Pornography and the Boys We Love – 10 Tips to Help Moms

American children begin viewing pornography at an average age of 11. More than 7 out of 10 teens hide their online behavior from their parents in some way. 35% of boys say they have viewed pornographic videos “too many times to count.” The average age for a boy to be exposed to pornography is 8. I would not have believed that had my husband not told me he was introduced to it by a schoolmate at age 9.

My son is 11 right now. He loves Legos and superheroes and football. I’d like to pretend I can keep pornography out of his life. But I can’t. It sneaks into my home in commercials. It offers itself blatantly on magazines in the grocery store stands. It pops up on tablets and phones and every gadget there is, like the photo of a woman in lingerie with the words “Try me for free” that popped up during the ball game we were watching on the computer last weekend.

If I love my son, I can’t avoid this issue. I can’t ignore it and hope it will go away.

I can’t just hope he’ll have the right perspective on his own. He’s a child. A curious child. (A lot of children are encountering porn when they ask google their questions, such as “what is sex?” and google answers with images.)

Pornography wants my son and yours. Children are more targeted by the porn industry than ever before. If they capture a child, they ensure a lifelong struggle with addiction, wrong perspectives about sex, damaged real-life relationships, and even a greater risk for violence and other exploitive behaviors within the sexual relationship.*

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that 56% of divorce cases involve one party having “an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.”

This is a battle for the hearts and souls of our sons. If we love our boys, if we want them to have self-respect, freedom from addiction, and good marriages in the future, we must understand what they are up against. And we must teach them how to fight before it ensnares them.

So how do we understand just how strong this pull is?

I have hypoglycemia, which is a blood sugar problem, and because of it I am not supposed to eat sweets. (This does have a connecting point, stick with me.) Most people can eat sugar and though it may cause long term symptoms or damage, it doesn’t hurt at the moment. For me, eating sugar causes negative consequences, quickly, and badly. Chocolate frosted donuts for example. I love them, love love love them. But I’m not supposed to eat any. If I do, I will end up feeling terrible later that day and the next and possibly even the third.

It’s not worth it. I know that. But still, when the Krispy Kreme “Hot Donuts” sign is on, I’m tempted to tell myself it would be worth the pleasure. I long for just one bite, just one that I know would lead to more.

I’ve learned to stay out of Krispy Kreme, but what about the donuts at Wal-Mart, or the grocery store, or sometimes even in my own house? What about birthday parties and church pot lucks?

Are you feeling sorry for me? Thank you.

Now, imagine those donuts were displayed next to every cash register in every store. Nearly every magazine had pictures of gooey, dripping with chocolate donuts. People in line in front and behind me were eating them. Some people brought them to church and ate them during the service. Everywhere I went, people offered me donuts. For free. No one would know. No one would mind. Just one bite.

This is pornography for men (not always the hard kind, but definitely the kind that draws the eye to skin and curves, drawing the thoughts to more–which is like a bite of a donut, still very tempting and sometimes harder to ignore because it feels more innocent). It is available all around them, free for the taking, promising secrecy and all the goodness of donuts’ taste while ignoring the later destructive consequences.

Some days I can be strong around donuts. Other days it really is hard not to feel sorry for myself or even a little resentful when I’m surrounded with donuts and other sweets, and I’m supposed to completely ignore them and not let their appeal tempt me. It’s hard.

Yes, I’m responsible to keep from eating them. Yes, the choice is my own. But it is so much easier when I am with people who refrain from offering me a slice of the dessert or a donut, with a, “Can’t you enjoy just one?” or “It’s a special occasion. A little bit won’t hurt, will it?”

This helps me understand what it is like for our boys and men to try to live godly in a culture saturated with sensuality, where photos of women immodestly dressed are just about everywhere they go, where girls around them dress in a way that draws attention to their bodies (yes, even at church) and they’re supposed to act like it doesn’t affect them. I know it’s worse than me with the donuts, which means it’s got to be hard. Every. Single. Day.

So what can we do to help our boys?

1. Be understanding. This is much, much harder than most of us can fathom.

2. Ask them about the struggle in general (when they are old enough). You might be surprised, if you are not judging or condemning, what you might hear.

3. Teach them the principle of not looking twice. The first time isn’t purposeful, looking a 2nd time is always a choice.

4. Put filters on your internet (including phones and tablets).

5. Do not keep a computer in the room where your son sleeps. (In my personal opinion, a TV shouldn’t be there either. Have you ever skimmed channels at 2 in the morning?)

6. Avoid watching shows where the women wear immodest clothing when your son is watching with you (like those period dramas where their chests are bulging out of their dresses).

7. Pray for your boys, for strength to face temptation, for they will face it. Pray this aloud in their presence at times.

8. If they do admit their struggles, do not freak out or start harping about men and their weaknesses.

9. Discuss with your husband how to help your son/s. Recognize the fact that your husband’s perspective might be more helpful than yours regarding boundaries.

10. Have a family code word to use when you come across something they shouldn’t see. You can ask them what code word would be cool. When someone says the word, the guys know to keep their eyes on their feet for a bit. (We made one for us girls, too.)

Remember that this aspect, being visually stimulated, is at its source a good gift from God, intended to help men and their marriages. It is the world, the flesh and the devil which have distorted this into something bad.

We should raise our sons to see this characteristic as a good, God-given one, but one that is easily turned to evil and needs to be tempered. That’s for another post, but for now, let’s be understanding and loving toward them and their struggle. Remember the donuts, donuts, donuts and how hard it would be to avoid them if they were everywhere. Any man who keeps his mind and heart pure in our culture is to be commended. Let’s raise those kind of men.

Not Enough Faith?

Hebrews 11 is a marvelous chapter known to many as the Hall of Faith. The first half of the chapter lists great heroes of the Old Testament. Then verses 33-35a are enough to make one cheer; subduing kingdoms, obtaining promises, stopping lions and escaping fire and sword. Victory in battle, and even having the dead brought back to life again.

How did all this happen? “Through faith,” says verse 33. The faith that moves mountains.

That faith has not been extinguished over time. Believers still see God do mighty things. Cancer disappears. Alcoholics get deliverance. Battles are won.

What about us? We who are sick, and have been sick for years? We who have prayed and asked and hoped for healing, but not received it? What about those suffering in persecuted countries? What about those mistreated by the cruel?

Some say illness or disease or any kind of suffering is representative of a lack of faith. That we failed in our battle. We lost. If we could only believe more, condemn the sickness, declare ourselves healthy or strong or rich, we would be free. (I’ve heard those; you likely have too.)

Those people did not heed the rest of the chapter on faith. Look on, starting right after those believers who had the ultimate visual victory – the dead coming to life again – as a representation of their faith:

…and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance…they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword…destitute, afflicted, tormented… (Heb. 11:35b-37)

Wait a minute. How can words like afflicted and tormented be in a chapter celebrating faith? Many would say those people didn’t have enough faith. If they had, they would have been delivered to live a comfortable and healthy and victorious life, right?

Not according to God. Read on. The chapter ends this way:

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith… (vs 39)

Sometimes faith results in healing or victory, in what looks to us humans like what faith should look like. As Jesus said, If you have enough faith, you can tell a mountain to move and it will (Matthew 17:20). That a pretty obvious way to show your faith.

Does that mean that people whose mountains move are closer to God, and people who have mountains still in their backyard aren’t?

Not necessarily.

I could list many examples in Scripture, but let’s go straight to our ultimate example of perfect faith and oneness with God – Jesus Christ.

First, Jesus never told a mountain to move so we could “see” His faith. In fact, He rejected the suggestion every time His disciples, skeptics, or even Satan suggested He do an obvious sign to prove Himself to the world. We should take that to heart. Faith shouldn’t be about the show.

Second, Jesus prayed a prayer that God said no to. Jesus even asked God why. Both were during the time of His greatest suffering. Both were during a time when religious people questioned His faith (the faith of the Messiah Himself!) and mocked His lack of “ability” to get off the cross. Both were also on the path to the greatest glory and victory history has ever witnessed.

At one point, Jesus said He could have made the problem go away. He could have instantly summoned legions of angels to deliver Him (Matthew 26:53). Take away His pain. Give Him health and wealth.

Instead, He let the mountain remain. He asked God, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). 

For some of us, God wants the mountain to remain. Moving it might impress people and make them feel like we have faith, but sometimes it takes more faith to let God be glorified through our suffering rather than being delivered from it.

As in Hebrews, sometimes God is glorified by delivering His children from the trial. Other times, He is glorified most by not delivering them.

I used to live right at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Those beautiful peeks have been there for millennia, despite the fact that this the Bible Belt and there are many people with great faith here. Why do they remain? Is it because no one has had enough faith to move them? Or because God wants them there? They glorify Him to the world. When I see them, I am filled with awe, given peace, reminded by lifting up my eyes to the hills that my help comes from God (Psalm 121).

For some reason, God has chosen not to move my mountain of chronic illness. He has moved many others in my life – I have seen Him do amazing things – but this one He has allowed to remain. Perhaps your suffering, your mountain, has and will remain.

If I love Him, if I care more about His glory than my own comfort (or convincing people like Job’s friends, which is usually a waste of verbiage), then I will pray like Jesus. I can ask God to move the mountain – remove the suffering – but what I want most is for His will to be done, not mine.

If you are walking with the Lord but find yourself suffering, do not despair. All those in Hebrews 11 are still bringing glory to God and help to His people thousands of years later. Your path may include suffering, but if you are walking with God, in His will, then that path itself is a heavenly one. If we give our lives to God completely, we will allow Him to place us where we will most glorify Him – even if it is in that second half of the chapter.

Like Jesus, we can do this for the joy set before us (Hebrews 12:2). For all believers, endurance is required now, but the best part is coming!

But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:16).

Chapter taken from Why Doesn’t God Fix It? Available on Amazon.

Trafficking and my 6-Year-Old Rescue Hero

My son Daniel, now 6 years old, loves helping me sell books.  This summer he has come with me to book signings and presentations.  Most of the time he is off to the side coloring with my 2-year-old, Hope, so I don’t usually worry that he’s paying attention to what I’m talking about.

At my very first book signing, he told me he had an idea how I could sell more books.  His eyes were bright and excited and I was curious.  “Really?  What’s your idea?”

He leaned in and said with hushed words, “You could sell them for a quarter!”


I had to admit he was right; if I sold them for a quarter I would definitely sell more books.

Today Brian went back to work. (He’s a teacher.  The pre-semester stuff started today, and his eye had recovered enough from the Drain-O accident so he didn’t have to wear his homemade–and quite colorful since he had to use kid craft items–pirate patch.)  The kids and I went to the Post Office, which we do often to ship a book to this or that person.  Daniel told the Post Office worker, “This is my Mommy’s book.”  My heart filled with pride, but not for my book–for my son.

Then on the way home, he asked if he could look at my book (I had a copy in the front seat, don’t remember why).  I said sure and he reached from the backseat and took it.  He hasn’t been reading for that long, so I figured he would have fun finding words he could read, and of course not get anywhere near the actual subject material.

After a minute or two, I heard him flipping through the book and then he says, “This has a LOT of chapters!”  I told him that yes, it was a book for big people so it had a lot of words in it.  Then he asked if the women in the picture on the cover was the “stolen” woman.

Whoa, that caught my attention.  I said no, then I asked him warily, “Do you know what my book is about?”

“Um…hum-an tr-afficking?”

Those are the first two words on the back of the book.  I had no idea he could sound out the word trafficking.  Suddenly my idea of bringing him along to all these things started to feel like a very bad one.  “Do you know what that is?”

He didn’t, which was a relief.  But now that we were talking about it, I needed to explain it to him.  How do you explain human trafficking to a 6-year-old!?

I told him that in some bad places there were people who sold other people, and it was a very bad thing.  As I sat there thinking if I were him I’d be wondering why in the world my mom wanted to write a book about that, I added, “One of the reasons I wrote the book was to help people know how to make it stop.”  I mentioned that that was why I talked to newspapers and the radio and TV, to help people find out how to rescue them.

This took the vague, incomprehensible subject into familiar territory for him.  “Like Rescue Heroes!” he announced from the backseat.

I smiled.  “Yes, like rescue heroes.”

Suddenly this was a problem he could help with.  He mentioned that people could learn how to be rescue heroes from watching them on TV (it’s an animated series in case you don’t have a 6-year-old), and if anyone wanted, they could borrow his Rescue Heroes movies so they could learn how to be rescue heroes, too.

Wow, here is my son, with no real clue about what human trafficking is or how terrible its affects are, but he understands the idea of people in need and others coming to rescue them, and he is ready to help.

I like the idea of it being that simple for all of us–there are people in need, and if the opportunity arises, we are ready to help.

P.S.  If you want to watch the Rescue Heroes shows, Daniel says you can borrow his.  Or it might be slightly more helpful to call the Trafficking Hotline and get info from them on how to be a rescue hero instead: 1-888-3737-888.

The Right Questions to ask if You See A Potential Victim

A friend on my Facebook page mentioned seeing an add in Chicago that said

 “you may be the first person they see, ask the right questions.”
It was sponsored by a group against human trafficking. Great ad, but not enough, because this friend then proceeded to ask me, “So what are the right questions?”
It was such an important question to ask that I decided to go ahead and post some options on here for others to read as well. I feel quite inadequate to be honest, admitting quite freely that I’ve never been in the situation of meeting a girl who I thought might be trafficked. However, here’s what has come to mind about what some of the right questions–and response in general–should be if you see a potential trafficking situation.
1. Assess what you see. Is it a young girl with an older man and she looked scared? Has to ask him for simple things like to go get a drink or go to the bathroom? Does she looked drugged? Visual, try to get as much information as you can.
2. If the girl goes into a situation where she is alone (the bathroom, a store), you can follow and try to strike up a conversation with her. “Hi. My name is ____________. What’s your name?” (This is casual way to get her name before she is frightened of you–may not work) If that makes her react in a frightened way (like she keeps glancing to see if someone is watching her, as if she’s not allowed to talk with people), that’s a pretty clear sign something is wrong.
3. Ask the girl, “I don’t mean to scare you, but are you in trouble? Can I help you?” If she again responds frightened, or backs away, you may want to add, “Are you here against your will?”
4. If there’s an opportunity, you could also ask, “Can I call someone for you? Do you want me to call your parents?”
5. Based on how she responds, you might get a clear idea of what to do next. Obviously, if she does ask you to call someone, then by all means, do so. The more likely response would be that she rejects your offer out of fear and either turns away from you or leaves and finds her companion to keep out of trouble.
6. If this scenario happens, try to get the girl’s name if possible. Then, as soon as she leaves, call the trafficking hotline (888-373-7888, or as I like to remember it, 888-3737-888) and tell them exactly what you saw and what happened. If you can tell them descriptive things, like what she was wearing or jewelry or defining characteristics like a birthmark or even nail polish color, everything you tell them can help them, and especially if you got her name. The human trafficking hotline has access to law enforcement across the country and would likely know about this girls’ disappearance even if she came from another state.
7. Know that your intervention, even if you feel weird or embarrassed, could save this girl’s life. It has happened where a man just saw something strange–did not even interact with the person–and called the hotline. His one phone call resulted in the shut down of a 13-state wide trafficking ring and rescued 9 minors.
Thank you, Mary, for asking this important question!

Why Her? How Traffickers Target Victims – Guest Post by Shared Hope

In 1943, Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation.” His theory is that humans have a hierarchy of needs ranging from the most fundamental needs at the lowest level to the need for self-actualization at the highest level. Humans can’t reach the next level of “need” until they achieve the prior level.

Here is a simple example of this concept:

But today traffickers are using this theory to identify the needs of our youth.

Traffickers may follow a recruitment process similar to this:

  1. Identify the need of the child
  2. Fulfill the need
  3. Remove any other sources of need fulfillment 
  4. Exploit the child’s dependence for need fulfillment by forcing them into prostitution

One reason traffickers pray on kids is because they are more vulnerable than adults. They are more naive, and at-risk kids who have experienced abuse or extreme conflict in their homes may not only be eager to run away, but may also be desperate for the love and attention of an adult. Many kids who run away from home do so because they experience abuse, or because a member of the family is an addict, is violent, or both. If runaways have nowhere to go – no friends or other family members they can rely on and trust – they need to find food and shelter someplace else, which makes them especially vulnerable to trafficking.

Here’s how a pimp might use Maslow’s theory:

“It could never happen to my child”

That’s what Brianna’s parents thought too. Unfortunately, the scary, inconvenient truth is that unless your child has reached self-actualization and has no further needs, they could unsuspectingly fall victim to a trafficker.

Brianna was a 17-year-old high school student, involved in cheerleading, taking college courses for an early start on her nursing degree and worked at a local restaurant with her sister. She had no idea that friendly conversations she had with a regular customer could end with a trafficking ring planning to transport her to Arizona, likely to be sold.

You are not powerless.

On the contrary, you are the best advocate we have. Know why? Because you are here, reading this article about an issue that has still barely crept on to the radar of our society.

If you know or meet a girl who exhibits some of these signs, don’t be afraid to ask questions:

  • At risk of being homeless or running away from home
  • Severe family issues like drug addiction, alcoholism or abuse
  • Signs of fear, anxiety, depression, tension or nervousness
  • Hyper-vigilant or paranoid behavior
  • Interest in relationships with older men
  • Unexplained shopping trips or purchases of new clothing and/or jewelry, especially if the clothing is revealing or suggestive
  • A “boyfriend” who seems overly-concerned with her whereabouts or is otherwise controlling

If she is in trouble, you may be the only one who tries to intervene. If you need help or guidance, or want to report a suspected case of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888.373.7888.

Thank you for this post Shared Hope!