It doesn’t take much to see the harm that porn does within one’s life – personal, family, work, spiritual, etc. There are some great programs and ministries out there that specifically deal with porn addictions, accountability, and educational resources for youth, adults, families, and pastors. Two great ministries are XXXChurch and Covenant Eyes.
Looking at porn – upholding it as a means to define sex and sexuality – is like drinking from a urinal and calling the water fresh and wholesome. Both are destructive and lead to death, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The majority of those addicted to porn, or who even look at porn, are young men. While there is a rise in women looking at porn, men still hold the top position.
Recently I read a post from a fellow youth worker who basically asked a question that sometimes gets overlooked in this conversation: what role does a Father play in all of this?
From Father to Son
When a young man begins to look at porn, what is the response of the father? I know in my situation, my dad just told me to make sure my younger brothers didn’t find “my stash.” I’m willing to bet that my dad’s response is similar to other responses from dads who don’t know how to handle the issue of porn and their children. Whether they don’t share the belief that porn is harmful, or they do, most dads, if they are honest, avoid talking about porn with their son’s – and daughters. But why?
Not talking about the issue, or allowing it to go “unnoticed” in the house, is no different from standing by and watching your child drink from the urinal. And what good father allows their child to drink from such a place? Maybe the dad has his own problem with porn, or wrestled with it when he was younger. Maybe the dad is unsure what to say, or doesn’t fully understand why talking about this issue is so important. Chris Rollman, who wrote the blog post mentioned above, shares some good insight about this.
I used to think that the issue needed to be confronted at a student level. I needed to preach about the issue more often and offer resources out of the way of pornography and provide counseling for this epidemic on a regular ongoing basis. But then, something shifted within me and I began to realize that the key to locking down the epidemic that is happening within our men and women in their teenage years is their Father’s. I began to see that when there were deep addiction issues with teenagers in our youth groups that the dads of those students were not as involved as they should be. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were GREAT dads. They invested in their kids, they loved their kids, they care deeply about their spiritual environment that they are creating. But to talk about sexual issues and identity was literally foreign to some of them. Their teenagers had never had a discussion with them about the area of pornography.
So I began to have these conversations and what I found was staggering. The men that were great dads and investing in their kids but were silent about this issue were also struggling through and dealing with an addiction to pornography. They were living in the same issue that their boys and girls were and they had incredible shame around that. I remember sitting down with a father of 3 teenage boys and challenging him to step up to the plate and share what it meant to be a man and renounce the sexuality of our culture and the explicit imaging that our culture seems to put forward. He said to me, “Chris, I can’t. Because I live the exact same way that my boys do.” The key to locking down the epidemic is the Dad’s that we work with. I also realize that some dads aren’t present (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) and for those boys, the church, the youth ministry, needs to become the dad to them. They need to be adopted into a clear discipling family and mentored in this area. They are almost certainly going to engage in the addictive behavior of internet pornography. But for those that have Dads that want to be involved, I believe they are the key to leading forward in this area.
I recently sat across the table from an elder of ours named David Riffel. God has used him in the lives of young dads to inspire, to instruct, and to challenge forward. He sent the following to a teenager that he has been working with and saw it as a way of partnering with a father that cared deeply about his teenager and had discussions regularly in this area. I wonder if the following is something each of us need to adopt as a mantra for Dads in our youth ministries?
[From David Riffel to a student in our ministry] Dear Student: As you become a man:
1. Make it your pursuit to mortify lust at all cost. Know that lust is merely self attempting to usurp God for the #1 position in your life. “Satisfy ME!” is lust’s mantra.
2. Memorize Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is supernatural. God uses His Word to change us. It penetrates deep into our souls where lust likes to reside.
3. Understand the biblical view of women. One of the reasons guys easily give into lust is they are afraid to, or don’t know how to relate to women. God’s Word has tons to say about what godly women look like, and act.
4. Seek Godly Accountability. I am totally convinced that as awkward as it may seem at first, a young man who is serious about defeating lust and building into himself a healthy, biblical view of his sexuality and marriage will ask for accountability. Seek out your dad first of all.
5. Value Christ more than anything else. Purity is not just about mortifying lust, but about exalting Christ. Value Him more than anything in life.
Hey Dad …
If you are a father and you are not actively talking to your son or daughter about sex, porn, lust, etc, than let this be a call to start doing so. If you are a father who has his own addiction to porn, let this be a call to stop, get accountable, and start making Christ the Lord of your life and family.
America is in the situation it is in mostly due to the fact that we’ve called “bad” things “good” for too long, while refusing to get our heads out of the sand. What our culture needs – more importantly what families need – are men who are willing to stand up and be the virtuous example young people are looking for. Sons and daughters need a father who will defend them from the evil ways of the world, no matter the issue or fight. And when sons and daughters have no father of their own to call upon, then men within the church should be there to step in to fight.
As our Eternal Father never leaves us nor forsakes us, but is always there to defend His children, neither should real men shrink back from this call of duty.