Issue 23 | July 17, 2015
SPECIAL EDITION: PART 2 OF 5
PORN'S BEST FRIEND
Sadly, there are many Christians who regularly use pornography. Sometimes for them, this porn use is insulated by a tremendous amount of shame. They may hate the fact that it's so difficult to quit, but because they are plagued with such shame, they are kept from stepping into the freedom that comes with confessing to a Christian brother or sister about their addiction. The flesh and the devil often work in tandem, first to lure someone in, driving him nearly wild with temptation, and then blasting him over the back of the head with shame and guilt when he finally does give in.
We know a guy--let's call him Mitch--whose mother once caught him looking at porn. She was so distraught at her discovery that she burst into hysterics and began to vilify him, and she did this with such intensity that by the end of the confrontation, Mitch never wanted to go to his mother or confide in her about anything ever again. He retreated further away from his parents, further into himself because his sense of shame was overwhelming. Then of course, when one is in such a low place, pornography presents itself as a solace from such feelings of personal anguish, a way to numb oneself, even though each indulgence only perpetuates that cycle on a deeper level.
A reaction like this, on the part of the mother, comes from a desire to maintain perfect innocence (or at least an image of perfect innocence) in her child. In Mitch's mind, however, he is now the lowest of the low, he is vile, he is worthless. In a phenomenal, nearly comprehensive talk on incorporating technology into family discipleship, Doreen Dodgen reminds us that our objective is not to wield this knowledge so that we can discipline our kids into the ground, but so that we can shepherd them into a place of health. Pulverizing your teens with the shame-hammer will never bring the results you're looking for and may even make the matter worse.
To best combat the destruction that comes hand-in-hand with pornography, our strategy should not simply involve restricting what we think the possible avenues of exposure to pornography might be. We would definitely recommend setting up strong Internet filters and accountability as soon as you can for any children (of any age) that use technology in your home. We want to make clear, however, this is not the most important part of this battle, and if it is the only component of our battle strategy, our strategy will most likely fail.
This is true for a couple of reasons. First, taking away a computer, TV, or smartphone can be the equivalent of treating the symptoms rather than the sickness. Second, most teenagers know more about how to manipulate technology and find loopholes than parents do. We met a mom recently who refused to allow her son a smartphone or computer in an attempt to keep him from looking at porn. She later discovered that he was subscribed to a text-based porn service on his flip phone and had found a way to download porn on his Nintendo 3DS. Simply not giving him access to devices only made it harder, not impossible, for him to find what he wanted to look at, yet still did nothing to address his sinful desires and/or addiction.
So our battle plan should be threefold in this order:
- Pray without ceasing.
- Focus on inner transformation.
- Set up an atmosphere of protection and accountability.
For those of you with younger children, we'd recommend putting accountability measures in place for all your family's devices as soon as possible so that you can be the first one to find out about (and hopefully delay) your child's first exposure to pornography. This way you can address it before it's a habit. Even before you let it get to that, talk to them at an early age about the accountability you have on each device and why. We had a family psychologist that we trust recently tell us in an interview that you should talk to your children about pornography by the age of eight because of its prevalence in today's world. Too early? We would argue not! Would you want them find out about this evil from you instead of at a friend's house or at school when you're not around? It will happen. It's just a matter of how and when. You, as the parent, can and should be a part of the conversation at an early age and stage in this (likely) inevitable struggle.
Next week in Part 3, we will unpack and explain numbers 1 and 2 of the battle plan in depth. And in Parts 4 and 5, we will look at practical ways to set up filters, accountability, and protection within your family.