One day when I was 8 years old, I went down to the mailbox to get the mail. Lying in the grass near the mailbox was a magazine with a solid white cover. I assumed some of our mail had escaped the mailman and I went over to pick it up. The magazine fell open in the middle, and for about three seconds I stared in amazed horror at the hard porn in front of me. A dozen conversations and statements that my dad had made about such things came rushing to my mind.
Once during a trip to Memphis with our family, I recalled seeing on a downtown street a half-dressed woman being jerked around and slapped by a man in a pink suit.
“She’s a prostitute,” Dad told us. “He’s a pimp. She works for him, selling her body to lascivious men who will burn in hell so that she can continue to buy drugs to satisfy her addiction. God hates prostitution and pornography, kids. It destroys lives and families.” We kids stared in horror at the man and woman who were now stumbling into a building with neon signs and blacked-out windows.
“Do you know what pornography is?” Dad persisted. We stared at him, still shaken by what we had just seen. “It is photographs of naked men and women… and other things I won’t even tell you about.”
“Why do those women let people take pictures of them when they are naked?” we asked.
“Most of those women were molested when they were kids, by their uncles, their brothers, by friends, or even by complete strangers. They have no self-value. They feel worthless, and so they don’t guard their bodies. Instead, they sell their bodies for money to worthless men who are molesting other women and girls.” We all swallowed hard and shuddered.
“God hates this kind of sin so much that when the children of Israel went into Canaan, he told Joshua to kill every man, woman, and child because they had all been involved in sexual sins. God says it is better for a man to have a big grinding stone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea to drown than to face the wrath of God that will come on him if he messes with little kids that way.” We all nodded. It would be a just retribution for such an evil person.
“Whenever you see pornography, kids, I want you to turn away from it—don’t look at it, because it will stay in your mind and bother you for years. Wad it up and burn it, or throw it away so no one else will ever see it. And don’t trust anybody. If an uncle or cousin wants to talk to you about this kind of stuff—or touch you—I want you to scream at the top of your voice and run away and tell on them. Don’t be polite or wait to see if he’s really a bad guy or not. The first minute you feel as though something is wrong, run away from that person.” Dad went on to give us detailed instructions about protecting ourselves and our minds. All of this came to my memory the moment that pornographic magazine fell open in my 8-year-old hands. Even though I had never seen pornography before, I instantly knew what it was. A righteous indignation swelled up inside of me, and I crumpled the magazine up as small as I could get it and carried it home. I took it straight to Dad and told him about it. We set it on fire, and I felt a grim satisfaction for having destroyed one small piece of evil in my world.
When my brothers were 10 and 12 years old, they found pornography stapled to the trees in the woods where some filthy hunter had left it for the Amish kids to find. My brothers reacted the same way I had. They approached each tree with their back to it, pulled down the pages and wadded them up into tight balls, stuffed them in their backpacks, and brought them home to burn.
I have often wondered what our reaction to pornography would have been if Dad had never told us about it. What if we hadn’t known what kind of people create it and use it and what God thinks about it? He even told us what to do WHEN we ran into it—not IF! Dad knew the world was so corrupt that there was no way he could shield us entirely. So he equipped us to handle the corruption ourselves. If I had never heard of pornography that day when I picked up the magazine, I think my own shocked curiosity would have led me to turn the pages and begin the searing of my conscience. Then my sense of guilt would have kept me from telling my parents what I had found. And what would I have done with the magazine? Hidden it? I don’t know. But the truth and knowledge I held that day assured my freedom and safety. I thank God so much for what Dad did for us!
When I was 14, we (my brothers and I) were swimming in the creek with our neighbors—three boys the same ages we were: 14, 12, and 10. A perverted-looking local drove by our swimming hole repeatedly, leering out the window at us. My brother Gabe made a comment about him probably being a queer. Our 14-year-old friend looked curious and asked, “What’s a queer?”
My brother replied, “You know—a faggot.” The boy shook his head in confusion. Gabe said, “A homosexual.” Still not understanding, the 14-year-old, homeschooled neighbor boy just shook his head. Gabe laughed, sure that his friend was playing dumb.
“Come on! You’ve got to know what a queer is. You know, guys that mess with other guys or boys. Perverts!”
To this day, I can remember the look on the other boy’s face. It was NOT a look of surprise and curiosity. It was a look that said, “There’s a word for it? You know about that? Do other people know about it? Do you know . . . ?” I felt sorry for our friend that day. I wondered what experiences he had run into—unprepared and unwarned.
Many times as a child I remember standing at Dad’s side when he would go into a gas station to prepay for fuel. If the station carried pornography, Dad would scrape his money back off the counter and tell the cashier that he could not buy gas there because he just noticed they promoted rape and child molestation. The cashier would look shocked, and Dad would point at the porn magazines behind him. The cashier ALWAYS looked guilty and ashamed. He would glance at us kids; we would all be looking at him with suspicious shock (are you a child molester???) before we turned and walked out. These incidents burned a sure reaction into us. Dad’s reaction and openness about sin and God’s hatred of sin all gave us assurance in dealing with the world when Dad wasn’t around.
Our parents also made sure we understood the difference between righteous sexuality and evil sexuality. There was a clear distinction in our minds. When we were very small, Dad candidly explained that God created all beings, male and female, for pleasure and reproduction. God created sex to be pure and holy between one man and one woman, who would eventually be Mommy and Daddy to a whole passel of kids. There wasn’t supposed to be any confusion or shame in that relationship. It was intended by God to be whole, functional, and happy.
When our dogs were mating, Dad called us outside to see what they were doing, then told us to go back inside and give them some privacy. Inside at the kitchen table, he sat down with a paper and pen and drew a picture for us of sperm swimming up a canal to an egg. He gave us a thorough, practical explanation of reproduction. We were 8, 6, 4, and 2 years old.
Our parents gave us a happy understanding of marriage by letting us see them hug, kiss, and enjoy each other’s company. They never gave us the specifics of sex, but often assured us that marriage was great and God had someone wonderful in store for each of us if we stayed pure and walked in righteousness until it was time to get married. This great example, contrasted with occasional glimpses of the ugliness of sin, made it easy for me to make up my mind to wait for the best.
Many parents write to us saying that they are trying to protect their children’s innocence. They don’t want them to know about the evil in the world. I understand their concern. It is a sad thing that we live in a world where evil has such free reign, where child porn is an accepted part of society. It is sickening. I hope the Lord returns for us soon and breaks the teeth of the ungodly before he casts them into the lake of fire, where they will be in torment for eternity. But the truth is that children are going to come across the reality of our corrupt society one way or another. They will either hear it from a twisted pervert, another clueless kid who is making poor guesses and choices, Hollywood, a book, the Internet… or from you. Which source do you want them to get it from first? Dad made sure he was the first to tell us life’s secrets; he made sure his information was the most thorough and complete; and he made sure we knew everything from the standpoint of good rather than evil.
The most amazing thing about the rise of pornography on the Internet is not how many children have gotten involved, but how many “mature, responsible people” have gone off the deep end. People who thought they were safe in their own righteousness have fallen into immorality. No Greater Joy receives letters from pastors, elders, and fathers who have professed Christianity for years but are now in the tangle of pornography. They were unprepared for temptation in their own home. They never learned to stand and fight and resist the devil.
Shutting evil out of your life is not really an act of righteousness. Just about the time believers learn to deal with pornography on the web, some greater and more insidious evil will be introduced by the world at large. The answer is something more aggressive—and more fundamental! The answer is to believe the gospel, the reality of your sanctification—that you are dead to sin and alive unto God. In this stand of faith, you will worship God in the Spirit and have no confidence in the flesh. You will walk after the Spirit and thus not fulfill the lust of the flesh. You will be free from sin right down to the most secret and fundamental part of your being. When Paul wrote Romans and told the believers that they should “through the Spirit… mortify the deeds of the body,” he wasn’t talking about some Sunday-school rules that they should abide by. Half-baked “churchianity” is never enough to overcome the world. If you are not overcoming sin, you need to listen to Mike’s audio series called Sin No More. Mike’s series on Romans Chapters 1–8 is available for free on YouTube. Another powerful resource is the video Science of Addiction and the Brain.
Even the most secluded and conservative families will be assaulted. Shutting out as much evil as you can is your God-given duty to your children, but you will never be able to shut it all out. On top of that, you cannot make your children pure by insulating and isolating their circumstances. You must train, teach, and prepare their minds to respond to the Spirit of God. Read our Yell and Tell books to your little ones; read the books at least once a week and give the child an opportunity to talk about what you have read. All experts on the subject agree that those prepared are usually spared.
Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:23; Leviticus 20:15–16; Deuteronomy 27:21
Proverbs 5:20–23, 6:24–7: 1; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thesselonians 4:3
1 Corinthians 7:1–9; 1 Timothy 5:2
Genesis 1:28; Genesis 26:8; Job 31:1; Proverbs 5:15–19; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 30:18–19 ; The Song of Solomon; Ephesians 5:31; Hebrews 13:4
Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; Romans 1:26–27
Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 6:13–20; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9–10
Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 62:5; Ezekiel 16:8; Ephesians 5
Proverbs 2:11–20; Proverbs 5:3–5; Ephesians 5:3–7, 12
This should not be a one-time discussion. Let the information flow as naturally as possible. Let there be an openness in your conversation that will give your children confidence to continue to ask questions. Dad did not call a “church” meeting when he discussed these things. It was “a little here and a little there,” in the context of daily life. If we saw a broken individual or read something in the paper or heard a friend discussing a sad situation, Dad would speak of the sin, what the Bible said, and how the sin had caused such pain. He did not hide the gossip of sin from us; he used it as an illustration of good and evil. He made the concept of sowing and reaping part of our daily communication; evil brings judgment and death; righteousness brings reward and life.