In dealing with our sons struggles with porn we must assure them of a solution. The gospel of Jesus is a message that both rids us of our shame and empowers us to overcome the strong biological, emotional and visual draw that is associated with pornography. Again I want to reiterate that making pornography impossible to access is not the solution, making it undesirable is. Therefore the most effective way this temptation will be resisted is to make obedience both a realistic possibility and an internal want. And that begins with understanding the power of the gospel.
Titus 2:11-14 says, “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Three things must be imprinted into our sons hearts:
1st: Grace Is – Grace is the unsolicited, unearned and undeserved favor of God. In dealing with our sons we must remember that what they most need is a personal God who conditions their desires. We don’t want our boys thinking the way forward in overcoming porn (or any other sin) is chiefly a matter of self-determination, but rather it’s a matter of reformed affection that comes through a growing understanding of the power of grace. Helping our boys develop gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness begins to lay the foundation for a life of obedience both in public and private.
What is especially good for us to remember is that it will always be grace – not law – that ultimately protects and liberates our boys. Thus if you simply jump to the end of this series on “the laws of practical porn proofing” and do nothing else, you may in fact taunt your sons to sin without even intending to. In Romans 7:7-12 Paul shares a profound truth regarding the law. There he says that the law entices – not curbs – sin. This is why you see people at the Grand Canyon throwing rocks just a few yards down from a “Do not throw rocks!” sign. The mere sight of “don’t” makes people want to “do” (especially in the adolescent brain). The reason is because the function of the law is to incite our natural rebellion, thus proving we need God’s grace to heal our defiant hearts. Therefore “don’t” – by itself – often works against us. Because of this the electronic safeguards we implement will be nothing more than challenges for our boys to hack unless they are coupled to a bigger sense of Jesus and grace.
2nd: Grace Saves – It saves us not only from the penalty, but the power of our sins; to renounce our rebellion and reinforce righteousness. Both of these are critical because we need our boys to know that resisting temptation is both an act of running from sin and running to Someone and something righteous (2 Timothy 2:22).
Additionally, they need to realize that the powerful draw of temptation is not as powerful as the ability to overcome. Sin and righteousness are not dualistic in the life of the believer. Temptation isn’t an equal and opposite force. In the believer’s tug-of-war over sin the Holy Spirit is the anchorman who shifts the balance of power. In the pull of the Holy Spirit we have what is needed to overcome moments of enticement (Romans 8:1-4 & Galatians 5:16-26). Paul knew this in struggling with his own temptation when exasperated he says, “24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7). I know that kind of frustration. I know that sense of failure. Who will rescues me from my failures? I love the answer, “25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7). Paul knew temptation, but he also knew that grace saves us from that sense of inevitability regarding failure. This is why he told the sexually charged and confused Corinthians, “13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The key here is helping our boys to see the value of redirecting their attention when temptation comes; to reestablish focus when the internal booty-call suddenly arises in their temptations. Romans 8 reminds us that, “5 Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Helping them learn to set a positive foothold for their mind will give them a powerful tool for life-long peace.
3rd: Grace Inspires – Grace must be communicated in a way that helps our boys become “zealous for good works.” We as parents must not reduce the inspirational power of grace by making it a synonym for law. Our tone must be that of understating, direction and hope. We are to bring empathy, boundary and the conviction that goodness is way better. We parent from the posture of sinners coming alongside fellow sinners with the reminder that we all overcome by grace. We are the living embodiment of how our boys understand Jesus and grace. Thus we must be careful to not take their failures or sins so personally that we fail to provide them with an accurate picture of who God is and how He empowers us to overcome ourselves in hope.
- Help your son to see that Grace is something we receive while Law is something we do. Therefore to receive daily overcoming Grace he must seek Jesus as the source of that grace through ongoing prayer. A great rule of thumb is to encourage them to talk out loud to Jesus so that he is more real in their life.
- Help him realize that in God’s common grace, Jesus has provided many opportunities to avoid tempting situations such as hobbies, sports, chores, friends or the like. Distractions when tempted are a wonderful form of common grace. It also follows the pattern of 2 Timothy 2:22 when it says, “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.“
- Help him begin disciplines such as quiet-times or devotional book readings that fortify his inner spiritual life. The Word of God has power and the life of the Holy Spirit in him is strength. We don’t want to overcome porn with Law (since that is impossible – Romans 7:7-11), we want Jesus to shape his heart with Grace and Truth (John 1:17 & Romans 12:1-2).
- Help him to know that Jesus died for porn. Specifically that Jesus took the sin of his porn viewing and suffered for it on the cross, so that he could be totally forgiven and made new (2 Corinthians 5:21). Let him know that while you will be taking some precautions to protect him, those are not designed to punish him or throw his past in his face. Reinforce that Jesus was punished in his place so he could be forgiven and move forward.
Friday: Final post to the series, “Technology Sucks! Safeguarding The 7 Primary Ways Porn Gets Into The Home.”