Monday, December 19, 2005

Dealing with Temptation

Our children, especially the boys, are being bombarded with suggestive images that distract and tempt. It's everywhere. A friend's son begged to be homeschooled just to keep his mind pure at school. And unfortunately, the church doesn't do a whole lot to help in this area. Is it a hopeless cause? Or are there things a parent can do to help their children walk in holiness in a culture of promiscuity.

A friend asked my husband to answer a few questions in regards to raising children who are pure in mind and body. His answers I think provide a workable framerwork to build upon to encourage purity in our children.

Pornography is destroying lives. Do you agree with this and if so in what ways does pornography destroy? If not, why is there so much made of it?
I agree that pornography is destroying lives. Pornography is a fictional world that dulls ones senses for the real world. The fantasy is always better than the reality and can never be satisfied. It becomes an all consuming fire that ultimately destroys everything -- relationships, self-respect, self-control, and the soul.

You are a parent of several teenagers. As a parent, what steps do you take to prepare them to fight the battle against lust?
Three of our six children are teens; two of them are boys, whom I consider to be the most vulnerable. Our approach with the older children is to be frank and honest in discussing sexual issues. We tell them what is going on with their bodies, what to expect in the years ahead, and how this all fits into God's plan for them as married adults. We also discuss the misuses of their bodies and thoughts with respect to sex.

For our daughter, we have explained that men are visually-oriented and how she can prevent unwanted attention by her conduct and dress. For the boys, we have pointed out the many ways the world appeals to their senses and how to respond when confronted with a tempting sight. This includes how to monitor commercials on TV (when we rarely watch) in order to turn bad ones off quickly, how to avoid unwanted public displays of pornography (billboards, magazines at the checkout, etc.), and how to turn his eyes elsewhere and give his thoughts to Christ when tempted by an attractive young lady on the street. There are positive ways to handle these situations and young men and women need parental input, rather than dealing with it alone. I call it "practical discipleship."

Do you think that it will help?
Yes, I do. It won't make them perfect. They will stumble at times. Temptation is a daily battle we all face. However, I believe our efforts will give them a fighting chance to live pure and holy before the Lord. When tempted, they will know how to respond. If they stumble, they will know to look to Christ for grace. We are equipping them, but they must be willing to own and apply that training.

What steps can parents take to create a heart that will receive godly counsel from parents well?
A parent's best tools for having children that will receive godly counsel are time, communication, and humility.
Time. You must be willing to spend significant time with your children from an early age on up. You are always the parent, but you can become a trusted friend by taking time with your children and cultivating a close relationship built on love and mutual respect.

Communication. While you are spending time with your children, it is the perfect opportunity to communicate your values and wisdom through your words and actions. Talk to them. Ask them what they think. Tell them what you think and why. Explain the things of God and how the world works. They desperately want to know and they want to know it from you.

Humility. Be willing to admit your mistakes, to apologize, and to ask forgiveness. Your children will be more willing to approach you for advice and to confess their own errors if they see it is an important part of your life too. There is a measure of comfort in coming before someone that we believe can relate to us as we are. This is what Jesus did through the incarnation.

Do you have any further thoughts regarding the training and teaching of our children to pursue holiness ...
My other advice on training children for holiness is to avoid the mass media as much as possible -- TV, radio, movies, videos, newspapers, magazines, computer games, and the internet. At best, these things are a distraction, including the Christian stuff. At their worst, the mass media open Pandora's Box and lead to Hell's gates. You can live without the mass media as a child. When your children get older, you can begin to introduce them to appropriate doses of the mass media as a tool to accomplish something (research, communication, etc.) rather than as mindless, idiotic entertainment. There are plenty of other exciting things to do in God's creation besides sit in front of a machine and waste the mind and body God gave us.

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