Chances are you began early educating your child about Stranger Danger, Good Touch/Bad Touch, Just Say No, and True Love Waits. It’s what good, Christian parents do, right? Our job is to protect our kids from life-threatening, high-risk hazards. I've seen glowing rectangles become the newest threat.
Humanity is currently experiencing an unprecedented explosion of knowledge. We hold in our hands the fruit of technology that can open our eyes to all kinds of unseen beauty in the world, and horrors beyond our wildest imagination. We have unlimited access to information that exceeds our ability to manage it.
One conversation you need to have, and keep having, with your child is about the wise use of technology--especially the dangers of knowledge beyond their understanding, specifically about the addictive poison of pornography. Studies show that the average age of first exposure to porn is 8. (Yes, eight years old. Eight year-olds who ought to be enjoying the calm before puberty--out riding their bikes and climbing trees.)
If you were born a mere generation ago, chances are your exposure to anything racey as a child was limited and brief: Paging through the Sears catalog to gawk at people in their underwear or hiding in the library with a National Geographic for a peek at half-dressed natives. More brazen-types might have stolen a girlie magazine from the corner drug store. But these activities required stealth and advance planning to gain access which acted as a natural deterrent.
Fast forward to today when pornographic images and videos are just a mouse-click away. You might say, “But I have installed protective software on our computers and I monitor everything my child does on the internet.” I am telling you, it is not enough. Children in elementary grades have Smart phones, iPods, even wifi-ready wristwatches that put the Knowledge of good and evil right in their stubby little palms. And if your child does not personally own these devices, they will see their friends partaking and will be offered the opportunity to “take also and eat.”
Children are often the targets and victims of the porn industry. They are exposed to heightened sexuality which their developing brains simply aren’t ready to process. It is never too soon to initiate this conversation with your children. One book I recommend you read together is, “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.” It outlines what a child should do--not IF but WHEN--they encounter porn; How to identify it as pornography, to report it immediately to a trusted adult, and steps to take to protect their minds from this deadly trap. If you are thinking, “Well, we’ll talk about that when we get there.” No. “We” are already there, Mom and Dad. And that’s just your young children. Your teens? I promise you, they’ve already gotten an eyeful and they probably don’t know what to do with what they’ve been exposed to.
A 2014 survey was commissioned by Proven Men Ministries (www.ProvenMen.org), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping men break free from pornography, and conducted by Barna Group among a nationally representative sample of 388 self-identified Christian adult men:
95% admit that they have viewed pornography;
54% look at pornography at least once a month;
44% viewed pornography at work in the last 90 days;
31% had a sexual affair while married;
25% erase Internet browsing history to conceal pornography use; and
18% admit being addicted to pornography (and another 9% think they may be).
This was a study done specifically about men, but porn-viewing by women is on the rise. Statistics show that, of people using internet searches to access porn in the US, 21% are females and 79% are males. Sources that track search engines report increasing interest for deviant and violent content. We aren’t talking nudie still-shots of auld lang syne, folks. We are talking live video-footage; images that are poisoning young minds which lead to paralyzing addictions, explaining these frightening statistics--even among Christians. We are playing with a fire that is burning out of control. And we must take proactive steps to protect our children.
God began the original parenting gig with two handcrafted humans that he nestled into a delightful garden designed especially for them. They had free run of the place, and everything they could ever want...except that one tree.
No one knows how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden, avoiding the tree God had warned them about saying, “Of this one tree, you must not eat for in the day you eat of it, you will surely die.”
For an undetermined amount of time, they probably gave the tree a wide berth as they went about their business of enjoying paradise. Maybe decades or centuries passed without Adam and Eve so much as glancing that direction? But one day, Eve decided that having it all, wasn’t quite enough. She stopped in front of the tree. And the serpent, who was there waiting for an opportunity, spoke to her.
The serpent challenged Eve about what God had said and planted a lie in her heart. He hissed, “Did God really say you can’t eat this fruit? Ha! God is holding out on you, girl! He knows that when you eat it, your eyes will be open--you’ll know everything--all the good AND all the bad. He doesn’t want you to eat this fruit because He knows it will make you like Him!” And, if you have ever read Genesis chapter three, you know what happened next. Millennia later, we still want to blame Eve. “Why was she so stupid? Man--if I had been there, I totally would not have taken the fruit.” Hold that thought a moment...
First, was God really holding out on Eve? Adam and Eve were the crowning jewels of His creation. He had fashioned them with His own hands to be like Him. He had given them the best of everything there was to give and...God loved them. In His great love, He wanted to protect them. He warned them about how they could lose everything. He wanted to keep them from the knowledge of evil. God knew that once their eyes were opened, everything would change. Knowledge is not always power. Knowledge apart from conscience is dangerous.
It is no longer enough to simply talk with our children about abstinence. We need to talk to them about living pure, unpolluted lives and highlight the value of a clean conscience. We must warn them of the dangerous snares that are set to enslave them and how to seek help and break free once they find themselves trapped. We dare not be silent on this issue. Despite society’s winking at this vice and the assumption (even evidence) that this is rampant and “normal” we need to dialog openly and honestly about the very real struggle and threat that pornography presents to us as individuals, as a culture, and as followers of Christ.