All posts by Pastor Matt

I'm a husband, daddy and theologian who works for Jesus at Redemption Church.

Boys vs The Porn Apocalypse (Pt. 2): Discipling Your Son’s Heart, Not Just His Internet Connection

MB PostsDisclaimer: Of all the posts in this series this one has made me most nervous. Not for it’s content, but for its reception. With a topic like boys and porn its easy to think very “here and now” about it. How to fix, filter or fight against. I’m not opposed to those things, but this whole topic – and solution – runs deeper. Therefore my concern that some will read this and say, “Yadda, yadda, yadda… get on to some more interesting statistics or real tools that I can use.” If you find yourself in that place by the end of this post I recommend you skip the next few and pick it back up at (Pt. 5) – and with that be prepared for those measures to fail you catastrophically.

As I shared in the previous post, none of the human measures we undertake to guard our sons from pornography are foolproof unless we help our sons to avoid being fools. That is why it’s my conviction that the real “secret” in dealing with boys and porn (or men/dads and porn) is less about engaging the porn problem and more about focusing on the Jesus solution. That is the real heart of the following post. Ok enough disclaimers – on to our topic.

Discipling Your Son’s Heart, Not Just His Internet Connection

Often as Christian parents we believe our chief goal is to protect our kids. Let me break it to us, protecting the youth of America is not our chief calling. At best it’s to be an element in our parenting, but it’s not the goal. The goal is to raise godly adults. What this means for all of us in the child-raising gig is to own that our mission is actually adult-rearing. Here is why I say this, unless you plan to monitor your son’s electronic pantheon for the rest of his natural born life you will want to help him learn how to filter his own life more than you filter it for him. And when I say help him learn what I’m really talking about is you will want to help him want to filter his own life. Catch that? Want to; not need to, ought to or got to. Our core aspiration for boys and men is that pornography would be unthinkable, not merely unavailable. Therefore it’s not enough to just give him a diversion, distraction, filter or formula. We can’t make our big idea periodic anti-porn speeches or have him watch a documentary on sex trafficking in the hopes that he will be so repulsed he’s cured of his temptations. He must have a bigger reason and a deeper strength to counter the rushing torrent of biology and nature. The reason is because what our sons are up against is far more daunting than just an unfiltered media paired to a cauldron of testosterone. They are up against their fallen selves. Therefore, before we can get into confronting the topic of boys and the porn culture we must proactively address boys and their internal culture.

The Real Cultural Epidemic

As parents we can have a tendency to think that everything around us works against us. I get it. I feel that way too. But that is how I feel. When I stop and think I see that the real problem isn’t “out there” in our world. Nor is the problem strictly how out there is paid monthly to proactively come “in here” to my home through varied electronic mediums. The problem is deeper. Jesus said, “18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15). It is my heart, my son’s heart and my culture’s heart that is the epidemic. Therefore the only thing that will make a long-term difference is an enduring focus on the culture of our heart.

Jesus Beats Heart

Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, but only Jesus beats heart (Romans 6:6). Because of this helping our boys stand against the pull of porn begins by directing their hearts to Jesus everyday in every way we know how. For us as parents – particularly dads – this means modeling an emphasis on what godly men are called to. I say this because it’s easy to focus on lessor things with greater emphasis. We make much of career, college, grades, sports, hobbies, general values, the latest blockbuster, the newest gadget or a funny video on, but we struggle to make more of Jesus. Thus we should never be shocked when our boys grow into men who care more about lessor things.

In Titus 2 we are given useful direction on what matters most when it says, Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness… Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Much of this list sounds very “moral,” but nestled in both the calling for the older and the younger man is the need to know sound faith and teaching. Knowing Jesus starts with knowing about Jesus. Then in knowing Him you desire to live like Him and for Him in self-control, integrity and sober-mindedness. Only a genuine relationship with Jesus is enough to shape the will and want of our boys. This means that Jesus can’t merely be the poster-child of our personal morality or spiritual sub-culture. He can’t be the God of “when it’s convenient” and still have powerful influence over our daily habits. He must be sought in such a way that He is real, involved, consulted, sensed and wanted in the fabric of life. Our prayers should be those of a passion to see and sense the power of God in our lives so that our boys will know the realness of Jesus. Don’t give them rules, expectations or demands – give them Jesus dynamic and living so that rules are desires and expectations are wisdom in action.

I don’t pretend to assume this is easy. A spiritually dynamic home is not rooted in a formula, but rather it’s a biblically informed quest. But that is the point, it’s a quest to sense and see Jesus active and living in our lives. It’s a daily pursuit to lay hold of the One who has laid hold of us so that by His grace our hearts are more conformed to His. This more than anything else is the core of porn proofing our boys; when Jesus is just better than porn.

Tips for parents (especially dads and grandpas):

  • Pray daily that an “awe” of God’s presence would be in the life of your son. That Jesus would be real to them.
  • Pray regularly with your son.
  • Talk consistently about Jesus with your son.
  • Repeatedly do things that display you care more about his spiritual health than his material achievement.
  • Share with him about how you personally connect with God.
  • Share with him that you understand the struggles he faces because you do too.
  • Encourage spiritual outlets first and foremost such as youth group, church, ministry serving and quiet times/bible reading.
  • Let him see you with your Bible or on your knees. It will only be good enough for him if he sees its good enough for you.
  • Have regular Bible discussions with your son or perhaps do a book read or discipleship program with him. Proverbs is a great place because the insights are short and clear.
  • Take him to Christian men events or have him just hang out with other men you respect.
  • Point out great examples for him to emulate. One of the things I do with my son is point out the elders of our church and tell him, “If you live your life like they do you will do well.”

Boys vs The Porn Apocalypse (Pt.1)

MB PostsWe live in a world of “E.” E-commerce, e-trade, e-file, e-news and e-vite, but we also live in the world of e-rotic. The online world is a realm unavoidably erotic. In 2007 it was estimated that 12 percent of all Web sites were dedicated to porn. Twenty-five percent of all search engine requests were porn related and 35 percent of all Internet downloads were pornographic. At that time 28,258 Internet users were viewing porn sites every second.

However that was 2007 when, believe it or not, the Internet was still young. Since that time online technology has moved into adolescents and with it the hyperinflation of mobile devices, social media, perpetual Wi-Fi and cooperative “big data” projects that have exponentially multiplied our capacity to produce and transmit information. In those 7 years since statics were last estimated, all the data ever generated by the human race has doubled 3.5 times. It’s not just that the Internet doubled in size 3.5 times; all human data ever produced since the dawn of time has doubled 3.5 times; the bulk of which is available with just a few taps of the finger, including the black hole of pornography.  No one knows the precise numbers at this point, but currently porn related sites generate more web-traffic per day than Amazon, Netflix and Twitter combined. The top online video porn site streams 6 times more data per day than its non-pornographic competitor Hulu. As all human data has more than quadrupled in the last 7 years, so too has pornography, both in its scope and gratuitousness.

Now why does this matter to me? Because 7 years ago – when the stats were merely alarming and not apocalyptic – my son was 6 and thought girls had cooties. Today he is 13 and has a mobile phone, notebook computer, wireless enabled gaming device and a Wi-Fi connection to the open waters of the Internet. Add to this that he lives in one of the most sexually charged, confused and careless times our culture has seen in its recent history. Sexuality has risen to a civil right and thus biblical boundaries and validations have become suspect for younger evangelicals. In some of the most recent studies we see that evangelical Millennials (approximately ages 10-35) are more likely to engage in pre-marital sex, embrace co-habitation before marriage and endorse same sex relationships/marriage. Some of this fluctuating standard comes from general shifts in culture, some from the softening messages embedded in youth focused media and some comes from the desensitizing agent of pornography.

The most general data shows that 70% of viewers of pornography are male (which means 30% are female – thus while this is an article regarding boys, many of these principles need to be considered for our girls as well). Increasingly girls are viewing porn as a tool to discover what boys want or to explore their own sexuality, creating both confusion and identify conflict, but when looking at Millennial males the data jumps well above 90%. In a recent interview regarding an attempted research project measuring the impact of pornography on sexuality and male/female relationships Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse of the University of Montreal said, “We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography, but we couldn’t find any.” In short, the research was impossible because Professor Lajeunesse could not find a control group to measure the experimental group against; all were experimenting with porn and had been since the age 10 on average.

What is my penultimate point in all of this? If you have a boy and an Internet connection, you have a porn problem. Porn may not yet be his problem (and prayerfully will never be), but it is a problem you must seriously factor in when it comes to raising boys into godly men. And godly men are the ultimate point. Because of this I have not buegn this 5 part series with how to filter and monitor his Internet activity. I will close this series (Technology Sucks! Pt. 5) with a set of ways to aid in this, but they will not be foolproof. Yet that’s the point. The only way to make anything foolproof is to help a person not be a fool (Proverbs 14:16). Thus I go back to the reality that “The End – A Godly Man” matters more than “The Means – Keeping Porn Out.” Therefore the real intent of this series is not porn proofing your son’s devices, but Jesus centering his heart.