measure up to what it was that you really wanted. And it made me angry.

Aaron: Oh, yeah. You were angry.

jennifer: It made me sad. It was a lot. Heavy.

Aaron: It was a lot. And it was very spiritually destructive between our relationship. That unity that we had, it was always something chipping away at our unity, if not taking huge chunks out of it. It spiritually hurt us. I didn’t have much respect for myself. I didn’t see myself as someone respectable because I knew what was in my heart. I knew what I was doing. So, it made me weak.

jennifer: Which actually showed physically. Thinking back on just our journey together, your countenance, the way you carried yourself, everything about you was less confident, less assured-

Aaron: That’s true.

jennifer: … than what you’ve been walking the last six years.

Aaron: That’s true.

jennifer: Drastically different.

Aaron: Yeah. It’s been a-

jennifer: Huge shift.

Aaron: … huge transformation. Yeah. It kept me from feeling confident in my relationship with God. I always felt insecure with God, which is crazy because He’s the most secure relationship that I have. But I felt distant from Him. It’s not like He changed. He didn’t move. But I felt wishy-washy with Him and tossed to and fro, and that was not good.

jennifer: I remember the feeling of broken trust and struggling to know whether I could believe the things that you were saying or if you were telling the truth in a lot of different areas of life because of that one area.

Aaron: Yeah. And it was true. Because going back to talking about what I believed and how that drives what we do, because I believed one way, even when I was repenting to you or apologizing to you, I couldn’t actually do it because what I was repenting of was how I felt about my sin. What I was repenting of is what it did to you. I was repenting of these things, the fruit of my sin that I didn’t like, but I wasn’t actually repenting of my sin, of my love of it, of my desire for it. The repentance was skewed because my belief was off. What I was believing was false.
And that’s why belief is so powerful. Just to go back to this again, I just want to reiterate that this is what brings us freedom is when we believe the truth. It’s the truth that sets us free. That what we believe drives what we do. It’s why we’re told to believe in Jesus. I want to make sure I say this carefully. Jesus is our salvation. But what He calls us to do is believe in Him. That’s what He calls us to do is believe in Him. And when we truly believe in Jesus, our lives reflect that. We begin to follow Him. We begin to listen to His word.

jennifer: Things change in our life.

Aaron: Things change. So, that’s what faith is. Faith is the proof of what we believe. And it’s the actions that grow out of what we believe. So, going back to pornography, if I believe pornography has this control over me, then I’m giving it that control. If I believe I’m a slave to it, then I’m going to act like a slave to it. I’m going to give in every time that temptation shows up, even if I can have enough willpower against it for a time or two.

jennifer: Just to interrupt you real quick. Because people are funny. We’re funny. What hinders us from believing what’s true?

Aaron: We talked about this for a little bit. This weird idea that I was thinking about is because we have a lot of biology that dictates a lot of things, like what we-

jennifer: Like hormones.

Aaron: … crave and hormones, and when we get angry or sad or happy and what things we love in life and things we want to do. A lot of that’s just biology, but we’re not only biology. We’re a multifaceted creature. We’re a soul and we have a spirit and we have God’s spirit in us. So, we have all these aspects to us that… So, I was just wondering, where does belief exist? It can’t be in the biology of us. Belief is not just synapses firing and hormones flowing and these chemical responses in my brain saying, “Oh, now I agree with this idea.” Belief has got to be something outside of us.
It’s a spiritual thing. It’s a spiritual thing that affects our biology. It affects what we do and how we act and what we eat and where we go and things we say and how we respond. And so what keeps us from believing, I think sometimes, can maybe be biology, but I don’t think so. I think what keeps us from believing is what we already believe. Because we all believe something. So, it’s not that we don’t believe something. We already believe something. And either that thing we believe is the truth or it’s a lie. And so I think what keeps us maybe from believing the truth are the lies that we hold so strongly to already. I could be wrong, but that’s what kept me for so long. And I think another thing is-

jennifer: Real quick before you move on.

Aaron: Yeah, go ahead.

jennifer: When you were talking about the lies that we are clinging on to, I got this image, because I think in pictures, of like, “Okay, well then as I’m walking through this process, in order to believe something new we got to rip up the old thing.” And then I got this picture of renovating a house and finding that old 1970s tile on the floor that’s stuck so hard and you’re trying to chisel at it and it won’t get up.

Aaron: So you could put down a new floor.

jennifer: Yeah. But what an awful process.

Aaron: It is. Well, and it’s hard. But I think a part of that chiseling up is it being presented to us in the first place, being told that that tile is ugly.

jennifer: Like the confrontation.

Aaron: Yeah. And so I think a reason maybe we don’t believe the truth is not that we haven’t heard the truth. Because I think there was so many times growing up in this addiction to pornography that I read scriptures and I looked at them and I said, “There’s no way this is true because it doesn’t work for me,” which is so backwards. The fact is it was already true. I just didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe what it said. And so I think being presented with it maybe in this way on this podcast or another person in your life like what happened to me, someone sitting down, and it’s that moment, it’s a culmination of the Holy Spirit conviction, a moment of just providence with another Christian believer. Maybe even not a believer, just some instance where there’s a culmination of all of these things coming together where you’re like, “Oh man, I’ve been believing a lie.”
And I mean, the idea of when you say you believe something, it’s essentially saying, “I agree with this.” And so we got to ask ourselves, “What do we agree with?” So, when you read scriptures like I was, like this one in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” If I don’t believe that God’s word can actually transform my mind or renew my mind, then it won’t. I don’t believe it can. Like, “Oh, that sounds great. But it’s not for me.” Or if I read other scriptures like this one, First Corinthians 10:13, this is a huge one, and I brought this up in other podcasts and I’m just going to keep reiterating because it’s so true, “No temptation is overtaking you that is not common to man. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. But with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.”

jennifer: Praise God, that He does this for us.

Aaron: I would read this and I would say, “Well, not for me. That’s true, I guess, for someone but not for me.” So, who’s true? Is what He says true or what I’m saying true?

jennifer: He’s always true.

Aaron: Yeah. So, just essentially it’s either we believe in the lies or we believe in the truth and I started believing the truth. I started believing what God says in His word and it’s huge. And First Corinthians 10:13 is true as it gets.

jennifer: Thank God.

Aaron: Yeah. It’s true.

jennifer: So, what has it been like now that you’ve been walking in victory and freedom and purity? How’s life? How’s our marriage?

Aaron: Easier in major ways. Our intimacy with each other has just… I feel like we’ve been growing over the last six years exponentially.

jennifer: Enjoying each other.

Aaron: Enjoying each other. There’s so much less conflict. I mean, we still have had conflicts, but not around this, not around broken trust, not around the spiritual infidelity. It’s just been building trust. And I would say, have you felt more confident with us?

jennifer: I have. And just to, hopefully as an encouragement to those listening, trust didn’t take that long to rebuild. And I think with things like this, sometimes it can feel like, “Will it ever be restored?” or, “Will we ever be at a place that I truly desire?” And I’ve been really thankful that trust was something that was rebuilt and rebuilt. It did take time, but not as long as I thought it would take. And I really appreciate that, that that was the case.

Aaron: Yeah. And I think it helps when you see actual, real quantifiable change in me instead of this constant… I do want to be honest. There were times that I fell short. And this doesn’t mean that I fell back in the same way I did in the past. What God was doing was showing me, because my eyes were taken off of this main, big thing, this porn addiction, He started showing me other areas of my life where I had issues. Lust, bad decision processes in my life. And so again, it wasn’t the same kind of messing up that I did in the past. But what happened was is I was able to come to you quicker, repent to you and say, “Hey, I clicked on this thing and I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I chose to do it. It’s not who I am. It’s not going to happen again.” And that happened less and less frequently and it’s something that-

jennifer: It was like God was correcting and retraining your mind-

Aaron: That’s exactly what He was doing.

jennifer: … even down to the simplest, most-

Aaron: Things that most people probably wouldn’t even think are an issue.

jennifer: Yeah. Yeah. But showing you-

Aaron: But it convicted me.

jennifer: … that this is where it started or this is a root. Yeah.

Aaron: And it’s that idea that God doesn’t even want a hint of it in His church, that He wants his bride to be pure. So, I feel like that’s what God was doing. I was getting more and more and more sensitive to this stuff, which is also awesome because then it helped build trust with Jennifer, that even in those, quote-unquote, “little things,” which didn’t feel little to me, they felt painful and shameful, you saw me growing and changing and being more and more honest and less and less sneaky because I wasn’t practicing that thing anymore.

jennifer: Well, when you are operating in the spirit and you have a relationship with God, there is this level of discernment, I think, in marriage where you sense when your spouse is struggling with something. You can sense when there’s emotional. You can sense when they’re sinning. And you may not always know exactly-

Aaron: Which you did.

jennifer: … what it is or what they’re going through, but you definitely sense things. And oftentimes that sensing I would get would prompt me to ask, “Hey, how you doing?” And so-

Aaron: Which is really helpful.

jennifer: Yeah. And I’m just grateful that those promptings that I would get, those discernments, they feel a lot different now. They’re about different things.

Aaron: Which is good. And I think that’s a cool thing, that once you get over, I would say this, that was a big hurdle, it’s almost like you can see clearer and it’s like the scales fall off my eyes and I can start seeing more and more things that God’s trying to grow in me and work in me and areas of my life that I needed to surrender to Him, that I was holding onto that I would’ve never saw before because I was so blinded by this other stuff that was going on.

jennifer: Do you feel like the gains you made and being able to have victory over this made-

Aaron: Like the gym gains?

jennifer: No. It made you more confident though in other areas that you were like, “Oh, this thing over here? I can…” You know?

Aaron: Yes. Again, going back to the self-discipline stuff, all those things that I did get tons of gains in, there’s still harder times and we go through seasons, but it feels good knowing that what God says is true and that I am truly free. And I can actually honestly tell that to others and this-

jennifer: I was going to say, you feel different.

Aaron: I feel different, but I feel like I can genuinely tell other people the same thing, that I don’t feel like I’m lying when I say, “You’re free.” That you actually don’t have to do that anymore. And you don’t have to believe that. So, some encouragements we wanted to give to you guys as the bride of Christ and women, men, whoever’s struggling with this, whoever’s dealing with this, whoever’s continuing to walk in this and choose this sin, and like I said, doesn’t believe they can walk in freedom from it, we want to give you some encouragement for that. So, here’s some scriptures and some… We want to help you.

jennifer: We want to fill up your cup today.

Aaron: Yeah. Why don’t you read that first one?

jennifer: Okay. It’s Titus 3:4-7. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our savior appeared, He saved us. Not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our savior, so that being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Aaron: So, we wanted to start with this verse because this is where everything comes from in us. The desire to walk in freedom, the desire to walk in holiness. It’s by what He has done, not by works that we’ve done. Because it’s-

jennifer: Because thinking that it’s you and that, “Okay, I’m not going to do this thing today,” only get you so far. You’re like-

Aaron: Yeah, not far at all, actually.

jennifer: Yeah. Not far at all. Because eventually we are in our flesh. We fail.

Aaron: Yeah. So-

jennifer: Which is why we need Jesus.

Aaron: Since this is true, since this is by God’s goodness and loving kindness that the savior has saved us and washing us and regenerating us and renewing us in his Holy Spirit that He’s poured out on us, here’s some things I want to tell you. Lay it aside. Lay it aside. Get rid of it. It no longer needs to be in our lives. Let’s get rid of this. Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” again, the witnesses of the faithful, of the ones who had faith in God in the Old Testament, “let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely,” pornography was one of those things that clung so closely to me, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

jennifer: You just shouted out pornography, but anything, any sin, any addiction, anything that you’re-

Aaron: Weighs us down.

jennifer: If you’re listening to this right now and the Lord is like, “This is the thing that I want you to hear.”

Aaron: Which God does that. Listen to it. He’s telling you right now.

jennifer: Psst.

Aaron: Yes, you. [inaudible 00:31:29].

jennifer: Okay. Reread that last.

Aaron: Okay. Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

jennifer: Okay. The next one is, “Flee from it. Flee from sexual…” Oh sorry. First Corinthians 6:18. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”

Aaron: Yeah. I was bringing this up today in my men’s group. Yes, this is a sin against your own flesh. But again, your wife, your husband-

jennifer: You’re one.

Aaron: … you’re one with that person.

jennifer: You are one.

Aaron: So, it’s a sin against them. And then if you take own body as in body of Christ or the body as the church, you’re sinning against the body of Christ. There’s another scripture that talks about that. It’s like taking Christ and putting Him with a prostitute, and we should never do that. And so flee from it. The next one is we want to say, “Kill it dead and gone once and for all.” Romans 8:13. “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” This is an important thing, that we recognize that thing as something that needs to be dead and gone. Gone, once and for all.

jennifer: I also just want to add some encouragement in light of marriage. When you walk in the flesh and when you choose sin, you are choosing destruction-

Aaron: In your marriage.

jennifer: … on your marriage.

Aaron: Yeah. And your own life.

jennifer: And in your life. But if you walk according to the spirit, you will live. Your marriage will-

Aaron: Have life.

jennifer: … have life. And that’s what we’ve experienced, which is why we are sharing this with you guys today. Okay. The next one is, “Draw near to God and believe the truth.” James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Aaron: So, that word double-minded is what I believe, believe, there’s that word, is who I was before.

jennifer: Going back and forth.

Aaron: Yeah. I would think and say, “Yeah, I want to be holy. Yeah, I love God. Yeah, I believe what He says is the word.” But then I acted totally different. I was double-minded. And so this says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Period. Draw near to God and believe what He says, which is how we cleanse our hands. We believe His word. We walk in His ways. That’s how we cleanse it ourselves.

jennifer: It’s also His word that will confront the sin in our life. And remember we talked about-

Aaron: Purify us. Yeah.

jennifer: … the confrontation is what we need to be able to-

Aaron: Jesus says this to his disciples in the [inaudible 00:34:13]. I just was remembering this. He says, “You’re already clean because of the words I have spoken to you.” Think about that. He cleans us and purifies us by His word. So, let’s stop being double-minded. So, here’s the second to last one. “Not even a hint of it,” Ephesians 5:1-5, “therefore be imitators of God as beloved children.” That’s who you are by the way. Listen to us. You are beloved children of God.
“And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you as is proper among saints.” When I said it’s common in the church, I started that with, “It should not be, but it is.” It should not be commonplace. It shouldn’t even be named among us as God’s bride. Just as much as you would not want any infidelity from your wife or some other man in your bed or other woman in your bed, there should be none of it. Not even close. Not even a hint. That’s what God wants from his bride, is not even a hint.

jennifer: And then there’s confess and repent and pray together. So, James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Aaron: This is probably one of the most important ones I would say. I mean, they’re all important, but confession is one of the gifts that God’s given us, one of the tools he’s given us to help us put our flesh to death. Because there’s nothing more, I think, our flesh hates than admitting it’s wrong-

jennifer: Well, it’s humbling.

Aaron: … or confessing its own failures and sins. But that confession to one another, the confession to my wife, that was a practice of killing my flesh, of saying, “I did this thing. I made this choice and it’s going to hurt my wife when I tell her the truth and it’s going to hurt our marriage when I tell her the truth.” But in reality, that is exactly what I did before I said anything. So, right now I’m going to say it and tell it and repent of it because I want it to die. I want the pain to be seen. I want it to be felt. I want it to be known. I’m making it harder to do it in the future. Because when I get in this habit and practice of confession to my wife when I fail in this way, it makes it that much harder to do it next time because I think, “If I make this choice right now, I’m going to have to confess it.”

jennifer: Now I do want to note that in our marriage and in our experience, when there was confession there was a lot of emotion that erupted from-

Aaron: From you?

jennifer: … hearing it and being impacted by the weight of that knowledge. And so I guess my encouragement is that with the choice to confess, leave room and a place for a response and be okay with whatever response is shared. And for those listening where someone’s confessing, be respectful in your response. We know that sin hurts and that these things are really uncomfortable to walk through. But if both parties can walk through it with grace and respect and love, a love for God, like, “I love God so much that I’m going to love you, Aaron, through this,” if we can do that with faith, then we can get through the confession part and the reconciliation part. I don’t know if I explained that very well. It’s-

Aaron: What you’re saying is-

jennifer: There’s a sensitivity that we’ve got to have in recognizing that our sin hurts people, our spouse.

Aaron: Well, and that’s a part of the process, is it being revealed because then it’s known and made known, and then the actual hurt that happened is actually happening rather than-

jennifer: You see it.

Aaron: … letting it fester underneath the surface.

jennifer: Or avoiding it by hiding it. Yeah.

Aaron: So, I’ve known many men that, they don’t want to confess because they don’t want to hurt their wife like that. And I think, “Well, you’re already hurting them.”

jennifer: And it doesn’t-

Aaron: Worse, actually, by not saying anything.

jennifer: And by doing it and by choosing it and it just gives the enemy a stronghold in your life when you don’t expose it and drag it into the light.

Aaron: And that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s briefly talk about, before we get to a close, about protecting our children. Because this was a big part. We haven’t talked about this at all. But when husband, wife, whoever is inviting this in the home, or both, God forbid, but that might be the case in some of these scenarios, when we bring it into the home it doesn’t just affect us. It’s actually going to affect our children.

jennifer: And just to add on to this, we also wanted to bring up talking about protecting our children because earlier we mentioned how accessible pornography is and how we see it in today’s culture everywhere, plastered everywhere. So, even if you’re not bringing it into the home, even if you’re not addicted to pornography, children-

Aaron: There could be access.

jennifer: Well, children are going to be exposed at some point. I think it’s important to be on the same page with each other in how are we going to address this with our children?

Aaron: Yeah. And I would just say first and foremost, we shouldn’t be the ones bringing it into the home. We should not be the… Like I said, everything we just talked about before, we need to rid it from our lives.

jennifer: Walk in purity.

Aaron: Walk in purity. Walk in freedom. Which, by the way, will give us authority to be able to confidently speak to our children about this instead of being weak in our thoughts and ways of communicating about it. So, here’s some ideas. Here’s some things to consider with your kids. The first one is, talk to them about how to protect their bodies.

jennifer: First, just that God created our bodies and that we have certain parts of our bodies that-

Aaron: That are special.

jennifer: … are special. Yeah.

Aaron: That’s kind of how at most ages you can say, “Hey, those are special. We don’t talk about that. We don’t do that.” Teaching them about that, about their body parts and how to protect them. The second one is, teach them how to protect their eyes. And this is a thing that I’m constantly having to battle every day. It’s something that I was never really taught. But we go everywhere and everyone’s got a device. There’s a TV. There’s something on the radio. Constantly, nonstop. There’s a commercial on YouTube. I mean, you name it. How do we teach our children-

jennifer: How to have self-control.

Aaron: Yeah. If you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable, then you should say something about it. Come talk to us. Or turn and look away, and you don’t have to look at that thing. That’s a big thing. I think a lot of people, they don’t realize that they don’t have to look. That’s a big thing.

jennifer: Another one is just being aware of their device time and not leaving them unattended. Knowing exactly what they’ve got access to, and just being really mindful of that.

Aaron: Yeah. This world is wicked and we’ve just heard too many stories of a totally seemingly innocent show and something’s in the middle of it and it’s just not worth it.

jennifer: On that note, when you go to friend’s houses or family’s houses, talking to your children about boundaries with other people’s devices, so-

Aaron: Even our devices.

jennifer: … not looking over shoulders and not being quick to look at other people’s devices.

Aaron: Yeah. And that can be an awkward one because our kids are getting older and they have friends and, “Hey, look at this game I got. Hey.” And totally innocent that we know of. But teaching our kids, “Hey-

jennifer: Ask for permission.

Aaron: … ask for permission. Don’t just look at people’s things.” We even practice it at home. If I’m on my phone and my son comes up and looks over my shoulder, I put my phone down and I said, “Please don’t look at my phone over my shoulder.” Teaching them that it’s not appropriate to just glance. You never know what someone’s got on their device. And so we’re just teaching them, “Don’t just pick up someone’s phone and use it. Don’t just look at people’s phones. Let’s be careful.” Another one is when the time is right, again, this is something you got to discern with your kids’ maturity level-

jennifer: Age appropriate.

Aaron: Yeah. Age appropriate. Tell them about pornography.

jennifer: And give them a way to handle it if they’re ever exposed to it. So, what are those steps they’re supposed to take? Are they supposed to come straight to you and tell you?

Aaron: Yep. And then the last thing. Again, this is not an extensive list, but teach them about God’s design for sexuality.

jennifer: Put it in terms of a good, good gift. God has given us a beautiful gift for marriage and sex is a good thing. And-

Aaron: Yeah. Growing up, we were under the impression that sex was a bad thing.

jennifer: Yeah. “No, no, no. And we don’t talk about it either.”

Aaron: But it’s actually a good thing and it should be, in a healthy context and in a safe way, talked about. And we can just show them, “Hey, God designed this and it’s a good thing, and it’s meant for this purpose,” and just get them excited about that aspect of their sexuality. So, those are some ideas we just wanted to share with you of how to help protect our kids from maybe things that we weren’t protected from. Maybe not intentionally. I don’t think I was ever intentionally exposed to anything. I found it.

jennifer: Well, I mean, I think that we all know that there is an enemy out there and he knows that if he can get a stronghold in someone’s life at an early age-

Aaron: Early on.

jennifer: … he’s going to win.

Aaron: He’s one of the best marketers out there, for sure.

jennifer: Yeah. So, hopefully that just encourages you guys today to be able to talk to your children about this topic and to make it at least more comfortable for them as they grow up to know that there’s an open conversation with you as their parents to share about these types of things. I think that’s really important.

Aaron: To teach.

jennifer: I hope we have that with our children.

Aaron: Yeah. So, before we move on to the weekly challenge, which by the way, we’ll probably have to give an update on last week’s weekly challenge, I want to strongly encourage you listeners to ask God to search your heart, seek inside of you and see if there’s any strongholds that you’ve allowed, any lies you have been believing. Man, I just want you to be free. I want you to walk in the freedom that I’ve been able to experience, that many believers for generations have been able to experience, knowing that Christ has truly set us free. Ask Him to show you where you have allowed yourself to remain in false bondage.

jennifer: And I’m going to add to that and just encourage you guys that if you have been someone who has chosen sin in your marriage, I want to personally just urge you and encourage you to take part in the ministry of reconciliation with your spouse, recognize the hurt that has been caused, and search and ask God how you can repair that part of your marriage. Because it’s so vital, you guys. The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy our marriages and it’s our responsibility to walk righteously and love one another in marriage. And so I just want to encourage you with that.

Aaron: Amen. Why don’t you share the weekly challenge?

jennifer: So-

Aaron: Wait. How did we do with last week’s weekly challenge?

jennifer: Last week’s challenge was great. We were supposed to dream together. And so we went on a date and we shared just-

Aaron: We dreamed about potential, maybe future-

jennifer: Business ideas.

Aaron: … business ideas.

jennifer: Which we’re really good at throwing on the table.

Aaron: Investment ideas.

jennifer: We’re really good at just, “Hey, what about this?”

Aaron: The last episode was, we talked about money and investing and so we were talking about future-

jennifer: It was on our minds.

Aaron: … money investing. Yeah.

jennifer: Yeah. It was really great though. It was good. We also talked about habits because Aaron got me onto a new book that I’m reading.

Aaron: I like it. Yeah. Maybe we’ll talk about it eventually. One day.

jennifer: I think you mentioned it already.

Aaron: Did I?

jennifer: I Think so.

Aaron: Oh, I might have.

jennifer: What is it called?

Aaron: It’s just called Atomic Habits.

jennifer: Atomic Habits. That’s right. Okay. So, this week’s challenge is, be intimate with each other every night for one week, even if you don’t feel like it. It only takes a few minutes, maybe. Maybe a little bit more.

Aaron: I’ll just say what I was writing there is that it only takes a few minutes usually to get interested into it.

jennifer: Oh. Well then. And I just want to add, intimate can be many different things. It could be an intimate conversation. It could be physical. It could be-

Aaron: It means one thing for one person and it means another thing for another. I could tell you that much. But you-

jennifer: We want to encourage you guys to just remember that intimacy in marriage is so vital, especially in light of what we’re talking about today. So, be there. Initiate.

Aaron: All right.

jennifer: Have fun.

Aaron: Let’s end this in a prayer. Dear Lord, thank you for giving us freedom in Christ. Thank you for breaking the bonds of sin and death and for making it possible for us to walk with Jesus and be reconciled to you. You are so patient and kind to us. And it is that kindness that leads us to repentance. Lord, help us to walk in purity every day and to grow more and more sensitive to the wicked things of this world. Lord, we pray every husband and wife who may still feel enslaved to pornography and have believed the lie that they are, I pray that they would believe the truth and they are already free, that they can choose to walk in the freedom and purity you died to give them.
Open their eyes to the truth. Convince them that your sacrifice, your spirit and your word are sufficient for us, and that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Renew us, transform us and make us more like your son, Jesus. Lord, tear down the stronghold that the enemy has over the porn industry, bring freedom and salvation to all those involved, and dissolve the influence it has in the church. Convict the hearts of those who continue to choose this sin and bring them to their knees before your throne. Lord, purify your church. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

jennifer: Thank you for joining us for another episode of the Marriage After God podcast.

Aaron: If you found today’s episode fun and encouraging, please take a moment to share it on social media or in an email to some of your married friends.

jennifer: Also, would you please take a moment and leave us a review? Reviews help to spread the word about our podcast.

Aaron: Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. And you can always check out more of our resources at

jennifer: You can follow us on social media for more marriage encouragement on Facebook and Instagram @marriageaftergod, @husband revolution and @unveiledwife.

Aaron: We hope you have an incredible week and look forward to sharing more with you next week on the Marriage After God podcast.

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