The physical boundaries that were once established as protection for children from pornographic material have largely been removed by technology. In the 1930’s young boys absconded with the catalog behind the barn to look at the pictures of women's underwear. Today those same images are much more bold and seductive and available at the click of a button. The inadvertent exposure to pornographic images has been the subject of congressional hearings, commercial and trade publications, and training material for children and youth workers. Each one of these recognize in one form or another that the greatest protection for young children from inadvertent pornographic images still rests within the family structure.
“The evidence indicates that pornography
and related sexual media
can influence sexual violence,
sexual attitudes, moral values,
and sexual activity
of children and youth.”
(Greenfield, Applied Development Psychology, 2004)
“Twenty five percent of youth had unwanted exposure to sexual pictures on the Internet in the past year, challenging the prevalent assumption that the problem is primarily about young people motivated to actively seek out pornography. Most youth had no negative reactions to their unwanted exposure, but one quarter said they were very or extremely upset, suggesting a priority need for more research on and interventions directed toward such negative effects. The use of filtering and blocking software was associated with a modest reduction in unwanted exposure, suggesting that it may help but is far from foolproof.” (Youth Society March 2003 vol. 34 no. 3 330-358)
“All youngsters are at some risk from exposure to televised pornography. At particular risk for harm, however, are the most vulnerable children in our society--children in single-parent homes, children with mental and emotional disturbances, mentally challenged children, children who have been physically and/or sexually abused, and children in dysfunctional families.” (Harv Rev Psychiatry. 1999 Nov-Dec ;7(4):236-40.)
In Greenfield’s summation of the problem she concluded that other than technical protective means the solution rested with the parents. Her primary solution rested on the communication between parent and child. God said the same thing in Hebrews 5:9-14, “You continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”
How Can Parents Protect Their Children?
The book of Leviticus gives explicit teaching material to the leaders and teachers of the Israelites, the Levite tribe, about family relations. When the rules are given, the Israelites are leaving captivity to claim the land God has given them to establish their society. God is the parent of a young child which will grow up to be the nation Israel. He is teaching them how to live a productive, peaceful and fulfilling life when they grow up. The rules are not made to be broken, they are made to protect and prosper. He is a loving Father teaching His children.
With that in mind a parent can look to the teaching methods of God in order to develop effective teaching and protective methods to their own children. The first thing He did is teach them the best way to conduct their relationships. He tells them the role of the family as He established it and then tells them how to protect that family. He gives strict warnings against aberrations in the family structure.
1. Rule One – Teach your children what is right and wrong and why it is right or wrong based on God’s teachings. If there is an aberrant family situation in the family structure that puts the parents into a position that does not allow for escape or change then how does God expect those parents to teach right and wrong without alienating a family member?
If an extended family unit includes one or more of the aberrations of the God-given family situation of one-man and one-woman in the bonds of marriage for a life-time then the parent must communicate with their children that this is wrong behavior. However, they do not condemn the family, for God never condemned but only expressed that which was right and which was wrong. He gave them the choice to choose, but made sure they knew which was right and wrong and the consequences of choosing wrong. (These can be found in Deuteronomy 28, recommend New Living Bible) Adapt them to current standards, for example, blessed will be your basket and kneading bowl could be translated, you will always have plenty of good food.
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants , Deut 30:19 (NASB)
Teach the child that these behaviors are wrong but that the beloved family member had a choice and they chose to live in that behavior. (You may be able to point out how they are suffering the consequences as found in Deut. 28 such as inability to find or keep a job, loneliness, poor reputation, etc.) A parent must assure the child they have a choice for their own life. However, if they make wrong choices it does not mean the parent will stop loving them or desert them. This attitude can best be taught by translating it toward those family members that are making bad decisions. (In the case of homosexual partners, the child should be taught the same principles about them as he is taught about family members. A partner is regarded as one who has made a wrong decision it does not mean the child cannot love or respect the partner. However, as a parent, it would be prudent to keep a checks and balance system to prevent any wrong sexual action toward or in the presence of the child. If there is a child in the partnership, single parent or cohabitating relationship then that child is at high risk and needs to be given the security of love from a biblically balanced extended family.
2. Rule Two – Teach the child the Biblical Structure of the family and the reason why this structure is so important to you the parent and to God our parent. This concept should be reviewed many times over the course of the child's teachable years, especially between ages 3 and 6 when moral development is taking place.
What is Biblical Marriage?
The name Adam is the word for mankind rather than a man’s name. When God picked up a lump of clay and shaped it into the form of man, He did something to that lump of clay He did to none of his other creations. He formed it in His image and He breathed life into it.
God had made man in His image, with all of his abilities, thoughts, emotions and spiritual awareness. But then God saw it was not good for this man to be alone. He did not pick up another lump of clay and breath into it, instead, He put Adam to sleep, opened Adam's side and pulled part of Adam from his body, The woman was already living because she had been given the breath of God at the same time. She was pulled from man, given her own body and God said, the two shall become one. Man no longer contained all of God, it took knowledge of man and woman in the bond of marriage so that humans could see the true image of God.
All relationship aberrations other than one man and one woman distort the image of God and when one cannot see God, they cannot accept or believe in Him. The reason God hates the aberrations is because it blinds the eyes of children to His image and His greatest desire is for all to be one with Him. Only marriage between one man and one woman can give this true picture of unity between Christ and His bride. It is this unity of one man and one woman for a lifetime that reveals who God is to the world.
"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:22-23 (NASB)
Even the child experts and political pundits recognize this problem of inadvertent viewing of pornography has to be resolved within the family structure. The attempt at tolerating all life styles and fleshly appetites has led to a loss of a standard of right and wrong and the Biblical family is viewed as outmoded or even a joke. This leaves many parents floundering for solutions to a problem they cannot begin to comprehend and yet they witness it destroying their precious children. Even regular church attenders do not understand what happened to their family.
This calls for a return to understanding of the original right and wrong and why it was established. By going back to the foundational premise that God the Father established for His children in their young childhood, a parent can stand firm on a method of teaching and protecting without doubting themselves. The parents who know this standard and teach it through communication will be able to redirect and protect a child that inadvertently views pornographic material in whatever media it comes to them even if it is a dysfunctional family. The call back to a standard of right and wrong will also help the child to establish a proper worldview that will take them through more severe life crisis, especially during the college years.