Pornography may be the most alluring trap of all for our teenagers. It certainly can be one of the most destructive. Children are naturally curious anyway. But when they approach adolescence and hormones begin streaking through their bodies, curiosity about the opposite sex soars.
Of course, curiosity is a natural, good thing—as are the normal feelings of excitement that accompany sexual awakening. But the trap of pornography can turn innocent inquisitiveness into an obsession with destructive, lifelong consequences.
Whenever programs about pornography are aired on “FamilyLife Today” radio, we receive an outpouring of heartbreaking letters from our listeners. Here are a couple of the letters we received:
At the age of 13, I started my first job. That day I took my first puff of a cigarette and was exposed to pornography for the first time. I had no idea of the power that was to take control of my life as a result of that action. For the next 25 years I battled with pornography. My sin did not stop with pornography but took [other forms]. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make real changes. I could not escape it.
My dad had pornographic literature in the house that I found as a young girl. It distorted my view of male-female relationships. I began to see sex as a way to get love. I led an extremely active sexual lifestyle and eventually started working as an exotic dancer. I’ve been following the Lord for 11 years now, and am married to a wonderful man. But the ghost of pornography still haunts me. Fantasies still plague my mind and interfere with what should be pure love for my husband. I can see the connection now between how I feel and what you said. I am praying for God to cleanse me of the effects of pornography.(1)
This is a major trap for our youth. As parents we must do everything we can to protect our sons and daughters from this provocative snare.
The All-American Boy
Pornography can tear apart a home, and it can tear apart a person’s soul. And in some cases it leads to even worse consequences.
In the 1950s a boy named Ted grew up in what he described as a normal, loving Christian home. When he was about 12, Ted started looking at so-called soft-core pornography found in a local grocery store. And like many boys do, while exploring the alleys and trash piles in his neighborhood, he encountered more explicit pornography, which had been carelessly discarded.
Ted’s casual interest in pornography over time turned into a compulsive addiction. And like any type of addict, he needed stronger doses of his drug to provide the same levels of excitement and satisfaction. Ted moved gradually to harder and harder pornography until he was hooked on the worst, the most explicit printed and film images of raw sexual violence.
To his family and friends Ted was just the all-American boy. He was intelligent, was an A student, became an Eagle Scout, went to college, and eventually studied law. The desire for pornography was a hidden part of his life. He reached the point where merely seeing violent pornography no longer gave Ted the rush that he craved. For about two years he stood on the edge between fantasy and actually performing the violent scenes flashing through his mind.
One day he snapped—abducting, abusing, and murdering a young woman. Some months later he did it again. Then again…and again. By the time he was finally stopped, Ted Bundy admitted having killed more than two dozen women and girls.
Just hours before he was executed at a Florida prison in 1987, in an interview with Dr. James Dobson, Ted explained the role that pornography—and alcohol—had played in fueling and enabling his twisted passions. “Pornography can reach out and snatch a kid out of any house today. It snatched me out of my house 30 years ago.…The most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces brings about behavior too terrible to describe.”(2)
Is this just an isolated case? The particularly cataclysmic outcome may be, but police investigators will tell you they are never surprised to find pornography in the home of a sex offender. And who can estimate the number of lives, marriages, and families that are rocked and wrecked each day by this pornographic sewage that seeps throughout our society?
At what age should you talk to your child about pornography? How should you go about discussing such a disgusting topic, one the child may not have even considered? What should be shared when a child seems so young and innocent?
Like it or not, you must answer these questions and take action when your child is still young. Our children will be exposed to pornography—in a garbage can, on the Internet, from friends, on the newsstand. During elementary school, boys in particular are often first exposed to pornography.
Of particular concern to parents these days is the widespread availability of pornography through the Internet. Just one web site that offers pornographic materials reported receiving nearly 1.5 million visits a day.(3) By way of comparison, we consider 3,000 hits to be a particularly good day at our FamilyLife web site.
You need to help your child understand the danger of the pornography trap, but at the same time not do a disservice to God and His truth by making sex seem dirty. This is a challenge.
1) Excerpts used by permission. Names withheld.
2) Dr. James Dobson, “Fatal Addiction: Ted Bundy’s Final Interview,” Video, Focus on the Family Films, 1989.
3) John Simons, “The Web’s dirty secret,” U.S. News & World Report, August 19, 1996, p.51.e.
Adapted from Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Years. Copyright 1998 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.