When Your Kids Look At Porn

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As the mom of three sons, there are days I wish I could be parenting in a different era… one in which cell phones did not exist and comic books were more common than pornography. Yet we do not choose the time and place which God inserts us into history. Pornography and the many sexual consequences associated with it are a regrettable part of the fabric of our society. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is anything we can do to completely shield our children from these dangers. Most experts agree that children living in the western world will see porn. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

This depressing conclusion doesn’t, however, render us helpless in our preparation and response to seemingly inevitable exposure to sexual poison. In fact, I believe that God can turn every threat to our children into a victory. That victory is called redemption and is expressed through what Joseph said to his brothers thousands of years ago. What Satan means for harm, God can use for good. This is not just some pollyanna-ish statement. We serve a redeeming God and He will have a victory, even if it’s not what we envision for our children.

While we pray that our sons and daughters will beat the statistics, we have to be prepared for how we will respond if they don’t. Here are three things to keep in mind in preparation for finding your son looking at porn or your daughter sexting her boyfriend.

  1. Remember, it’s not about you. If you discover that your child has made a poor sexual choice, you will likely be overwhelmed with feelings of anger, fear, and failure. You will need a place to express and work through these emotions. However, if you react and parent based on them, you will ultimately be alienating your child instead of giving him or her the needed support, love, and direction. Christian parents often feel as if their children’s sexual purity is the ultimate litmus test of their effectiveness in parenting. This paradigm actually makes the issue more about you than about your child. With this mindset you will make yourself the last place your kids will confide in when they struggle with sexual temptation or fall into sexual sin. Rather than responding to your own emotions, seek wisdom from the Lord and godly counsel to answer the question, “How can I best help my son/daughter right now?”

  2. Remember the gospel. While the average Christian parent is well-equipped to explain “the gospel,” rarely do we apply the foundational principles of what we believe to practical challenges in parenting. Here’s an example of what I mean. The Bible tells us that we are sinful and rebellious in nature. Given the choice, none of us will choose to worship and serve God. It is only through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that we can be cleansed by sin. So why are we shocked that 13-year-old Josh who goes to youth group and loves his parents still chooses to look at naked girls? When our teenagers choose sin, this gives us the chance to share the message of salvation in a way that intersects with their real life experiences. God’s grace is just a churchy concept until our children actually encounter it. I believe that the sexual temptations and struggles our sons and daughters face are very practical ways to teach them the truth that they cannot be “good” in their own strength. They need God’s grace and the forgiveness He offers.
  1. Remember discipleship. Your primary job as a parent is not to raise well-behaved kids who walk down the aisle as virgins. Instead, God has called you to make disciples. What does that mean? It means teaching, modeling, and walking with your children in such a way that they will want to follow Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not primarily about behavior. It’s about the direction of your child’s heart. The goal is not just to keep your kids from sex and porn. It is to shape their hearts and affections to want what is good and hate what is evil. For most of us, at some point that takes staring evil in the face and tasting the consequences of sin. I believe that many of the strongest young men and women of this next generation will not be those who have been sheltered from the offerings of our world, but those who have been discipled through temptation and the pain of failure.

While you may be alarmed at the shifting landscape of what is considered normal and moral related to sexual choices, let’s be honest in admitting that historically, Christian parents have been limited and ineffective in our approach to teaching about sexual issues. Rarely do I meet a man or woman, even among those who were raised in Christian homes, who were taught a healthy, biblical perspective of sexuality. The current sexual culture demands that parents proactively teach a comprehensive biblical view of sexuality and that conversations about sexuality be integrated into the larger landscape of becoming a follower of Christ. We have to raise the level of our game.

This is why we at Authentic Intimacy are so passionate about teaching sexual discipleship. Our kids will be confronted by porn, sexting, invitations to hook up, and confusion about gender and sexual orientation. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And they very likely will make some mistakes in navigating this dangerous terrain. We must put as much effort into walking out the redemptive power of the gospel as we do into the protective measures to guard them from the enemy’s schemes.


Want to learn more about our model of Sexual Discipleship? Order Juli’s new book “Rethinking Sexuality”. This is an incredible resource for parents to read and apply to their relationship with their children.

 

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