iPod Porn + Sons

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Dear GOV,
Please help! I recently found pornography on my son’s iPod touch. His father has talked to him a little bit about pornography before, but I am heartbroken to see it on his iPod. What do I do?

– Heartbroken in Minnesota

Dear Heartbroken,

First of all – this is not the end. Your son is not condemned to a lifetime of pornography use. Pull yourself out of that heartbreak and prepare to have a much-needed conversation with your son.

The unfortunate fact of our day is that pornography has a wide grip on our culture. But the good news is that people are really starting to talk about it, and realizing that it is something that needs to be (and can be) overcome. Your son can absolutely overcome this and come out stronger on the other side.

One of the first steps you need to take is to figure out if this is a recurring pattern, or if it is a one-time occurrence (maybe an accident) or something that has just started. Get this information, then sit down with your husband and figure out what you are going to say to your son. One thing to keep in mind is that every person has a natural curiosity about sex – and this should not be used to make him or her feel ashamed. Shame is the enemy’s territory. So please start your conversation out in a spirit of love and a desire to understand. Let your son talk – don’t overwhelm him with words and feelings of disappointment. You really need to pray before you have this conversation. 

A couple things your conversation should include: 1) We love you. God loves you too. You are not condemned. 2) Porn is something to avoid. It’s harmful and dangerous and we do not want you to use it. 2) Pornography does not give an accurate portrayal of sex. If you are curious about sex or have questions, we will answer your questions and help you understand what God’s design for sex is. 3) Pray for your son. Ask the Lord to break any ties with pornography and to remove the images from his mind. 4) We are going to put practices in place to help you avoid pornography from here on. This is not to punish you or make you feel like you are inferior. It’s to protect you. 5) We love you and God loves you.

After you have an initial conversation with your son, consider going through a resource with him. A couple we recommend are Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle (for boys 10-15) and Tactics for young men 15-30. May the Lord bless you and guide you as your prepare to help your son! 

It’s All about Context

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5 Principles for Parents to Convey when Talking about Sex
The GOV team has a lot of experience ministering to people. After 12 years of equipping parents to convey a healthy message of sexuality to their children and speaking to youth about the same topic, we’ve learned a few things. One of those things is that a message about healthy sexuality goes a lot further when it comes from a larger context than just sex.

Sometimes when people come to GOV events for youth, they are surprised by the fact that we don’t spend the whole time on the more technical things like boundaries in dating or the danger of STDs, etc. It’s not that we don’t think that information is necessary, only that there is other information that is more pertinent to grasp first. Focusing on the technical details of what you should and should not do instead of grasping the larger picture first is kind of like drilling the entire rulebook into a little leaguer before he or she even understands the purpose of the game. If a coach were to do this, the poor kid probably wouldn’t want to play baseball by the end of it. If nothing else, he or she would choose NOT to play under the watchful eye of that coach.

Sadly, I think this happens more often than we care to admit. We spend so much time drilling the rules in that we fail to help kids understand the bigger, more glorious picture. You see, the bigger picture contains the reasons one would want to abide by the rules in the first place. Isn’t that what you want to communicate to your kids, Mom and Dad? Don’t you want to tell them the whole truth of God’s great design?

Below I’ve listed some principles we seek to convey when we speak to youth about sex. I hope they are useful to you as you speak to your own children.

    1. God is a good father – Something that parents inherently understand is the desire to see their child succeed and experience the very best life he or she can have. In all the hundreds of parents I’ve ministered to over the years, I can’t recall a single one saying “Yeah…I just really want my kid to have a crummy life.” If we, as sinful and flawed people, feel this way about our children, imagine how God feels about us. Sometimes we fail to remember that God is so incredibly FOR us. He’s not sitting back waiting for us to get in trouble and foul things up so He can swoop down and discipline us. Instead, He’s actively working to help us and guide us. This applies to our sexuality as well. He wants us to experience the very best when it comes to sex, which is why He gives us guidelines surrounding it.

    2. God’s design is very good – Despite popular opinion that has historically circulated in the church (and especially in western culture), sex is good. Sexuality is good. The desire to experience sex has been built into us by God. There is nothing shameful or wrong about this desire. The way He made men and women to be different is good. If you look into the brain chemistry that happens when a man and woman have sex, you can see God designed sex for marriage. The beautiful thing about teaching children about sex in our day and age is that science is starting to catch up with the word of God, and we are seeing why God gave us the guidelines He did in His word.

    3. You have an important calling – God has a specific job for you to do in this life. He doesn’t waste a single life and He’s not partial (IE: one person’s calling isn’t more important than another person’s). What you do MATTERS. What you do with your sexuality MATTERS and affects whether or not you are able to fulfill your calling – more than you may realize.

    4. You are not what they say about you on MTV. And neither is sex – there are a lot of messages directed at kids (especially teenagers) that essentially tell them that there is no way they’re going to be able to control themselves. So they might as well do what feels good. Furthermore, sex is nothing special and EVERYONE is doing it. If we can deceive ourselves into thinking that sex can be casual and it’s not that big of a deal, we are severely selling ourselves short. Sex is a big deal – God designed it that way and deep down everyone wants it to be that way – so when we treat it casually, we are missing out on the original intention behind it. It’s like settling for a pineapple-flavored piece of candy when we could have had real pineapple instead. We need to tell our kids not to believe everything they hear and see! More importantly, we need to teach them how to recognize when the enemy’s trying to deceive them.

    5. It’s not a one-shot deal – Doing things right in the area of sexuality is not a pass-fail test. If you “mess up”, you’re not condemned; you can turn around from your choices and choose again God’s direction. When Christ died on the cross for us, He died for all our sin – including sexual sin.

One final note about that last principle: I know it’s tempting to leave that one out when you talk to your bright-eyed adolescent who has no sexual experience. There is the fear that they will hear everything you’re saying about God’s design for sex and then go “Well, I guess I have room to screw up here” as soon as you mention that last one. But this would be immature thinking on our part. It does no good to tell kids about sex and then cause them – by omitting this part – to think if they don’t get it right they’ll end up damaged goods. Sexuality is complex. Kids need to know there is grace and that yes, this is a big deal, but they also have a very big, able God who is willing to help them navigate. The last thing you want is for your kids to make decisions about sex out of a mindset of fear. What you want instead is to equip your kids with the truth and have them make decisions out of love and wisdom.

– Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

The Dating Apocalypse

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The following is a re-post of a blog by our friend, John Stonestreet, from Breakpoint. You can see John’s original post (or listen to the audio version) here.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair, contributing editor Nancy Jo Sales introduced readers to what passes for the “dating scene” among many millennials today.

At the heart of her article, which was entitled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’” is the app Tinder.

Tinder uses Facebook data, including pictures and geographic information, to create a user profile. Users who are deemed compatible are then placed in a list of matches. People on the list can “like” the other person by swiping right on their picture. If two people “like” each other, they can then chat using the app.

That’s the theory, at least. But as Sales documents, the reality is somewhat different. According to one recent study, “there were nearly 100 million people—perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone—using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they’d find a cheap flight to Florida.”

Or in Nancy Sales words, “Hookup culture . . . has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship.” She adds that the “lengthy, heartfelt e-mails exchanged by the main characters in You’ve Got Mail seem positively Victorian in comparison to the messages sent on the average dating app today.”

And most of those messages are sent by the men. As David Buss of the University of Texas told Sales, “Apps like Tinder . . . give people the impression that there are thousands or millions of potential mates out there.” Thus, they don’t feel the need to treat any woman as a “priority,” especially if their sexual desires are being gratified, as they are. Instead, what women become are “Tinderellas,” a series of disposable sexual conquests.

As one woman told Sales, “There is no dating. There’s no relationships . . . . They’re rare. [Hooking up] is a lot easier. No one gets hurt—well, not on the surface.”

Isn’t that last phrase telling? Once you get past the rhetorical smokescreen of sexual freedom, it’s clear that the sexual revolution has had a lot of victims.

As Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas might put it, what we see in the Vanity Fair article is an example of how low the “market price” for sexual relationships has dropped. Historically, the price for relations was the man marrying the woman and supporting her and her children.

But since the Sexual Revolution, the “price” men must pay for relations has dropped to a swipe on an app and a text message. And the drop in price has been accelerated by the denial of the “basic differences” that Regnerus mentioned. We were told that women enjoyed casual promiscuity as much as men.

But it’s just not true. As Regnerus told Christianity Today, “There are plenty of women… who would like to be legitimately asked out, but they feel like they can’t get it. He texts, and they ‘hang out.’ How lame is that?”

Lame, indeed. It’s difficult to think of a better example of two core BreakPoint worldview convictions: first, that ideas have consequences, and second, that bad ideas leave victims in their wake. That’s the Sexual Revolution in a nutshell.

And that’s why there’s an incredible opportunity for Christian witness today. The Christian view of human sexuality is good. God created it for our well-being, for mutual joy of husband and wife, and for the future of humanity. And the Christian view is always redemptive. God’s healing work through the Church can bind up wounds and make things whole again.

Tinder is not leading to the blessed flames that God intended for human sexuality. Instead it’s leaving a lot of people burnt and broken. So don’t think for a minute it’s over just because the legal and cultural consequences of the sexual revolution mean that Christianity is unpopular. Lives are at stake, and the opportunities to offer hope to these broken lives are all around us.

John Stonestreet is a Speaker and Fellow of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is a gifted communicator on areas of faith and culture, theology, worldview, education, and apologetics, and is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, churches, schools, and other various gatherings each year.

He is the co-host with Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint, the Christian worldview radio program founded by the late Chuck Colson, and the voice of The Point, a daily national radio feature on worldview, apologetics and cultural issues. He also serves as a Senior Content Advisor for Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, Colorado.