For a couple of days, our personal Facebook feeds have been full of outraged posts and links about Miley Cyrus’s reportedly (we didn’t watch it) disgusting performance on MTV’s VMA Awards. It was curious that the almost universal response among our friends was either shock (What in the world has happened to our world?) or apathy (Who cares? Why are you watching that mess anyway?) As folks who’ve been speaking at sexual purity across the continent, though, neither response seems entirely appropriate to us.
The reason you should care is also the reason you shouldn’t be shocked. To us, speaking with parents and teens from coast to coast, it’s pretty obvious what has happened to our world and that it threatens to get even worse. It’s porn.
Porn? How could that affect my family? Unfortunately, if you have teen children, even sheltered and protected teen children, it probably has. Well over 90% of boys are exposed to internet pornography before they turn 18. Most first exposures happen between 9 and 12 years old. See, when we were kids, you had to go out looking for pornography – stealing it from an adult or store or getting it from a rough friend. Now, it comes to get you. It lurks all over the place online, trying to draw you in. Recently, an article described how most children will now Google unfamiliar sexual terms rather than asking a parent … and bang, are introduced to filth.
Yeah, scary, but surely not in Christian families, right? In a recent study of evangelical church members, 50% of the men and 20% of the women admit to being addicted to pornography. The statistics are likely even worse for their teen and twenties children. It’s no longer something in the dark alleys, now it is darkening our homes! This is the great secret sin of the church in our day.
But, what difference does that make to the world? Recent studies have shown that porn is physically addictive. That internet pornography, in particular, so overstimulates the hormones that receptors shut down, leading users to seek out worse and worse porn to provide the same thrill, leading them to awful perversions. Don’t believe it? 88% of scenes in porn films contain physical aggression and 39% of boys have seen porn involving bondage online. 83% of boys have seen group sex online. We’re not even going to talk about the worst stuff.
Folks, Miley Cyrus was mild compared to what most young men are watching online. It’s horrifying.
The really alarming thing is that they aren’t seeing this sewage once and turning it off – that would be bad enough, but 85% of young adult men are accessing porn at least once a month. They are bathing their minds in it and it’s changing our world. Tim Challies, author of Sexual Detox, talks about the pornifying of our culture. It’s here, folks. It’s changing what is acceptable in public. Unfortunately, it’s also changing our families and churches – and not for the better. Have you noticed how things that used to cause shock and horror for months, like a teacher abusing his pupils, is now ho-hum daily news? It’s getting worse every year. Take a look at the FBI’s stats sometimes. Free hint: Don’t do it over lunch.
What in the world can we do? First, don’t let your head be stuck in the sand. Make sure every computer and internet capable device in your home has accountability. Click here for more about how to do that. Talk to your children and give them a Biblical perspective about sexuality. Don’t assume everything is going to be all right because you homeschool or go to a great church. A mother sobbed out to us at a homeschool conference this summer that her fifteen-year-old son had just confessed he’d been addicted to pornography for three years – and she didn’t know he even had Internet access. He’d used his game console to access it. Be aware. And if you are addicted yourself, confess, repent and get help right now. 1 John 1:9 reassures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.“
Miley Cyrus isn’t the problem, disgusting as that performance must have been. The problem is that a secret sin has overtaken our culture and it’s making that culture over in its image. Until we address the sickness, of course we’ll have symptoms.
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie Young
If you are wondering how to address these things with your sons in a Biblical way, get our workshop, Shining Armor: Your Son’s Battle for Purity – and keep your eyes open, we’re writing a book for young men about this.
Wondering about these stats? Check out Covenant’s Eye’s compilation of them here.