Retaliation – The Art of Getting Even

Q. My husband is involved in internet pornography. It hurts me so badly that I find myself doing things I wouldn’t ordinarily do – like retaliating against him by forming close friendships with men who try to live godly lives. Do you have any suggestions about what I can do about this and how I can live for Christ under these circumstances?


God Comforts so so We Comfort Others

Thank you for your sensitive question – I understand this is difficult for you. Please know you don’t suffer alone and your question will be a valuable aid to other Christians in similar circumstances.

Yours is a common problem in American culture. But, the apostle Paul tells us that the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort … comforts us in all our affliction” so that we can comfort each other” (2 Corinthians 1:4-6).

Violaters don’t get off “Scott Free”

I’m not sure this will help. But, please understand that people who engage in acts of immorality like internet porn and having affairs don’t get off “scott free” when they behave like this.

For instance, we personally knew a music minister – highly paid and successful according to the world’s standards – who fell down the path of engaging in internet pornography. He spent years in useless, expensive psychological therapy. Then we learned that he had taken a gun and shot himself in his church office. His life was a tormented struggle against evil and a failing marriage. He left behind a wife and two children who must now contend with the violent loss of their Christian Dad and husband. His behaviors led to tragic consequences. They often do.

Avoiding Legal Contracts with Unbelievers

This may be a good example of why we are told,

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15, NASB).

It is clear that associating with people who do immoral, dishonest things drags us down. Paul says plainly,

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).

In fact, Christians are told to avoid other church members who are disruptive in their behaviors. This possibly includes drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers, sexual offenders and drunken party-goers. It includes those who engage in rageful behaviors and who are murderers – including Christians who are hateful, greedy and materialistic.

A list of these disruptive believers and behaviors is found in chapters five of Galatians and Ephesians and in 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Paul says,

Avoid Immoral Church Members

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people. I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one…” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, NASB).

Wives’ Winning Behaviors

Nevertheless, the institution of marriage is sacred (holy) and Paul tells wives to “be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2).

This is extremely difficult to do! But, I don’t think our Father in heaven would ask us to do this if it were impossible. Do you think so?

Sowing & Reaping

We are told that God is not mocked. What we sow we will reap (Galatians 6:7). We don’t need to take revenge upon an immoral or cruel spouse because God is our avenger.

God is our Avenger

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).


As an aid for you and others we suggest that Christians in difficult marriages watch the recent movie “Fireproof.” This is a modern Hosea parable. If you remember, Hosea was asked to marry an immoral female, Gomer. This illustrates firsthand God’s pain and grief when we are unfaithful to Him.

Love & Kindness

How does the husband win back his wife in this movie parable? He demonstrates love to her by doing kind, loving things even when she scorns and ridicules his attempts to restore the marriage. In the same way Christ loves and cherishes His church even when we behave badly.


If we, the church, have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins then we will go to heaven when we die. He loves us and died for us. There is nothing more we can do. We are justified by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

But, after we have been justified we must go through a sanctification process where we are molded and conformed to the image of Christ (Ro. 8:29). This is a lifelong process. It consists of all the trials and difficult relationships we encounter in our walk with the Lord. God uses all of these situations to mold us into the character and personality He wants for us.

Father-Filtered Trials

As author and teacher Nancy Missler puts it, “The darkness that He allows into our lives is ‘Father-filtered’ and is good” (Missler 1999, 34). This is a time when we learn like Job, “Though You slay me, yet will I trust You” (Job 13:15). “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away – blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20-21).

Sins already Confessed

All Christians will eventually appear before Christ at the judgment seat and all sins will be fairly adjudicated. According to Missler the only exception will be those sins for which believers have already confessed and repented.

1 John 1:9 clarifies, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

4 Cleansing Steps of Solomon’s Priests

According to Nancy Missler’s fine research in this area of confession and repentance, there are four steps involved in cleansing our hearts so that we may grow into becoming more Christ like. These are the actual steps that the priests of Solomon’s Temple took in the Inner Court to cleanse themselves and the people.

Step 1

The first step is to recognize and acknowledge our sins. This is because we cannot repent of sins we don’t really know about and acknowledge. We must take all of our negative thoughts and bring them “captive to Christ.” Paul says it like this:

“We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, HCSB).

“So whenever we find ourselves hurt, angry, resentful, envious, critical, self-centered, prideful, ungrateful, anxious, afraid, confused, bitter, judgmental or filled with any ungodly emotion, we must stop, get alone with the Lord and go through these steps” (Missler 2008, 28).

Step 2

Once we have come to grips with the true nature of what we have done, then we need to confess and repent of all that the Lord has shown us. Psalm 32:5 says,

“I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions
to the LORD,’
And you forgave the iniquity of my

Unhindered Prayers

We must take this step so that our prayers are not hindered. God warns, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The psalmist declares, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18, KJV).

Forgive to be Forgiven

We also need to genuinely forgive others for what they have done to us or else our Father may choose not to forgive us for what we have done. This is a high price to pay for “getting even” against someone who has hurt us:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV).

Step 3

Step 3 is to give everything over to God that the Holy Spirit has shown you to be sin in your life. This is the time to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to god, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). It is when we give everything that is not of faith over to Him. The priests did this at the Brazen Altar when they sacrificed their offerings to the Lord.

“Now when Solomon had made an end to praying, the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices – and the glory of the Lord filled the house” (2 Chronicles 7:1).

Step 4

Finally, Nancy Missler suggests we attempt to “replace all lies with Truth” by reading God’s Word daily. God will cleanse our souls with the “washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:26).

We are to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” (Eph. 4:23).

We are to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Ro. 12:2).

Getting His Word into our Hearts & Minds

We need to get God’s Word into our minds and hearts daily. We can do this by reading One-Year Bibles or a few verses of a paragraph out of our Bibles every single day. We can listen to godly tapes by good teachers. We can put Praise songs on the radio or CD player, and we can hang favorite, helpful verses as reminders on our walls and in our cars.

Remember to memorize verses that apply to you and your particular problems. Many of us complain that God never “speaks to us.” Yet, how can He if we won’t review His Word daily and permanently get it into our hearts and minds?

David said, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, ESV).

To summarize:

Don’t retaliate against a spouse. There is no such thing as the “art of getting even” for the Christian. God is our avenger and will adjudicate wrongs done to us. Own up to what you have done wrong in response to how someone has hurt you. Acknowledge it. Confess and repent of your sins. Forgive others and turn everything over to the Lord. Then replace the lies in your mind and heart with God’s Truth by hearing and reading the Word daily.


Helpful Resources:

“Fireproof” DVD.

Freeman, Criswell. 2004. God’s survival guide for women. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Missler, Nancy. 1999. Faith in the night seasons. Coeur d’Alene, ID: Koinonia House.

The kingdom, power & glory: The overcomer’s handbook. 2007. Coeur d’Alene, ID: The King’s High Way Ministries. Available from:

—Reflections of His image: Personal cleansing steps. Personal Update. April-May, 2008. Available from:

TouchPoints for hurting people. 2004. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale.

TouchPoints for troubled times. 2003. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale. .