His name was Larry. I don’t remember his name because I hold him specifically responsible, but because I just don’t remember having very many friends named Larry in my life. It sticks out. He lived across the street, was as year older and was plagued by the influence of an older brother. So, it should have been no surprise when he came over to my front porch and brought with him a Playboy magazine. I was eleven years old. Three years earlier I had asked Jesus “into my heart”, but nothing could prepare me or prevent me from staring wide-eyed, mouth gaping open.
Let me be clear. I do not share this story with fondness, pride or a smug smile. I share this with the extreme confidence and humility that God has given me victory in this arena. I also share this with extreme grief as I know this life experience is not an isolated one. I am not alone. Here are some staggering statistics from The Barna Group which quantifies reality.
Why am I bring this up? This week, the world learned of the death of Hugh Hefner, the founder and editor-and-chief of Playboy magazine. No matter your opinion of him, for better or worse, at the time of his death he was regarded as an American Icon. What is the point of this post? It’s really awkward to talk about. I’ve really sweat over if I should even post on this topic. But that is the very issue I hope this post attacks – Christ-followers (especially parents) cannot be silent. I want to take just a few moments to share from my heart a few words of encouragement and warning to parents and wisdom to fellow brothers and sisters.
While I understand pornography is a temptation and sin struggle for women as well, since I am a man I will be writing from that perspective.
The single greatest weapon Satan has against Christian young men is parents who are naïve to believe their son will never struggle. Or similarly, the parent who is overtaken by the challenge of addressing the issue with their son and consequently never makes a difference. Please understand me clearly, this is not the blame-game. However, as a boy who is now grown, I can speak from first-hand experience.
The persistent, consistent involvement of a father in this arena of a son’s life will make a colossal difference. There is an expression in business, “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” Regarding pornography, the same can apply in the father-son relationship. It may cost a dad momentary embarrassment, tension and awkwardness. It may cause a son to be embarrassed, angry and even distant. But the love-investment a dad makes into his son will return immeasurable dividends. It will make a difference and it is worth the cost. Risk, reward. While you risk now, the reward of influence is far greater. Don’t settle for the temporary reward of congeniality now to practically guarantee the risk of your son becoming addicted to pornography.
Whether dads realize it or not, they wear a cape. They are a superhero. I do not know a dad who would not (at least try) to run faster than a speeding bullet and leap tall buildings in a single bound for his son. Pornography is a villain who must be fought. Fathers are the superhero who can fight that villain with their son when he is unwilling or unable. Think about it. If you knew your son had begun a friendship with a guy who was offering him drugs, alcohol or any other life-damaging substance would you sit idly by? Hiding behind congeniality? Afraid things would become embarrassing or awkward? I should hope not. Please, don’t let pornography be any different. Be a dad whose love for his son knows no foe he will not fight.
Moms can play a very valuable role as the Robin to dad’s Batman. Though I have yet to have to fight this fight on behalf of my sons – sheesh, I shudder just thinking about it – I can already tell you, knowing my wife is in my corner cheering me on will make a massive difference. As a dad engages his son on this battle field, your husband will come back wounded, emotionally spent. Maybe upset. Maybe angry. Maybe grief-stricken. Be his Robin. Be his sidekick who supports him, encourages him and loves him no matter what. Be a wife whose backing is not results-based. Even if your husband isn’t yet the Superman he wants to be about fighting pornography, keep encouraging him. Keep supporting him. Your love and support will be both the salve and the fuel that will keep him going.
Help your husband set the moral temperature in the family. As I mentioned earlier, the temptation of pornography and sexual impurity is life-long for men. This might be an area of your husband’s life he is not bulletproof. If something is on television, have the courage to LOVINGLY point it out. If an off-color joke is made, have the courage not to laugh and then at the appropriate moment LOVINGLY share your disagreement and disdain. God has given moms a superpower – their intuition! The most powerful stuff on earth! Use it. As you walk with God listen to His conviction in your heart and use it to be sensitive to the environment of your family.
Lastly, but most importantly, moms and dads must be prayer warriors for their son. Pornography is a super awkward topic – sometimes it’s even difficult to say the word out loud. But God knows it exists. Sexual purity is very important to God, 1 Thessalonians 4 tells us as much. So, if you spend time praying about it, it won’t catch God off guard or make Him uncomfortable. Daily pray that God will protect and empower your son to abstain from pornography. Pray that he would have the courage to resistant peer pressure and link arms with the right group of friends.
Brothers in Christ
While I could write pages about this topic, I will be specific and brief with my words of wisdom.
Support Structure (Galatians 6:1-2) Friendships are not meant to only make you happy, but to make you holy. Surround yourself with brothers who will listen and not judge. Be close friends with guys who will hear your struggle, respect your confession and grieve with you over sin. Have friends who fear the Lord and keep His commandments, not make excuses or bring you down. Have frequent and open conversations with a youth pastor or mentor.
Raise the Bar (2 Timothy 2) The locker room is not the place to establish your moral standard. The Word of God is clear about the trappings of sexual sin and the punishment of sexual sin. Don’t allow yourself to live in the gray area of subjective morality. Every time you let your guard down about “not pornography stuff” you are eroding your strength against it – desensitizing your conscience. Just because it is not formally pornography does not mean it should be part of your life. Commit yourself to God’s standards and be blessed.
Fight like Crazy (Colossians 3) There might not be a more life-altering, emotionally damaging experience than to engage in pornography. Do not be so foolish as to believe because it cannot kill you physically it is unable of killing you emotionally. Beg God to fill you with His spirit and give you the strength you need to overcome. Pray daily; hourly if necessary.
In a society where awareness is being raised daily, about evil and injustice, pornography should be no exception. Let’s not allow pornography to continue to be a silent killer. May we be dads, moms, Christ-followers who bring into the light this dark sin.
Important note: Before I shared, my wife has read this article. Also, may my passion for this topic be understood in the context that my mom, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law and my pastor have read this post. Just because something is uneasy to talk about, never means we should not talk about it. If you want someone to talk with more about this topic, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll buy the coffee!