Question: “What conversations can we have with our 9-year-old daughter and our 11-year-old son to inoculate them from the sexual perversions they will come across in the church, etc.?”

Question: “How do I protect my children from sexual temptation?”

“Inoculate them”? Impossible. “Protect them from temptation”? Only to a degree. Equipping them to endure temptation is the only effective recourse.

The infallible Word of God tells us that God will not put more temptation on us than we are able to bear. That must mean either that God regulates us, by means of teaching and grace, in proportion to the level of temptation we will encounter, or that he places a governor on the temptation to prevent it from exceeding our abilities to resist—or both. Either way, it is clear that our Heavenly Father manages our exposure and resistance to temptation. Shouldn’t you do the same for your child? Most of us attack the temptation, leaving the child in a vacuum of innocence, not realizing the need to equip the child to be an overcomer, even in our absence, in the face of great temptation.

Do not put your children in a place where temptation becomes more than they can bear. And do not expect a once-a-year talk on sex to “inoculate” them against temptation. Neither should you rest in the security system you designed to stop temptation from getting to them. You cannot just teach—you must actually prepare them to resist temptation in your absence. Negative rules and warnings and threats are necessary but not sufficient.

Read and reread the following statement: You must meet all the social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of your children before they are tempted. It is dangerous to allow a child who needs affirmation of his worth to be tempted. The temptation may offer fulfillment of that need. You cannot let a child face temptation who feels the need for companionship and approval. You cannot let a child face temptation who feels intellectually deprived of a rudimentary knowledge of sex. He will receive information from anyone who offers it.

You cannot let a vacuum of companionship and approval develop in your children’s lives. If you do, they will be willing at the first opportunity to lower their standards to gain the approval and acceptance necessary to be part of a social order. Further, if they don’t have good friends who are good, they will make good friends of the bad boys and girls that enter their circle of acquaintances. I have noticed in our own church, when visitors come with their young teenage kids, the discontent and rebellious among them will always locate one particular teenager among our own who is equally unhappy. A kid exuding darkness will walk into a room, survey it, and immediately be drawn to like spirits. It will happen every time. In five minutes you will see them standing off on their own, talking quietly. Either kid would be angry if you tried to monitor his social life, for they can only find kinship in unapproved darkness.

Parents of such children cannot redeem them apart from a complete Holy Ghost revival. There may be a shade of darkness in the soul of your child. If so, do not make the mistake of thinking that by “cracking down” or by teaching them about sex you are going to cure the problem. It is a soul problem, and it cannot be met with religion or law. The church is not the answer. Your own soul—the soul of the family—is the only cure. When the child’s vacuums are filled with fruit and flowers, they will not journey through the thorns and thistles seeking beauty.

Don’t put them in the place where they are under the influence of questionable kids that are older than they, or kids with stronger, more dominant personalities. Understand, they have a need to belong, to fit in, to not be the lonely oddball. If their self-image is fed and sustained at home, children can go outside the family into a negative environment and not be troubled by being the outsider, at odds with the tone and flow of the conversation and activities. They can leave the mountaintop of moral nurturing and walk through the valley of stupidity and shame, resisting its appeals, because all their human needs for socializing and acceptance have been met on the mountaintop to which they know they will soon return. But if you take a kid who is a vacuum of unfulfilled human needs into the place of corruption, he will find satisfaction holding hands with the devil. Every kid will give his heart to someone. If not to you—to the family—then whom? It is just a matter of time and opportunity.

Kids who are unfulfilled attract their opposites like magnets. There are children who have experimented with evil and have yielded to its lure. The excitement and power it offers has filled them with captivating experiences and stimulating “secrets.” They have a compulsion to seek out the most vulnerable, hungry souls, enchanting them with tales of their journey down forbidden paths. It is the original temptation, the lure of obtaining the knowledge of good and evil, to go where you are not supposed to and discover the things so exciting and stimulating that one feels empowered by the very knowledge of it. The vulnerable children are flattered by the attention and confidence of their new—bigger and cooler—mentor. Now they have a “true friend” who values them enough to let them in on the “secrets” that can make them like the gods, “knowing good and evil.” The fallen innocent will defend their choice with, “Well, my parents never understood me or cared.”

After a verbal introduction into the intoxicating experience of sexual experimentation has stirred their curiosity and lust, they will then seek a time and place to journey down the dark path of personal experience. It may be the path to the upstairs bedroom, or the kids’ “play house” in the back yard. It may be in the garage of a friend or in the woods or empty lots, but be sure, when kids want to skulk away to a dark corner to drink from the devil’s cup, they will find opportunities where you are sure none exist. If they are determined, there is no such thing as protecting them. You cannot build enough fences without; you must build fences within.

How do we meet all those needs before they are met by the dark side? Every family is different, yet sweet balance always looks the same—a family that has fun together, sharing common goals, sharing a vision that gives great hope for the future. This family is part of a community of like-minded believers who provide all the social needs of the children; they are well-instructed and delight themselves in God; and they are engaged in life, creating, learning, and growing together. In short, their favorite people in all the world are members of their own family.

But each family is different in that we are all at different starting points, on either end of a pendulum. Some families are too legalistic and religious while others are too irreverent and secular. Some families are too busy seeking worldly success while others live in the doldrums of apathy and inactivity. Some families are filled with “christian psychology,” practicing “positive affirmation” until their kids think words have no meaning; others talk down to the kids, thinking they are preventing them from becoming prideful, or they think negative criticism will correct negative behavior.

I don’t know where your family is or how it got there. Maybe you don’t either. So start over. Love God until you sing praise to him in your dreams. Love your wife or husband until they giggle in the presence of the kids. Love your church (the people) to the point of sacrificing for the needy. Love sinners to the point that you pray for them and share the gospel with them. Love your children so much that you smile every time you look at them. End negative speech about everybody and everything except sin and the devil. Make yourself and your family healthy with good eating and exercise. Experience the excitement of learning and growing with your children. Learn anything useful and do anything productive. Make money, make music, make a garden, make everybody laugh. Through a variety of experiences, let each child discover his own interests and then excitedly aid him in pursuing his goals.

Above all, do what God did to equip us: teach Bible stories. God tells us that all the stories of the Bible, Old and New Testament, are given as an example for our learning. These stories impart knowledge, wisdom, fear of walking in sin, judgment, and appreciation for righteousness and God’s sweet blessings. The very knowledge your children gain will give them understanding regarding the deceitfulness of sin and the blessings of obedience. These old stories are there not only to teach our minds, but also to mold our hearts. The child who is not personally acquainted with many Bible stories is handicapped in overcoming evil. I am talking about Bible stories, not applications, not principles, not sweet little examples you come up with; plain old Bible stories. Have your children study and teach Bible stories. Discuss sin and righteousness and memorize the words of God found in the King James Bible, forming a worldview from which they will never depart.

Then make sure that the family moves in a social circle that provides a variety of potential spouses. When thirteen- and fourteen-year-old kids can fix their dreams upon a potential spouse—even if the object of their admiration changes monthly—they will live so as to be accepted by those people they admire and whose approval they must have in order to be considered a worthy spouse.

If you would like to hear more on this subject, I have placed online, free of charge, a message I recently delivered to the church. Go to http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/audio/sex-education-for-children/ to download this recording. Feel free to copy the message and distribute it to others. If you do not have online capabilities you can purchase a CD through our store.

Also, watch for my wife’s newest book for children, Yell and Tell: A Warning for Children Against Sexual Predators. It is a simple rhyme and rhythm of a mother teaching her son how to respond if and when he is approached sexually by another child or even an adult family friend. It will be an invaluable tool. We plan to have the book ready by November 1, 2010.

I can’t thank you enough for this article. As a survivor of child abuse and neglect, I’m amazed at how “free” and trusting people can be with their children (my father molested every single kid that came to sleep over). Six years ago I begged my sister not to allow my father in the house after being released from prison, but unfortunately she choose to let him live with them and recently found out that one of her daughters was molested. She knew he had molested me and at least 15 more children, but she chose to ignore the evidence and trust him. She reasoned that he would never hurt a grandchild.

The hardest part [for us] as parents who tended to be naive, was discovering the evil that occurred when we thought we were protecting our children.

We learned the hard way that few people could be trusted as caregivers in our absence. I am glad we trained our children from young ages that there were private areas of their bodies that no one should view or touch. It was the areas their underwear covered or anywhere else they felt was private. They were likewise not to view or touch other people’s private areas. When a sitter violated a private area our son was quick to tell us. We had left with plans, but when we got to our nearby destination I told my husband I had a bad feeling and asked to go back home. We arrived and sensed something wrong. Our son came to us and told us what happened. He said he was worried about getting the person in trouble. We reassured him that the adult was wrong and had no right to secrets.

Unfortunately, we learned that taking in an unwanted seven-year-old niece to raise had damaging, lasting effects on our other children. We were unaware of the evil done to her at young ages. It came out in her actions to our youngest son, a four-year-old. The hardest part of this kind of evil is the sneakiness that is perfected by the one carrying on the action. Who would expect a throw-away child to even know about the things she did or asked our young son to do?

I also learned I should have accompanied my daughter even on an afternoon play visit to the Christian family next door. In my absence a grandfather took liberties. When I learned that this man babysat the children frequently, we reported it.

Evil things were brought into our home both by our niece and later by a boy. One youth we were asked to supervise for a weekend was briefly left alone with our daughter when her brothers left the room. He took advantage of the brief minute to expose himself. She immediately told us, and we questioned the boy. He admitted his action and implicated his father from our church. The boy said his dad did the same and more to his sister and that was why his mom left with his sister. Yikes!

Without our presence we also have no way of knowing if another child is experimenting with same gender play. In a very young child I handled it as you suggested. In an older child, protection is the only way. Our daughter reported a church friend’s attempts to introduce her to lesbian acts during a sleepover. The girl was only 12 years old! That eliminated sleepovers.

Thank you, Mr. Pearl, for writing this article. I was a girl who “walked [through] the valley of the shadow of shame” and experienced the heartbreak of having parents turn their backs in anger and disgust. It took a pregnancy and almost a marriage to bring us together as a family again. Now we are fighting to save my little daughter from the sexual addict that is her father. PLEASE, parents who are reading this, heed Mr. Pearl’s instruction so that you may avoid tragedy. I thank God for His grace. I am the “piece of trash that God lifted from the ground and holds to His heart.” —A Mom

Thank you for your article. I have a step-son who is 11 who was caught doing stuff with my little girls. I had five little girls at the time and was due to have another any day. In fact, I had been in labor when it all happened, which distracted me long enough for this to happen. (Believe me, the weight of protecting and raising so many girls hit me hard at that moment.)

He had been exposed to porn and had been exploring on my little girls. He is here, he is mine, but not mine biologically, but what is my husband’s is mine….he has been repentant, but I don’t trust him fully anymore. He has taken out his anger about the situation on my girls. Like they were his temptation and I know they still are that, a temptation, though he doesn’t wish to go there again. My oldest involved was 6. You have mentioned how to deal with many things, little kids and older ones. But what about when it’s older ones with little ones? I don’t want to shun the boy so he gets ahead down a wrong path, and am lost at how to help my girls because they were exposed to more than the usual “exploring”. If I boot him out, his chances are next to none elsewhere, nor will my husband allow it. There’s not really anywhere to “send” him either. Here is all he’s got. I tried the thing with my girls of letting the curiosity just go, but their curiosity has been sparked in more than the usual, and it seems to be harder for them to dump. I’m not looking to sign any of the kids’ passes into hell in any sense. —A Stepmom

What sound advice. I still think of my childhood from time to time with sadness. When I was little, my girl cousin and I apparently had been caught touching each other…something I don’t even remember, but when I was older my father brought it up to me in a moment of anger, with such disgust that it really did damage to the way I viewed myself, as well as my relationship with my father. I had also been molested at the age of ten by a family friend. The combination of the two incidents wore away at my self-respect.

When I was 15, I sinned gravely. I attended a church camp and fell head over heels for one of the young directors. After two months of being hard to get, I let myself fall prey to his charms, and we had a sexual encounter. Several months later, my guilt was so great that I confessed everything to my parents and told them I wanted to start right. It was the worst mistake I could have made, and I wish I had never told them. Their response was so heart-breaking. They told me it was too late to start right. My father never, ever fully forgave me. There were times I think he tried, but he never let it go. In moments of anger, he would throw it, and anything else he could, in my face. One time he threw a book at me and it hit my glasses and broke them. Any time he saw me within ten feet of another boy, he would accuse me of flirting or being inappropriate, reminding me that I could not be trusted after what I had done.

When I was 17, my good friend went to the military. He and I wrote letters to each other, which I found out from my dad (in another of his angry moments) that he had been reading behind my back, and didn’t understand how I could have a sweetheart behind his back, and called me a “whore.”

When I turned 18, I left my parents’ home. I just packed three suitcases, took out all of my savings and bought a plane ticket to California, where I met up with my military friend. We lived together for three years, two of which were spent in fornication. I thought, what did it matter, I was a whore anyway. Two years ago, we both came back to the Lord. He really got hold of us. We got married and are now expecting our first child. Parents, know this: I would most likely never have “jumped ship” if I had only been forgiven and loved by my parents. At 15, I had a heart that desperately wanted to follow God from that point on. However, when my parents didn’t forgive me, I felt that God would not forgive me either. I know that is not Biblical, as our Lord forgives us with certainty, however a 15-year-old girl’s broken heart does not see herself through God’s eyes, but through a “glass darkly.” How I wish my parents had responded with God’s love and justice, instead of anger and disdain. Even now, I have very little relationship with any of my family. It took many years for me to understand that the floodgates of God’s forgiveness and mercy were already opened up to me the day His Son died for my sins. Parents, please heed Bro. Pearl’s advice. Do not try to be more holy than God. His mercy is the height of holiness. Don’t give up on your children, just as He did not give up on you.

I was actually going to write you at one time and ask if you would address this subject. I am one of 14 children, and my father and two of my brothers molested me; my father also molested another sister. One of the brothers lured me, by fear, to allow a neighbor boy to do certain things. The molestation stopped at around the age of 12, thankfully. But as a Christian now, I still have to occasionally fight off bizarre sexual thoughts that want to come in. It affects you for the rest of your life. My father did, as an older man, call me when I grew up and with tears asked for forgiveness. This was only because another sister found out about it and confronted him. When I asked him why he did it, you know what he said? He said it was because my mother did not give him ‘affection’, and that I was a very affectionate child. How sad and sick.

Being molested myself, I was very leery of anyone “babysitting” my kids. My husband and I never allowed sleepovers. We never allowed other children to play in the room with them alone. I never allowed even my own two children to play in the room together without the door wide open and me in the next room. Last but not least, I prayed diligently for years that the Lord would protect them from ever being molested. I believed that if I prayed this diligently, that it was according to His will and I would have the request I ask of Him. That is not what happened.

A few years back, because of certain circumstances, my husband and I took in a boy the same age as our son and…you guessed it…even with all my ‘safeguards’ in place, this 11-year-old boy—who was raised in an ungodly home—told my kids very sordid graphic details about sex, all in a ‘funny’ way. That was his thing. To make it funny. And to my horror, they began to laugh and go along with it. Then one day, he went up behind my younger child and tried to simulate the marital act upon the backside. This was in the next room to me! No doors even closed, and within my earshot. Later my children even told me that he would talk about sordid things even in the car with me driving. I was right there!

I have fasted and prayed that the Lord would remove this child permanently from our home, and my husband has agreed that if the Lord provides another open door, he will have him leave. Please, please, Mr. Pearl (and staff), pray that the Lord opens the door for him to go live with his other relatives!

As you know, adoption has become very popular in the church, among popular ministries, and there are so many Christians adopting older, international children, and often damaged children, and then suffering great heartbreak. They are confused, as they believed they were doing God’s will, obeying the Bible to care for orphans, etc….and this is happening. Yet, because of the nature of the subject, they are suffering silently, and confused. Any advice would be appreciated. —A Mom

MICHAEL ANSWERS:

Right here in our own community a family adopted three children from Liberia. We warned them, but they were so caught up with good feelings about how they were sacrificing their lives to save poor starving children from orphanages that they danced their way into tragedy. They have several children younger than the three adopted kids, who, unknowing to them, were well-versed in all the dark arts of eroticism and ghastly perversion.

We have received many letters from families who have adopted children from overseas, quite a few from Liberia, and nearly every one of them—if not all—told sad stories of the fall of their natural children into sexual deviance.

I will say this again. Never adopt children even close to the age of your own. You should be past child-bearing age, and your children should be at least 10 to 15 years older than the adopted kids. I don’t think there is any such thing as an orphanage-raised child who has not been a participant in sexual perversion. If you are older and your kids are grown, it is a wonderful, full-time ministry to adopt foreign kids. You will experience heartache, possibly failure, but you may just save a soul from sure destruction. But if there is failure, at least your kids will not go down with them.

A foster mom’s dilemma. We had a foster daughter this year, and she had been molested. We had no idea, and she acted out with one of my sons. I had so much guilt, as I know that you say, “Always watch your children.” I had failed in my role as a guardian, and I was sick at heart. —A Mom

MICHAEL RESPONDS:

It is impossible to watch thoroughly enough to prevent two kids from finding time alone. Your mistake was having the girl in the house with your children. Foster parenting is for people whose children are grown or for families with older children who take in the very young.