30 Oct 2015
Politicians have it easy. They have teleprompters! While we can’t get you a teleprompter, we hope the next two blogs will give you talking points to use with your kids that compare the Christian and secular worldviews about sexuality.
A worldview, in a nutshell, is how a person sees him or herself, others, God, and the point of life. In our culture, the Christian sexual worldview is clashing with the secular sexual worldview.
As parents, we need to know what the world is teaching our kids about sex and the overall meaning of life. To unpack these worldviews, I will compare three talking points from each side.
Secular Worldview 1: Sexuality is Subjectively Defined by Individuals
Who Is the Standard?
The culture today is teaching that sex and sexuality mean what you want them to mean. Why? Because good sexual expression is defined by the individual. There is no intrinsic meaning or value in the sexual act itself. Barring non-consensual sexual acts, the culture teaches that we are the meaning makers when it comes to sexual expression.
What one person or group calls “sexual sin” is merely a relativistic human interpretation. The significance or meaning of sex is a societal construction. Sex can be in a lifelong commitment or a one-night stand.
What is Love?
To the secular mindset, an individual’s sexual attraction also defines love and intimacy. Love is essentially an emotional feeling that overwhelms the individual, though it can quickly change. I can love whomever I want, in whatever way I want. Love takes on a self-centered nature because it is defined by the individual and not by an objective standard.
Where is it Good?
The idea of sexual individualism – my body, my attractions, my orientation, and my definition of love for me – is the new secular sexual morality. What is morally wrong is when people to try to put boundaries on sexual freedom. As long as you aren’t harming someone else and you are with a consenting adult, there are no more sexual taboos.
Christian Worldview 1: Sexuality is Objectively Defined by God
Who Is the Standard?
We are not alone in the cosmos, armed only with human self-consciousness, opposable thumbs, and high-speed internet. The good news is that God exists and has has revealed all the truth about sex and sexuality that we need in the Scriptures. The Scriptures teach us that God created sexuality and gives meaning and morality to it. Because of God, two people having sex means something. It is not a morally and relationally neutral event. It could be an overflow of love in marriage, an outlet for selfish lust in pre-marital sex, or it could be betrayal through adultery, depending on the situation.
What is Love?
Contrary to the secular understanding of love as a subjective expression of an individual’s feelings, Christians believe that God defines love. He defines it as total sacrifice and commitment according to His standards of good or bad and right or wrong (1 John 4:10-11). Because of the sacrificial nature of Christ, the Christian understanding of love challenges disciples to imitate Christ in unselfish, self-sacrificing, patient, and redeeming ways. The promiscuous nature of the hookup culture can’t imitate that. Love is anything but subjective.
Where is it Good?
The Christian perspective recognizes that the Creator defines the context for sex in the covenant love of marriage between one man and one woman. Rather than the whims of consent and infatuation, true love imitates the faithful love of God and is cultivated when spouses abide in the context of lifelong commitment, not the sporadic hook up mentality of our culture. He also defines how we may express our sexuality in general. It must be according to His design and in love and service to others.
In terms of the marriage debate, one reason why a marriage is only good between one man and one woman is that in some mysterious way, the essential differences between a man and a woman reflect both the diversity and unity of the Perfect Trinity. The sexual difference between men and women in Biblical marriage enables a man and woman who both bear the image of God separately to bear God’s image together in unity. Male and female unite to share in love, unity, and creativity in a way that depicts the love, unity, and creative power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus, homosexual monogamy still falls short.
Likewise the male/female sexual difference is important in John’s image of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 18 and 19 with the marriage of the Lamb. The essential differences between men and women and the covenant of marriage, in particular, mirror Christ and His Church.
The context of marriage is also the only safe context for sexual intimacy. As a husband and wife become “one flesh”, they also commit to each other in the context of marriage to stay with one another. In the hookup culture, when two people become “one flesh”, that union can be ripped apart with a simple phone call. A couple’s covenant of marriage, modeling the covenant faithfulness of God to His people in Christ, actually becomes a secure place to receive love and learn of God’s love for us. The covenant boundary of marriage gives the relational security for each spouse to be free to share their true self, find true acceptance, and enjoy true intimacy. Because it is modeled on the never-ending grace of God for His people, the covenant union gives the relational security we need. The hookup culture may include lots of sex, but it can’t provide a context for redeeming grace as couples come face to face with each other’s sin.
In the following post, we’ll contrast two more talking points regarding the secular and Christians worldviews. (Part two)
23 Oct 2015
In today’s hyper-sexed world, having only one “sex talk” with your kids just won’t cut it. So, we are going to write a series of posts under the title “Sex Talks” that will help us address our kids in their various ages and stages of growing up. This piece is an introduction about the vision behind talking to our kids about sex and sexuality.
A Corrupting Cultural Context
Do you remember the public service announcement with Smokey the Bear saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires”? Whether or not Smokey the Bear was right, if you are a parent of a child under seven or eight, only you should present your child with their first experience of sex education. Tragically, other kids and pornographers are already beating Christian parents to the punch.
All it takes for your first-born kindergartener to be exposed to the world of fallen sexuality is to sit next to another kindergartener who happens to have a sixteen-year-old sibling. Many elementary school children have gone home and Googled a new word they learned from a friend, and bam! They see hard-core porn movies. Our world, along with the Internet, is already teaching our children about sex and sexuality.
Do We Feel Inadequate?
As we think about having conversations with our children about sex and sexuality, it’s normal to feel inadequate. We really are! And, in some ways, that is a wonderful place to begin. But we can also feel inadequate because of the strength of the world pushing its own agenda on our children, the weariness of parenting in general, and the sin of our own past. So let’s take this time to take a couple of brief looks at the power of God in Jesus for us as parents.
He is the Physician to the Broken. Jesus’ mission is to messed-up people like you and me, and He offers forgiveness, grace, and transformation to us as parents for all the stuff we’ve done in our past.
But He is also the Calmer of the Seas. Does parenting ever feel like you’re on the Sea of Galilee and the storm is raging around you? We want Jesus to wake up from sleeping in the boat! What we want to see today is that we are safe with Jesus before he calms storms and after He calms them. We are safe, because Jesus is in our boat. He is the master of the seas, including the crazy world of parenting.
Finally, He is the King of the World. As we look around at the world around us, we can remember Jesus’ words to His apostles: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Before talking with our children, it’s good for us as parents to bring our own hearts back to Him in faith, asking for strength and a reminder of who He is and what He’s done.
Participating with Christ in Raising Kids
It’s also good to remember that God loves your kids more than you. On top of that, He is almighty, all-wise, and works all things for our and our kids’ good. Because of His work, God wants you to teach your children the truth about sex and sexuality from their earliest years until they leave home. We are coworkers with God in redeeming and loving our children well.
Being “in Christ” means participating in His life. This saves us and gives us His righteousness, a new identity, a new destiny, and an intimate relationship with God. In addition to participating in Christ’s life, we get to participate in Christ’s work too. Parenting falls under the category of participating in Christ’s work of reconciling sinners to God. Practically, it means that we deal with a lot of sinfulness and fallenness in our children. Our kids exit the womb already corrupted by sin. And yet, we clearly know that we need to both protect and prepare our kids to deal with the sexual corruption in our world. But we also need to model the Christian sexual worldview and teach it to them as they grow up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 instructs believing parents:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
It is our privilege to join Christ in His work! The resulting love we have for our God because of His mighty work in us and through us in Jesus can be a wonderful tool to use when beginning these conversations.
From here, we will give you talking points so you will better know what to say about the competing sexual worldviews your kids face. We will examine both the big ideas of the Christian sexual worldview and the secular sexual worldview so that we can point out the differences to our kids in age-appropriate ways as they grow. As we go along, be assured that your loving God is for you and with you in this great privilege and daunting challenge of talking with your children about sexual issues.
19 Oct 2015
When I first started working in youth ministry, I regularly talked to my seventh grade small group about sexual issues, as these matters typically surface in middle school.
One night, a couple of students opened up about their struggles with porn. For the sake of the others, I tried to steer the conversation away from explicit details of how they managed to access it, though a few specifics escaped. Still, because of the openness and honesty of the students, I thought the conversation went fairly well!
Until a couple of years later….
A mom turned to me at a school function and said, “You know what? My son had no idea what pornography was or how to get to it until you talked about it in his small group. He came home and started looking at it.”
I was horrified.
She smiled the whole time and reassured me that their family had taken the necessary precautions and had the necessary talks, but make no mistake, I had jump-started this kid’s porn habit.
By middle school, there are some students who know how to access the dirtiest sites, but then there are others who are oblivious to the other sex residing on the planet.
During that conversation, I began to learn a basic yet crucial lesson: one of the jobs of the student minister is to support parents and their families. This concept is so obvious! It’s practically the very first lesson of student ministry. But supporting parents was often not on my radar amidst the whirlwind of student ministry.
How can we make sure we don’t jump-start a kid’s porn habit or usurp the sex talk(s) parents are planning to have with their kids? These tips might help:
Communicate Regularly With Parents
Student ministers need to be in some sort of regular communication with parents. It will look differently depending on the ministry, but conversations with parents have to take place. The student ministry with which I was involved did this by sending a mass email every week. But there are other things you could do as well. Could it be a phone call twice a semester? A dinner for students’ parents at the start of each year? Whatever medium you choose, you can ask questions that will give you insight into how you can supplement and reinforce what kids are learning, or not learning, at home:
What have you talked about so far with your kids regarding sexuality?
What sexual topics do you believe need to be addressed while your son or daughter is in the youth ministry?
As a student ministry, how can we best support you in the area of discipling your child in sexuality?
Parents can be somewhat unaware of student culture; they’re simply trying to survive the trenches of parenting!
I remember the first time The Student Outreach presented Gospel Sexuality: Raising Sexually Healthy Kids, our seminar to parents. The third session is called “The Technological Terrain”, in which we seek to inform and help parents navigate the world of technology and how it’s used for sexual sin. A lot of parents sat there with looks of shock, horror, and surprise. One parent kept mumbling, “You mean it’s that bad? I had no idea.”
But this isn’t simply about teaching the dangers of what’s out there. We also want to help parents teach their kids that sexuality is a gift from God to be stewarded in love and service to both Him and others. Perhaps you can have a short seminar where you talk about these issues with parents (A shameless plug: The Student Outreach just happens to have such a seminar! Check it out here).
If you send out a weekly email to parents, maybe you can include a section about a relevant app that might be used in inappropriate ways (check out commonsensemedia.org) or attach a short article that would inform and educate them (Another shameless plug: perhaps you can shoot them off a piece from our blog).
Follow-Up With Parents
If we cover sexual topics in large or small group settings, we need to let parents know what was talked about. This gives parents a wonderful opportunity to follow up with their child. This doesn’t mean that every time we mention a sexual issue in an application that we need to frantically shoot an email out! But when we spend significant time on an issue, it’s a good idea to let parents know.
Pray for Families
Regular communication, education, and follow-ups are things we can easily do to support parents. But there is one important thing that we can do that parents may never see.
Only God can give parents the wisdom and endurance to raise their children. Perhaps your student ministry team can set up weekly times to pray not just for individual students, but for whole families as well.
Student ministry is a beautiful gift from God to His Church, but none of us wants to usurp opportunities for parents to disciple their children. Let’s make it a habit to “throw one right down the center” and set parents and their students up for success in following after Christ.
11 Sep 2015
“So how far is too far?”
There’s no quick way to answer the student who asks this question. But what if there’s something wrong with the question itself? Are there better questions we should be asking? After all, in any dating relationship, there are cosmic implications at stake that this question simply doesn’t grasp.
How can we shepherd and direct our students when they ask this question? Better yet, how can we give them principles in the areas of dating and sexual holiness that will govern their actions from now until they die?
Asking The Right Questions
The Bible ultimately gives us two commands for living: love God and love others (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39; 1 John 3:23). These two commands can be teased out to provide us with two ultimate questions for living that replace the proverbial “how far is too far?”: How can I love God? How can I love others?
Only these questions will enable students to avoid hitting that not-too-distant iceberg and sinking into sexual sin. Framed with these two goals, we can see that dating with sexual holiness is about more than simply dating. Like every decision we make, it is a question of worship and discipleship.
Our sexuality and relationships are meant to be stewarded before the face of God and in love and service to others.
How Can Students Love God?
We love God by keeping His commandments in faith (1 John 5:1-5), which means that whatever causes us to forsake His commandments and our faith in Him is not done out of love for Him. For the inquisitive teen, this certainly rules out anything that would cause him or her to worship idols, dishonor parents, murder (or hate), commit adultery (or lust), steal, lie, covet, or the like.
As students think through loving God by keeping His commandments, perhaps they can ask questions such as these: Does going “this far” make an idol of out my boyfriend or girlfriend? Does it cause me to dishonor my parents? Does it cause me to lust? Does it cause me to lie while hiding my actions or to covet?
How Can Students Love Others?
So how do we love others? By serving them and not using them (Phil. 2:1-3). By helping them to follow Christ and not ourselves (Matthew 28:16-20). Perhaps our students can ask questions such as these: Does going “this far” serve my boyfriend or girlfriend in a Christ-like manner, or does it serve me? Does this particular action communicate that Christ is Lord, or that we are mini-lords? Does the particular action help my boyfriend or girlfriend follow Jesus?
As this question surfaces and as different dating scenarios arise, we can help students filter them through these two ultimate goals for living. By doing this, we help them see that they live before a God who is worthy to be loved and worshiped in the midst of their relationships and who calls them to love others in response to His great love for them.
11 Sep 2015
Almost every student in your ministry over the age of eleven has engaged in masturbation. They may not masturbate every day or three times a week, but masturbation probably plays some role, small or large, in their lives. And, if we’re honest, it’s probably played some role in our lives as well.
We’re hearing a stronger voice in our church culture today that says, “It’s okay to masturbate. After all, it can function as a release! You need it!” The concepts of self and need are the two pillars that support this misleading argument, and it’s those that we’ll be tackling.
Godly Sexual Desires
One of the first truths we must first discuss with our students is that God has created them with legitimate sexual desires. The desire to be intimate with another human being, to feel the pleasure and rapture of being with someone else, is not inherently wrong. However, Until marriage (and even within marriage!) these desires can turn into demands and be used in sinful ways.
We need to validate for students that submitting their desires to God will always be difficult. Masturbation is tempting. There’s just no way around it! This means that we have to approach our students first with compassion and empathy, noting the intense pull of both legitimate and sinful desires.
Also, we need to make our students aware that non-sexual desires and beliefs can lead to sexual sin and fruit. For some, masturbation has little to do with simple pleasure and a lot to do with alleviating stress, tension, sorrow, and the like. The point is this: in this fight, we will have to submit sometimes legitimate, oftentimes sinful, desires to the Lord in prayer and faith, and this will be extremely difficult.
Perhaps we can begin our conversations with something like this: “God has created you with good desires for sex with another person. Of course these aren’t sinful in and of themselves. But we often turn those desires, sexual or not, into demands, and that’s where masturbation comes in. It’s a gruelling fight to submit those to the Lord. But Christ has saved us and is with us now to help us fight this battle. He has given us His Spirit and a way to come to Him in prayer for help.”
After validating legitimate, created desires and the difficulty of the struggle, how can we help students think through the complex issue of masturbation?
What About Self?
The Bible doesn’t say anything about masturbation, but it says a lot about sex.
If we look at Song of Solomon, we realize that sex is meant to be relational. The young woman is enraptured by her husband’s raisins, apples, fruit, face, and voice, but her delight in them is completely connected to her delight in him. They belong to her husband. Sex is relational: it’s between a husband and a wife who give themselves completely to each other.
Chapter 3 opens with the words, “On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loved,” (v. 1-2). Whom did she seek? Him.
In the most sexual book of the Bible, sex is not solo or self-centered. It is not simply about gratifying desires, sexual or not! Sex is about a mutual relationship and partnership enjoyed within a marriage where everything else, from finances to joy to grief, is shared.
This may seem like an out-of-the-blue question, but what is the crowning moment of sexual intercourse? The orgasm. These feelings, these moments of rapture, were created to be experienced in the union and intimacy of a covenant relationship focused on giving to each other. To experience them without a husband or wife is to enjoy them outside of their intended context.
A quote attributed to Woody Allen goes something like this: “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.” Hmmm. That one should make us stop and think. Love and sex in God’s book never end with ourselves. Love and sex push us outward in service to our spouses.
Let’s begin to think seriously about the issue of masturbation and to tell our students just what masturbation teaches them concerning sex.
Whether as a parent or student minister, perhaps you can give this post to your students to start the conversation and follow up with these questions:
Have you experienced any of these intense desires mentioned in this post?
What do you think is the best way to deal with them?
How do you think we can follow Christ in this area?
Check out the next post in this series HERE.
11 Sep 2015
Let’s continue with our masturbation talk. Check out Part 1 on the selfless nature of sex HERE .
Now, let’s talk about “need”.
We must validate to our students both the natural, God-given desires for sexual intimacy and the intensity of the struggle to submit all of our desires to the Christ. The act of masturbation, however, is about gratifying our own desires, sexual or not, in an ungodly way. It is these God-given desires that we often turn into perceived “needs”.
Cause of Death?
We need to eat and drink water, or we’ll die. We need to sleep, or we’ll die. But we won’t die if we refuse to engage in solo-sex. No one’s autopsy will ever conclude, Cause of Death: Lack of Masturbation. This perceived need has been turned into an idol, something we worship at all costs.
Every time we masturbate, we buy into the lie that it can calm the desires within us, whether they are sexual or not. Students must know that the temptation to masturbate is loaded with empty promises. It does not have the power to satisfy or quell the struggles within.
Christ calls us to bring every desire (whether it be relief from anxiety or stress, longing for intimacy, desire for pleasure, or any other desire) to Himself in prayer and supplication. Habitual masturbation is simply slavery to self and perceived needs, something from which Christians have been delivered (Galatians 5).
What about Jesus?
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus meet us in our brokenness. Christ has given us all that we actually need. He has given us salvation and restored communion with God. He has promised to sustain us in this life and the next. His person and work alone free us to relinquish and repent of our perceived needs.
Paul says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh and its passions and desires,” (v. 24). If we belong to Christ, our passions and desires, though incredibly strong, have no real authority over us. We must neither deny that our passions and desires are often unrelenting nor make it seem like the fight to submit them to Christ will be easy. However, we affirm that if Christ is our master, our passions and desires cannot rule over us.
As sons and daughters of God, we have killed these passions and nailed them to a cross. Christ’s death is the deathblow to our sinful desires and perceived needs. Practically, this means that the desire and “need” to masturbate have absolutely no authority over the Christian. The Christian’s master is Jesus.
What About Me?
The question inevitably follows: how can we submit these desires to the Lord? We’ll offer four beginning suggestions to help students:
Pray. The temptation to masturbate, regardless of the desires underneath, can feel like an unrelenting, raging tempest. But we know the God who can calm such tempests. Instead of white-knuckling it (simply going for a run, taking a cold shower, etc.), let’s come to the Master of storms to ask for relief, for reminding of who we are in Jesus, and for help.
Get to the Scriptures. After seeking the Lord in prayer, whether we have a favorite passage memorized about God or have access to a Bible, let’s make it our default setting to come to His word to see and experience the riches of His person and work. How about starting with John 4:13ff to be reminded that what we are really longing for is the water only Jesus can provide?
Phone a friend. Does the student have a trusted mentor? A godly friend? Let’s pick up that phone and ask for prayer!
Get Out. We put this last, because it’s easy to miss our relationship with the Lord when fighting sin. But if students are tempted during times of isolation, specific times of the day, or in particular situations, while engaging the Lord and others in relationship, we should encourage them to flee the situation in which they find themselves. Go for a run. Drive somewhere. Take a swim. Play some basketball.
God calls us to pursue Him with every ounce of strength He provides. While difficult and intense, the struggle with masturbation really does bring us to our knees day after day in humble reliance upon God for faith and perseverance. Though our sin, the Enemy, and our culture tempt us not to, it’s a noble and sanctifying fight to pursue Christ.
Let’s be diligent to teach students the glories and riches of biblical sexuality. This sexuality mirrors the selflessness of Song of Solomon, is distilled in the Gospel of Christ, and is used to love God and serve others. We must, at the same time, warn students of the dangers of selfish sexuality.
How can you help students follow Jesus in this issue? Could you hand these posts out and begin the conversation? Here are some follow-up questions that we could ask:
What are some desires and felt “needs” that would make masturbation look like a good option?
What are some practical ways we can take our desires and perceived “needs” to Christ?
11 Sep 2015
Have you found porn on your son’s computer or an explicit text sent from your daughter’s phone? When you catch your child in any sexual sin it can feel like the worst-case scenario. Contrary to how we feel, it’s actually a good thing when we “catch” our children in sexual sin! It gives us all an opportunity for spiritual growth. How does the Lord want us to respond?
It’s right to be concerned, because sexual sin is a serious problem. But we need to wary of our initial responses when confronting our child. In situations like these, our initial responses tend to be based in fear, confusion, and perhaps anger. But we have a more solid ground to stand on in Christ.
In parts 1 and 2 of this post, we want to offer some wise and practical steps in responding to your child’s sexual sin. Where should be begin?
- Don’t Freak Out
It is easy to lash out in shock, anger, or disgust. We can even feel betrayed. We parents can sometimes say things like, “How could you do this to me?!” We definitely should not freak out in the presence of our child who’s been caught because, as James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Your child did not betray you. Your son or daughter wasn’t even thinking of you in the moment! The thoughts of his or her heart were completely self-centered and deceived. We ought not respond ourselves with a self-centered reaction and make this about how “I” feel or how this impacts “me”.
Sometimes we are tempted to make our children’s bad behavior about “us” because it’s easy to base our self-worth, confidence, and sense of success on how our children are doing instead of on the person of Christ. If they are making good grades, doing well at sports or fine arts, and sexually behaving, we feel good about ourselves. But if they’re not, we feel like a failure. Our worth and identity as parents can often be based on our children’s performance and what others think about our kids and their struggles.
We know that every child will struggle sexually, because we all are born sinners. Our sexuality cannot escape the impact of our sinful nature or the fallen world. The good news is that our identity is not based on the flimsy foundation of our kids’ behavior or other people’s opinions of our parenting. Our identity is grounded in Christ and in what He has done on our behalf.
With our reputation safe in Christ and in His righteousness, we are free to minister to our kids regardless of the mess they’ve made. The bad news of catching your child in sexual sin can become a great gospel opportunity to help them seek Jesus.
What does real success look like in parenting? Is it your child walking down the wedding aisle as a virgin? Is it achieving perfect morality? True success in life is growing in faith, repentance, and love towards God. Getting caught in sexual sin, as embarrassing as that is, can be a path for you and your child to grow in these areas.
- Stop and Pray
Stop and pray that you would recall and be re-grounded in these gospel realities when a shocking sexual episode occurs. Pray to the Lord to calm your anger or hurt. Seek from Him godly wisdom for how to respond.
And remember the big picture. God is in control. He can handle this. Since He will do His part, we can do our part. His job is to save, and our job, as parents, is simply to be a tool in His hands.
Pray that the Lord would bring your child to the same place as King David, who confessed to God in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned!” Pray that the Lord would help your child to see how sexual sin runs deeper than behavior. It’s about his or her desires, beliefs, worldviews, and allegiances.
We should come to the Lord in prayer from the beginning to remember that He is in control. It is in His strength and because of His plan that we can effectively engage our children. We are not alone but are partnering with Him to do His work.
Check out Part 2 of this post HERE.
11 Sep 2015
In part 1 of this post, we offered some beginning steps for combatting our initial reactions to our children’s sexual sin.
Where can we go after that?
- Talk to Your Child
Galatians 6:1 provides the alternative to freaking out or ignoring your child’s sexual sin: restoration. It reads, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
In our lives, what has restored our trust in and devotion to God? At times, strong rebukes snapped us out of our unbelief and folly. But most often it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Here’s a scenario of a parent gently confronting a son caught looking at porn. However, don’t think that girls aren’t tempted to look at porn! The overwhelming majority of teen girls have seen porn, and many of them are being drawn into habitual usage.
Reaffirm your love and God’s love.
Son, I love you, and I’m so sorry that sexual temptation hit you so hard. I want to help you.
God loves you when you are weak and tempted. He loves you when you are deceived and think sexual sin will give you what you want. He loves you even when you are going in the wrong direction.
Ask good questions that go for the heart, not merely behavior.
Whether your child has been caught using porn or has confessed on his own, ask him questions not only about his porn usage, but about what drove him to look at it.
Seek to find out what circumstances tend to trigger his desire to look at porn.
Son, what was going on just before you began searching for porn? When do you feel most tempted? What do you think about what you have been seeing?
Help your child understand that when he chooses to sin, that sin is an idol in which his heart is trusting. What do you think you’re getting out of porn? What can it give you that God can’t?
Help your child think through how this sin affects others, himself, and his relationship with God.
Pornography teaches radical self-centeredness, and your child needs instruction about how his behavior is never just about himself.
Son, a lot of people say that porn does not hurt anyone. What do you think? How might looking at porn affect the way you relate to real girls? If you get married, how might it impact your relationship with your future wife? How does porn affect the way you view God?
After using porn, how does it make you feel about yourself? What is God telling you about yourself?
Empathize from your own experience.
You are tempted to believe that this sexual sin is what you need. I know how easy it is to find pleasure in doing something I shouldn’t be doing. Everyone’s a sinner; our hearts are bent in that direction. But God is what our hearts need, so I want to help you trust Him and enjoy His love.
Point him to the nature of God and the gospel.
The Lord wants us to come to Him in prayer and faith when we feel most confused, tempted, dirty, and broken. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God loves us so much that he won’t leave us stuck in sins. He wants to forgive us. God will help you with sexual temptations as He has helped me.
- Set Safeguards
When your kids struggle sexually, you need to set safeguards. We strongly recommend that you use internet filters like OpenDNS and accountability software like Covenant Eyes. See our minibook, iSnooping on Your Kid: Parenting in an Internet World. But you also need safeguards for situations and relationships in which your child is tempted. This may mean you don’t allow your child to be alone with certain friends or attend certain events.
- Pray with Your Child
Close this gentle confrontation by praying with your child. We need God’s help, and our kids need to hear us express that the only possibility for following Christ with our sexuality is His power, not us trying to do better. Be sure to end on a note of faith and hope, praying that the Spirit would produce godly fruit such as self-control and love for others.
- Keep Checking In
An episode of acting out sexually shows our children’s struggles with persistent temptations. If we never bring up the struggle again, we leave them vulnerable to another temptation: to act like this was a one-time slip-up, that everything is okay now, and that they have it all under control. We know from our own struggles that sanctification doesn’t work like that. Therefore, we can be sure that our teens’ struggles with sexuality will not easily diminish. Be faithful to regularly check in, ask questions, and pray with your child. And always point them to Christ, the Good Shepherd who loves all his struggling sheep.