Our nation was recently appalled to discover that a city government in Flint, Michigan has been serving their citizens poisonous water for over a year. When concerns were raised, government officials gaffed them off as isolated incidents. Tragically, young children have been exposed to lead poisoning which will likely result in brain damage and other long-term ailments.
Gaining much less press is another alarming trend that is far more reaching than the corrupted water of a city. A recent study conducted by the NSPCC ChildLine found that 10% of 12-13 year-olds fear that they may be addicted to porn. The ChildLine study also found that 20% of 12-13 year-olds think that watching porn is normal and a part of everyday life. This study is just one piece of evidence demonstrating what we know is happening to our children. Other studies show that adolescents are having sex younger, rougher and with more partners. The bottom line… our children are daily being exposed to poison. Their smartphones, laptops, game consoles and televisions consistently pipe in the poison of pornography and sexual exploitation.
There is likely to be no outcry and no government intervention to treat the youngest victims of this poison. They will grow up with a twisted understanding of one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. No doubt, this poison will result in sexual assault, sexual exploitation, broken marriages, sexual dysfunction and broken lives. But no one is sounding the alarm.
As the mom of three teenage boys, this news doesn’t surprise me, but it still alarms me. I know that my children have been exposed to the poison of pornography. I would like to transport my family to the days of Little House on the Prairie, but God has placed us right here in the 21st century. So what can we do to keep our kids safe from this poison? Is there an antidote for what they have already consumed?
Yell and Scream
Pornography has become such an accepted part of society, that few view it as a concern. Although the average wife or mom isn’t likely to get an audience with CNN, we impact people every day.
The Old Testament prophets were sometimes referred to as “Watchmen on the Wall.” God called them to sound an alarm and to warn people of a coming disaster. I believe we are each called to be watchmen on the wall. Wherever you have influence, please raise the concern and call out for schools, churches, families and communities to acknowledge the danger that is eroding our children’s future.
Talk to your kids, often!
My youngest boy is in 7th grade. Because the ChildLine study is about children his age, I told him about it.
“Did you know that a lot of kids your age are already addicted to pornography?”
My son answered, “Wow! That’s sad! But none of my friends are because they are good kids.”
“Well, good kids get addicted to porn too.” I continued our conversation by asking him about when he has seen porn and reminding him about why it is so dangerous. I encouraged him to talk to us any time he sees it.
Will my son always be honest with me about his own experience with porn and other sexual things? Not always. Regardless, I want to do everything I can to share my concerns, to ask questions and to be a safe place for him to talk.
Talking through these issues with our children is about more than simply issuing a warning. We also need to walk with them when they fall. Discipleship means teaching through all circumstances and every phase of life, including how to handle our own poor and sinful decisions. This gives us the opportunity to make the Gospel tangible and tell our own stories of the goodness of God’s grace and forgiveness.
Be a proponent of the real deal
Porn is a counterfeit. It exploits the powerful beauty of our God-given longings for intimacy and sexual pleasure. The best way to protect against the counterfeit is to exalt the excellence of the real deal. Who wants a McDonalds hamburger if they could have a NY prime steak?
Men and women become addicted to porn at such young ages because they don’t know any better. They are too young to experience or understand the beauty of true intimacy. It falls on the shoulders of parents and mentors to explain and model God’s design for sexuality. Unfortunately, many of parents and mentors have their own warped views of sexuality and marriage.
The ministry of Authentic Intimacy exists to help men and women “reclaim God’s design for intimacy.” Perhaps the most effective way of protecting my children from the poison of junk sex is to have a deep understanding of healthy biblical sexuality. Do my kids know what happens in my bedroom? I sure hope not! However, they are witnessing in our home a very different message from what the world is offering. Imperfect as we are, they have seen the beauty of committed love.
While your children have the right to some privacy, they do not have the right to electronic devices without filters and accountability. In fact, neither do I! My husband has access to all of my accounts, to my cell phone and computer. I have the same access to his.
It’s loving, responsible and appropriate to check your kids’ phones, computers, social media, etc.… In our home, we don’t allow cell phones or computers in bedrooms. No one is allowed to lock his or her devices without us having the password. Does this guarantee that nothing will slip past us? Of course not. We aren’t constantly checking each other’s devices, but it promotes an environment of accountability.
I frequently ask the Lord, “God, if there is something one of us is struggling with… something I need to know… will you show me?” I pray this because I can only help my kids if I know what’s going on in their lives.
Depend upon Jesus
My heart grieves for the landslide of sexual chaos in our culture, primarily because I know the wake of pain that will inevitably follow. Yet in the midst of these depressing circumstances, I see some really good news. God often uses our brokenness and destitution to bring us to repentance. Our children won’t make it if all they have of Christianity is a shallow faith. They will need a genuine relationship with God.
Nothing gets our attention like a problem we cannot solve.
The overwhelming devastation of pornography and sexual brokenness unequivocally show us that we need help. Counselors, psychologists and rehab centers won’t be enough to heal our children. There is one hope…His name is Jesus Christ. He alone is able to bring healing and restoration through our total surrender to his work on the cross of Calvary.
I believe this generation is ripe for revival. The pain and trauma of the sexual chaos will compel our children to seek a genuine source of hope. C. S. Lewis wrote, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Unfortunately, the poison of porn is unlikely to stop. In fact, it will undoubtedly continue to worsen as our sexual ethics erode. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand by and watch it destroy the future of our children.