Issue 22 | July 3, 2015
SPECIAL EDITION: PART 1 OF 5
Over the upcoming weeks, we will have issues of The Culture Translator devoted to a very important issue for young and old alike: pornography. As the Axis teams travel the country and speak to students, parents, and church/school staff, we are hearing more and more stories of horror and confusion regarding teenagers’ use of pornography. We hope to provide some well-researched thoughts and practical suggestions for how parents and influencers can help students with this epidemic. These issues will be a little longer than normal, but we think you’ll find it worth it.
One of the biggest spiritual battles for teenagers and twentysomethings today is that pornography use is considered normal (and even healthy). Yet celebrity Russell Brand aptly described porn as “icebergs of filth, floating through every house on WiFi.” Because the Church has failed to invite students into a better, flourishing life, porn has proven to be just as much of an issue in Christian homes as in non-Christian ones. Can we really expect students to choose God’s way when it is harder and seems less pleasurable than doing what society regards as normal? Despite that, we want to instill you with hope and give you strategies for helping students see that following God’s design for sex is the only way to flourish.
We partner with an organization called Covenant Eyes, and they have compiled a list of eye-opening statistics regarding porn usage, of which we all need to be aware. In any battle, it’s very important that we first understand our enemy, so please read through these statistics before continuing with this article. This is a downer start, but it’s important to make sure we’re aware of the prevalence and gravity of this issue. Please take some time to read them.
CHANGING THE CONVERSATION
Here’s something you should be aware of: the fact that a child could be drawn into using porn does not mean the parents have failed or that they have allowed him or her to turn into some sort of monster. It simply means that we live in a fallen world and are fallen humans who give in to our sinful desires even when we know we shouldn’t. Pornography works because it hijacks and distorts the beautiful gift God gave us when He created sex.
But no matter how society packages it, pornography is vile, it is corrosive, it is wrong, and it is wreaking havoc spiritually, relationally, and intrapersonally. Because the sin of using porn can have deep spiritual, emotional, and relational consequences for years, we cannot afford to leave it unaddressed in our families, as awkward as it may be. And we have to talk about more than just “doing the right thing.” We have to invite them into the rich life that only comes from following God’s design.
One organization we want to make you aware of up front is Fight the New Drug. FTND is a secular organization, but they’re doing more to change the conversation about pornography than almost any other organization. Their anti-porn stance is based on scientific and sociological studies that focus on how harms our minds, our relationships with others, and our world as a whole. (Bonus: they make rejecting pornography look cool to media-savvy millennials.) We encourage you to peruse their website, as it is filled with potential talking points.
BREAKING THE CYCLE
Some teenagers may have thought about porn like this: “I shouldn’t have sex until I’m married. But no one will know if I look at porn, so I can still deal with my urges without harming anyone.” What such thinking fails to consider is that porn is not merely an outlet for sexual desire, it is also an inlet. It creates a desire (or at least heightens it), which it then also positions itself as being able to satisfy. Another way to say this is that it creates a cycle. But we don’t have to fall into this cycle. 2 Timothy says that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The challenge of pornography is a unique opportunity for you to tap into that spirit and to demonstrate wisdom for your kids on how to resist temptation and thereby find flourishing.
Also, please be aware of this: while many teenagers have already been exposed to pornography, a good many have yet to be exposed. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to kick your feet back—we saw in those statistics that the average age of first exposure to porn is now age 12. So before the world brainwashes our kids with its view of sexuality and pleasure, we should instill in them God’s view of sex, pleasure, pornography, and sin. In upcoming issues, we’ll address how not to address the issue, give you a battle plan for effective discipleship, and offer several resources and approaches to help make your discipleship more effective.