Editor's Note: This article was originally published December 12, 2006. We run it again now as part of Pornography Awareness Week, October 26 - November 2. For more information, click here.

In
How Your Church can take on the Porn Epidemic, we looked at the need to communicate clear answers for dealing with porn and sex addiction from the pulpit, and provide a safe place for those who struggle with it.

But in the big picture, even if every church in the U.S. did this we’d still have a immense problem because men and women don’t get hooked on porn in their 30’s or 40’s. The only way to contain and choke off the porn epidemic is to equip our youth for the inevitable battle with lust, before it gets a grip on their lives.

I can’t remember meeting a man or woman who struggled with porn and didn’t get hooked in their teenage years, if not earlier. Recently I was contacted by a mother whose 14 year old son was a full blown porn addict; it’s not uncommon to hear of a first exposure to porn as early as age 10. I remember 13 year olds who were having sex when I was growing up, and that was in the 70s. It’s even worse in the sex-saturated sewer we live in today.

They’re reaching out for help at a younger age; in our local Strength in Numbers meeting we’re seeing guys as young as 18. The picture these young men paint of the environment they’re growing up in is shocking: “porn is all over the boy scouts” said one. “At our private catholic school, porn and masturbation are the norm,” another told us. They made it sound like porn was everywhere, and I couldn’t help wondering if they were exaggerating. 

Sadly, the statistics don’t show otherwise. In a study done in January 2002, the London School of Economics found that nine out of 10 children between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet. If your kids aren’t finding out about porn online, they’ll learn about it at school from their peers (and yes even at Christian schools.) Some will find out about porn from their parents; I hear stories all too often where Junior stumbled onto Dad’s porn stash and got hooked.

The only way the church will turn the tide on the porn epidemic back is if we address it with our kids, before the world gets to them. We have to prepare them for the sex saturated culture that they will be exposed to and teach them how to deal with it; if we don’t the statistics show your kids and mine have a 50/50 chance of turning into a porn addict (See How Many Porn Addicts are in Your Church? for a look at the numbers). Those odds are too risky to bet our kids’ future on.

Some of you may be squirming at the thought of addressing the topic of sex with your 10 year old, but there’s no avoiding the fact that our children will be exposed to pornography (that is, unless we move our families to a monastery in Nepal and go into isolation). We have to face the reality of the culture we live in today, and take the initiative to equip our youth for the battles ahead.