So you found porn on your son’s smartphone or computer, now what? Here are 6 things to remember and some ideas on how to guide him through this struggle.
1. Remember that God’s grace and mercy are always greater than sin. “Where sin abounds, Grace abounds much more.” Romans 5:20. You and your son are not alone in this situation. Reminding your son that this is sinful is not enough. Reminding him that there is hope for the sinner, forgiveness and victory in Christ is the complete story.
2. Remember not to over-react. Parents and moms in particular are often outraged, disgusted and hurt when they discover their son is looking at pornography. This is normal and expected however, it is important to realize that screaming, belittling, embarrassing and/or other such tactics only serve to separate your son from one of his chief allies in this fight… you. Temper your disgust and hurt with a cooperative understanding spirit which leaves the door open to accountability and trust. If your son can trust you with talking about his struggles, you can work through this together. Some parents have even found after the initial confrontations that their son was more open to accountability and discussion when future “how ya doin with this” conversation was through texting or while driving so as to avoid awkward face to face conversation. A good verse to remember is “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. “– Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
3. Remember you may need help in this fight from a pastor or strong godly mentor. Particularly if you’re a single mom or even as a dad, you may find that helping your son find someone who he feels comfortable talking with and staying accountable with regarding his struggles is important. It may be just too awkward for him to confide in you. Your role may be more one of keeping him in touch with his godly mentor on a regular basis.
4. Remember that the real problem is a spiritual issue. Yes of course there are raging hormones, pressure from our culture, his friends and so on, but more than anything, he needs his heart to be changed and strengthened by God and his Word through the Holy Spirit. As a parent you can help in this process. You can start a Bible study with him, have prayer with him on a regular basis and help him guard his heart. (We’ll discuss resources shortly.)
Rick Thomas, Founder and President of The Counseling Solutions Group, Inc in upstate South Carolina talks about discipling a young man struggling with porn.
While I would want to disciple my children on the sin of pornography–if they were into porn, I would want to disciple them through the deeper and more insidious problems that are going on–the things that feed the porn.
I cannot over-emphasize this: our behaviors flow from our hearts and if our hearts are not shepherded toward Christ, then the kid does not have a chance.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:43-45 (ESV)
Some of the more insidious issues of the heart are the following:
Slothfulness - the child is lazy, meaning that he is using sex to satisfy himself rather than sex being a beautiful thing that God designed. Sex is not primarily for him, but for his future wife. He is lazy. He is not interested in what God says.
You will find laziness at the root of a lot of what the child does. Laziness is not a singular tributary out of the soul. Laziness will touch many things in this child’s life. Begin to carefully examine his whole life and you’ll find pockets of laziness in other places, not just how he thinks about and behaves toward sex.
Dishonoring - More than likely the child knows he is dishonoring his parents, but he does not care. He wants what he wants. Like laziness, you’ll also find this “dishonoring worldview” popping up in other areas of his life.
If his dishonoring attitude is not taken care of now, there will be many other repercussions in his future, e.g. how he thinks about and works for his future employer and how he loves and serves his future wife are just two examples.
Deceit/lying - He is lying and living in a lie. This is one of the more heinous sins. When a person lives a lie, then it is difficult to know if anything he says or does is the truth. Lying and deceit in a relationship will destroy a relationship.
One of the reasons we love God so much is because He always tells the truth. We can assuredly know where we stand with Him. You cannot ever be sure where you stand with a person who lies.
Self-righteousness - Porn is a form of self-righteousness. The self-righteous person has a greater than/better than attitude. Porn is the devaluing of women. The porn user is “using” women to satisfy his own selfish cravings.
Self-centeredness - As you might deduce, self-centeredness is the center of the porn users worldview. Whatever is in the center of his life is what defines him. This is who the son really is. Being self-centered will creep into every single facet of this person’s life.
Ignorance - Part of why he is not trusting God, choosing rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, is because there is something he does not understand about God. There is a level of ignorance working in his life. You can find this kind of life portrayed by the life of the fool in Proverbs.
These are merely a sample of some of the things that have been going on in the kid’s heart–things that have led to his pornography use. As the parents insightfully talk to him, they will find other sinful categories working in his heart too. They will need to carefully unpack him so the roots of porn can be eliminated.
5. Remember to set safe guards in place to help prevent more access and failures.He may promise not to fail again, but the temptation is strong. It is best to look at ways to prevent access. Furthermore, ti is best that this “access prevention” is not done as a punishment, but in the spirit of working together to solve the problem. Taking away the smartphone or computer is only a short term solution and probably isn’t the solution at all. In the long run these devices are not going away. He needs to be taught how to have access to these devices but not submit to the temptations they bring.
Probably the best solution we can recommend is to put a filter on his smartphone and computer. We recommend Covenant Eyes. (www.covenanteyes.com) This filter is affordable and works well. There are several levels of protection. You can choose what is right for your son. (It may not be a bad idea to use this for the whole family.)
6. Remember that only God can change his heart. Pray for him diligently and wait patiently on the Lord to do the heart work only he can do. Yes, you can disciple, find mentors, accountability, and add filters, but only God can change the heart.
If you feel that we can be of help here at Victory Academy for Boys, please don’t hesitate to contact us. This is a struggle that we have worked through with many many young men.
In Finally Free, Dr. Heath Lambert, a leader in the biblical counseling movement, lays out eight gospel-centered strategies for overcoming the deceitful lure of pornography. Each chapter clearly demonstrates how the gospel applies to this particular battle and how Jesus can move readers from a life of struggle to a life of purity.
Victory Family Ministries
We're a group of folks who love helping teens and families. We also love learning and sharing what God has taught us in our over 50 cumulative years of working with families and teens.