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THE SECRET TO MARRIAGE- HUMBLE REPENTANCE

As one who has dealt with many marriages that have or are struggling, I absolutely affirm what Owen Strachan, Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville has to say below. If you grasp this one concept about yourself and your marriage, you will resolve much of the struggle of family living.

Every marriage is under attack. Marriage is given to humanity by God as, ultimately, an expression and picture of his love for his people. Satan, the anti-aesthete and anti-tutor, wants to tear this living image down.

There is much to work on in marriage, but it strikes me that there is a single key that unlocks the door to health: humble repentance. As sinners living together under the same roof, husband and wife will annoy one another, hurt one another, and fail to edify one another as they should. Sin and its baggage are not only possible, but inevitable for even the godliest couple. If we pretend otherwise, if we act as if we can bat 1.000 all the time, if we plaster smiles on our faces and project the image of perfection, then we lie to ourselves and to others.

Most significantly, we lie to God, who knows the depth of our fallenness, and who is justly offended by our sin.

The single most important key to a strong marriage, it seems to me, is humble repentance. Sin is the fundamental problem of our marriages; humble repentance is the fundamental solution. What does this mean? It means that husbands and wives must train themselves to be experts in the art of saying “I was wrong. I hurt you. I get that. I am so sorry.” What a simple collection of words, but what a punch they pack.

It is surprisingly easy for even loving couples to get out of this habit. You hurt your spouse, and she lets you know as she should, but you don’t apologize. You skate over it. We all come to a moment on a regular basis when we arrive at a fork in the road: we can take one path and evade meaningful confession, or we can swallow our pride and take the route of humility. Whether you’re married or not, you know what I’m talking about. Taking the first path guarantees that things will get harder, that sin will calcify. Taking the second brings light into the marriage; the pressure releases, and it’s as if someone opened the blinds in a gloomy house. The light of the gospel shines again.

Christians are called to be experts in repentance. We may not always feel that way; some of us, relatively young in our marriages, are working on establishing good rhythms, and training ourselves to take the good path. But this is a crucial part of what distinguishes us as a people. We have seen by God’s grace that we are wrong and that God is right. The cross of Christ is a summons to this confession, and the means by which we are made right. But being cleansed by the blood of Jesus does not free us to to live as super-people deluded by our infallibility. Instead, the confession of repentance that marks our conversion is the initiation into a lifetime of the same.

So believers are not first and foremost practitioners of ritual. We are not primarily people who merely enjoy gathering together. We are students in the school of repentance. This is not theoretical, though; it is by nature intensely practical.

If your marriage has run aground on the iceberg of unconfessed sin, the way off is humble repentance. Husbands are to lead in this discipline. Being the head of the home doesn’t mean that men are untouchable potentates. It means that men are lead repenters. This is part of what opponents of manly headship don’t understand. Being the “head” or the leader in biblical Christianity doesn’t mean getting off the hook and doing whatever you want in the most lordly and officious way possible. It means leading in all the hard stuff: sacrifice, humility, change, growth, confession, and yes, repentance.

Displace men from this God-given role and you set them up to wither, and the family to suffer, over and over again.

Wherever your marriage is today, break up the ice by initiating humble repentance. If you’ve gotten locked into patterns of hurting one another and never confessing it, get a babysitter tonight. Go get dinner somewhere. Talk about this. There’s a place for unwinding what has happened, and you’ll need to identify how not to hurt one another going forward. But make sure that your conversation leads ultimately to full-throated, whole-hearted confession of sin. Claim the gospel, practically, afresh in your marriage.

Along these lines, a former pastor of mine and very wise man, Mike Bullmore, once recommended that I have a weekly conversation with my wife to do just this. Some weeks get busy, but I think this has been the single most helpful piece of practical advice Bethany, my sanctification partner, and I have received.

This is needed, by the way, not just by the downcast among us, those who cannot help but wear their pain on their faces. It is needed by high-achieving couples, those who are always smiling, those who seem impervious to normal struggles. Healthy marriages definitely do exist. But we can also paper over our hurts. As a husband, take time this week to ask your wife, without any arguing back, how you can care for her better and not hurt her through sin. Perhaps you don’t browbeat her (you better not); but are there quieter, more obscure ways that really do wound her? Are you two locked in patterns that make you ships in the night–the marriage hums along, things seem fine, but there’s little direct spiritual edification happening?

In truth, all of us are fighting sin together. Every marriage requires hard work. Don’t pretend. Don’t mask sin. Don’t say you’re a sinner but then act, practically, as if you’re not. The most mature among us are not those who seem never to offend God and man, but those who know they are going to sin and who actively hunt their sin down, in part by engaging with their spouse or loved ones.

Christians are not perfect people who can avoid repentance. Through Christ, Christians are called to be experts in repentance. The good news: wherever we find ourselves, we can grow, and change, and light can flood the room.

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THE CHILD’S SINFUL HEART: SEARCH AND RESCUE

One area of our child’s heart that we often do not want to give serious consideration to is that they by birth and nature are sinners. John 1:12-13 indicates that no one is born a “child of God” but they must become one by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Also Romans 3:23 and 5:12 states, “all have sinned.” All means everyone including our children. As sinners we are the objects of the wrath of God as all sin is personal and hostile to God.

The effect of sin is on every part of who we are as humans. However, though our children and we are totally sinful, it does not mean that we are as sinful as we can possibly be. Being created in the image of God does give the potential for all people to do good things that reflect the character of God.  Those things done apart from Christ though do not credit any righteousness to us but simply are good for mankind and society. As sinners also, we are totally helpless within ourselves to resolve the issue of God’s disposition towards us. See such verses as John 6:44; 15:5; Romans 8:6-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 11:6.

We all like to convince ourselves to some degree we are fundamentally good and not as bad as the Bible makes us out to be. We love to compare ourselves to others and our children remind us when we are pointing out their sin, “Yeah, but how about (insert name)?”

So who is this child you are trying to raise? Well they are a sinner like you. They attempt to make meaning out of things often the same way you do. They have self-centered desires, wants, and passions like you and many that are contrary to yours so in accordance with James 4:1-3 you fight and quarrel with them.

Why is it important to consider the doctrine of sin in our parenting? It drives you to the necessity of preaching the gospel every day to your child. You still need the gospel to center your own life upon because you sin every day and your child, by nature and by practice, sin and need the gospel daily.

RESCUE: GRABBING THE LIFE-BUOY OF THE GOSPEL

In Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson’s outstanding book on parenting, “Give Them Grace,” they start out the book with the important distinction that there is a difference between being a Christian parent and Christian parenting.

Being a Christian parent is simply a father or mother who has been saved by God’s grace through their personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior who paid the penalty for their sin. Most Christian parents have a burden for the soul of their child and work hard personally or through Christian agencies (their church or a para-church organization) to put their child in a position to hear the gospel message. For too many, once they hear that their child has spoken a prayer, raised their hand, and can claim that they have Jesus in their heart, we all rejoice with the angels in heaven that they are saved.

I am not trying to diminish the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of a child for I agree with Charles Spurgeon who once said, “As soon as a child is capable of being damned, he is capable of being saved. As soon as a child can sin, that child can, if God’s grace helps him, believe and receive the Word of God.” However, it is a dangerous and even negligent for a parent at that point to assume that the gospel work ends there. Just as in my own personal life, I have discovered that leaving the gospel as only an entry point to the Christian life and moving on to “serious Bible study” led me to the realm of being a Pharisee. Not that Bible study in any way was bad, but I lost sight of how the gospel is the central message of the Bible. I grew in knowledge of the Bible but not as Peter exhorts in 2 Peter 3:18, “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Such a path for me led the way I parented my children. I taught them that God wants morality and that the real expression of our faith is in how good they were. The Christian faith is all about behavior and God is displeased with them when they misbehave and pleased when they behave. So as their father and God’s agent of authority in their lives, I was very displeased at their bad behavior (however I defined it) and so must discipline them, and I was very happy when they behaved (especially in public as it fed my pride in being a good father).

My children deserve the Christian faith Purple Heart medal for the wounds of moralism inflicted upon them. They survived my parenting because the particular grace of God touched each one of them as they grew in their own understanding of the gospel and the tenets of the Christian faith. Most of all they and their mother and father eventually grasped the truth that we all are radically sinful people who have a radical Savior who radically loved and continue to love us. So…they have recovered, and their mom and dad are certified recovering Pharisees living and loving in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

More recovery news to come…

“Give  Them Grace” by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Crossway; 2011
“Come Ye Children,” by Charles Spurgeon. Pilgrim Publishing, 1976

Parenting for Recovering Pharisees

Christina Fox gets gospel-centered parenting. You don’t get to this overnight but it begins with the process that in your own heart, the gospel changes you. I have been away from writing on the blog for a while as other priorities have been pressing, but my plan is to present a series of how do we move from our natural, law-centered parenting to a more gospel-centered paradigm. Christina writes:

Cooking dinner, I hear the sounds of angry hearts bubbling over into stinging words. It gets louder, and soon someone is crying. Two boys come out into the great-room, red-faced, fists clenched, and both yelling at once. After multiple attempts, I finally gather that one had frustrated the other, who responded by kicking his brother.

I begin by saying, “Remember how Jesus said we were to treat one another?”

“I’m not Jesus!” my oldest responds immediately, his face scrunched up as his feet stomp the tile floor. He runs off to his room.

Sometimes, my children speak words that the Spirit has been trying to pierce into my heart for a while.

The pasta is boiling over. The water makes sizzling sounds as it hits the red glass cook top. I stare at it, knowing I need to leave the kitchen and talk through the conflict with them. I think of how quickly anger can overflow the heart, spattering burning hot drops of pain on anyone nearby.

Turning down the heat on the pot, I walk into the boy’s room, hoping to do the same with their anger. I find them both calm and playing with Legos. I get down on the floor, look my oldest in the eyes, and say, “I know you’re not Jesus.”

Deep into the Past

How often does a parent’s response to her child’s behavior imply that we expect perfection? The pharisaical heart has roots that dig deep into the past–back into childhood. A child can learn quickly the ways of self-righteousness. When they have behaved, they hear, “You’re such a good boy.” Over the years, they can grow to believe that the good they do comes from their own ability. When those beliefs take root, they can struggle with seeing their own sin. And perhaps even struggle with seeing their need for a Savior.

“Jesus called us to live as he lived. But he knows we can’t be perfect as he is perfect,” I tell my son. “That’s why he died for us, because we can’t do what’s right. Through faith in him, he gives us the Holy Spirit. We have his power living within us. That’s the only way we can ever obey. We need to pray and ask for his help.”

He nods his head, listening.

“When you don’t obey, remember that Jesus died for that disobedience. He loves you that much. When you feel the anger rising within you, pray and tell God you are angry. Ask him to help you to obey him.”

As a recovering Pharisee, I struggle with living as though I can earn grace. I know how the self-righteous heart can look down on those who don’t follow the rules. I don’t want my children to grow up with the heart of a Pharisee.

I do want them to know the holiness of God. I want them to know all that he expects, what he commands, and what glorifies him. I also want them to realize that they can’t perfectly obey him, and they need a Savior. I want their hearts to be grieved and humbled by their sin. I want them to run to the cross when they sin and remember his grace and mercy.

God’s grace covers even my parenting blunders. How grateful I am that his grace is greater than all my sin! I rest in his promise that he is at work in my children’s hearts despite my failed efforts. I trust in the story of redemption he is writing in their lives. And I look forward to that day when we will finally be like Jesus.

FATHERS: WHAT WE MUST NOT DO ACCORDING TO EPHESIANS 6:4 Part 2

Continuing from Lou Priolo’s book “The Heart of Anger” (Calvary Press), twenty-five conditions or behaviors are identified that represent common ways that parents tend to provoke their children to anger. The command from Ephesians 6:4 is that fathers are not to contribute to the situation and to whatever degree I as a father may be contributing, I must stop it!

Here are the last 12 conditions or behaviors. For a thorough teaching on the topic, please read Lou Priolo’s excellent book. You might want to keep the towel in your mouth to bite on because the pain from the first 13 only gets worse!

14. Not Making Time “Just to Talk”James 1:1; Eccl 3:7

Relationships are impossible to build without communication. If you do not build a good relationship through communication with your child, they will seek it elsewhere which could be dangerous. Watch the pressures and “pleasures of life” do not rob you of time with your children to talk.

15. Not Praising or Encouraging Your Child Rev 2:2-4

Accurate evaluation is necessary for all of us, including self-assessments. It helps us know what we need to correct in our lives. Too often parents focus on only what is wrong and the child may incorrectly evaluate themselves in the same light. Keep your child regularly bathed in a solution of praise, especially to those things that are pleasing to God in their life so when reproof comes, they see it is an element of biblical love. It is looking for evidences of grace in their lives when they are living out Galatians 5:22-23.

16. Failing to Keep Your Promises Matt 5:37; Ps 15:4-5; Col 3:9

Promises and commitments are usually made with every intention to keep them and not to deceive. However, when they are not consistently kept, regardless of the reason, disappointment can turn into anger. A string of broken promises may have a child begin to see the parent as undependable, unreliable, and deceitful. If we need to break a commitment we should go to the child and let them know as soon as possible or if we did break a commitment, we need to seek forgiveness for we have sinned against our child.

17. Chastening in Front of Others – Matt 18:15

The Lord’s instructions for discipline apply to the home and should be followed by parents and spouses. The circle of confession and correction should only be as large as the circle of offense. If your child sins in front of others, he may in certain cases be verbally corrected (not physically) in front of them. If the sin is not public, the discipline should not be either.

18. Not Allowing Enough FreedomJames 3:17; Luke 12:48

Children earn freedom by demonstrating faithfulness. Faithfulness is demonstrating to God and others that you can be trusted with increasing freedom based upon two things: the successful fulfillment of specific responsibilities and the successful competence to make wise biblical decisions. Some parents withhold freedom due to insecurity, overprotective, unbiblical standards, concern about what others think.

19. Allowing Too Much Freedom – Prov 29:15; Gal 4:1,2; Heb 12:6-9

When children are allowed to (1) practice sinful behavior (2) participate in non-sinful activities before demonstrating the appropriate level of responsibility and maturity to handle it (money) (3) live an undisciplined life – other problems develop. Parents will suffer along with their children. Children who grow up in homes where discipline lacks, will quickly conclude that they are not loved.

20. Mocking Your Child Job 17:1-2; Ex 4:11

There are 2 main categories of teasing our children that can be provoking: Making fun of inadequacies about which they can do nothing about (intelligence, athletics, physical features, motor coordination.) These are not sinful and God takes responsibility for them. The other is making fun of things that are sinful. Sinful behavior in children is not a laughing matter to God and should not be for us.

21. Abusing Them Physically – I Tim 3:3; Num 22:27-29

The story of Balaam is similar to a parent out of control

1. He struck the donkey in haste before he collected the relevant data. Jumping to hasty and unfounded conclusions and disciplining our children for the wrong reasons.

2. Balaam struck the donkey because he was embarrassed – making sure our motives for discipline are biblical – to not is to be vindictive and abusive.

3. Balaam was out of control – if he could have, he would have killed his donkey. Do not discipline when you are out of control.

22. Ridiculing or Name Calling – Eph 4:29

There are proper biblical categories to call different behaviors. Use biblical language to your child so the behavior or attitude are properly isolated. Names are to be tools for teaching and motivation to change, not weapons. When a weapon, it embarrasses, shames and antagonizes the child.

23. Unrealistic Expectations – I Cor 13:11

We should not impose on our children standards or expectations that they developmentally are incapable of achieving. Our emphasis is to always be character and not achievement (academics, sports, music)

24. Practicing Favoritism – Luke 15:25-30

Every child is different and should be treated as individuals. The standard however is that they are to be evaluated and responded to the same. When a child perceives that the treatment of a sibling is different, you need to assure them that they will be treated the same way if they are in similar circumstances.

25. Child Training with Worldly Methodologies, Inconsistent with God’s WordEph 6:4

In Eph 6:4, notice the word “but” and the “instruction of the Lord.” A contrast is being stated that there is a right way and a wrong way. One way will provoke anger and the other will not. Using behavior modification therapy techniques will prove temporary results but will eventually frustrate the process. You cannot replace Christ and the Scriptures with worldly wisdom.

FATHERS: GOD’S ORDERS ARE SIMPLE AND STRAIGHT-FORWARD Part 1

So that we as fathers can carry out the orders given to us from God in Ephesians 6:4, let’s begin with understanding the fundamentals that lead us to joyfully fulfill the command to not provoke our children but rather to instruct them.

First of all Psalm 127 states that children are a gift from the Lord, a reward. How so? One way they are a gift is that God has given you children for your own personal holiness and growth. Being married has been a growing experience in my sanctification but being a father put me over the top. Every crack in my spiritual armor was blown wide open. Pride, selfishness, lack of patience, and many others, were all exposed. Therefore, my children were a gift to show me my sin and daily need of the gospel. We as fathers are sinners, who have been given sinners as gifts from God with the task that together, we as a family can grow toward God. The privilege of the gift is to teach the gospel to them so that they might be saved and one day when we all stand before the throne, they will not be known as my children, but as my brother and sister in Christ.

So Ephesians 6:4 begins with we fathers looking at ourselves. 2 Corinthians 7:1 states, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.” In other words, my first priority before addressing my children is to purify myself. If I am addressing my children, they need me to be able to think clearly, effectively, and biblically. Men,  if you are neglecting your own spiritual growth and your walk with God, it will have a profound impact on your motivation and your ability to carry out God’s command to you in regards to your children.

Tomorrow: Ways we typically provoke our children.

DISCOVERING THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL IN MARRIAGE

I am currently going through the book “When Sinners Say I Do” (Shepherd Press) by Dave Harvey for about the sixth time. I decided a couple of years ago to use it as a guide for pre-marriage counseling and the results have been transforming and powerful to the counselees as well as myself. Here is a quick review of what this book brings to our understanding of marriage and will hopefully compel you to read it as well:

Many of the books on marriage address the symptoms of marital challenges but neglect what is the real problem. Dave Harvey states, “the cause of our marriage battles is neither our marriage nor our spouse. It’s the sin in our hearts – entirely, totally, exclusively, without exception. This is taught clearly and consistently in Scripture, from the first sin to the final judgment.”

In reading this book we are encouraged to develop the tools to diagnose our heart and then flee to the gospel for help. “God wants Christians to delight in marriage. And He has made provision in the gospel to do so. But we can’t truly understand the gospel, or even the basic problems of every marriage, until we come to terms with the undeniable reality of sin. Men and women (and me) find real hope when we realize that God uses marriage to reveal the heart and change the soul.”

So what is wrong with my marriage?

Me and my sin. I am the sinner or as Apostle Paul states in 1 Timothy 1:15, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” To say that I am a sinner is to stare boldly at the fundamental reality that many people don’t even want to glance at. But when we acknowledge the fact that sin holds considerable sway in our lives, several things become clear.

First we find ourselves in some pretty good company including all the heroes of the faith in and not in the Bible from Old Testament times until now. They all experienced the battle with sin.

Second we acknowledge what everybody around us already knows – particularly our spouse. But, by far the greatest benefit of acknowledging our sinfulness, is that it makes Christ and his work for us precious to us. Only sinners need a Savior. Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Often we think that issues like communication are the biggest problem with our marriage. But when we realize that our battle is against sin, it helps the gospel shine brighter in our heart and marriage. Bad communication can be a big problem in marriage, but it is not fundamental. Bad communication is the result of ignoring sin that desperately needs the grace of God and hope of the gospel to speak life.

What shapes your marriage comes down to your theology. By theology I mean your view of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, God’s Word and the gospel. Theology governs your entire life and it determines how you will live in your marriage day-to-day and year-by-year.

The Foundation of our marriage is the Bible: The center of the Bible is Jesus Christ. The Bible fills marriage with significance as it speaks as an authority on what marriage is to be.

The Fountain of marriage is the gospel. God did not just send Jesus to be an example of moral goodness and to teach us how to live – He sent Him as the answer to the sin dilemma and to propitiate His wrath against sin in order to restore us in a relationship with Him. The gospel is the ultimate solution for our sin and is the center of theological truth. We remain in our sin even though we have been saved and we need the gospel every day to resist sin.

The Focus of our marriage is the glory of God. Marriage is not just something God invented – it is something that belongs to Him. It exists for Him more than it exists for you. It is for our good but more so it is for God’s glory.

So, what is the key to a thriving marriage?

It is dealing with sin. When we apply the gospel to our sin, it gives hope to our personal lives and in our marriage. The sin that remains in our heart opposes God and our spouse. It obstructs our joy and our holiness and eclipses thriving, healthy marriages.

The hope that arises from the gospel is the beginning of a sweet relationship and marriage can become a living, thriving union where sins are confessed and forgiven.

As Thomas Watson once wrote and Dave Harvey repeats often in his book, “When sin becomes bitter, marriage becomes sweet.”

TRUE FREEDOM BY NEW AFFECTIONS, Part 4

It has been my experience that for many who are struggling with a strong worldly desire, the idea that freedom will be found by embracing the affections of the gospel seems too simple for such a complex issue. Chalmers would say, “they do not see the love of God in sending His Son into the world. They do not see the expression of His tenderness to men, in sparing Him not, but giving Him up unto the death for us all. They do not see the sufficiency of the atonement, or of the sufferings that were endured by Him who bore the burden that sinners should have borne. They do not see the blended holiness and compassion of the Godhead, in that He passed by the transgressions of His creatures, yet could not pass them by without an expiation. It is a mystery to them how a man should pass to a state of godliness from a state of nature – but had they only a believing view of God manifest in the flesh, this would resolve for them the whole mystery of godliness. As it is, they can not get quit of their old affections, because they are out of sight from all those truths, which have influence to raise a new one.”

It is the application of the gospel that is the surest means of casting out the old affection. Chalmers also writes, “We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart than to keep in our hearts the love of God – and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than by building on our most holy faith. The denial of the world which is not possible to him that dissents from the gospel testimony, is possible, even as all things are possible, to him that believeth.”

Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

TRUE FREEDOM BY NEW AFFECTIONS, Part 3

The love of a worldly desire cannot be expunged from the heart just by speaking about how worthless it is. We all know that things like pornography, drugs, and drunkenness are dark places yet those attached to them, continue it. A heart will not depart from a strong desire by a single act of resignation. What reigns in the heart will not easily give up occupancy to another … that is unless Christ the Sovereign appears with his charm and great power to subdue our moral nature and take control.

It is through the preaching of the gospel, corporately or privately to ourselves, that we behold God as in a way that we may love God more than our sin. Chalmers writes, “It is there (through the gospel) and only there, where God stands revealed as an object of confidence for sinners – and where our desire after him is not chilled into apathy by the barrier of human guilt…It is the bringing in of this better hope, whereby we draw near nigh unto God.”

In contemplating the gospel, the sin that grips us is brought into true light and when enabled by faith, which is God’s gift, we can see the face of the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It is through the gospel that we can understand that we have a full pardon from our sin, gracious acceptance by God, a love that is above all loves, a release from the spirit of bondage and tyranny of our sin, our adoption as children of God, deliverance from sin’s power, a faith that is revealed from heaven, and a new nature that is dead to the influence and reach of worldly desires.

Tomorrow will be the final article in this series and will explain how the truth of the gospel makes the demands of the gospel our heart’s desire.

PARENTS BEWARE OF THE UNINVITED GUEST TO YOUR HOUSE

“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

Allow me to continue on the theme of pornography and address the issue as it pertains to parenting and children. (I will address women and pornography later this week.)

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:

  1. The average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
  2. 80% of 15-17 year olds (men and women) have had multiple hard-core exposures.
  3. 90% of 8-16 year olds have viewed pornography online.
  4. Concerning those between 7-17; 29% indicated they have freely given out their home address online and 14% their email address.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. If you think your child needs a phone, do not give them one with internet capability.
  4. 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.)