You have probably heard it said, "The best defense is a strong offense."
When it comes to the matter of pornography, we need to get on the offense. I think many would agree that what starts out in curiosity or with a goal for entertainment, too often becomes an addiction that people don't want to admit to. Pornography has never been more easily accessible than now through the technology in our pockets. Our children are seeing things at eye-level in grocery store check-out lines that used to be tucked away in the centerfold spread of Playboy magazines of the past.
Mindsets regarding what is normal and healthy have shifted, and we, the adults in the situation, are surrounded and inundated with so much sexuality that the desensitization has led to a darker and darker subsection within pornography. North America has lost her ability to blush. Statistics show that we are also losing the ability to be intimate and vulnerable with real people, in real life because of it.
Pornography is not just a man's issue. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women admit to being consistent users, with men still the main consumers, with numbers showing that 3.5 out of 5 men use regularly.
My husband, Bryan, stumbled across a pile of magazines as a five-year-old. That kindergartner who felt so much confusion and embarrassment grew to be a teen who found escape in the addiction. His journey didn't end there though. After coming to Christ at the age of 18, he began the difficult process of finding freedom and embracing a healthy viewpoint on sexuality. His story has us on the alert when it comes to our own five sons. We are surely not perfect, but we are praying for God's wisdom and power as we proactively build mindsets within our home that will combat the deceptions of pornography.
For so long the religious answer to porn was simply, "Don't." and "Stop."
It's not enough. Porn is built on damaging presumptions; by identifying these lies we can lay a foundation of understanding for our children and put the issue into the context of life.
1 - First false presumption: "What is on the outside is the most important part of who you are."
This lie is also at the root of consumerism, gender inequality, racism, deep-rooted insecurities and much more. Of course, our physical nature and sexual design is indicative of our nature and meant to be respected and treasured, but when emphasis is put on our physical nature at the loss of recognizing the soul of humanity, we all lose.
Pornography doesn't connect us heart to heart, as we were designed for. Porn is about the external and the pleasures one can physically feel.
One day when our oldest boys were only about 3 or 4 years old, they were coloring away in some super-hero coloring books that they had gotten. I was working at the sink and casually glanced over and was surprised to see my son pausing to look at an image of Wonder Woman posed provocatively with her breasts emphasized and a sensual look on her face.
I can imagine that you may be thinking, "What type of coloring book was THAT?" Well, I assure you that in the years since, I have come to realize that this is simply the reality of how "heroic" women are portrayed. Strong and sensual, the modern-day goddess Artemis.
Anyways, I dried my hands and took the opportunity to talk to my sons about this image.
"Son, what do you think the person who drew this picture was trying to get you to look at?"
He blushed immediately, because he knew. He sheepishly pointed his crayon at her chest.
"Yes, you're right. And a woman's body is a good thing. God made bodies to be beautiful, but we always have to remember that what is on the outside is not the most important part. We can't be tricked."
We sat down on the couch together and took the time to flip through the rest of the coloring book to identify any images that were emphasizing Wonder Woman as more than just a form or body. There was only one, and the boys ripped out all the rest of their own momentum.
In the years that have passed since that day there have been many more occasions for conversation about the topic. Some are inspired by advertising and others by public settings where skin and parts are shown off in abundance.
I always try to remind them, "They are real people. Try to look them in the eye and show them that you respect them for who they are on the inside. Remember, women are not just bodies."
2. Second false presumption: "If I want it, I should have it. Now."
Pornography is built on the lie that if you desire it, you should do it. Pornography pushes against all restraints of morality and paves a highway for sexual desires to drive when, where, and however you want. This is not real love or real life.
Every single day my children ask me for things, and every single day I have to tell them "no" to at least some of their requests. Every day I have to tell them to wait to have the thing that they want. I often say, "No one gets to do whatever they want. Not even adults."
Every time that we delay the gratification of our children's desires (not for the sake of cruelty or our own laziness), we are building a muscle of restraint in them. Our kids may think we are just ruining their fun, but we are actually setting them up for future success. They are learning through our boundaries that they will not die just because their desire is left unfulfilled for a while.
In God's wisdom there is a time and place where sexual passion can be enjoyed: within the strong fortress of marriage covenant. God's intention was that no one would feel sexually exposed or abandoned, betrayed or humiliated. God wants everyone to be loved as a multi-dimensional person and embraced for who they are and not how they can perform sexually.
3. Third false presumption: "I'm the most important person."
The industry would collapse if people began to treat one another with absolute respect. Pornography creates a fantasy world that allows people to live believing the illusion that they are the most important in the world.
In that world, humans become commodities for the purpose of consumption.
A question we often pose in our home is this: "Who is more important? You or me?"
The answer should always be, "Neither. We are all "most important". We are of equal value even though we are of different age, gender, education or experience. This has become one of the values of our home and if ever we stray from behaving with mutual respect, we work hard to embrace humility and make things right again.
Pornography has become an industry that gives consumers what they want at the devastating cost to the "stars" involved. The physical pain and suffering, the humiliation and dehumanization, the manipulation and outright slavery are all a monstrous part of it. All in the name of entertainment.
Sexuality was meant to be a gift between lovers with a simultaneous giving and receiving. Love allows us all to keep our dignity, because love knows that we are all equally valuable.
In closing, I would like to make note of the incredible influence that fathers and mothers have to shape their children's view of sexuality. Every day, my boys are interacting with me, their mother, a multi-dimensional woman. They see that a real woman has physical flaws, and that real women have hopes, dreams, friendships, disappointments, fatigue, and sadness. They feel the love and nurture from a woman in a completely non-sexual atmosphere. It fills them and teaches them a little bit, day after day, what unconditional love feels like.
The day will come when hormone changes will add complexity to curiosity. In time they will learn the word "pornography" and we will speak as openly as would be appropriate for their age, but we will not just command that they "Don't." I want to see them on the offense, aware of the women around them, respecting others as they are learning to respect me.
One day they will understand why we were so adamant about reminding them of these truths as we see the opportunity, but for now, it is just sewn into the fabric of their normal.
Talking about porn, without really talking about porn, you know?