Youth Culture Window
Our son started 7th grade this week which meant we had to do some back-to-school shopping. Fortunately, Amazon allowed us to point, click, and purchase. You can get anything you want…and you can get it right away. You don’t even have to leave the house!
That’s exactly what online porn offers young users: what they want it, whenever they want it.
Sexuality’s Instant Gratification
We’ve known for years that porn contributes to the get-whatever-you-want-whenever-you-want-it mindset. Today’s buffet of adult entertainment – including thousands and thousands of unique fetish sites – paired with instant mobile access, means users don’t have to wait to get their specific fix. As the anti-porn organization Fight the New Drug says, “There aren’t ‘no’s’ in porn….”
But there are “no’s” in real life. So what happens when those desires that are accustomed to instant gratification leave the digital world and enter the real world?
Only time will tell what porn use will lead to in the future. However, we know the effects of porn use…right now! Along with the potential for addiction, porn use rewires the pleasure sensors of the brain, can lead to isolation/loneliness, is linked to depression, increases the risk of divorce among married couples, and, of course, can lead to erectile dysfunction among men, even young men.
But other than that, it’s completely harmless.
Forging the Future
Porn is big. It’s powerful. It’s popular. The “adult entertainment” industry – which happens to have a firm grip on teenage entertainment, too – has lots of reasons to stay that way: almost 100 billion, in fact. That’s how much the industry rakes in, globally, each and every year. With population increases, advancements in technology, and good old fashioned inflation, that number is only going to go up. Way up.
Sexually explicit entertainment is already huge, and will get even bigger. So, should we just let porn determine our kids’ futures? Absolutely not! Here are two ideas to help forge a porn-free future for your kids.
- Don’t reduce the conversation to just porn. Lust is the underlying issue. Think about it like this: if our kids grow up avoiding online pornography, but regularly engage in casual sex, what have we truly accomplished? So what if they never visit PornHub, but become serial adulterers later in life? Don’t lose sight of the real disease by focusing on the symptom(s). In Proverbs 11:6, the Bible says, “The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.” There are plenty of other passages about lust that speak about its variations as well as its consequences (and Jonathan McKee provides great discussion points about it in his book to teens, Sex Matters). Sexual immorality is multi-faceted so keep the ongoing conversations focused on the umbrella of lust instead of just one example of it.
- Put guardrails in place to help protect integrity. When our kids start driving, we put as many protections in place as we can to keep them safe. Why shouldn’t we do the same when it comes to protecting their minds, hearts, and souls from sexual immorality? Does that mean installing parental controls? Sure, but don’t assume they’re foolproof. Maybe it’s a practice, for example, putting the computer in an open area of the house. Maybe it’s ongoing conversations about the hibernating (and immediate) effects of porn use. Maybe it’s an agreement between parents and teens to allow the former to inspect smartphones on a regular basis. At the very least, it requires your commitment to be an example of personal purity.
More often than not, young people are unable to correct their problems with porn. (After all, they tend to get desensitized to their porn use over time.) But we don’t have to stand idly by while sexual immorality hijacks our kids’ hearts. We can shape a godly future for them through prayer and intentional leadership in their lives.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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