Preparation starts in the home, before they’re ten years old. I told my son about sex when he was nine, and eased him into the subject of pornography by saying that it’s “pictures of naked people.” We’ve discussed the Biblical framework for sex a number of times, and he understands that pornography is a warped, satanic distortion of what God intended it to be. We’ve discussed how destructive and widespread porn is in our culture; my son knows he will be exposed to it, and that hiding his temptations or trying to fight them on his own will give lust the power to rule his life. We’ve talked about the need to avert our eyes from sexually inappropriate images, and he’s caught on. This past summer I took him to see a movie in a theatre, and when a trailer was shown for the “Dukes of Hazard” (which shows women running around in hot pants,) my son saw me turn my head away – and he did the same without me saying a word.   (We have to model what we teach.)

Openly discussing the perils of lust with my son has already made a difference. On his own, he told me of images of scantily dressed girls in a video game he bought (which the ratings on the sleeve had said nothing about) and threw the game away. He told me when he watched a movie at another kid’s house with a scene of a girl in a bikini. He still has a long way to go, but at age 11, my son has employed tools that many men don’t use until much later in life.

My son would have never done this if we didn’t have a strong relationship, which is why it’s so vital that we make an effort to talk to and have fun with our kids. They won’t confide in us if we give them the impression we don’t care, neglect their emotional needs, or come off like we never sin. Our honesty with our faults teaches our children that it’s safe for them to come to us with their failures and temptations.

Next, we need to talk openly and honestly about sex and pornography to our junior highers at church. In a group setting, our 12, 13 and 14 year olds should repeatedly hear God’s standards for sexual purity. They should be warned of the perils of playing with pornography and how the decisions they make now can set them on a course of destruction later in life. One way to do this is to have an adult who’s struggled with porn share in honest terms how sex addiction was destroying his or her life – and what it could do to them.

And, in a group setting at church, our junior highers should be invited to share their own experiences and temptations with porn and lust. (Don’t think they haven’t had them.) Doing this will build community and transparency in the church of the next generation, and encourage them to be less secretive with their weaknesses – which our generation hasn’t always succeeded in.

One of the guys at our Strength in Numbers group once said “I wish I would have known when I was a teenager that my addiction with pornography was going to destroy my life.”

If we try to hide our kids from the sexual sludge the world is throwing at them, we will be responsible for keeping the porn epidemic alive and thriving in the next generation. By preparing our youth for war, the church will turn back the tide of sexual sin in the church and be the salt and light it’s called to be. 

Mike Genung struggled with sex addiction for 20 years before God set Him free in 1999. He is the director of www.blazinggrace.org, a ministry to the sexually broken and their spouses, author of The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction (available at www.roadtograce.com) and is co-host of the Blazing Grace radio show. Blazing Grace also helps churches minister to the sexually broken, by providing resources and helping them set up Strength in Numbers groups.