Talking to Our Children About Pornography Part 2
Last week we talked about the importance of doing our part to help prevent porn use with our children. We talked about being the first ones to talk to our kids so they don’t learn a “truth” from the internet that may not actually be true (if you haven’t read that one yet, please go read it here). In this blog, we will talk less about prevention, and more about intervention, starting with the intervention I needed as an adult.
When Intervention is Needed: My Story
While prevention is of absolute importance, often times intervention is necessary. Whether you have a child who’s already been exposed, or you are struggling with porn yourself. I’ve needed intervention before, and wanted to share my story with you of how I got free.
When I was a child, it was extremely difficult to get our eyes on pornography. You had to get a magazine from the top shelf at either bookstores or gas stations. If you went for it, everyone would see you, so there was always tons of accountability present. Even if you got one down, you had to be 18 to purchase it, so you either had to steal it or convince an adult to “help you out”. Much of the time, we just wouldn’t go to all the effort to get porn. The risks were just too great. Anything in video format was even harder to get ahold of, because we weren’t even allowed in the stores that sold VHS porn. Honestly, as a child, I don’t believe I EVER saw any form of porn on video, it was all magazines. Then came the internet, and before long, it wasn’t so difficult to find. Not only that, but no longer was it mostly magazines, but we suddenly had easy and instant access to any videos that were online.
As a young adult, I struggled. Not everyday, but close. It was hard to stay away from when I was stressed out or lonely. Not only was I a young adult, I was a young pastor. I would watch porn at night, then wake up the next day to go preach the gospel. The shame was overwhelming, and I had no idea how to get out of it.
Then, for the first time, I really heard the gospel (yes for the first time, and yes I had been a pastor for 4 years...let’s just be really honest here, not every pastor knows the gospel).
I heard that Jesus didn’t just die for me, He died as me (Gal 2:20), and that I was no longer a sinner (Rom 5:8), but a saint. I learned that “as He is, so am I in this world” (1 John 4:17). If Jesus isn’t addicted to porn, the truth is, neither am I. I learned that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and not every thought that passes through my head is mine. If it’s a thought Jesus wouldn’t think, I don’t have to claim it as my own, and just because I have a thought, doesn’t mean that’s who I am. My temptations don’t decide my identity. I learned that I MUST think of myself as “dead to sin and alive to God (Rom 6:11) because that’s my reality (Rom 6:1-10). I heard this sentence: “A trick of the devil is to make you believe the thoughts he sends you are your own.” I wrote that down in a journal and every time a thought would pass through my head that wasn’t a thought Jesus would think, I’d write it under that sentence. Then I would ask God for the truth, and write it below. It didn’t take long before I was thinking more like Jesus (and myself) than ever before.
Not only that, but when I would open my computer and sense the temptation to look for porn, I simply recognized that the true me would never think that, and those weren’t my thoughts. They would then fly right on by and I would go about my business. Now I know not everyone gets free from porn that quick, but when a person truly believes the gospel, not just what Jesus did for them, but what He did to them, things can change instantly.
I’ve since worked with many adults who simply refuse to believe what the Bible says and would rather trust their experience. It’s as if some people get offended when you tell them those thoughts that have plagued them for years are not their thoughts.
How can all those verses be true if I’ve never been able to stop them?
For me, I wasn’t offended at all, I was absolutely ecstatic to hear these scriptures and simply received them as the truth, even though my facts said differently. The result was, my facts instantly began to change and line up with the truth.
From there it was simply a matter of staying free, and one of the revelations that helped me most is found in Isaiah 42:12-13. “Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands. The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies.”
In these verses, the cause of God going forth and prevailing on our behalf, is us declaring His praise in the coastlands. It’s not from fighting our enemy, it from praising God. The coastlands here are symbolic of the borders of our lives. It’s where our territory begins, and if we want God to keep our enemies away from our territory, all we need to do is praise Him. Praise activates the border patrol of heaven.
Back when all this was happening, we still had those things called movie rental stores (come on, I’m not that old). We would go in and look around at the movies in order to choose which ones to rent. Many of them had quite the sexual pictures on the covers, and as I would look through the store, I could feel the movies attempting to tempt me. At this time though, I recognized it for what it was, a spirit, not me. I wasn’t being tempted because I was full of lust, that isn’t my nature, I was being tempted by a spirit wanting me to think those thoughts were mine, so I would give into them.
As I would walk around the store, I would quietly bless the Lord. I would whisper how thankful I was that Jesus had made me a new creation, that He’d forgiven me of all my sin. I’d sing a little worship as I walked, and it was as if the temptations could no longer come near me. They got stopped at my border.
Now I know this isn’t the same experience many others have had, but it’s what He did for me so He’d love to do it for others. Another thing that helps is to talk to people who are safe and can treat you according to what the gospel says about you. Hiding only keeps us in bondage, and one thing that keeps us hiding is the lie that there aren’t safe people to talk with. Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. The word truth here can mean “having nothing hidden”, so if we hide and aren’t honest, we can’t get free. But when we are honest, we are already beginning to break its power over us.
If you are working with a child who is struggling, I pray these verses and revelations help with them the same they helped me. That kids would be set free and know how to stay free in Jesus’ name. If this is something you’ve battled in your own life, I pray the same for you and that God would push back all the enemies so they are no longer in your territory.
As I wrap this post up, I want to remind you of the book I talked about last week, the one that helps our kids learn the difference between good pictures and bad pictures, and helps prevent them dealing with what so many of us have. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you can get Good Pictures, Bad Pictures here.