Please don't blame it on the internet.
Genesis 34:2-3 "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her [Dinah], he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her. And his soul was drawn to Dinah the daughter of Jacob. He loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her."
Genesis 39:6b-7 "Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, 'Lie with me.'"
2 Samuel 11:2 "It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful." You know the rest of that story, right?
Proverbs 5:20 "Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?"
Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Matthew 15:19-20a "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person."
These stories and warnings all precede the age of the internet by a few thousand years. Lust has been bubbling out the hearts of men and women long before lewd images and video became so easily accessible online. Has the internet made the problem worse? Sure. And that's why things like filters and accountability software (like the Covenant Eyes software running on this computer) are useful tools in the fight for purity. But lust didn't come from the internet and so neither will the ultimate solution for the battle against pornography and all sorts of other sexual vice come from filters and accountability software.
I don't pretend to be able to give all the answers in a blog post. My primary aim here is to challenge parents to raise children prepared to live in a world designed to draw out and bring to expression the sexual immorality that is already at work in their hearts. Reading through What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn motivated this post, and I am indebted to him for some of these thoughts. If what you read here interests you, get the book and read his chapters on sex and pornography.
You can put all the filters in the world on your computer; you can lock down your tv or throw it out with the trash and never rent another movie; you can homeschool your children so they'll never see or hear raunch in a locker room; you can shelter them in every conceivable way, but you can't get sin out of their heart. Only Jesus can do that. Even with the very best of sheltering, your children will eventually see a billboard driving down the road or a magazine at the grocery store or find a sister's undergarment in the laundry or wonder why mom's body is different than dad's or question why they are feeling unexplainable things in their body. So what to do? Here are a few suggestions for your children and yourself as you do battle with the sin that so easily entangles us.
Point your children every day to the freeing power of Jesus Christ in the gospel. Don't let that roll off your back like some trite little saying. The only thing more powerful than the sinful desires that dwell in us is the power of God to forgive our sins and enable us to walk in newness of life. If you are not soaking up the wonder of Christ and dwelling in his marvelous light and showing your children that light, you're in danger of becoming or remaining entrapped in sin. Jesus is not surprised by the wickedness in your heart. He died to forgive it, so bring it to the light and find the freedom that comes with forgiveness of sins confessed. Teach this to your children. Don't let the gospel be an afterthought tacked on to your parenting; it has to be central. It is in seeing the selfless sacrifice of Christ that the most selfish of sins can be mortified. Yawn says of the world's version of sex, "People are objects for pleasure and self is supreme. It's characterized by the unbridled pursuit of personal pleasure. The cross is the only effective filter for this nonsense."
Teach them about sex and start young. And don't just give them Proverbs 5:20 (see above). Give them Proverbs 5:18-19 too. "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." If Solomon taught his son about both the beauty and the danger of sex in no uncertain terms in the pre-internet world, shouldn't we do so all the more post-internet? The world will be happy to teach your children about sex, but they will teach the reverse of God's wisdom: "be intoxicated with the forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress!" The void of your silence will be filled with the sinful desires of their heart fueled by the allure of the world. As Yawn says, "I want my sons to so anticipate the joy of sex with their future wives from a Christian perspective so that when the 'harlot' lurking on the corner of this culture offers them something different, it seems absurd...I want billboards to seem stupid, not alluring."
Who will teach your children about sex? Don't let the perversions of God's good gift and our efforts to avoid those perversions be the only thing they ever learn about sex. If they grow up in an environment where every reference to sex is negative, you'll handicap their marriage. Don't let them walk through their anatomy development and new found urges alone.
"Your job is to guide him through all the changes he experiences as he grows. You have to speak into the awkwardness and confusion. You have to make sure he does not cover what is a normal experience for a young man with a fig leaf of shame. You don't want him hiding in darkness from all this stuff. You want him to face it in light of the truth." --Byron Yawn
Is this kind of teaching going to be hard? Yes. Is it going to be awkward? Yes. Is it going to take more than a 15 minute chat? Yes; it will require years of conversations, starting young (and of course age appropriate). Is it worth it? Just look at the lives and marriages shattered by pornography and other sexual sin. Parents and the church need to break the silence and speak truth instead of allowing our sinful hearts and worldly philosophy to carry the day.
Writing these things doesn't mean that I have it all down myself or am handling it perfectly with my children. That's why I'm so thankful for the gospel.
When I quote Scripture In this blog, unless otherwise indicated, the quotations are usually from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission.
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