The combination of self-seeking motives and being easily angered are effective deterrents against having your teenager believe you when you say you love them.
For example, you just confirmed that your fifteen-year-old son, Justin, has been looking at pornography on the internet. You could become enraged. You could be hurt that your son has embarrassed you in this way. You tell him in a loud, stern voice that this behavior will stop immediately and he will be grounded with zero privileges for months. You could also let him know that you are confiscating his computer, phone, tablet and any other electronic devise he has or ever will have. You could tell him how disappointed you are in him. You could ask him how could he do this to you and his mother. You could tell him this is a terrible sin. You could say you are sorry to so angry, but you love him too much to let him do porn.
You could do this. However, you would also be demonstrating a self-serving spirit served up with instant damaging anger. This may not be your intent, but if you are not showing biblical love then, by definition, you are doing something else. The results will not be pretty!
Thankfully there is an alternative. Following is an example of a conversation that demonstrates what I Corinthians 13 looks like in action. See how many positive attributes of love you can find in Dad’s conversation.
“Justin, we have to talk about the images you were viewing on the computer.”
“Dad, I really don’t want to and I am not going to – it is really none of your business.”
“I think I understand why you would say that. I didn’t want to talk to my dad about this stuff either. He caught me looking at a magazine once. He screamed at me and told me never to do it again. He said if I did, I would be in more trouble than I could ever imagine. He grabbed the magazine, stormed out of the room, slammed the door and never spoke to me about it again. Do you think that stopped me from looking at pornography?”
“You did porn?!?”
“Yes, Justin, I did, all the way into college. I couldn’t stop. I wanted to stop, I prayed about it, I felt guilty, but I couldn’t stop. I would always sneak out and buy another porn magazine. I don’t know what I would have done if this stuff had been online like it is today. I always felt awful afterwards but I did it anyway, for years.”
“Well, how … how did you stop?”
“I had a roommate my junior year at State who was a strong Christian. He noticed what I was doing and talked to me about it, much like I am talking with you. He went to his pastor when he was in high school to get help with his own porn struggles.”
“Wow, excuse me, but does everybody do porn?”
“Probably not everyone, but it sure seems that way. His pastor worked through some passages in the Bible with him to help him see that porn is really a nasty lie and it has nothing to do with sex in marriage. All porn can do for a person is to make them miserable and craving for more and more of it.”
“You got that right.”
“The problem with porn is that it looks good and seems exciting, but it is all a lie. The lie is that sex is all about what you want. But if you get what you want by doing porn, you’re really doing what Satan wants you to do. He is the Great Deceiver. Porn is really just lust, and it never, ever satisfies. My friend explained all this to me. We did several Bible studies together, but what made the real difference was being able to really know Christ through those studies. To know that he died for the sins of my porn and lust. That he could give me the strength not to trust my desires, but to trust him.”
“I’ve heard some people say porn and stuff is not mentioned in the Bible. Is that true?”
“Well, if they mean the actual words “Internet porn” are not mentioned in the Bible, that is true. But the Holy Spirit is way ahead of them. What is mentioned and forbidden is lust. Like I said, porn is just another form of lust. It’s nasty stuff.”
“Yeah, dad I know. It makes sick. I had no idea you would understand. I thought you would just get really mad. Do you think you could help me like your friend helped you?”
“Of course. I also need to ask your forgiveness for not helping prepare you better for the attacks of lust. I have been too preoccupied with work and other things and have not been there for you. With God’s help we can work through this.”