Cornerstone

“Why push through the awkwardness to have those conversations with your kids? It’s another incredible opportunity to show the gospel to your kids and to their potential future spouses—to show them the power of the gospel to cover their past and to empower their future.”

For years I’ve imagined what it would be like to meet a romantic interest of my daughter’s. Of course there’s always the jokes of sitting in the chair cleaning your gun, and then there’s the fantasies of grabbing him by the collar and making sure he knows not to even think about hurting your little girl. But in moving past the caricatures, I’ve begun to wonder what kind of actual man-to-man conversations I would have with a boy that was looking to get serious with my daughter.

And beyond simply getting to know him as a person and wanting to know if he is a Christian, there’s a question I think is imperative for parents to ask any serious boyfriends (or girlfriends) of their kids: When was the last time you looked at porn?

Now that question may not have been on your list of questions for a prospective son-in-law or daughter-in-law, but hear me out. In the world in which we live, this is a conversation that ought to start as soon as possible instead of waiting as long as possible. As Solomon reminds us:

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. - Proverbs 18:15

Technology is Everywhere

We live in a dramatically different world than we did just ten years ago. The world is changing at lightning speed and the development of social expectations and wisdom-based “best practices” have not been able to keep up. The most obvious example of this is the widespread overuse and misuse of the computers every one of us caries in our pockets. Never before in the history of the world has such a wide array of content been so immediately available to individuals with complete privacy.

This means that many of the previous hurdles to something like porn (the shame of purchasing a magazine in a store, the inaccessibility of other humans’ bodies) have all vanished. If your daughter’s boyfriend owns a phone, he has constant, unfettered access to images and videos of other women naked delivered directly to him 24/7.

Sex is Everywhere

Not only are we in a different world technologically, we are in a different world sexually. When it comes to the culture’s general acceptance of sexualized or pornographic content, we are in an absolute race to the bottom. The types of shows or movies that people would have been embarrassed to talk about at work not that long ago are now promoted on their social media pages. Of course, sexual immorality has been a problem ever since the fall, and we don’t have a monopoly on that. But there is no denying that our culture is becoming increasingly sexualized.

This is the world where your daughter’s boyfriend is growing up. It will be the worldview that many at his school hold to, and it will inevitably be a source of temptation for him as well. There is no private school or homeschool that can insulate him from this culture. Even if your daughter’s boyfriend believes that viewing porn is sin, he will probably be in the minority among other young men his age.

Ignorance is Everywhere

On top of this, because our world continues to change so quickly, we are swimming in ignorance. Some would push back by asserting that “porn isn’t that big of a deal.” They’d point to how common it is and affirm its supposed benefits for releasing sexual tension and promoting creativity in relationships. But this is an opinion built on ignorance. Porn does not promote intimate relationships, it corrodes and destroys them. It patently misuses a beautiful gift that God gave us to be experienced within the safety of a covenant relationship.

Others say “porn isn’t that big of a deal” from a different angle. They deny that it is so ubiquitous that it requires this kind of attention. They are holding onto the fiction that porn is simply an issue for a relatively small number of sexual deviants. But this is also based in ignorance. Porn is everywhere. According to a Barna study in 2014, 79% of men (and 76% of women) ages 18-30 say they view porn at least once a month. This is an epidemic.

If there was an outbreak of the plague in our country and it affected three-quarters of the population, isn’t that something you would probably ask your daughter’s boyfriend about? It seems like a pretty fair question to ask: do you have the plague?

Of course, we’re not just talking about your daughter’s boyfriend. Mothers, this is a conversation you should have with your son’s girlfriend as well. But before you ever do that, I’m carrying through this entire argument a gigantic assumption: that you’re already talking to your son or daughter themselves about porn. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world where this can be ignored. To not have open conversations about porn with your kids is like living on a busy street and never talking to them about playing in it.

But, Why?

Why push through the awkwardness to have those conversations with your kids?  Why push through the even more significant awkwardness to have those conversations with your kids’ boyfriends or girlfriends? Is it simply because of the danger? No. It’s another incredible opportunity to show the gospel to your kids and to their potential future spouses—to show them the power of the gospel to cover their past and to empower their future.

Chances are not great that anyone has had the courage to have that conversation with them before. Whether they end up being your child’s spouse or someone else’s, you could play a role in pointing them back to Christ in a way that few other people were willing to do.

Porn is often hidden and accompanied by shame. It’s not the type of thing that a young man or woman would ever bring up to you. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need your help. That doesn’t mean they don’t need your grace. That doesn’t mean they don’t need you to ask. So, ask.  

But then put away the gun, put away the bravado, and put away the shock. Instead, put your arm around them and draw them close. Tell them there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And tell them that you’re there to help. If Christ had a daughter, I imagine that’s what he’d do.

Scott Mehl

Scott serves the church by overseeing leadership, development, global ministries, and counseling/discipleship

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