Seeing porn or experiencing something of a sexual nature during childhood is a given for all of us, and your children aren’t exempt. Because we are sexual beings, seeing a sexual image or experiencing something sexual is significant in a child’s life and the brain stores memory of it.
I can still remember things from my childhood related to sexuality that have remained with me for decades, even though I have forgotten many other things I experienced around the same time.
What is your earliest memory of something sexual? At the time you probably didn’t have a word or a category for it. It might have been seeing porn, or experiencing sexual abuse, or walking in on your parents having sex. But the memory imprinted on your brain, and you had no control over that.
Though all our experiences are important, I don’t know that we can fully grasp the significance of the porn or other sexual experiences today’s kids may have in our hyper-sexualized culture.
A few years ago, I attended the Set Free Summit, an anti-porn conference hosted by Josh McDowell. My favorite speaker was a priest named Fr. Sean Kilcawley. He shared a story that was beautiful and life-giving about what Jesus would say in regard to early porn encounters.
A 12-year-old boy had been looking at porn and struggling with masturbation so his parents brought him in to see me. The young man was trying to get better. I asked him, “When was the first time you saw pornography?” Fourth grade. He was about nine years old. I asked a few more questions regarding the memory, where he was, how it felt, etc. Then I asked him this question,
“What if Jesus came into the room that day when you saw pornography for the first time, what do you think He would do? What would He say?”
The boy said, “He’d tell me how bad it is for me, how disappointed He is in me. He would tell me that I should know better than that.” He was parroting back all the things he’d heard from his parents. Then he said, “It’s just like I’m taking the nails and nailing them into Jesus’ hands. I’m hurting Jesus.”
I looked at him and said, “You were a KID. You were just a KID. Jesus said whoever causes one of these little ones to sin it would be better for him to have a millstone put around his neck and be thrown into the sea.”¹
Then I said, “Do you know what I think Jesus would do? First of all, I think He would be angry. Not at you, at the pornography. And I think He would take the computer and smash it to the floor in anger just like when He cleansed the temple because the porn is getting in the way of you seeing Him. And then I think He would kneel down in front of you and pull your head on His shoulder and He would say,
‘I’m sorry this happened to you… I will always love you… This shouldn’t have happened to you… I will always love you… I will never abandon you… This shouldn’t have happened to you… I will always love you…’”
I repeated this over and over again until I saw the tears welling up in his eyes as he started to realize what it means to experience mercy. To experience love. To hear the truth about love to dispel the lies of his heart.
And every adult man who comes into my office… they get the same spiel. And we pray through these experiences. Why? Because they need to know the truth about themselves that only our Lord can tell them.
What do addicts believe? “I’m unlovable. If people really knew me they would reject me. No one can meet my needs, not even God. I have to meet my own needs, pornography is the best way to meet my needs.”
And what are we supposed to do? Preach the gospel. Preach God’s love into hearts that believe they’re unlovable.
Anti-pornography is not a fringe ministry for a few bad people. It’s really evangelization in a world that’s been pornified.
The heart of our Father God is for you, for your children. Your experiences are not lost on God. He has truth your soul needs.
One of my jobs is to help you become the best ally you can be for your child growing up in today’s sexualized culture. I invite you to go deeper with God on the things that shaped your sexuality, your views of bodies, or sex, or relationships. Listen to His heartbeat for you. Consider the good news of the gospel as it relates to you, your past, your failures, your wounds. Christ paid it all so we could walk free from sin, from shame, and from bondage. And He’s for you now.
Want a good next step? Get your kids off to bed tonight and go to a quiet place. Let the little girl or boy in you speak aloud of the things your mind still remembers. “I didn’t want to see that.” “I didn’t ask him to do that to me.” “I hated myself for that.” Cry out to the One who was there then and is there for you now. Let Him carry those heavy, broken pieces of your heart and bottle up those tears.
Then, tomorrow morning, look with fresh eyes on those little ones He’s entrusted to you. Listen to them. Delight in them as God delights in them. Though you cannot protect them from everything, determine to become their trusted ally so that when porn finds them they will turn to you instead of hide in shame like most of us did. And when they do, let the compassionate love of Christ flow through you to them.
Let us know how we can encourage you as you work to become an ally to your kids in today’s sexualized culture. Share topics you’re curious about. We’d love to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TrueNorth is honored and excited to co-host the 2nd Sexual Integrity Leadership Summit May 2-4, 2019, at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. Plenary speakers include Dr. Juli Slattery, Dr. Crawford Loritts, Jay Stringer, and Pastor Jason Dees. The summit will offer 24 breakout sessions over 4 tracks. We hope you’ll attend the conference and invite pastors and ministry leaders you know to attend as well. Early registration rate of $99 is good for another week! You can find more information here.
Founder and CEO
TrueNorth Freedom Project, Atlanta, GA
Photo by Jonas Mohamadi