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Title: When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart
Author: Kathy Gallagher
Reviewer: Stephen Apt
Date: April 2015
Kathy Gallagher is a woman whose husband was not only addicted to porn, but addicted to other sexual sins as well. Steve, her husband, would often hire prostitutes while Kathy was working in addition to his porn addiction. Since then, Steve has left that life style, and he and Kathy have set up Pure Life Ministries. This ministry is geared toward counseling men who have sexual addictions along with counseling the hurting wife.
Though I was looking forward to this book, I did not care for it. The author claims in the opening pages that the purpose of this book “is to provide the hurting wife, with solid, biblical answers and practical solutions to everyday problems associated with being married to a man in sexual sins.” She does give practical solutions to everyday problems, but her biblical answers are not great.
The book is a compilation of response letters from the author to hurting wives who have written her letters. The reader does not see what the hurting wife has written, only the topic and the author’s response. Which presents a problem: not every chapter will relate to the reader. Not only that, but how can the reader know which chapter applies to her life? The author admits this saying, “As you read these letters you will find some that seem to encourage you along a path you have been taking that isn’t right. Let me explain…Perhaps you are weak, beaten down and would rather forget that you just discovered your husband is in adultery. You need the encouragement to be strong for your husband, as outlined in the letters to Judy and Robin. You wouldn’t want to follow the advice found in the letter to Kelly who wants to police every move of her husband.” Some of the chapters may never apply to a certain individual.
The motivation for change is also a problem as it was not focused on the gospel. She encourages the wife to be there for her husband a lot, but does not give the hurting wife encouragement that Jesus has paid for his sins. Throughout the whole book there are only a handful of times when the author makes mention of Jesus’ death on the cross for either a husband or a hurting wife. Even in sections encouraging the wife to forgive her husband she says, “…you can be free from your self-made prison today if you choose to repent of the hatred that has consumed your heart and then allow Christ to love your husband through you. Seems pretty impossible, huh? Not so! The reason you can do this is because Jesus showed us how.”
Throughout the whole book, the emphasis is primarily on what we do. She often says your husband can overcome his sexual sins, yet does not motivate him through the gospel. Rather she puts the emphasis on the husband, “The key to his living victoriously is faithfulness and endurance. If he remains diligent and chooses to do those things God has shown him, he will make it!” Even with the ministry they have going on at Pure Life Ministries, she does not give the gospel any reason for the change in men from their sexual sins. “But I am convinced, that there isn’t a sincere man alive, who couldn’t overcome his sin at the Pure Life live-in program. I say this because everything he needs to find victory is made available to him: a godly environment, counselors who have been there and who offer wisdom to overcome life-dominating sin, tight accountability, and most of all, a heightened sense of the presence of God.”
She does give some good practical advice that could benefit many different women whose husbands are dealing with sexual sins. However, there are so many different situations it might be hard for the reader to know which ones she should apply to herself and which ones she should not.
In her own story in the introduction, she makes a big deal of the Lord speaking to her, her husband, Steve, and her parents about what to do. This carries over to some of her letters where she tells the recipient to pray and listen for God’s guidance and he will tell the recipient what to do. In fact, she thinks that feelings are sometimes divinely inspired, “How do you know if your misgivings are rooted in fear and influenced by the devil or if they are based upon fact and divinely inspired.” That is a slippery slope to be heading down.
Overall, there were a few gems here and there, but it was mostly not good. Knowing that the only thing that changes hearts is hearing that Christ loves you so much that he laid down his life for you, I cannot recommend this book. Not when the main emphasis is on us with a splash of God will give you the strength to change.