It is extremely important for you as a parent to discover and disarm the pornography traps that await your child. But the ultimate and best action we can take against pornography is to keep our own eyes and hearts clean. Ultimately, you are the door of much that comes in your home. Will you let in light or darkness?

We need convictions and a personal, proactive plan for taking a stand against pornography in our own lives and in our homes. Here are three core convictions related to the trap of pornography that we believe every parent should hold.

1. Pornography is a lie. While offering a fulfillment of fantasy, it actually perverts something beautiful created by God.

Imagine being extremely thirsty. You’ve been lost in the wilderness without water for days. You are wobbly. Your tongue is swollen. You are delirious.

You stumble over the crest of a hill and below you is the sight you have desperately sought. Water!

Drawing on every remaining bit of strength, you hurl yourself down the slope. At the bottom you are surprised to find two small pools. In one the water is green—a thick crust of slime covers the surface. A rotten odor rises to your nostrils.

Not far away is a second pool. The water is clear, and a small but vigorous stream flows in one end and out the other. No odor there; the pond smells fresh.

Where would you go for a drink?

Sounds simple, right? But when it comes to the topic of sex, our society seems intent on steering us to the polluted pool.

God made sex. It’s good. He designed it as the ultimate means of drawing two people together in the marriage relationship. That’s the good, pure water.

But nonstop, 24-hours-a-day, every day, every year, through much of what we are served in the media, we are asked to believe that the water in the polluted pond is what’s really going to satisfy our thirst.

This is a lie. Pornography twists and perverts the beauty of God’s creation. It leads men and women to look at each other as nothing more than sex objects. It causes them to fantasize about sexual relationships with other people. The focus on sensual pleasure becomes a drug that blots out the rest of their lives.

2. We will model integrity before our children by turning away from any form of evil that would pollute our lives and family.

If you want your child to resist the lure of pornography, your first step will be to ponder your own habits. What do you allow to enter through your eyes to find rest in your mind and heart?

Obviously, you need to stay far away from any type of hard-core pornography. But don’t stop there. One mistake many parents make is thinking that pornography is just the horrible, crude, sickening material found at the adult bookstore. Increasingly, you will find images in mainstream magazines, television shows, and movies that are not as crude but still sell the same lie that the real water is found in the rancid pond. In fact, our society has become so hardened from the onslaught of sex that we accept as normal what would have been considered pornographic 20 years ago.

What message is sent to a curious, sexually awakening boy who watches his father leafing through the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue? What about the mom who gazes rapturously at the bare-chested movie star hunk appearing on the cover of the latest People magazine? These may seem relatively innocent compared to hard-core pornography. But what kind of water is it?

King David, who struggled with controlling his eyes and thought life, offers this insight: “I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.…A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil” (Psalm 101:2-4).

That verse is printed on a sheet of paper and taped at the top of our television.

3. We will remain prayerfully alert for how this issue may affect our child.

Even though you may do a good job of controlling your child’s access to the Internet at home, you must be alert to what other children may be viewing or even through Internet access at school.

Beyond the destructive effects of just looking at pornography on the Internet lurks the chilling danger of a child being recruited into sexual activity by a pedophile or other sexual deviant. Often these perverse stalkings begin innocently through online chat room discussions. In the Denver area, for example, a 16-year-old girl met a man through an Internet bulletin board. Later he persuaded her to pose for a sexually suggestive photo in a park. The man was arrested on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a child. 1

Our advice: Don’t assume that just because your child hasn’t had a problem, he doesn’t now or won’t in the future.

Taking an active stand against pornography in your community

It was a cool fall morning, but I was getting hotter by the moment. I was reading a newspaper article about “Showgirls,” Hollywood’s latest ploy to further lower the standards of decency in our communities. The NC-17 movie was clearly a test by film producers and executives to see what they could get away with.

As I read about the nudity, a brutal rape scene, and the writer of the movie encouraging young teens to obtain fake IDs so they could sneak in, I became further outraged. I had planned on an outing of miniature golf with my three youngest daughters, so we took a detour to the local theater where “Showgirls” was playing.

During my 10-minute conversation with the theater manager, I pointed to my daughters and asked, “Would you want your daughters or granddaughters sitting in that theater with a boy and watching that movie?” He had no answer. You could see the shame on his face.

But when he stated that I was the first person in town to protest the movie, I began feeling shame—on behalf of the Christian community I represented. In fact, when I later began calling film and theater executives to protest the film, I learned that during the first week of showings they had received only a handful of protest calls across the nation.

It’s easy to feel powerless and to wish someone would protect your community. But there is something you can do. When you’re confronted with immorality and indecency in your community, don’t sit passively and wring your hands about how bad things are.

Stand up. Speak out. Even if the merchants of cultural garbage won’t listen, your children will learn from your example. You will help sow the seeds for the Family Reformation our country so desperately needs.

For the single parent

What if you’re a single mom with a young son? Should you talk to him about pornography? By all means, yes.

This is another situation where love must take action. Use some good resources; learn as much as you can. Because you love your son, plow ahead and trust that God will assist your efforts.

Ideally, if you and the child’s father see eye to eye on this topic, you may be able to present similar content on pornography independently to your son.

If the father does not agree or is uninvolved—or worse, is using pornography himself—what then?

Talk openly to your ex-husband about the dangers and your concern for your son. If he is unresponsive, you can do nothing to change that. But you can reach your son. Share material explaining the effects of pornography with him. Talk about it as long as he will listen, and even sometimes when he won’t.

God knows the circumstances and will orchestrate the outcome. Just be faithful in doing your job to warn your son of the dangers of pornography. Lay out the boundaries in your home and encourage your son to resist the temptations, even if his own father presents them.

If your ex-husband is not supportive, consider prayerfully enlisting a male ally, perhaps a man at your church, who could assist in educating and protecting your son.

If you catch your son with pornography and he’s a member of your church’s youth group, consider pulling together an intervention group led by your son’s youth leader and a couple of other adult men he really respects. As best you can, make sure these men are walking with God and are morally clean themselves. Have them intervene and plead with him, explaining what might happen if he continues to consume this deadly poison.

And of course, never stop praying and asking others to pray, too.

1) Carlos Illescas, “Schools fight to restrict access to porn on Internet,” The Denver Post, October 12, 1997, p. 1A.

Adapted from Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Years. Copyright 1998 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.