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.
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!