Protecting Our Children Day 4: Pitfalls of Pornography
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)
I hate writing about this topic. There, I said it. I wish it wasn’t necessary because I really hate talking and writing about it. It’s not because I’m some perfectly righteous man who has never fallen into the trap—I have. And maybe that’s why I hate writing about it. It’s a topic that entire books, complete websites, and therapists’ careers are built around. And here I am, writing a page or two about it. It’s written about so much for good reason—it hasn’t stopped being a problem for our children and for adults. Let’s look at three simple things as a way of understanding how to approach our children. It isn’t easy to talk about, obviously, but it’s necessary due to the prevalence and ease of obtaining (and hiding) it in our present digital age.
The first issue—pornography invades the mind. Satan loves to use tools to cause problems in our minds! That’s why Peter commanded us to be “sober-minded” and “watchful” as we consider things like pornography. A typical excuse or reasoning in the mind of a believer is to say, “I’m not actually doing these acts; I’m only watching! What’s the big deal?” The invasion of the mind is key. Once images and videos enter your mind, they’re there to be recalled at any moment. It can lead you in awful directions—mainly, addiction. The stuff you’ve watched isn’t enough, so you watch more and more. Before you know it, you are consistently seeking it out to get your “fix.” At that point, it pretty much has command over your mind. It feels like you need it, and it draws your mind away from where it should be. And while it may feel like an escape from reality (using it to get away from other problems), it’s the wrong escape. It’s something to warn our kids about.
Let’s consider another issue. Pornography taints reality. It might be especially true of young teenage minds. It’s called fantasy for a reason! But watching it over and over again can lead our children to believe that it’s depicting reality. And so, when they begin dating and get married, their expectations regarding sex can be pretty confused. It’s yet another perversion of the mind that can harm relationships.
Another harmful issue—pornography can very easily lead to the temptation to action. A person sees these activities taking place, and it leads to a desire to fulfill them. Our kids might think, Why can’t I do this? Of course, married adults might think the same thing. This temptation can lead to physical and spiritual disaster. From one-night stands, to casual sexual relationships, to unprotected sex, to adultery—none of it is good. And of course, these issues can become exponentially worse. Our little girls can become teen mothers. Our boys can become teen fathers. They can contract STDs. They can wreck families. There is also psychological damage. It’s not guaranteed that all of this will happen, but I think we all know how quickly temptation and desire can lead to a fall. These are the uncomfortable truths of life in a sinful world, and we must make sure our children are told about them.
While the devil can take advantage of our sin and weaknesses, linking our minds and actions with pornography gives him an edge and makes things easier for him. Let us never forget who he is and the devices he uses. He is “seeking someone to devour,” and it might be us or our children. But let us also remember this: while he is “like a roaring lion,” he is no match for the Lion of Judah. A fall into sin, an addiction to pornography, or anything like that is not beyond recovery. If we are believers, we can recover from any fall, no matter how disastrous. If you or your child is struggling with pornography, be reminded of this truth: the past is past. Past struggles cannot be erased, but they don’t have to define your present or your future. You can decide today to change. Satan wants you to wallow; the Lord wants you to follow. Challenge yourself one day at a time to leave the pitfalls in the past.