5 Ways to Minister to Your Child in a Battlefield of Porn

No one likes to be caught off guard. We're not always quick on our feet, and sometimes we look back on how we responded to something that surprised us and we think, "I wish there was a way I could have been prepared for that." 

Now what I'm about to say is not meant to come across as bleak or cynical: You need to have a plan for how you will respond in the moment you find out your child has seen pornography. Increasingly, it's becoming more of a "when" than "if" scenario. Some stats show that 90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed to pornography before age 18. This has not always been the case, but some of the reasons for the increase in porn exposure are:

Accessibility: Porn is no longer contained in a physical store that requires getting up and traveling. Young teens no longer need to know someone who has a older brother with a stash of Playboys.  It's at the fingertips of anyone who has internet access on laptops, tablets, phones etc. 

Affordability: Although the porn business rakes in billions annually, much online content doesn't cost a dime to view.

Anonymity: Viewing online can be anonymous. You don't have to look some clerk in the eye to purchase it or risk being seen driving your car our of an adult store parking lot. No one has to know.

Kids are curious and the internet has become a place for them to take their curiosity. A high percentage of kids stumble across pornography accidentally. 

 

5 Keys to Remember

1. Don't Over-react

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness...(Galatians 6:1 ESV)

It's important that you don't freak out. The thought that, "My parents really got mad last time," is not likely to prevent future relapses. Instead it will drive the behavior into hiding. You want to be a safe place for your kids to go to and trust with their struggles. 

2. Don't Under-react

I should hope this could go without saying. Discovering this problem shouldn't be shrugged off as no big deal and "natural for kids your age." You don't want your child to think it's not important and that you don't care. 

3. If They Confess it, Affirm Their Confession

"I'm so glad you told me. Keeping this a secret would have been so dangerous." They need to know it will always be better for them to confess and that you are a safe place for them. 

4. Give Them The Gospel Again

Remind them that you don't stand before them as a perfect person. That you too need the grace available through the gospel.

A youth worker told me a story of how he was once ministering to a young man dealing with porn. He asked, "Do you think you could talk to your dad about this?" 

The youth replied, "You know what? Yes. I recently heard my dad's testimony for the first time and I think he could get me." What a powerful illustration of how we would do well to be vulnerable with our kids. This doesn't mean you share every detail, but at least so they know you get it since you've been there yourself (Hebrews 5:2). 

Tell them that this sin doesn't define them and that battling this sin is a fight for a superior joy. 

What makes Jesus better than porn?

-Porn offers fleeting, momentary pleasure...Jesus offers deep eternal pleasure.

-Porn offers a false reality...Jesus offers truth.

-Porn humiliates people for your entertainment...Jesus was humiliated for your soul.

-Porn offers the illusion of the acceptance of someone offering themselves to you...Jesus offers the reality of the acceptance of one who was offered for you. 

-Porn offers people who get naked on camera and are paid money...Jesus offers a savior who was stripped naked on the cross to pay for your sin and shame.

Porn is like other sins in that through it we try to fill an emptiness we've felt since the fall. It's not a mere behavior issue, it's a worship issue.  We try to become fulfilled through worship, but only when our worship is in response to the one who created us will we find that fulfillment. Our kids need to know, need to taste that for themselves, and as a parent you can lovingly point to that great truth. 

 

5. Be Informed. Be Involved

Avoid naivete. Yes, it can be your kid, too (even the 4.0 class president at the Christian School). Giving a child unrestricted internet access (laptop, tablet, phone) is like putting a box of porn in their room and telling them not to look at it. Get some kind of filter or accountability software on their devices. Of course, ultimately we want their desires to be changed through the gospel, and software isn't full-proof, but it can greatly assist in removing temptation. Don't assume that if they've confessed or you've caught them once that they'll be done with it forever. Keep checking in. 

Recommendations: 

www.covenanteyes.com

www.xxxchurch.com

 

Have a plan. Be ready. This is not just exhortation for parents of teens and preteens, it's for parents of all ages to seek prevention, but also to be prepared to minister with grace when little eyes see what ought not be seen. Though it's horrible, we must learn to see the opportunity it provides.