Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Man's Plea for Modesty

Leslie Basham: Pam Vuke was devastated when her husband confessed to using pornography for ten years of their marriage. Naturally, she wanted to keep it from happening again.

Pam Vuke: I remember trying to control every situation in our marriage. Because I didn’t trust Tony, I thought I needed to take control of our lives so that I would feel safe and secure. And who can do that?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 24.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One of the things I love about God is that He is a redeeming God who has the power to make all things new. My dad used to say, “There are no tough nuts for God to crack.” He knew that was true because before his conversion he’d been a rebel and very, very far from God—as we all were hopeless until God found us.

And God can take these hopelessly broken, messed-up pieces of our lives and can restore, and not just piece us back together, but make us new. We’ve been hearing a very moving testimony, over the last couple of days of Revive Our Hearts, from Tony and Pam Vuke about how God found them, rescued them out of a past that had a lot of baggage—a lot of issues, a lot of failure—and has given them a whole new life.

If you haven’t heard the first couple of days of that testimony, contact us here at Revive Our Hearts. Order the CD or go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, where you can get the transcripts of these interviews. You can also download them to your iPod or listen on audio through the website.

There may be others also that you want to share this testimony with, somebody that you know who is struggling with some of these same issues. I think that God is going to use this testimony to set a lot of captives free, as He has with you, Pam and Tony.

Let me just say again, thank you for being willing to share so openly out of your own journey. Not only has God done this work in your life, but He’s using you as an instrument to help set others free. So thank you for sharing with us.

Tony Vuke: It’s our pleasure.

Pam: Thank you, Nancy, for having us here.

Nancy: And God—He’s really an amazing God.

Pam: He truly is an amazing God.

Nancy: I listen to you, and I think, “There’s not anything God can’t do.”

Pam: It’s true.

Nancy: There’s no case so hopeless that God cannot redeem it.

But what I’m also hearing from you is that God has a progression in our lives. And He doesn’t change everything overnight. He could. He created the world in six days, and He could just zap us and make us instantaneously pure and godly and mature.

You all came into marriage as non-believers and had struggles in your early years that God used to bring you to faith in Christ. That was huge. You were transformed; you were new people, and you began to grow spiritually.

And yet, as you’ve shared, there was this issue, Tony, of an addiction to pornography that had its hook in you since you were what? a teenager?

Tony: Yes.

Nancy: And for the first ten years of your marriage.

Tony: Yes.

Nancy: Even after becoming a Christian. And the time finally came, as you shared with us in the last program, that you had to get honest. You had to bring this into the light. And you confessed it to Pam. This was liberating for you.

Tony: Very much so, yes.

Nancy: But for Pam, this was a bomb that got dropped. You had no clue. You were caught off guard. You shared with us in the last program that you were hurting so, so deeply and that God used the pain, the crisis, and the anguish of this to show you some things about His character and His heart that you had really needed to see.

Pam: Absolutely. It was very freeing.

Nancy: So you don’t regret that Tony brought this into the light, even though it was so, so hard for you.

Pam: I would never want to go back there again. But I have to say I’m thankful it happened. There was a time I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say that.

But there’s actually been so much good that has come out of the situation. The most important thing is honesty. You can’t build a relationship that is based on dishonesty. I have to be able to trust; I needed to be able to trust Tony. And even now in our relationship I say, “Whatever is in your life I need to know. I need to be able to trust you.”

I think that was what was so hurtful is that it was ten years into our marriage before Tony had confessed it to me.

Nancy: Can I just say, by the way, there may be wives who need to be honest to their husbands about issues. This needs to go both ways.

Pam: Absolutely.

Nancy: So the pain of knowing was better than the issues of not knowing. It was important that you know.

Pam: Absolutely.

Nancy: And could I say that I know there are issues in people’s lives. It may be this same issue or a different one. But where there are moral issues involved in particular, it maybe wise to do something that you all didn’t do at the time. But in some cases, it may be wise to get a mature, godly, third party that comes and helps you walk through this together.

So I don’t want women to just turn off the radio today and run home and dump something on their husbands, or husbands to dump something on their wives, without prayer and seeking the Lord as to the timing and the way to do this.

There will be some fallout, as there was in your marriage for the next few years there. You had some tough waters.

Pam: We did, absolutely. I think one of the things that set Tony and I back in the healing process is that back then people didn’t talk about pornography. It wasn’t as open as it is today. And because of the shame and guilt, Tony and I decided to keep that quiet.

We didn’t seek professional help right away. I think that was harmful because I was left to try and figure out all these emotions and feelings inside of me. I was very confused, and I was just stuffing them and stuffing them because I didn’t know how to deal with the information that he had given to me.

So again, if you’re in that situation, please seek professional help. Don’t try and handle it on your own.

Nancy: I’m thinking, Pam, as I’m hearing you share . . . I know there are a lot of our listeners who are women who know that their husbands have a struggle with pornography. Maybe their husbands are not yet at the point that Tony came to where they’re ready to repent and forsake it.

Speak a word of encouragement and hope to those wives. How do they pray? What can they do while they’re in the midst of this struggle?

Pam: Don’t give up. That’s one thing I have to say. There are many times I wanted to give up and honestly didn’t know if I could continue to go on. So that would be one thing I would say: Don’t give up.

And don’t give in to the lies that Satan would throw at you, either—that you have to be a certain way for your husband to love you or accept you. Because I know that was a struggle in our relationship. I’m going to be honest. I didn’t know how to be around Tony after he told me. I didn’t know, when we were intimate, how he wanted me to be anymore. I didn’t know what type of person he was looking for. Should I be this way, or should I be that way?

Don’t believe those lies. I’ve had one person who told me that it was okay to bring some type of pornography into your bedroom as long as it was okay with your husband. That is the biggest lie. Don’t ever bring anything like that into your marriage relationship, even if it’s okay with your husband. Don’t allow those things into your marriage.

Continue to seek God. Continue to seek purity and holiness and righteousness. God honors that lifestyle.

Nancy: One of the things that was so important in your relationship was, Tony, that you took some serious steps to deal with this issue. This was not just an emotional, one-time dumping of this on your wife. You got serious about taking some steps to deal with this issue in your life.

What are some of the practical things you did to help regain a heart of purity?

Tony: Like you’ve mentioned, I think it’s very important to find somebody to talk to about it. When it’s a secret—when it’s kept from being out in the open—then chances are, your struggles are still going to remain.

God works in the realm of light, and you’ll free up God’s hands to work in your life when you’re honest in doing things His way.

Another thing that I think is very key is that God has created men to be stimulated with their eyes. I mean, what they see, the images that they see, are what affects them. That’s been going on since creation. That’s never changed. So we know that as a fact.

Another dynamic that comes into play is that our culture, our society, has progressed so far with sexual images. Just in a normal day, men are going to see so many sexual images if they are not on guard, if they’re not trying to protect themselves.

Nancy: And how do you do that?

Tony: You need to watch what comes into your home. Your home is supposed to be safe. So we would get the catalogs—the lingerie catalogs like Victoria’s Secret—that would come to the house. There’s an 800 number in there, and you can call them and tell them, “Don’t send these here anymore.” And tell them why.

Nancy: Did you do that?

Tony: I did. This is something I had to learn and grow in, but it was these kind of things that were key. They were very helpful.

Nancy: How did that impact you, Pam, to see your husband taking those kinds of steps?

Pam: It helped in the healing process tremendously. It helped me to trust in Tony as I saw him stop and start to do these things. A movie would come into our home, and he would turn his head if there was something inappropriate in that movie. Or he would say, “We don’t want this in our home. This type of movie is not allowed in our home.”

As I saw him start to take action and do things like that, it slowly began to restore my trust in him again.

Nancy: Were there other steps, Tony, that maybe seemed drastic to others, but things you felt you needed to do to have a pure heart?

Tony: Well, you can have sexual images in your mind. So you have to deal with those. A lot of that is your spiritual walk—being close to God, praying to God during times . . . I know there were times when God bailed me out and helped me in situations.

You definitely have to take steps in getting control of your thought life. Watch your eyes. Get it out in the open where there’s accountability. The whole Christian walk is all about a perspective—a shifting or a change of perspective.

I would view women in a way that was not godly and not right. If I were to see a woman walking down the road who was dressed immodestly, how am I viewing that person? Am I looking at her as an object of lust? Or is she a person created by God who has value and a totally different purpose than for what my selfishness is all about?

Nancy: It seems like God really reprogrammed your whole mind.

Tony: It’s an ongoing process. If you ever let your guard down, you could get in trouble again.

Nancy: Has the Word been a key means of grace in your life?

Tony: The Word of God is where you learn the truth. It’s the truth that sets you free. There are some key verses in Proverbs that talk about the young man that falls into immorality, falls into adulterous situations. Getting into those Scriptures and finding out what God says about it . . . What’s His perspective? What’s the truth?

And then you’ll find yourself being convicted of your own areas where you’re missing the mark in this, and praying to God and asking Him to reshape your thoughts, reshape your view, your perspective.

Nancy: Pam, you really had to do that too, when it came to restoring trust and your commitment to Tony, because at one point early on, you were so hurting—which is humanly speaking very understandable. Did the concept of forgiveness . . . is that something you had to wrestle with?

Pam: Yes. It was hard for me to forgive Tony. Like I said earlier, I wanted to be happy for him. So I was struggling inside with feeling guilty that I couldn’t forgive him or that I couldn’t be happy for him. That was hard for me because I wanted to love him again.

I didn’t want a divorce, and I didn’t want separation. I wanted God to restore our marriage relationship. But I had those feelings inside of me, absolutely.

Nancy: Did there come a point or points where you just had to be willing to forgive him as God had forgiven you, to release him from that debt?

Pam: Absolutely. I remember trying to control every situation in our marriage. Because I didn’t trust Tony, I thought I needed to take control of our lives so that I would feel safe and secure. And who can do that?

I was wearing myself out by trying to do that. I’ll share with you an incident that happened where I saw how this was really affecting our marriage and even could possibly affect our children.

Tyler was probably around the eighth grade at this point, and we were homeschooling him at the time. They were asked to take a trip together, the two of them. It was a camping outing, an educational trip.

And right away I had fear: Who’s going on the trip? Are there going to be any women on the trip?

When I found out that there were going to be other women on the trip, I began to tell Tony reasons why he shouldn’t go on this trip and why he should be home. I was just fighting this and fighting this.

I knew the right thing to do was for him and Tyler to go on this trip and build this relationship. How awesome that they could do this together. I wasn’t sure what I was wrestling with inside at that point. But I knew that there was some reason that I didn’t want him to go on this trip.

I can remember crying out to God and asking Him, “What is wrong with me? What is there? Why don’t I want Tony to go on this trip?”

He showed me that if there were another woman on this trip, that maybe Tony would find her more attractive than I was. She would be more fun than I was. Maybe he would not be with me anymore and want to be with this other person.

All of those lies as a child that I was taught were resurfacing again. At that point, I shared with Tony why I didn’t want him to go. I was honest with him. At that point, I released that to God.

I decided to let go. I couldn’t control anymore. I was tired of trying to control the situation. I was able to let go and experience a tremendous amount of freedom in my life. I think that’s helped out in our love for each other and the value of our love for one another.

Nancy: Of course, when you let go, what you’re really having to do is put your trust in the Lord.

Pam: Absolutely.

Nancy: Because your husband may or may not prove to be trustworthy. In your case, God had given Tony a true heart of repentance. But that’s not always the case. Again, this can go the other way in a marriage as well. But the only way to relinquish control is to believe we’re relinquishing not to the other person, who is fallible like we are, but that we are relinquishing it to God, who is utterly, absolutely trustworthy.

Pam: I had experienced God's love and security at this point in my life enough to know that He was going to sustain me and that He was going to keep me and that He was never going to let me go.

I know at that point in my life that if it ever happened again, I wouldn't want it to happen, but I would be okay. That was so freeing.

Nancy: Because God was now your Savior and Lord and hope, and you weren't living your life around the perfection of your husband.

Pam: Absolutely.

Nancy: Tony, I think for a lot of women, most women maybe, the whole thing of . . . Of course, now pornography has become more of a struggle for a lot of women, but typically in the past it’s been more of an issue for men. I think, for a lot of women, it’s very, very hard to understand, to grasp what could be the appeal, what could be the thrill of this.

And I think for a lot of women—maybe every women whose husband struggles with this—it creates in her doubts about herself. “Am I good enough? Is there something wrong with me?”

We don’t often have men on Revive Our Hearts to share with us. And I wonder—just speaking out of where God has taken you and what He’s shown you—can you as a man help wives understand what pornography is about, and to what extent it is or isn’t about them as a woman?

Tony: First of all, I got involved, I think, when I was seventeen, so it was way before I met Pam and had nothing to do with Pam. It wasn’t long after I was involved with it that I realized I struggled with not being involved with it. It captures you. There is a bondage to it.

After being involved with it for as long as I was when I met Pam, it had nothing to do with who she was, how she was. But I can definitely understand why there would be so much comparison, a measuring up to all these models.

Nancy: And feeling there’s no way we can.

Tony: Exactly. And then to all of a sudden find out that, “Now my husband is involved almost sexually with these images.”

Nancy: Which, I have to tell you, is incomprehensible to most of us as women. We just don’t get it.

Tony: Right.

Nancy: Now, I’m going to ask you something that will probably get me some letters. I don’t want people to misunderstand this because you have taken full, complete, total responsibility for your own sin, for your own choices. You have not, in any sense, blamed Pam or anybody else for the choices you made.

Tony: Oh, no.

Nancy: But as a man, how does the whole issue of immodesty among women play into this battle for men?

Tony: Even though a man is definitely responsible for his actions—he’s responsible for his thought life—women can definitely help in this battle just by the way they dress. Dress godly. Dress the way God would have you dress—not trying to bring attention to yourself because of your body.

It works; you dress immodestly, and you will get attention. But is it godly?

Nancy: Are we saying, therefore, that women ought to be dressed in sacks and that they can’t be beautiful or fashionable? Help us understand the line there.

Tony: Early on in our marriage, Pam was flipping through a catalog or something, and she pointed to a picture of a dress that a lady was wearing. She said, “Oh, isn’t this cute?” And I looked at it, and I thought, Cute? That’s not cute. It’s seductive.

So I think women have a whole different view than men do on the idea of what look they are portraying, and even how the guy is going to view it. They don’t quite understand.

Nancy: So it is possible to be attractive and well-dressed without being alluring or seductive.

Tony: Yes. Oh, yes. There is no doubt about it. It might take a little more time in a store to find something. I know it’s hard.

Nancy: I wish I had a nickel for every letter or email we’ve received here at Revive Our Hearts talking about what an issue and battle this is at church among Christians, and not just out in the world.

Have you found this to be true?

Tony: It is very true. It’s an area that is very, very prevalent in our culture. It has filtered into the church. There is a certain amount of feeling that it’s normal. I’m sure that some have just been a little desensitized. It’s like, “Well, there’s ninety percent of the culture doing this, and I don’t look nearly as bad as most of them. So if I dress this way, it’s acceptable.”

Yet a man is still a man, and it affects him.

Nancy: I saw a church bulletin recently from a large church, and a well-known pastor had actually printed in his weekly column to his people an appeal as a pastor to the women of the church about dressing modestly.

I was so thankful that there was a pastor who had the courage—and it takes courage today—to send that kind of message. It’s not just people on TV or in movies or whatever. Men have said to us, “In the world we expect to be faced with this. But when we come into church and the people on the worship team or the teenage girls in the youth group make this such a struggle for us . . .”

Again, Tony, I appreciate the fact that you haven’t blamed women in the way that you’ve shared your journey. But as women we have to take responsibility for our obedience to Christ and our purity. And our being modest or pure doesn’t clean up the whole rest of the world. But at least maybe we can make the battle a little easier for some of our Christian brothers.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Tony and Pam Vuke about a lot of issues they faced in rebuilding their marriage after pornography.  

We as women can serve and encourage men like Tony—guys who are growing after being forgiven for their sinful choices—how? By dressing modestly. If you'd like some resources on modesty please visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com

Another big topic Pam had to deal with is forgiveness. Maybe you’re like her—you’ve been hurt deeply by someone else’s sin and you don’t know if you can ever heal. 

In Nancy’s book, Choosing Forgiveness, she shows you how destructive bitterness is if you don’t forgive. She shows you the power and value of forgiveness. She walks you through a process of forgiving and being set free. 

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you Choosing Forgiveness. Ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com

Is there such a thing as freedom from addiction to pornography? Or is it a lifetime losing struggle? Tomorrow, hear what Tony and Pam Vuke have to say on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.