Darby Strickland

Shepherding Children through Exposure to Pornography

While you should take steps to limit your children’s exposure to pornography, you also need to prepare them for it. Sadly, their exposure is inevitable. But I want to encourage you that teaching your children simple truths can springboard you into deeper and more difficult conversations about God’s design for sex and his desired protection of them.

The reality cannot be denied—the majority of teens are viewing pornography—whether on purpose or by accident.1 We know porn is everywhere, but I think many parents fail to realize what characterizes today’s pornography. Internet porn is made up of moving images with sounds depicting every type of sexual activity and orientation. It is dark, it is free, and it is evil.
What is worse than our children’s exposure to pornography is why they are choosing to view it. Of the children who admitted to intentionally searching for pornography, nearly two-thirds of them revealed they had done so for one or more of these reasons:

To look for new ideas to try sexually
To learn about sex in general
To find out how to get better at sex
To discover what potential partners expect from them sexually

Girls, in particular, mentioned using pornography to learn how to meet boys’ expectations.2
The Internet is providing our children with sex education, and it is the worst type. It displays a corrupted and distorted depiction of what God designed to be a wonderful expression of intimacy and oneness. Pornography lures children in, feeds their curiosity, then leaves them with images that stick. These “hooks” pull them back to look again, and what they see shapes their desires.
We can easily see the potential for great danger in this trend, yet most parents I speak with struggle to talk to their children about pornography, let alone the dangers of it. The Bible tells us that we are to shepherd our children, so we must push past what feels uncomfortable or brings up our own issues with sex. Our children are counting on it.
Scripture beckons our children to listen to our wisdom.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,and forsake not your mother’s teaching,for they are a graceful garland for your headand pendants for your neck.My son, if sinners entice you,do not consent (Prov 1:8–10).
Our guidance is not just a source of protection. It also beautifies our children as they become better image bearers.
To help you do what feels impossible, I will outline four negative effects of pornography and provide you with a conversation point for each. I hope that in doing so, you can see how approachable this topic can be, given the biblical truths you are already discussing at home.

Threat: Pornography is confusing and overwhelming for children. Not only can they not process its explicit nature, but they also cannot make sense of the complex themes and messages. They will also see sex portrayed as violent and that any combination of people, sexes, and ages can be involved. This will cause them great stress, and the exposure can be traumatic for some.

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8 Steps to Prepare before Confronting Your Husband’s Use of Pornography

A trusted friend or counselor can help you sort through your thoughts, come alongside you in prayer, and help you bear this burden. They can help you prioritize your concerns and questions and pray for your husband to respond honestly and humbly.

The moment at which you discover your husband’s use of pornography, your world turns upside down. You feel shock, disgust, and despair. Your head spins. Many women fear approaching their husbands about their discovery or consider it wrong for a wife to confront her husband. Some women feel safer ignoring it. Others take the opposite approach and engage with anger, and their elevated response becomes the focus rather than their spouse’s sin.
I want to help you confront your husband in a way that expresses care for him and concern for your marriage. But first, it needs to be said that pornography is a grievous and serious sin. Hebrews 13:4 puts it succinctly: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Sexual sin is infectious, leading to other sins like deception.1 It is divisive and harmful to a marriage, so it is critical that you address it.
However, the most important thing at this moment is that you are hurting, and you do not know what to do. Here are some ways to help you think about how to approach your husband. These steps are not linear, but they are designed to help guide you in the conversation you will have with your husband—the one you never wanted to have.
1. Pray
Your emotions will be swirling, and the uncertainty of how big the problem is or how your husband will respond will most likely trigger anxious thoughts. Ask the One who loves you faithfully to give you strength, peace of mind, a discerning heart, and answers about what to do. He promises to establish your steps, and his steadfast love never ceases (Prov 16:9; Lam 3:22).
2. Enlist Support
Using pornography is a serious sin. Its discovery can turn your world upside down, causing you to question many things.

Am I enough for my spouse?
Do I even know my husband?
Will we get past his betrayal?
Does he fantasize about other women when he is with me?

A trusted friend or counselor can help you sort through your thoughts, come alongside you in prayer, and help you bear this burden. They can help you prioritize your concerns and questions and pray for your husband to respond honestly and humbly.
If talking about your husband’s sin with another person feels like a betrayal or causes you shame, you do not have to share the details. Simply tell your friend or pastor that you are wrestling with a serious issue in your marriage and need prayer and support.
Your marriage will benefit from having the wise counsel of other people during this crisis. And your husband will definitely need someone to speak to and check in on how he is fighting temptation. It is good to enlist help early on.
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Community: A Struggle to Fit

Yes, community is messy and complicated. Sometimes it seems hopeless, especially for those on the margins. Christ was one of those on the margin, knowing rejection. We see him ministering to the uninvited throughout the Gospels, so we know they are on his heart. We may struggle with wanting to be reshaped since it is easier to just stick to the relationships that come naturally to us. But if people on the fringes are on the Lord’s heart, they need to be on ours. We are meant to be built together into a spiritual house for the benefit of one another and for the glory of the Lord.

When it comes to community in the church, many people feel like onlookers. For many, deep fellowship seems far off. Some feel excluded because they “do not fit in,” and others are unsure how to engage.
In the church of Jesus, this should not be. All believers should feel welcome and invited to be an active part of its fellowship. But in truth, we tend to herd together in groups based on similarities like being married or single, our children’s ages, our life stages, political preferences, or professional positions. We feel more comfortable around people like us. (What does your small group look like?)
God wants us to fight against this tendency and build a community that embraces people who are different from us, including people on the margins. The apostle Peter tells us:
As you come to him [Christ], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4–5).
Believers are like living stones, and God is shaping and fitting us together into a place where he dwells. But forming this type of community does not come naturally to us. It is a blessing, then, that God is shaping each one of us so that we are more like Christ, the living stone. He molds and forms us so that we fit together. I need to be willing to be reshaped so that someone quite different from me might find a place of belonging next to me. God wants us to look more like who he created us to be for the benefit of one another.
I might have to grow in patience as I listen to others who take longer to formulate their thoughts.
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Psalm 121: A Liturgy for Times of Distress

Psalm 121 moves from questioning to proclaiming. For most of our distress-filled days, we also go back and forth between doubting and trusting. In this Psalm, God gives His people words to communicate both uncertainty and faith. This passage provides the freedom to acknowledge our struggles, but it also encourages us to have confidence in Him. 

What does distress sound like? Each of us expresses our anguish differently, but it frequently sounds like physical tossing and turning on our beds, pacing in the hallways, tears, and cries that pour out of our overwhelmed hearts.
While these are the instinctive ways we typically communicate the turmoil in our souls,  we sometimes neglect the most important way we can express our sorrow: to the Lord. If we do not call out to the Lord in our distress, we will feel distant from Him.
And yet, there are seasons when our sorrow is so great that we fail to find words. Our hearts are so broken, burdened, betrayed, and distressed that our words fail us. In these moments, we need help speaking to the Lord.
The Lord Gives Us Words
God, in His kindness, allows us to borrow His words when we struggle to know what to say to Him. Jesus did this in His agony. From the cross, He cried out to the Lord, expressing His anguish by quoting the words of Psalm 22:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (v. 1).
Jesus, using the words given to Him in Scripture, articulated how He felt abandoned in His moment of need.
Did you catch that? Even He who knew the glorious redemptive purpose of His suffering expressed deep anguish as He went through it. He shared His heart with His Father. This should encourage us to speak directly to our Father even when we feel He has abandoned us.
The Lord Invites Our Questions
Similar to Jesus’ prayer based on Psalm 22, Psalm 121 can help us speak to God in the midst of our distress. It is a song of ascent, which means that it was sung by Israelite sojourners embarking on a long, perilous journey to Mt. Zion. They needed courage for the climb ahead. They started out in a valley and had an arduous journey before them. They were aware they might encounter robbers and challenging terrain along the way. They anticipated trouble.
Like us, when we are in a difficult or dangerous place, the Israelites were filled with fear, wrestling with uncertainty. Nevertheless, they knew they needed to head towards Mt. Zion to reach their temple.
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