Pastor’s Perspective on Pornography and our Children
I had the privilege of teaching the Lifelearners Sunday School Class last week, and talked about the way that technology is challenging our parenting, particularly in the area of purity (and the exposure to readily available pornography). It brought to mind a good article on this subject written by my friend (and web guru) Tim Challies. I freely excerpt here what Tim observed.
First, Tim commented on a new American Psychological Association study that shows that both boys and girls are hurt by porn:
The saturation of sexualised images of females is leading to body hatred, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, high rates of teen pregnancy and unhealthy sexual development in our girl children. It also leads to impaired cognitive performance. In short, if we tell girls that looking ‘hot’ is the only way to be validated, rather than encouraging them to be active players in the world, they underperform at everything else.
This APA report goes on to say:
The sexualisation of girls is not just shattering the lives of girls and women, it is preventing boys and young men from relating to girls and women as complex human beings with so much to offer them. It is preventing boys from forming healthy friendships and working relationships with girls and women.
Tim goes on to say:
Pornography does prevent boys from forming normal and healthy relationships with girls. Implicit in pornography is the understanding that women exist to be exploited, and exist primarily for the pleasure of men. They do not need to be embraced as friends or wooed or admired. Rather, they are to be conquered, used and left behind. Boys that immerse themselves in pornography are not able to fulfill their God-given roles as leaders and protectors. They are, instead, exploiters.
Then Tim shared some analysis from a second study, based on information from 13- and 14-year-olds.
‘(The researcher) asked about their exposure to and use of sexually explicit material on TV, DVDs, movies and the Internet, as well as about their interaction with their parents about such material.’ She found that 35% of boys and 8% of girls had already watched pornography more times than they could count. Even more alarmingly, the parents of these children were completely oblivious to their kids’ addictions . . .
This is the culture we live in. Our children will be exposed to this; if not through school, it will be through the church. It may be through a seemingly-innocent Google search. But sooner or later our children will see pornography movies and images. It is going to happen. And we, as parents, need to be prepared. Here are just a few suggestions:
Prepare to take preventive measures on behalf of your children. The best thing you can do is to ensure that the computer is in a public, high-traffic area. Password the computer so the children can only use it only when other people are around. I have found most porn-prevention software to be utterly useless (either it blocks everything or it blocks nothing) but you may be able to find some that is useful. Do not allow your children to have a computer in their rooms and do not allow them to have their own televisions.
Monitor the use of instant messenger software and web browsers. Let your children know that you will be monitoring what they see, do and say on the computer and that they will not be able to view pornography without you knowing. Be sure you know how to look through a computer’s history to see what your children have been looking at.
Be especially careful with sites like Google Video and YouTube. In many ways these sites, which can seem innocent (and most often are) feed the porn industry. It is a small step from videos of girls kissing and other exploitive videos to pornography. Many of the videos on these sites exist only as a bridge to other sites that are far less innocent.
Talk to your children about pornography and do so before they encounter it for the first time. In my generation, most boys were probably thirteen or fourteen before we were introduced to pornography, and even then it was typically difficult to obtain. Today it is as close as a Google search, and most children will be introduced to it far earlier. Teach your children about real sex, and about pure sex, and about God’s plan and desire for sex. Talk to them about pornography, not leaving it as ‘pornography is filthy and disgusting,’ but discussing why they might be interested in it, what it will do to them, and how they should react when (not ‘if’) they are exposed to it. This is not a traditional ‘birds and bees’ discussion that you can have once, but an ongoing conversation you need to have time and again. Continually talk to your children, know your children, and challenge them.
Model purity and love and respect in your own marriage. Let your children see healthy relationships in action so your words about the devastation pornography and the objectification of women brings will be set against what is good and true and natural.
Pray for your children. This is a strange and awful and topsy-turvy culture we live in. We are reaping the ‘rewards’ of generations of feminism run amok and are seeing with clarity that we cannot continue to exploit women and allow boys to exploit girls, without suffering serious consequences. Our children are at risk, and only God has the power to save them.
Dr J Ligon Duncan III is Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church (PCA), Jackson, Mississippi. This ‘Pastor’s Perspective’ appeared in the the Church’s weekly publication The First Epistle Vol. 41, No. 25 (June 27 2008). Tim Challies’ original post can be found here
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