Parenting & Porn

My son is fourteen and like it or not I have found that several of his friends have free access to or regularly watch pornography.  This is not the circle of friends I had hoped for my son but if we look close enough the statistics of professing Christians who look at and/or are addicted to porn are staggering.

Porn has become the elephant in the room for our generation.  Its an elephant that is not looked directly in the eye because, well, its shameful.  I always have an embarrassed feeling come over me when I need to address it with my son.

Believe it or not, the first time I needed to talk with him about it was when he was a fourth grader! Yep, my friends fifth grade son was shown smartphone porn by another child on the bus. Her son was visibly upset when he told his mom which is understandable. Watching two (or more) people act out perversion must have been shocking to a young boy being raised with God’s definition of what sex actually is. I wanted to then be sure my son was not surprised if this cancer was flashed in his face by another child.  My age-appropriate conversation went something like this, “You know how some people have phones that show pictures and videos? Well there are some bad pictures being sent on phones that have naked people touching each other.  God tells us that we should not be looking at those kind things.Please come to me if someone is trying to show you that sort of thing”  I received a verbal “ok I will” from my son.  Fourth grade, nuff’ said.

We proceeded to have conversations about the issue and with each age-appropriate situation came a little more depth. Good thing, because one particular day it came in handy. Well, more then handy, our prior convos could have been what kept him from running full steam ahead into an internet flesh party…

My son was playing video games when one of his new friends put pornographic images on a nearby computer.  The invite was given, my mommy nightmare came true.

My son had a strong foundation as to what porn actually is so while he did see the first image when he turned around, he told his friend he did not want to look at it. Amongst teens, I know that the simple act of my son refusing it was a witness this other young man will remember.  For those parents out there that have teens who do not refuse and partake, remember to stay confident in the Lord.  We are all sinful and broken in some area.  Pray unceasingly for your children who may be dabbling and/or addicted to pornography.

As my husband and I gear our son to be a man of integrity that will honor one woman in marriage, I have listed some strategies we have employed in order to give ideas to any parent who may care to employ them.

1. Be honest about sin. This is the most important piece in a Christian home.  Foster an atmosphere of honesty where the goal is to live in the light. Whatever sin is revealed, no matter how grievous, a parents love should not be withdrawn from their teen.  A teen needs to know from their earliest years that their mom and dad’s emotions will remain confident in the Lord no matter what is brought into the light.  This key element in our home has allowed our son to confess sexual matters, questions, and struggles.

2. Forgiveness must be taught, given, and practiced within a family.  Jesus was very clear about this concept and even tied it to our own salvation!  Sin however, does bring consequences and if someone breaks the law the courts will need to handle the judgement.  Forgiveness does not always delete consequences it just allows people to heal from offenses.  I never want to shame my son and not forgive him if something confessed misses the mark anymore then I want to be shamed when I confess my sins to another person.  My message to my son would be similar to Jesus catching the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more” and to go further, Jesus also told another person he healed, “beware, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Sin is serious but forgiveness is in place so we do not condemn others.  Satan is the master of condemnation because it will cause people to stop trying.

3.  Live and teach the word of God. Moses instructed the Israelites to teach their children about God’s ways when they woke up, when they went to bed, when they traveled, and any other opportune time. In the realm of sexual purity, since I raised my son partly in Las Vegas, I used those sexy billboards as a discussion opportunity. I used the things of the world to teach my son the appropriate way to view and treat women.  Even though women are alluring and tempting we discussed what type of women would be a loyal wife to him.  We discussed their clothing and if the skin they reveal says anything about what is going on in their hearts.  Its all a teaching moment.

and finally….

4. Live counter to the culture.  I will never forget my son asking if he could have a girlfriend when he had just entered 8th grade.  My goodness, he wasn’t even out of puberty yet! We had a lengthy discussion and I asked him to invite her to youth group.  I told him to observe girls for the next few years. I told him he needs to understand them before he would be ready to be attached.  What does it really mean to be someone’s boyfriend anyway? Was this just a passing relationship or was he considering honoring her in marriage?  What does God desire according to his word?  You bet your sweet patoot I said all that to my 13 year old! He decided to obey my leadership in his life even though he didn’t particularly want to. I told him if he honored his father’s and mother’s wishes, that God promised to bless him.  Delayed gratification, a must for all of us! Through 8th grade my son was able to see all the 8th grade relationships start and come to a painful end.  He was able to witness the lack of loyalty and commitment immaturity without being involved in it himself.  We as parents must operate in grace but never be afraid to parent in a culture that degrades the rights of parents.

Above all I am not desiring for my son to just be a good boy.  Although it would be easy for me if he was just good… I want to be sure his goodness comes from Christ’s leadership in his life.  The parenting process is painful sometimes but we must engage in it every step of the way.  I remind my young one that when he blows out those 18 candles on his cake his decisions are all his…. but I have four more years with him until that point!

 

 

 

 

 

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When We’re Wounded

A long time ago I had a friend that wounded me constantly. Not major wounds, but little verbal jabs here and there coming from his bank of insecurities. I continued to be in his life because I knew of some existing problems and I wanted to extend compassion.  I felt convicted to BE a change agent in this person’s life; that would certainly require me to lay down my rights and take some hits.

There came a time however, where I was flesh-weary.  I had gotten to the point where I was ready to write him off. I prayed in my bathroom full of anger one morning, “Lord, I cannot stand him and I never want to be around him ever again!” As soon as I prayed that I felt a noticeable shift in my spirit, or maybe the Holy Spirit rose up within me and my thoughts changed. “Lord, what about me? What have I done?” 

No sooner did I speak those words, than the Lord spoke to me, “Never lose that attitude Julie.” 

I am so thankful I was taught that lesson.  Without it I would not purposefully seek out my blind spots. Without it I would trash relationships and I would trash people. Most importantly, even if I was able to fool myself and others, I would not be fooling God.

We all have those blind spots that make us point the finger at another and refuse to think that WE could be at fault or at partial fault.  We have those spots and situations in life where we justify our sin because of the initial act of another person.  But we are not justified.  We are accountable for our REACTIONS, just as much as they are accountable for their initial sinful action.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results:  the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group” Galatians 5:19

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Control < Trusting God

Don’t you love it when God shows up? This morning he proved again to my mind of flesh that he sees what I am going through and will provide understanding so I can conquer this world. #BOOM (Yeah, I know hashtags don’t work here)

I have been having some anxiety about parenting and my past. Wondering what it will take in his life for my son to see the reality of not just sin and the coming judgement, but the immeasurable love of Christ.

Now-a-days boys have girlfriends at 13 years old (uh, huh? yeah.) Yet it’s my job to steer him toward integrity and marriage.  This is my task in a culture that switches boy/girl friends like underwear.  A culture of “do what you think is right” and pushes pornography on young minds that continues to get more degrading and violent with each passing decade. And just because a kid is in a Christian school or you are sure they attend youth group, statistically does not release them from these cancers in our society….yet as parents we hope.

Enough of my own understanding.  This morning as I woke I started praying. I was releasing my worry about the whole thing. I am pretty good at going back to trusting God after I have a little anxiety breakdown session.  He is either God or he isn’t.  Right?!    I can only teach my son truth and display it- but I cannot force him to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” That’s between him and the Lord and I will display love to him either way.

I opened my bible and the Holy Spirit spoke “Philippians 3″ to me. I was not sure if I heard God correctly, but after some of its content was unlocked for me, I had my proof.

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 

 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I have read this scripture two dozen times, but today it was spiritually discerned it for me…  My past is something I still conquer mentally even though I have left it physically.  Why did I have to get divorced Lord? Why wasn’t I raised in a home with Christian parents? My son wouldn’t have been fatherless (and all the crap that comes along with that!) if YOU Lord would have just…..

Then it hit me. What I have been through was not just for me, it was for others too.  I was entangled with so many people during my years I lived apart from Christ. How in the world did that glorify him? Well, that many more people saw my conversion. That many more people saw me walking away form a 7 year, all day, erry’ day habit of smoking marijuana.  That many more saw me completely change as a human being. Did most of them appreciate the change? No way! I lost all my friends, I lost my husband who was in love with drugs and the Vegas nightlife…I was laughed at and still am. I lost everything I knew and needed to rebuild my whole life. But I gained eternal life.

“the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

What if the “why” questions we have for God can only be understood through the lens of humility?  Humility that says, tribulation produces repentance that leads to eternal life for some. Your tribulation is not just pain for you.  It will produce conversion in your soul and will magnify the reality of Christ to others. Will you accept that answer?

And my own son. What will be of him Lord? Same thing. “if BY ANY MEANS, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.” I don’t want to even attach that verse to my boy. My flesh says, “that’s MY boy. Satan will not take him.”  But you see, I have no power over that.  That’s between my son and his creator.

Just like any person, God has put us on this earth to experience good and evil. Without evil we cannot know what’s truly good. My job is to intercede in prayer and let Christ live through me by his spirit.  That is the only control I am allowed to have over others; anything else would set me up as a god.  And I don’t want to be God, like, for sure!

My Son Has Christian Parents

My son will never know what it’s like to smoke a joint with me. Nor will he ever be allowed to have a member of the opposite sex in his bedroom with the door closed. Those things were allowed in my home when I was young.  I have long since forgiven my beloved mom for these things that I once believed were cool, but as I matured, came to realize they damaged my teenage soul.

Fast-forward to when Christ came into my life at twenty-three.  I was pregnant with my son.  This little man was now going to be growing up in a Christian home!

UsI must admit I am slightly jealous of him.  He will not just be learning about when and how he should have sex from his friends at school, he will be hearing what God has to say about it.  He will not be hanging out late at night with people handing him hits of acid behind a movie theater because I am too strict for that.  When he recently asked me if he can have a girlfriend, I looked my thirteen year old in the eyes and said, “No, invite her to youth group.”

I question myself constantly. Ever since he was little the Holy Spirit would instruct me as I raised him.  I read about spanking in the bible and believed it to be truth but I was so confused on the execution.  Than one day when my boy was almost three, he hit me, told me no, and threw a toy at me all at the same moment.  Very gently, yet with divine authority, I felt the Lord speak into my being, “Now is the time to spank him.”

I calmly told my son he may not treat me that way and gave him three hard whacks on the butt.  He stood there perplexed. My guess is that he was shocked I showed him who was in charge- and it wasn’t him.  He thought for a minute and than the tears and loud crying came.  I consoled him and told him he may not hit and throw stuff at me.  Worked like a charm. He learned that he may not walk all over me. Satan the counterfeiter would have loved to teach my son to rule over me so his life would be easier to ruin as an adult.

I have had to apologize to my son many times through the years. I believe it shows him that I am a real person.  However, I have always reminded him of God’s expectation that he is to honor me with obedience.  In doing that, I would remind him also of God’s promise to bless him and give him a long life.

I have been immersed in depravity and than rescued from practicing many sins. Yet I wonder about my son. I am proud of him.  His heart is compassionate. He is funny and genuinely loves people. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong.  I wonder though, will his relationship with the Lord be deep? Will he have to trudge through willful valley’s of sin and wickedness in his life?  Will he decide to reject what I have taught him?  I am content not to know these answers at this moment, but when these answers unfold, I will be relying on the Lord and trusting him to guide me, just as I did when my son was three.

My God is faithful. That I know.  What I also know is that I have the power to influence, I have the power to parent, but as he is nearing maturity, I may not control him.  God wouldn’t have it any other way.