Dear Jeffrey,

Thanks for coming to Ichthus Festival again. Man, I love hearing you speak. I want to thank you for letting me come clean with you about my past. I still feel guilty a lot about all the stuff I’ve done. Like I said then, I’m the last person anyone would have guessed would be so deep into that junk [porn].

And you’re right. I can still remember so many of those pictures, even though it’s been months since I looked at porn. I’m gonna keep doing everything you told me to do. Thanks for letting me talk about it all and for just listening. ~ Name withheld

I get notes like this all the time. What’s encouraging is that the teens who write them are taking some strides in the right direction. What’s sad is that many teens are caught in the deadly snare of pornography and haven’t taken the first step toward freedom.

Pornography is everywhere. Statistics leave our heads spinning about how many pornographic sites are on the Web today, how many new porn sites go live every day, and how huge, powerful, and pervasive the pornographic video industry is. The revenue of the pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, and EarthLink.1 And porn is only a click away. If you want it, you can find it quicker than quick. Even when you are not looking for it, porn can still find you. And once you’ve downloaded it into your mind’s hard drive, the harmful images can keep replaying over and over again.

Based on the widespread availability of pornography today, one might conclude that we as a society are increasingly accepting its presence as normal. And as a matter of fact, for some people, porn seems to be no big deal. For instance, The Barna Group reported that 29 percent of all born-again adults in the United States believe it is morally acceptable to view movies depicting explicit sexual behavior.2  

I’d say these people are not facing the fact that porn is dangerous to the core. It sucks every bit of truth, contentment, honesty, character, loyalty, and reality out of the mind and soul of the one plugging into it.  

Porn leaves people feeling hopeless, guilty, and ashamed. I know what I’m talking about. I communicate on a regular basis with teens who struggle with addiction to porn. And these are not oddball, sadistic, perverted teens but everyday, honor-roll, churchgoing, love-their-parents, striving-to-live-for-Jesus teens. 

Who is hurt by pornography? While we often think of the porn industry as targeting only males, a recent study showed that the industry is targeting females as well. About one in three visitors to adult Web sites is female.3 That means your daughter is at risk just as your son is.

No teen today is immune to the possibility of falling into the trap of porn. It can happen quickly. It can happen unintentionally. It can happen to your teen. One study showed that a whopping 90 percent of all eight- to sixteen-year-olds had viewed pornography online—most inadvertently while doing homework.4

I often meet adults who can’t fathom how someone could get caught up in such filth as pornography. Even when some parents realize their son or daughter is addicted to porn, the Enemy has often won the fight by convincing them that they are helpless and ill equipped to help their teen. But the struggle with pornography isn’t different from the struggle with any other sin: Satan presents us with a dangerous, cleverly packaged lie that looks inviting. We are tempted. And temptation gives birth to sin.

Sin affects us all (see Romans 3:23). What sins are evident in your life? If your teen struggles with porn, let him know that he is not alone and that you understand the struggle, because you struggle with your own sins. Maybe you have even struggled with the specific sin of porn viewing, and therefore you can share in a very personal way what that struggle has been like and how you have achieved victory.  

Certainly we cannot be passive about the problem of pornography. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” So, parent, it’s time to act. It’s time to arm yourself with the necessary tools to wage this war alongside your teen.

Are you ready for this battle? It starts with learning more about what you’re up against.

How Porn Finds Your Teen          

This is a problem: if your teen is online, porn will find him or her. For instance, a sophomore in college whom I met on the road last year told me that he had gotten hooked on Internet porn while in high school.