Category Archives: Purity
If you have children from young age to adult, this is a must read for you and for them. I have personally witnessed this to be true and the impact of it. The thing about reading this article is not just the issue of pornography on young people but this same concept of sin stealing my spiritual vigor applies to areas of my life. As the Puritan preacher John Owen said, “You be killing sin or it will kill you.” … George
by Tim Challies
It is going to take time—decades at least—before we are able to accurately tally the cost of our cultural addiction to pornography. But as Christians we know what it means to tamper with God’s clear and unambiguous design for sexuality: The cost will be high. It must be high.
We all know the cost will be high in fractured families and heartbroken parents, husbands and wives. Already we are seeing far too many of these and each one is its own tragedy. We know the cost will be high in the countless thousands of women who are used and abused in front of cameras so they can be violated for other people’s pleasure. That is a sickening tragedy as well. But an overlooked cost, and one that will only become clear in time, is that porn is stealing the best years from a million young Christian men and women. Porn is dominating their lives during their teens and twenties. It is controlling their lives during those years when energy is high and responsibility is low, when the world lies open before them and the possibilities are endless, when they are charting the trajectories for the rest of their lives. Their dreams and their abilities are being hampered and squelched by a reckless commitment to sin.
Pornolescence is that period where he feels the guilt of his sin, but still enjoys it too much to give it up.
So many young Christians have stunted their spiritual growth through what I call pornolesence. Pornolescence is that period when a person is old enough and mature enough to know that pornography is wrong and that it exacts a heavy price, but too immature or too apathetic to do anything about it. Pornolescence is that period where he feels the guilt of his sin, but still enjoys it too much to give it up. He may make the occasional plea for help, or install Covenant Eyes (but keep a workaround for when he’s really burning up), or ask for an accountability partner. But he doesn’t really want to stop. Not yet. She may phone a friend on occasion or plan to speak to one of the older women in the church, but in the end her internal shame weighs heavier than her desire for holiness. So she continues on, night after night.
This is pornolesence, that period between seeing the sin for what it is and actually putting it to death, that period between the deep soul conviction of immorality and the stubborn commitment to purity. For some people it lasts days, but for many more it lasts for years. A lot of young people—too many young people—are growing up too slowly today. Their sexual awakening is coming far too early and amidst all the wrong circumstances, and it is delaying every other kind of awakening and maturing. It is especially delaying their spiritual maturation.
God will not allow you to soar to spiritual mountain tops while you stoop in pornographic filth.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 makes it as clear as day: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” A Christian’s growth in holiness and his development in Christian maturity is directly and inextricably tied to sexual purity. A person cannot full-out pursue God while also full-out pursuing porn. It’s either/or, not both/and. God will not be mocked. God will not allow you to soar to spiritual mountain tops while you stoop in pornographic filth. God will not allow you to grow in Christian maturity while you wallow in your incessant pornolesence.
And I think time will prove that this is one of the gravest costs of pornography: It is stealing the best years from so many young Christians. It is stunting their spiritual growth and delaying their entrance into Christian ministry and service. These are the people who represent the future of the church—future elders, future deacons, future women’s ministry leaders, future youth leaders, future children’s workers, future mentors, future missionaries, future seminary professors, future defenders of the faith, future denominational heads, and on and on. But with each click, with each video, with each unblushing exposure to what God deems abhorrent, they choose to worship a god in place of the God. And all the while they delay their entrance into maturity, into leadership, into who and what God calls them to be.
If this is you, hear my plea: For the sake of Christ’s church, and out of love for Christ’s church, put that sin to death. Do it for Him, and do it for us.
I want to protect my children in a world like this, but I want to do more than that. I want to disciple my children to live virtuously, to use these new technologies for good purposes instead of bad ones. I believe this is a crucial part of my calling as a parent. To address this great need, I have put together what I call The Porn-Free Family Plan. It is a plan designed to protect my children from online dangers so that I can train them to use their devices and technologies well.
The Porn-Free Family Plan
A thorough plan needs to account for three types of device:
- Fixed devices. These are the devices will only ever be used in the home. Here we have desktop computers in the home office or Internet-enabled televisions and gaming consoles. Parents can have a significant level of control over these devices.
- Mobile devices. These are the laptops, tablets, smart phones and other devices that can be used in the home but also carried out of the home and used elsewhere. Parents can have as lesser degree of control over these devices.
- Other people’s devices. These are the computers children may use at another person’s home or the tablets other children may show to their friends. Parents can have no control over these devices.
In all of this there are two broad goals: To prevent those who want to find pornography and to protect those who do not want to find it but who may otherwise find themselves exposed to it, to confound those who want to see porn and to shield those who don’t. And while the plan is geared specifically to combat pornography, it will also help battle other online dangers.
The Porn Free Family Plan has four steps: Plan, Prepare, Meet and Monitor.
You’ve heard the old maxim: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The maxim applies well to what we are attempting to accomplish here. A successful plan will need to account for every device in your home that combines an Internet connection with a screen. So let’s get to work.
Step 1: Inventory
You need to know exactly how many Internet-enabled devices you have in your home. To do this, you will need to take an inventory. Make a list of all your Internet-enabled devices: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Don’t forget the Playstation 3, Xbox, smart televisions, Apple TVs, iPods, and e-reader tablets. Even a Kindle reading device has basic web-browsing capabilities. A family recently reported that after doing this they were shocked to learn they had 22 devices to account for!
Step 2: Budget
Decide whether you are able to make Internet security a regular and recurring monthly expense. Where it used to cost money to access pornography, today it often costs money to avoid it. While there are free options available, the best services have a cost associated with them. A budget of $20-$25 per month will allow a family to take advantage of the premier options.
Step 3: Learn
Now that you have taken your inventory and have a better grasp of the devices your plan needs to account for, it is time to learn about the options available to protect those who use them. There are four broad categories of protection we have available:
- Filtering. Filtering proactively detects and blocks objectionable content. (Examples: If your child does an Internet search for “naked girls,” it will block the search; If your child mistakenly clicks a link to a pornographic web site, it will block access to the site.)
- Accountability. Accountability software tracks web sites visited from different devices and then prepares and delivers regular reports. (Example: If your child visits a pornographic web site or performs a search for “naked girls,” the accountability software will note it and include it in a report emailed to you.)
- Parental controls. Parental controls block certain functions of modern devices (Examples: Preventing the use of the Internet browser on an iPod Touch; preventing the use of the Facebook app on a tablet).
- Communication. We cannot rely on technology to solve all of our problems, so the plan must also involve regular, deliberate and open communication.
Because none of these offers complete protection, the wise plan must use some combination of all four. The Porn-Free Family plan uses the following tools:
- OpenDNS. OpenDNS uses filtering to automatically block objectionable web sites for every device connected to your home network. It is activated by making a small change to the settings on your existing router.
- Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes tracks the web sites visited by your computers and mobile devices and sends regular email reports; it also offers optional filtering that can be configured specifically for each member of your family.
- Parental Controls. Parental controls allow parents to disable certain functions on devices.
- Meetings. The most indispensable tool is regular, open, deliberate communication between parents and their children.
Step 4: Discuss
Before you begin to implement the plan, it may be a good idea to meet with your family to explain what you are about to do and what you hope to accomplish by it. You will be inconveniencing your family and putting rules in place that will impact them, so it may be wise to discuss these things with them. Read the rest of this entry
My work at the Christian high school has confirmed what I had understood what was happening among youth. The easy access to the internet and pornography has a hook in most of our kids. If you have teens in your home, chances are they have been exposed and many will be seeking it out with opportunity. This is a very helpful article by Tim Challies who besides being a pastor, has written extensively about technology and the use of it with discernment. He writes:
I hear it so, so often: “Help! My kids are looking at porn!” A few days ago one mom wrote to say that she and her husband had allowed their young teenaged boys access to the Internet to play an online video game, thinking they had taught and trained the boys well enough that they would be able to resist whatever temptation they encountered out there. They were wrong, and had just learned that for the past four months, when mom and dad left the house for a date or to run some errands, the boys had been looking at pornography. What should they do? How should they respond?
I have dedicated a lot of attention over the past several years to the battle against pornography and would like to offer a two-part answer. Today I will address the immediate response and tomorrow I want to help you put together a plan that will protect your family in the future, both preventing those who want to look at porn and protecting those who don’t yet know that it exists.
For today, here are some suggestions for how to respond when you learn that your children have been looking at or looking for pornography.
Different parents react in different ways when it comes to their children and pornography. Some treat it in a matter-of-fact manner while others respond with more emotion and can find themselves on the brink of utter despair. Guard yourself against those depths of despair. While this situation is difficult and painful, it does not mean the world is ending; it does not necessarily mean your children are unsaved and certainly does not mean they are unsaveable. By looking at porn they have opened up a window to their heart and you now have the opportunity to address it in a helpful way. Despair will only interfere with your ability to do this effectively.
Be Careful with Shame
There may be a tendency to compound shame upon shame, to want to ensure that your kids are feeling the shame they ought to feel. But be careful with shame. Our goal is to have the Holy Spirit convict your children of their guilt more than to have mom and dad make them feel a deep shame. It is very possible that you are feeling embarrassed or feeling a sense of failure as a parent, and this may lead you to be harsher than you ought to be. Your goal is not to convict your children of their shame before mom and dad, but to assist the Holy Spirit as he convicts them of their guilt before God.
Whatever else you do, you need to communicate with your kids. It is easy for a parent to assume he knows why his children have been looking at pornography, but I’ve learned over the years that there are a host of reasons. Some children look at porn purely out of lust and curiosity; some do it primarily to fuel masturbation; some do it out of a desire to be disobedient and act out against the authority figures in their life; some do it out of a response to abuse they’ve suffered in the past. Where the temptation will be to bludgeon your children with reasons they should not look at porn, your time will be spent far more effectively if you are able to slow down, ask lots of questions, and engage them in conversation. Find out what the allure is. Find out what need it seems to be meeting. Prepare for uncomfortable discussions about topics you don’t want to discuss, like masturbation and even abuse. Don’t let their bad behavior distract you from addressing their hearts.
Go to the Gospel
I said earlier that by looking at pornography your children have opened up a window into their hearts. They’ve opened it up and shone a spotlight onto a particular sin. They’ve shown that they are dissatisfied, that they are lustful, that they are disobedient to God and to their parents. And that’s just who the gospel is for—for the dissatisfied and lustful and disobedient. All of this presents a powerful opportunity to get straight to the gospel. The gospel offers them forgiveness, but it also offers them hope that they can overcome this sin, that they can be rescued from the guilt of the sin, that they can find a deeper and more lasting satisfaction than what pornography promises. As always, the heart is the heart of the matter.
Plead With Them
I believe that as a parent you have many opportunities to teach your children, but only a few opportunities to really plead with them. This is a time to plead with them, to plead for their lives and to plead for their souls. You are older and wiser than your children, you understand the Bible more than your children, and you know the long-term cost of a commitment to sexual sin. If ever there is a time to plead with them for their life and for their souls, this is it. Allow Solomon to give you your words:
And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.” (Proverbs 5:6-14)
You are battling not just for personal purity, but for their lives. Plead with them to save their lives and to save their souls!
Take Measured Action
By looking at pornography your children have violated your trust and shown themselves unworthy of it. That trust will need to be earned and regained over a period of time as they prove themselves responsible and obedient. You will need to be actively involved in training your children to use their privileges well and to use the Internet and their digital devices without this kind of behavior. You need a plan that will account for their devices and their lack of Christian character. I will turn to this plan tomorrow.
I have been on my new job site now for just over one month after being away from the high school setting for 13 years. Several people have asked me about the changes and there have been many since leaving. The biggest change is the advancement and use of technology. I am part of the generation of teachers who thought the invention of the whiteboard where we could use multiple color markers was a big breakthrough in teaching. Now computers and interactive video screens are tools of the classroom and it is all mind-boggling.
These are wonderful ways technology is being used. However, I am also witnessing the downside of technology with deep concerns. After the many years of ministering to families, I dealt with dozens of situations regarding deep struggles with pornography by men, women, and teens. I also dealt with many adults who struggled with sexual immorality of all types. The one common denominator to all of them – every one of them – was they all struggled with pornography as a young person.
This leads to my concern of what I see with the young people at school and outside of school. I see kids all day long have free and uninhibited access to the internet with their own personal devices. The school has set-up adequate safeguards but the students can circumvent the systems with their own devices. They bump into each other in the hallways like we are the school for the blind, use them while going to the bathroom, and after school it seems I see more tops of heads than eyes.
From my experience, parents are giving their child a weapon when they give their child unrestricted access to the internet. Pornography is the dehumanization of another person for your pleasure and gives no consideration to their heart, soul, or mind nor the damage that is being done to them. It denies that the person being viewed is made in the image of God and so has certain dignity. Watch enough pornography and you will see and treat others the same way.
If you are a concerned parent in this area, please take time to read Tim Challies post, The Porn Free Family, http://www.challies.com/christian-living/the-porn-free-family In this, Tim gives excellent counsel on how to continue to use technology with prudence and care for the spiritual welfare of your family. It includes goals, acknowledgements about the realities of technology in our world, and an action plan.
To ignore this topic is to invite spiritual terrorism. Set up you own homeland security for the well-being of yourselves and your children.
When we try to bring a new affection in to replace an old affection, it is more successful than simply trying to stop what you are doing. When you just stop something that has been a strong desire, you still have to encounter the charm of what it offered and the pleasures it gave. The end result is that this will eventually fail because it does not address the heart and exposes our moral failure. A new affection must be offered that does address the heart and brings with it a charm and pleasure that is enough to overcome the first influence.
Our sinful hearts will not consent to the misery of being without the charm and pleasure of an affection gained nor will it turn to frivolous replacements. The reason is that to give up the first affection is torturous, requires extreme discomfort and misery to fight. Also very seldom does one overcome a desire by reason or by being pampered. It is only by replacing a subordinate desire with a greater one. It is the application of something else to which becomes the stronger and more powerful influence in a person’s heart.
Chalmers writes, “But what can not be thus destroyed, may be disposset (deprived or disposed) – and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind.”
Tomorrow I will address that it is not enough to understand the worthlessness of what enslaves you but one must value the worth of the things of God far more.
Whether it is pornography alcohol, drugs, or anything that enslaves you; the only way you will truly be set free is to acquire a new affection. The new affection must be greater than the one that enslaves you. To help understand this, I am riding the shoulders of the Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and his sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Taken from the text 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Chalmers first point is “A moralist will be unsuccessful in trying to displace his love of the world by reviewing the ills of the world. Misplaced affections need to be replaced by the far greater power of the affection of the gospel.” He points out that love has two conditions that we are to regard. The first is when the object of love is not in our possession and so it is a desire that we have. The second is when the object of love is on our possession and so it becomes indulgence. When we are under the impulse of the first condition, we are urged on a path or are pursuing an activity for our gratification. It can become consuming and crowds our mind with ambition to acquire it. Often in this pursuit, we can become weary and even acquire a distaste for what we are doing, yet the desire is so strong that if not substituted, the chase continues.
The common way we attempt to deal with a strong desire and the pursuit is to cut it out or simply put – just stop it. Chalmers points out that our heart will rise in resistance. To simply try and stop a pursuit or habit leaves a negative and cheerless vacancy behind it and it will fail.
I will continue this defense that to be set free from the world affections of things such as pornography, new affections must replace it and they must be stronger and greater than the powerful pull of pornography. Point two from Chalmers tomorrow.
There is something I was not prepared for as a family pastor and something that I would not have known how to respond to as a parent. As a pastor, I was not prepared for women being enslaved to pornography and I would not have been prepared to deal with a daughter if I had found out she was repeatedly visiting pornography sites. Unfortunately, women and pornography is a real issue that I have had to deal with as a pastor and fortunately I did not experience the latter as a father.
Women and pornography is not a new event but as children are increasing in the viewing of pornography, so has exposure of women to it. It used to be that many women who were seeking some level of fantasy emotional gratification would attempt to live vicariously through romance novels. Though some have not abandoned the romance novels, more and more women are now accessing pornography websites. Some statistics regarding this are:
- About 9 ½ million women access adult websites each month which represents about 1 out every 3 visits (men represent 2/3).
- About 1 out of every 6 women struggles with pornography.
- Twice as many women as men visit chat rooms.
- About 13% of women admit to accessing pornography at work (20% of men admit to it).
The statistic that is particularly disturbing is that women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behavior in real life such as having casual sex or committing adultery. (This statistic of “acting out” probably does not include men masturbating as acting out)
In doing research in this area, I want to bring to your attention what appears to be an issue of the heart that opens women to be vulnerable to the temptation of pornography. It appears that much of it is tied to emotional loneliness where the “fire” of marriage is dimming for a variety of reasons. Women tend to be “seduced” first by “emotional pornography” before “physical pornography.” Many of the fantasy men are great performers of conversation and emotional understanding who attentively touch the heart of the woman. This can create a level of marital discontentment that is hard to heal and would give an explanation to why more women are drawn to chat rooms and sexual relationships than men are.
The reason for posting the last few articles on pornography is to raise an alarm. It is not to call technology or the pornography industry the enemy but our greatest enemy is our own hearts. To be informed and alarmed may be a start but it will not change you. What will change you is to redirect your affections and desires to Jesus Christ who is the only One who really satisfies. The next few postings will lead in this direction.
“The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ And to him who lacks sense she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” Proverbs 9:13-18
It has been over 50 years ago for me but I vividly remember my first exposure to a picture of a naked woman. It was in our fourth grade classroom in New York and one of the boys discovering bare-chested tribal women in National Geographic. We always noted where that particular issue was stored in the classroom and referred to it often. I can still recall the image when I put my mind to it. Particularly as a child, pornographic images have an impact upon your mind which can lead to the heart.
We often think of pornography in regards to men, but recent statistics indicate that access through technology has opened the door wide to children. Here are some statistics* regarding children and the internet:
- The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
- 80% of 15-17 year olds (men and women) have had multiple hard-core exposures.
- 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed pornography online.
- Concerning those between 7-17; 29% indicated they have freely given out their home address online and 14% their email address.
- According to the statistic resources, there are 26 children’s character names that are linked to thousands of pornographic sites. (i.e.; Pokeman, Action Man)
Now to you parents. Regarding the statistic that 90% of all 8-16 year olds have viewed pornography online; guess where and when most of these kid indicated they did it? It was at home while doing homework! You see this is not an “out of our home” scenario but most is done right under your nose. So what can be done by you as a parent?
First of all you need to protect your children. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep all internet devices in a central, open place in the home. Set up a homework station for when they need to use the computer. If you have several children and computers, then set up a multiple station.
- Keep iPads, iPhones or any other internet access devices in a central place. If you have multiple phones – place all the phones in a central location and give them distinctive tones so you know who is receiving a call. Do not permit the children to have the phone in their room except for phone calls.
- If you think your child needs a phone, do not give them one with internet capability.
- Place accountability programs on devices with internet capabilities. See my previous article about one such program.
Secondly, the problem with pornography on the internet is not technology. It is the human heart and that is what must be addressed with your child. With technology now such a part of our lives, you as a parent must teach your child how to use the internet for good purposes and to be suspicious of our sinful hearts and temptations to desires. See again the notes from my previous article from Bob Bevington’s talk and I will continue posting some articles on helping you and your child be victorious in this area.
(*You can check out my statistics resource and many more here.)
My thanks to Pastor Dustin Rogers of Heritage Bible Church in Lincoln for the invitation to join the men of his church to hear Dr. Bob Bevington speak. Bob is the author of the book Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace (Shepherd Press, 2011), and co-author with Jerry Bridges of two books, The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness (Crossway, 2007) and The Bookends of the Christian Life (Crossway, 2009).
Bob’s topic for the men was Pornography: Five Applications for Freedom. Here is a summary of his challenge and encouragement to us.
Men are in a battle and the stakes are high.
1 Peter 2:11 states that we are to abstain from passions of the flesh which wage war against our soul. There are many strategies out there given to fight this battle but nearly all of them put us in the middle of the struggle without proper preparation. We need something much bigger and stronger than therapeutic strategies. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 tells us it is divine power which is needed to destroy strongholds.
The path to true freedom requires a sequence of five applications:
1. Apply the true names and call pornography what it is.
First of all Jesus calls it adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). It is looking with lustful intent upon an image of a woman. In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus says that from within us and from the heart come such things as evil thoughts, sexual immorality, adultery, sensuality which defile a person.
Besides being adultery of the heart, pornography is idol worship which demands a sacrifice (betrayal of your marriage and diminishing your parenting) and breaks fellowship with God (try to think of glorifying God while engaged in a sexual fantasy!)
Lastly pornography must be called sin. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 tells us that it is the will of God that we be sanctified and that we abstain from sexual immorality.
2. Apply the true gospel: The good news that changes everything.
False gospels abound and will not free us from the grip of sin like pornography. The real gospel is a costly gospel for we know the true gospel by the price that was paid (Philippians 2: 6-8).
The true gospel includes “the great exchange” where our sin is transferred to Christ through forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to us by justification (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The true gospel preaches union with Christ where genuine faith connects us with Christ and by faith we put our reliance and dependency in Christ as the object of our faith.
The way we can apply the gospel is to have gratitude for the grace that was purchased (2 Corinthians 5: 14-15). We are to also exercise the “expulsive power of a new affection” where we battle the desires of the flesh with the desires of the Spirit and the desire that is strongest will win. When we see the treasures of the gospel and deepen our relationship with God, we can fan the flames of our desire for God (Galatians 5:17)
3. Apply God’s power to enable and deliver.
There are two kinds of power; both are outside of ourselves and both are accessed by faith.
The first one is synergistic power which is when we combine our effort with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:29 and Philippians 2:12-13).
The second kind of power is monergistic power which is when the Spirit works completely alone in us and completely independent. The Holy Spirit does it all and we are totally passive recipients (Ezekiel 36:24-29).
4. Apply God-given battle strategies.
It is here that many ministry strategies fail. Dr. Bevington gave us 30 different strategies based upon Scripture and memorization of things to do as strategies in the battle. The difference here compared with what I have seen from other ministries is that this step is undertaken only after you have done steps 1, 2 and 3. Most others want to skip them and jump right into the battle without the proper preparation. The 30 strategies are statements of truth about the battle of the flesh and commitments that need to be made. They represent the synergistic power mentioned above. If you would like these strategies, you can contact Bob via his blog RedLikeBlood.com.
5. Apply all of the above daily and diligently
Bob spoke of his mentor Jerry Bridges who may not have invented the saying but certainly popularized it, “preach the gospel to yourself everyday.” The battle of sin is one we fight every day and as long as we are sinners, we need the gospel.
Bob also recommends the technology accountability ministry of Covenant Eyes which if you go to his website, you can get the first month free by clicking on the banner.
I deeply appreciated Bob’s gospel-centered view on the battle of temptation for his counsel applies to many areas and not just pornography. Two great resources to help in understanding a gospel-centered view of dealing with temptation are to read his book; Bookends of the Christian Life and Russell Moore’s book Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Crossway, 2011).