The Lord commanded His people how to prepare the Passover lamb. Instead of butchering the animal into pieces and leaving it unrecognizable, it was essential the lamb be kept whole. The head, limbs, and entrails were left intact. It may not be boiled, but it had to be roasted on a spit or wooden stick for the entire family to see. The very lamb they cared for—their lamb— was completely in view. It was a meal not to be forgotten.
What a picture of our Savior! Jesus, our Passover lamb (), was left whole. In fulfillment of Scripture, not a bone of His was broken as He hung suspended on the wooden stick. Whole and complete for all to see and never forget.
Christ was crucified so that we may be whole. In our new man we are unbroken, complete, and spiritually safe in Him. This is the definition of peace. In Hebrew it is shalom. It is the word in Aaron’s priestly prayer and the word proclaimed by our ministers today: “The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (). When we experience reconciliation with God, we have tranquility of conscience. John Calvin puts it this way, peace is the “fruit of the righteousness of faith.”
If our children walk in the sin of watching pornography, they will not have this peace. As believing parents, we desire our children to be wholesome children in the truest sense of the word. When their confession and walk is one with God’s law, they will experience peace and a good conscience before Him. Yet, how we need to watch and pray. We are sinful and are living in a fallen world. The Canons of Dordt describe what giving in to sin will do to a believer. Those who walk in a grievous sin will “… interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor, for a time, until on their returning into the right way of serious repentance…” (V, Art. 5).
Never before in the history of the world has so much obscenity become as easily accessible and widespread as it is today. Some call it “the silent family killer,” known to shatter relationships, inhibit school work and jobs, adversely affect marriages, and most of all, communion with the Lord. One who walks down this road will start to experience a breaking apart—abnormal desires, warped perceptions of right from wrong, low motivation, concentration problems, shame, depression, and a lonely secret life. With our children online as much as they are today, pornography is aimed especially at them. The earlier they are hooked, the more the industry profits.
Some Christian parents may think their children would never look at such filth because they know better. Yet, we give them Internet-connected devices that make this sin very tempting. Our children have a natural curiosity and a sinful nature that cannot be underestimated. A recent survey indicated that roughly two out of three men and a lower, yet significant, percentage of women are viewing pornography. The statistics show an alarming trend. When filling out this survey, approximately two-thirds of the men who answered “yes” to the Question, “Are you a Christian?,” also answered “yes” to the question, “Are you viewing pornography?”1 With such a large percentage of adults walking in this sin, it is not surprising to see many children getting enslaved to it at a young age.
Sadly, 43% of pornography users began looking when they were between the ages of 11 and 13.2 With the accessibility of pornography through mobile devices, that number will likely continue to increase. By 2017, a quarter of a billion people are expected to be accessing pornography from their phones or tablets. This is an increase of more than 30% from 2013.3
The statistics are heartbreaking. May we look to the Lord for wisdom in protecting our children from the wiles of the devil. Pray for God’s peace from the Prince of Peace, because “…the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (). The word “keep” here means guard. God’s peace shall guard like a garrison—an amazing truth! This peace in our heart gives us safety from spiritual foes. We are left unharmed and whole as we are strengthened to fight that good fight of faith. May our first line of defense start in our covenant homes.
Here are some things to consider in our battle against online pornography:
1. Keep devices that have Internet access out of bedrooms and places where your child or teen is unsupervised. This includes game consoles (many children use them for Internet access rather than for what the device is designed for), laptops, desktops, smartphones, TV with Internet connection, tablets, Internet-connected MP3 Players, connected handheld gaming devices, and E-readers with Internet access. Says Dr. Strasburger, lead author of a recent American Academy of Pediatrics policy, “I guarantee you that if you have a 14-year-old boy and he has an Internet connection in his bedroom, he is looking at pornography”.4
2. Have age-appropriate discussions. We do not want our children receiving their sex education from the media. We want to teach them from the Bible about the beautiful gift God gives exclusively within marriage. Parents will decide when that time is best for their child; but when they do, they will want to teach them about sexual purity and holy living. Some good defenses against pornography are having a family with whom the members show love and respect toward one another and spend time reading the Word, praying together, and talking with each other. This, of course, coupled with consistent parental monitoring of Internet use.
One of the reasons a high percentage of children get hooked on pornography is that pornography went looking for them first. Perhaps they were online watching a cartoon, playing a game, or getting a picture for a school project. Teens between the ages of 13-17 say that 70% of them accidentally stumbled across pornography online.5 We need to talk with our children about how our threefold enemy would have us get our minds off the things of God. In the way of turning from sin and delighting in the Lord we receive this grace that God promises: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace (shalom), whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” ().
3. Understand technology enough to protect your children. Although no filter system is 100% effective, there are many good ones to consider. An important place to start is on the router. Routers perform something like a traffic-directing function of the Internet streaming into your home. There are companies who offer network-wide filtering services. Through a filter on the router, every device in the home can have a layer of protection.6 As for devices that leave the home, there are additional applications and settings that can be used. Numerous companies offer a wide variety of helpful single device options.7 A few of our Christian schools are now requiring that our children and teens use tablets and laptops. If the school has its own controls in place and our families have different controls, sometimes this can result in poor performance on the device. Some companies offer an exempting feature for this purpose.8
4. Teach Internet safety to your children. For example, tell them not to post potentially dangerous contact information such as a cell phone number, physical location, or a home address online. Some children are checking into locations via social networks or other location-based sites. They need to understand that this makes them susceptible to online predators.
If your child has access to apps on a phone, tablet, or laptop, know which apps they have to determine which ones are appropriate and which are not. Our children are vulnerable to pornography when they are on most social media sites, join chat rooms, and play on gaming sites, some of which have chat rooms as well. Beware especially of the games that have an administrator who can extort photos and information from kids in exchange for points or bitcoins. Currently, Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty are just some of which to beware. There are aspects to Grand Theft Auto that all parents should know—certainly a game to ban. It is bad enough that the player takes on the role of a criminal, but the player is also given the opportunity to have virtual sex with prostitutes. After spending game money on the sex act of their choice, they can kill her to get back their money.
There are many messaging apps, some of which are being used to trap children into prostitution. Some of the worst ones at this time are Omegle (its slogan is “Talk to strangers!”), We Chat, ooVoo, and Kik. So dangerous is Kik, that police have issued warnings of it as a popular site for predators. Both Kik and ooVoo are often used for sexting (the act of sending sexually explicit messages, primarily between mobile phones).
If a teen is determined to watch things they know they should not, no filter will prevent them. Such a child might find ways to get around filters or go to a friend’s house who does not have them. But I am talking about helping our children who, in the new man, do desire to be free from the bondage of this sin. If we find our son or daughter looking at pornography, we need to help them out of it.
As the Passover lamb was completely in view for the entire family to look at, we are to lead our sons and daughters to look to Christ rather than the filth of this world. In Him alone we are healed and made whole. This sin, too, is forgiven, in the way of repentance. If our child falls into it, he or she most certainly will feel shame. But Jesus not only bore our guilt, He also bore our shame.
In the way of fighting our sin, we experience deliverance from the shame. This is honorable. Our sons desire to be honorable, manly men do they not? Our Baptism Form tells us what a true man is. We should point out to them what it says. We, our sons, as well as our daughters, are exhorted to “…manfully fight against and overcome sin….”
When the roasting of the lamb was finished, it was taken down from the stick for the family to partake. Jesus’ work on the cross is finished and we are given the right to partake of Him—by faith with the hand and mouth of our soul. Through His sacrifice we are made whole. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” ().
1 Barna Group commissioned by Proven Men Ministries. “Pornography Survey and Statistics,” last modified 2014, accessed April 16, 2015. http://www.provenmen.org.
2 Szittner, Katie, “Study Exposes Secret World of Porn Addiction,” last modified May 10, 2012, accessed April 16, 2015. http://sydney.edu.au/news.
3 Juniper Research, “250 million to Access Adult Content on their Mobile or Tablet by 2017, Juniper Report Finds,” last Modified September 25, 2013. http://www.cbronline.com/news.
4 Strasburger, Victor, Dr., Interview by Associated Press, 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pediatricians-urge-parents-tolimit-kids-screen-time.
5 Kaiser Family Foundation, “Generation RX.com: How young people use the internet for health information,” last modified Dec. 2001, accessed April 7, 2015. https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.
6 OpenDNS is a company that currently offers free basic network protection.
7 Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, Net Sanity, and Mobicip, to name a few.
8 Mobicip offers an exempting feature.