This series of posts is dealing with the impact of lust on Christian families. As we have seen, lust is a sin that impacts all of life. Its demands are relentless, the guilt is dominating, the anticipation and desire for things that will never satisfy is consuming. Lust also attacks relationships, especially between parent and child. Talking about lust is not a favorite topic of conversation between teenagers and parents, but as Proverbs 6:20-24 teaches, the words of parents are key to preventing sexual sin in the lives of children. When you discover that your teenager is viewing Internet pornography, the way you respond is important. We have already looked at one type of response that is not helpful. Here is a response that should be more effective for pointing your teenager to Christ.
As you start the conversation (and it does need to be a conversation), remember that this is probably more difficult for your son or daughter than it will be for you. Enter the conversation depending upon your faith, not your anger! (James 1:20) You must also enter this conversation with compassion. Whether he realizes it or not, your teenager has just been in a losing battle with the enemy of his soul. His mind, his sensibilities, and the truths he has been taught have been viciously assaulted by the powers of this dark world. A firm gentleness is called for. In this scenario, you have discovered the sinful activity, so there will most likely be a defensive reaction. That is why you should pick an appropriate time to talk. Find a time that will not cause you to be hurry through it; you don’t want to cut the conversation short as you or your son head out the door for some other activity.Pray for God’s mercy and grace for both of you. This is essential. No matter how well-prepared you are, the fact is that you are engaging in spiritual warfare. The allure of sin is powerful, and you need the greater power of the Holy Spirit to win the battle. Only God can open the eyes of your child to see the truth, and only God can turn his heart to repentance and faith. Pray for mercy and grace.
The following conversation is a composite drawn from many different conversations with different folks.
Shawn, 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, Shawn, 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 other things and have not been there for you. With God’s help we can work through this.
This conversation is shortened because of time and space constraints. But notice the key elements that led to a positive end.
First, Dad was not put off by his son’s initial response. Dad knew the nature of the sin of lust. He didn’t become angry and demand that his son talk to him. Dad also knew that there was already a breakdown because his son had not talked with him about the problem he was having.
So, the next thing that Dad did was to be genuine. He trusted Christ and made himself vulnerable to his son. He didn’t condemn him, but let his son know that he understood the problem for what it was. He let his son know that he knew how devastating lust is. Dad followed the golden rule. He wanted his son to be open with him so he was open and genuine with his son. Dad took the lead. He did not know how his son would respond, but he trusted Christ. Dad took an earthly risk, but not a heavenly one.
Dad was honest. He didn’t hide his sin from his son. He was also clear and honest about the problems with lust and used honest biblical language to describe these problems.
Dad relied upon Christ and his ways. He wasn’t being Super Dad, but he was being a faithful dad.
As I said, this conversation is a composite taken from many such situations. What made this work was the father’s reliance upon and commitment to Christ. An actual conversation may take quite a bit longer than this one. But the key components mentioned above must all be present. If you, as a parent, can establish biblical communication on this issue, then the things that need to come out will come out. More is needed than what happened in this initial conversation. Shawn also needs to seek God’s forgiveness and fully embrace the path of repentance. But Dad laid the groundwork. Now it is now possible to continue addressing the issue from God’s perspective.
Even though this post focuses on young men, females are not immune to the temptation of lust. The vehicle for being ensnared may be different, but the impact is the same. For example, hundreds of thousands of young women are captivated by the Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer. Lust doesn’t appear overtly as an issue in these novels, but it is just as devastating as pornography. Perhaps I will do a series on the Twilight books at some point.
In the next post we will focus on Ephesians 4:20 – learning Christ.