Training Sons to Overcome Sexual Temptation
We should be working hard to save the hearts and futures of our sons from the pervasive decadence of a generation that is spinning aimlessly out of control.
It’s eight o’clock Monday morning. You’re dropping your son off to school, and as he walks through the gates, the girls start coming his way. You think to yourself, They sure are dressed differently than back in my day.
You’re running late, but your curiosity has been sparked. You decide to stay and observe for a moment. As you watch, you see and hear how the girls interact with your son, and then you see and hear how he responds to them. You get concerned for a moment and think to yourself that you need to have “the talk” with him, but then you push that thought out of your mind, telling yourself, He’s so young.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you really believe that you just dropped your son off into the same world you grew up in? And as you look around, do you really believe that young men today don’t need to hear “the talk”? If so many of us struggled as young men to stay pure (and some of us are still struggling), then don’t we all the more have to commit ourselves to equipping our sons so they can resist sexual temptation? We must prepare them, especially since we know that promiscuous sex has the power to endanger their lives and even their souls (Proverbs 7:24-27; Matthew 5:27-30).
We need to get over the awkwardness of having real talks about sex with our sons.
The battle plan
We should be working hard to save the hearts and futures of our sons from the pervasive decadence of a generation that is spinning aimlessly out of control. The battle plan that the Bible calls us to implement is called discipleship. This is the counter attack that God prescribes to fathers and men in the church to ward off Satan’s assaults on our sons’ purity. We are compelled to engage our sons in an ongoing empowering discipleship relationship.
In both the Old and New Testaments, the Word of God calls parents to start training their children from the moment they can understand the Bible. Solomon reported on the training he received from his father, David:
When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live; acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you.” (Proverbs 4:3-6)
The New Testament shows that even when faithful mothers and grandmothers have to fulfill the primary role of training their sons in the Word of God, God will bless their labor. In a very encouraging example for many in our community, the Bible records how a mother and a grandmother raised one of the pillars of the early church, the apostle Paul’s apprentice, Timothy. Regarding the training Timothy received from those God-fearing women, the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy:
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Notice the major benefits in verse 14 you can reap if you start teaching your son when he is young and then faithfully continue to teach him throughout his upbringing:
- Your son will acquire a Christian worldview. Your son will learn to see life from the biblical perspective that you teach to him.
- Your son will grow into a man with deep convictions. If you start when he is young and continue teaching him the Scriptures, you will be able to teach your son that the Bible is absolute truth. Through you, he can come to revere the Word of God and trust it to be accurate, authentic, and inspired by God.
- You will earn the starting spot in your son’s heart as his trusted teacher. How much effort should you put into this process of teaching and modeling the truth to him? You must put in everything it takes to win the place of being his primary role model. When God opens the door for you to play first-string in his life, jump off the bench and hustle!
- Note that you can share some playing time with other godly role models. But do everything that you can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to keep the starting spot in your boy’s heart! Imagine that you—not popular culture, his friends, and strangers in chat rooms on the Internet—will be his trusted counselor who will answer the questions of life for him. There is no greater joy than knowing that you played the key role in helping your son to walk in the truth (3 John 1:4).
The point is to start wherever you are, but start young whenever you can. If this seems like an overwhelming task for you, let me simplify it for you. Start off with the basics, and as your son grows over time, you will grow in your ability to take him deeper into God’s Word.
Reflecting God’s desires
Do you want your sons to be successful? Then raise them up to love God, to love the Word of God, to obey the Word of God, and to serve God. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God commands His people to train their children to recognize Him as their God, and to love Him first with everything they have (heart, soul, and might). You must teach your sons to love God more than sports, more than girls, more than entertainment. You must teach them to love God more, and their “entertain me,” sex-crazed culture much less.
Adjusting your primary priorities to reflect God’s desires must be the basis for your hope to successfully raise your sons to be sexually pure. God’s way is superior to anything that we can think or imagine. Doing things God’s way is our demonstration of love and obedience toward Him. Doing things God’s way positions our sons to enjoy God’s favor, God’s clear direction, and an intimacy with God which has the power to completely satisfy their souls (Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 3:1-8; John 14:21-23).
What happens when you faithfully teach your son the Scriptures and you focus on the majors—that is, knowing and loving God? According to 2 Timothy 3:15, learning the Scriptures gives our children the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. The goal of childhood exposure to the Scriptures is to lead them to genuine salvation (v. 15b).
In teaching your sons to love God, you must make sure that you teach them the only way it can be done. They must acknowledge their sin, turn from it in faith, and repent before God. They must trust Jesus alone for the salvation He grants by means of His death and resurrection. There can be no nobler task and greater privilege than to be God’s ambassadors in preaching the wonders of the gospel to our sons and to lead them to the saving faith in Christ.
Speak to the heart
The heart is the inner self that thinks, feels, and decides. In the Bible, the word heart has a much broader meaning than it does in the modern mind. The heart is that which is central to man. Nearly all references to the heart in the Bible refer to some aspect of human personality.
In Jeremiah 17:9, God says that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.” You sin and your sons sin because we have sinful hearts. That’s why you must use the Word of God to speak to your son’s heart. His external sinful behaviors and internal attitudes are the result of his sin-producing factory—his heart (Genesis 6:5). The only way you can affect a permanent change in his behavior for the good is to apply the Word of God to influence a permanent change in his heart.
Therefore, you need to teach him how to guard his heart against the various issues he will confront in life (Proverbs 4:23). Sin, in particular, needs to be monitored and put in check, as needed. When you notice that your son’s heart is losing sensitivity toward his siblings, toward you, toward other people and circumstances, put him on a spiritual heart monitor immediately. A sin-blockage has developed and needs to be cleared through the confession of sin and godly sorrow that will lead to genuine repentance (1 John 1:5-10; James 5:13-16; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
Avoid simply listening to words of apology from your son. He may be telling you what you want to hear so that he can continue living a double life. Teach him to review his sin step-by-step and to feel remorse over it. In the first beatitude of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlights our messed-up condition apart from God. Jesus says in the next beatitude, referring to those who grieve over their sinful condition, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). God delights in those with a broken and contrite spirit.
Through the discipleship process, you must help him to “have a heart.” You must teach him to feel the way God feels, to feel other people’s pain, to have compassion and show compassion, as opposed to exploiting others.
In regard to sexual purity, we must teach our young boys to feel the loneliness, the pain of the past, the joy, the hopes and expectations in a young girl’s heart. We need to teach them to show Christlike compassion, be a true friend, and help her out. Then they will respect, protect, and cherish young girls. They will also grow up to respect, protect, and cherish their girlfriends, wives, sisters, and daughters.
Modeling the life
Now, let me give you what seems to be the forgotten key to discipleship. It’s not a magic program that you can buy from a Christian bookstore.
The key to his discipleship is you. Discipleship is modeling the life that you want your disciple to follow. And while you are showing him how to live a life that pleases God, you patiently explain from the Bible what you are doing and why you are doing it. Paul said it this way, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Mark described the Master’s plan in his Gospel with these words, “He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him” (Mark 3:14). Discipleship is the process of learning Jesus’ ways. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, you must progressively yield every facet of your life to His authority in order to emulate Him.
To effectively disciple your son, you must become an effective disciple yourself. What it boils down to is simply this: You have to love Jesus and live for Him in response to the way that He loves you. So it really does come down to what you will do for Jesus. You have a cross to carry and your life to yield to the Master.
If you do that, then you will have a profound impact on your son.
Adapted from Secret Sex Wars, © 2008 by Robert S. Scott Sr., General Editor. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill. All rights reserved.