Are Kids Vulnerable When We Protect Them from Pornography?
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Today's question says, "By protecting our kids from pornography, are we putting them in danger of being too easily aroused? Most people who consume tons of media today are somewhat desensitized to the porn that pervades all of society. If we hide these things from our kids, do we increase the allure when they finally do see it?"
Join Elizabeth Urbanowicz as she tackles this critical and often sensitive subject. In this episode, we grapple with the balance between protection and preparation, and discuss if protection can sometimes equal a heightened allure.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you join me for another episode today. Today's question says, "By protecting our kids from pornography, are we putting them in danger of being too easily aroused? Most people who consume tons of media today are somewhat desensitized to the porn that pervades all of society. If we hide these things from our kids, do we increase the allure when they finally do see it?" Such a good question.
Now, before we dive into that question, I would ask that if you found the content of this podcast beneficial that you consider liking and subscribing to make sure that you don't miss a future episode, and also would ask that you would write a review and consider sharing this content with those within your sphere of influence so that we can equip as many kids as possible to understand the truth of the Christian worldview.
Now, I really appreciated this question because I think it gets at the heart of something really important in what are we doing when we say that we are trying to protect our kids from pornography? What are we actually doing? Are we hiding all things potentially pornographic from our children or are we actually preparing them to say no to this evil? And I think that this is something we often confuse within the Christian community, that we think that protection for our kids equals complete isolation from anything that's not of God. Where really protection equals preparation, that we need to prepare these children that God has placed in our care to faithfully navigate life in a very hostile culture. So we need to prepare them.
Now at times, preparation does look like complete protection. Obviously, when we're talking about a two-year-old or a three-year-old, we're going to work very, very hard to not let them see anything that could potentially be pornographic. And even when our kids are eight or nine, we don't want them to see any pornographic material. However, what we really need to do is we need to prepare them even from a young age, even from the age of three or four, we need to prepare them with what they should do when they do one day encounter pornography.
Now, if you've watched the webinar that I hosted a few months ago with Hillary Ferre from Mama Bear Apologetics, we did a webinar on porn-proofing our kids, and in that webinar we recommended two books to just prepare our children. There's Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Jr., which is for kids three to seven, just talking about the difference between a good picture and a bad picture. And then there's Good Pictures, Bad Pictures for kids, eight on up that takes them through, okay, what happens in your brain when you see a bad picture and what can you do the moment that you see it?
Now, the question still remains from this questioner, by preparing our children in this way, by preparing them to avoid the temptation of pornography, but also avoid really enslavement to pornography, are we putting them at risk of being too easily aroused or finding an allure to this?
Now, those of you who have followed this podcast for a while, a question that I frequently encourage us to ask is, what is the goal? Because I think this question can help us think clearly in almost every situation. So what is the goal in preparing our children to live faithfully and to avoid pornography? Well, I would say that there are many port parts to this goal that in preparing our kids to avoid pornography, one, we're attempting to help them to understand God's good design for sex and sexuality, that we want them to see the sexual relationship between a husband and a wife as a beautiful gift that should be protected. We want them to see the beauty of that.
Another goal in preparing them to avoid pornography is to equip them to view sex within marriage as a picture of Christ and the church that this gift that God has given us pictures, the relationship, the loving self-sacrificing relationship that Christ has with the church. Another goal is we want to set them up for success in one day, getting to enjoy knowing their spouse through the sexual relationship. We don't want them to be bringing a lot of sinful baggage with them into the marriage covenant. And so we want to prepare them in every way possible just to avoid this baggage and this enslavement to sin through pornography. Another thing we're wanting to equip them to do is to one day within their marriage be fruitful and multiply to have children and to raise those children faithfully. Just an obvious thing is we want to equip them not to be enslaved to pornography. That sin is death, it leads to death and it's enslavement. And so we're actually trying to prepare our children not to be enslaved.
And then a final goal I think is to help our children view all humans as image bearers because that's a side of the evils of pornography that sometimes we don't focus on that many of the people involved in the porn industry are not there by choice. It's actually sexual slavery. Now, there are people, there's the term, and those of you who are listening, you can't see, my fingers are about to go up for air quotes. I'm going to say in air quotes, there's now "ethically sourced porn," which there's no such thing as that. But what the term means by ethically sourced is that it's pornography in which both people in the video or if there's multiple people are all, they're of eight, they're of the right age, they're adults and they are consenting. It's not sexual slavery, it's not rape.
However, even if the porn is, again, air quotes "ethically sourced," what we're doing is we are watching humans who bear the image of God, and we are viewing them as objects for our own pleasure and enjoyment. And so that's not at all what we're called to do as Christian. So we want to equip our children to view all humans as image barriers. Now in that webinar that I referenced that I did with Hillary Ferrer from Mama Bear Apologetics, there are a number of safeguards that we recommended that we should have in place with our children to prepare them to avoid the dangers of pornography.
And the first thing that we talked about was just preparing them for a plan for what was going to happen when they encounter pornography. And those books, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures and Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Junior help you come up with a plan for your kids.
When I was teaching, there were times when my students would have to be on the computer, whether it was taking an accelerated reader quiz or working on math facts. And so I would tell them before their first usage of technology in my classroom to just explain there are really great things that we can do online. And then because of Genesis 3, because of the fall, because we live in a fallen, sinful, broken world, there are things online that are not of God. There are pictures of people that are showing parts of their body that God created to be very special, and that should be covered up. And at some point, you're going to encounter a picture of a person or maybe multiple people, or it could be a video of people that are showing parts of their body that should not be shown. And when you see this, you're probably naturally going to have one of two reactions, either one, you're going to feel embarrassed and ashamed, and you're not going to want to tell anybody because you feel so ashamed of what you saw or you're going to feel a little bit curious and wonder if maybe you can find more pictures or more videos like that.
And I would always tell my students, no matter what your immediate response, whether you feel ashamed or whether you feel curious, your response should be the same. You click the X out of that internet browser and you go and immediately tell me or the nearest safest adult within your reach. Because once we bring something into the light, once we bring something into the light, it becomes visible. We see this in Ephesians chapter five. It says that it's even shameful to speak of the things that the Gentiles do in secret, but when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible for anything that is exposed by the light becomes light. And so it's the same with this. We want to equip our kids to know, okay, the minute that you bring this out into the light, whether you feel ashamed or curious, this is brought into the light and it's no longer going to have a hold on you, a darkness, hold on you.
And so we want to equip our kids just with this plan that the first time you see this, whether you see it once, whether you see it 10 times, your response is the same, you immediately X out and you go and tell the closest adults who loves you and has your best interest in mind.
Another thing that we talked about in that webinar is it's really important to have safeguards on all electronic devices within our houses that there's some sort of tech, there's some sort of software that is protecting our children, but also is going to give us a report of everything that they are encountering. We talked about a rule, no phones in the bedroom, no phones in the bathroom, just no private use of technology.
And then we also talked about limiting scream time. This is going to look different once you have teenagers. Once you have teenagers, you do have to start giving a slight bit more freedom, but it's going to be different based on your child's age and who they are. When they're little, their screen time should be severely limited. And with children 10 and under, there really shouldn't be any independent screen time. It should just be consumed as a family. So these are some safeguards that we need to have in place.
So now the question becomes, okay, we're thinking through does having these safeguards in place, does it meet the goal? And then if we took these safeguards away, would we still be meeting the goal? So if we didn't talk to our kids about pornography, we didn't have any safety features on our devices, we didn't limit their screen time, would we be helping them understand God's good design for sex and sexuality?
I mean, it's possible. Hopefully we're having conversations about God's good design for sex and sexuality, but would it be wise for us to take away these safeguards? Would they still have such a high view of God's good design for sex and sexuality if we take away all of these safeguards? Probably not. Are we better equipping them to view sex within marriage as a picture of Christ and the church if we take away these safeguards for protecting them from ensnare to pornography? No. Are we setting them up for success and enjoying getting to know their spouse through the sexual relationship one day when they're married? Absolutely not. If we're taking away these safeguards, we are greatly increasing their risk of being ensnared and that is just destroying and wreaking havoc on their sexual union within the marriage covenant.
By taking away safeguards from pornography, are we better equipping them to be fruitful and multiply to have a family that loves God and serves him? No. Are we better equipping them to not be enslaved to pornography? Absolutely not. Once we remove those safeguards, and are we equipping them to view all humans as image bearers, well, we could still be doing things to equip them to view all humans as image bearers, but if we are leaving them vulnerable to the temptation and enslavement of pornography, that is not viewing humans as God's image bearers. So I would say no. We are not leaving our children more vulnerable, if we are preparing them to safely navigate just this world that is so obsessed with pornography and sexuality and all sorts of perversions of God's good design for sex and sexuality. We're not helping them meet these goals.
Now, if we remove these safeguards, we are setting our kids up for failure. But also, if we never talk to our kids about this, if we just severely limit their screen time, we have these filters on the devices and we are never talking to our kids about good pictures versus bad pictures, if we're never equipping them with a rescue plan, if we're never laying that solid, positive, biblical foundation for God's good design for sex and sexuality and the good gift that it is, then yes, we are definitely setting them up for failure if we're not having these conversations.
Again, as I said at the beginning of this podcast, we need to remember that protection does not equal complete isolation. It equals preparation. So we need to think how are we preparing our kids to faithfully navigate life in this culture?
Now, there's one part of the question that I haven't responded to yet. In the beginning it asked, are we putting them in danger of being too easily aroused? So if we're not letting our kids be exposed to any of the filth of the media in our culture, if we are setting pretty firm limits on what they can and cannot be exposed to, if we're giving them an escape plan for any time they encounter a pornographic image, are we setting them up to be more easily aroused? Well, the answer to that question is yes, because the less that we are exposed to pornography and all different forms of just rampant wickedness within sexuality, the more easily a child or an adult will be aroused.
My question is, is that a bad thing? Don't we want our children one day when they are married to be very easily aroused by their husband or by their wife, or do we want them to be desensitized so that when they see their husband or their wife walking around without any clothes on in the bedroom that they're like, "eh, whatever." Is that what we want? Is we do we want our kids to be desensitized? I would say no. A
nd I even think back to a story in my own life. I remember when I was growing up a friend, she was dating somebody and she told me the story how she had kissed her boyfriend. And it wasn't like they weren't making out. It wasn't a long passionate kiss. She just leaned in for a quick peck on the lips, and she could tell when she went in for that kiss that at the time when she kissed her boyfriend that he had an erection, and she was totally weirded out by that and totally creeped out. And she went home and she told her mom, and she was, was just so like, oh my gosh, what is happening? And her mom sat down with her and said, "honey, that's actually a really good thing. And not that you want to cause that to happen all of the time, but the fact that you could give him a quick kiss on the lips and that caused him to be so easily aroused, it most likely means that he is not heavily involved in pornography, that he hasn't been involved in kissing or making out with a lot of girls. The fact that he's so easily aroused by something so seemingly innocent is actually a good thing."
Now, it's a whole nother podcast to talk about how do we talk to our kids about sexual arousal and how to handle that in situations where they're not married? And we don't have time to dive into that today, but just an answer to this question, are we leaving the possibility of our kids being more easily aroused if we are preparing them to faithfully navigate the dangers of our culture? Yes, we are setting them up to be more easily aroused, and that can be a really good thing because it means that they are not desensitized, they're not enslaved just to the rampant wickedness of our culture.
Well, that's a wrap for this episode. If you would like to submit a question for me to answer on a future podcast, you can go to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast and we will consider your question to be answered on a future podcast. As always, as we leave this time together, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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