Helping Your Teen Win The War Against Porn (part 1)
NOTE: I am going to blog over the next few weeks about this issue. I hope you’ll keep coming back to read more.
At every one of our ministry events this year, I have either spoken with a teen, college student, or parent who is struggling, or knows someone who is struggling, with porn. Here is an email I just received this week:
My daughter us 14 and we have just found out that she is viewing porn. She is a good girl, a churched girl. I know she is a Christian. But, it is our understanding, (her father and I) that she has been looking at it for over a year. We are broken and don’t know what to do. Any help you can offer us will be wonderful. Thank you for all you do for our kids!
I wish I rarely received notes like the one above. Truth is, I get them all the time. Pornography is everywhere today. Statistics leave our heads spinning about how many pornographic sites are on the Web today, how many new porn sites go live every day on the Web, and how huge, powerful, and pervasive the pornographic video industry is today. The revenue of the pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, and Netflix. And porn is only a click away. If you want it, you can find it quicker than quick. Even when you are not looking for it, porn can still find you. And once you’ve downloaded it into your mind’s hard drive, the harmful images can keep replaying over and over again.
By the widespread availability of pornography today, one might conclude that we as a society are increasingly accepting its presence as normal. And as a matter of fact, for some people, porn seems to be no big deal. For instance, The Barna Group reported that 29 percent of all born-again adults in the United States believe it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior. Go back and read this statistic again! Did you catch the “born-again” part? Yes, this means that almost 1/3 of Christians believe it is no big deal to watch other people having sex on the big screen!
I’d say these people are not facing the fact that porn is dangerous to the core. It sucks every bit of truth, contentment, honesty, character, loyalty, and reality out of the mind and soul of the one plugging into it. Porn leaves people feeling hopeless, guilty, and ashamed. I know what I’m talking about. I communicate with teens on a regular basis who struggle with addiction to porn. And these are not oddball, sadistic, perverted teens but everyday, honor-roll, churchgoing, love-their-parents, striving-to-live-for Jesus teens.
Who is hurt by pornography? We often think of the porn industry as targeting only males. But a recent study showed that the industry is targeting females as well. About one in three visitors to adult Web sites is female. That means your daughter is at risk the same as your son is. The mom who sent me the email this week that I shared with you above would agree!
It’s a myth to think that your teen is immune from the dangers of porn. Even if your son or daughter goes to church, is on your youth group’s leadership team, plays basketball, regularly flosses, and makes good grades (or whatever criteria are used to categorize him or her as doing well), your teen is still a target. No teen today is immune to the possibility of falling into the trap of porn. It can happen quickly. It can happen unintentionally. It can happen to your teen. One study showed that a whopping 90 percent of all eight to sixteen year olds had viewed pornography online—most inadvertently, while doing homework.
I meet adults who can’t fathom how someone could get caught up in such filth as pornography. Even when some parents realize their son or daughter is addicted to porn, The Enemy has often won the fight by convincing them that they are helpless and ill equipped to help their teen.
But the struggle with pornography isn’t any different from any other sin: Satan presents us with a dangerous, cleverly packaged lie that looks inviting. We are tempted. Temptation gives birth to sin.
Sin affects us all (Romans 3:23). What sins are evident in your life? If your teen struggles with porn, let him know that he is not alone and that you understand the struggle, because you struggle with your own sins. Maybe you have even struggled with the specific sin of porn viewing, and therefore you can sure in a very personal way what that struggle has been like and how you have achieved victory.
Certainly we cannot take the problem of pornography lying down. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” So, parent, it’s time to act. It’s time to arm yourself with the necessary tools to wage this war alongside your teen. Are you ready for this battle? It starts with learning more about what you’re up against.
How Porn Finds Your Teen
This is a problem: if your teen is online, porn will find him or her.
For instance, a sophomore in college whom I met on the road a few years ago told me that he had gotten hooked on Internet porn while in high school. During his senior year, he was required to write a term paper on human anatomy for an AP biology class. One afternoon he was routinely surfing the Web, reading about the study of the human body. Innocently clicking on a link in search of images of the female anatomy, he suddenly saw a porn site appear. He quickly left the site. But the more he sat in front of his computer, the more he thought about those images. Several minutes later, he found himself going back to check them out again … and again. Thus began a dark journey that lasted most of his senior year of high school.
Porn industry representatives are clever. The minds behind this industry know how to find and hook their prey through e-mail blasts, pop-up advertisements, and spam e-mails. I’ve had countless teens tell me that they have received inappropriate spam mail—unsolicited, commercial e-mail that often leads to another site, usually pornography. Sometimes the initial messages with spam appear innocuous, such as an invitation to check out a magazine subscription or some cartoons or jokes. Sometimes the advertisements are a bit racier. I got one of these just yesterday on my cell phone. My oldest daughter just told me yesterday on the ride home from school that earlier in the day she saw nudity while on Instagram.
One click. That’s all it takes. I know you know this. But, I want to remind you of the battle we face – the battle our kids face everyday! Pornography is aggressive. Pornography seeks and destroys. It’s imperative that you know about the fight you are in.
The Trouble with Porn
What’s so harmful about looking at pornography? Isn’t it just a phase that all teens go through, particularly boys?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As your teen begins to look at porn consistently, his or her view of the opposite sex will change. Eventually your teen will stop seeing people as God sees them and begin seeing them merely as objects by which desires can be fulfilled. Pornography turns other people into objects of lust.
If your teen dates, typically, it will only be a matter of time before he or she becomes more physical with the other person. The fantasy world being downloaded into his or her mind will fight to make itself reality by encouraging your teen to use people to fulfill personal lusts. And as your son or daughter tries to act out the sexual behaviors seen online, the perceived need for self-gratification will damage not only your teen’s relationships during the dating years but also his or her relationship with a future mate.
Also, as your teen dives deeper into the world of porn, his or her character will begin to be eroded, even destroyed. This isn’t my idea. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.” Your teen is being greatly fooled if he or she believes that he or she can casually check out porn and still live the life God would have him or her to live. If your son or daughter sows to please lust, destruction is soon to follow.
Dishonesty within this area of life will spill over into other areas of your teen’s life. Basically, as your teen gives Satan one area of life, it will only be a matter of time before the Enemy pursues and demands other areas as well. Think about this! I’ll have more thoughts for you in a few days.
 “Pornography Statistics,” Family Safe Media, http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html, accessed June 17, 20012.
 “Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators,” Safe Families, http://www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php, accessed June 17, 2013.
 Jerry Ropelato, “Internet Pornography Statistics,” Top Ten Reviews, http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html, accessed June 17, 2014.
 David C. Bissette, “Internet Pornography Statistics: 2003,” 2004, HealthyMind.com, http://healthymind.com/s-porn-stats.html, accessed June 17, 2012.