Thursday, April 2, 2009

Holy Hormones! Guarding Our Sons Against Pornography

by Rebecca Ingram Powell

Christian recording artist and Dove Award winner Clay Cross was first exposed to pornography at a friend’s house. He was in the fourth grade. Although he had been raised in a Christian home, he didn’t realize the long-lasting consequences the sin of pornography would have on his life, so he did not run away from the temptation. He did not call his parents to come and pick him up. He did not say, “No, thanks.” He did not think, twenty years later, he would still struggle with a porn addiction he kept hidden from his wife, his family, and his thousands of fans. While we are quick to teach our kids the damaging consequences of drugs and alcohol, how do we guard our sons from the equally destructive effects of pornography, especially in a culture where sensuality is worshiped, women are exploited, and all forms of sexual expression are embraced?

Setting a standard. The Christian home sets the standard for our children. Our actions and attitudes as parents provide a living example that speaks louder to our sons than any lecture we might give. But are we missing the mark when it comes to making holiness a reality in our homes?

By all outward appearances, Clay and his wife Renee had the ideal Christian home, yet they were very lax in the kinds of entertainment they chose through television, movies, and risqué comedy routines on HBO. “People can easily turn off what they know they need to be about when they are watching entertainment,” Clay admits. “With no standard in my home, it actually made it easier for me to be watching pornography on the side because Renee and I were watching trashy stuff together and with our friends.”

Wired for sight. For us moms to come to an understanding of our sons, we have to realize their weakness when it comes to this battle, and our responsibility to guard their hearts by helping them guard their eyes. The male species is wired for sight. The things we moms may not consider sensual, a growing boy with escalating hormones might find especially provocative. Here are some practical things you can do.
Keep lingerie magazines, including sales fliers from your local department store, out of sight.
Filter what you are watching. You may love watching the choreography on “Dancing with the Stars,” but for your son, it’s all jiggling flesh and steamy sexual images.
Take a closer look at teen shows on “kid-friendly” channels. Many young actresses are dressed to draw attention to every curve. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but he has.
Be Internet savvy. Make sure there are filters installed on your computer, but keep in mind that no filter can do it all. Know how to check your Internet surfing history. Help your son avoid the temptation of the Internet and other media by keeping computers and TV’s out of his bedroom.

A filter on his heart. As moms, we may be tempted to leave this part of raising our sons up to their fathers. However, when we understand the challenges our sons face, it will go a long way in helping them overcome the multiple temptations they confront every day. We also need to understand the only trustworthy “filter” is the Holy Spirit working in a growing young man’s heart. As a boy grows up, the feelings and thoughts he is suddenly experiencing may come as a surprise, and even a shock. Let your son know he is normal. It is vital that boys understand all men struggle with the issue of pornography, but there is a God who is bigger than any temptation they face. Agree to hold him accountable for his entertainment choices, and let your son know you are willing to be held accountable for yours. Teach him to resist temptation the way Jesus did, through prayer and Bible study. Using Philippians 4:8 as a guide, help your son practice replacing fleshly thoughts with godly thoughts of things above.

“Boys think pornography is harmless,” says Clay. “It may feel naughty to them, and it may be something they wouldn’t want others to know they are doing, but it won’t feel like it’s going to hurt them. They have to be convicted that it is wrong and it has damaging effects.” As your son grows into the man God intends for him to be, your relationship must grow with him; you must be willing to talk about and pray about his real life issues. Let him know you’re on his side and always cheering for him. Let him know you understand the battle. And let him know through Jesus Christ, the battle is won.
Rebecca Ingram Powell is a pastor’s wife, mother of three, and a nationally known author and speaker. Her latest book is “Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose.” She is online at

P31 Resources by Rebecca Ingram Powell
Dig Deep: Unearthing the Treasures of Solomon's Proverbs
Dig Deep is a 9-week Bible study for guys, 7th grade and up, covering King Solomon's ageless advice to his son. Daily lessons deal with choices, stewardship, friends, purity, Christ-like characteristics, and cultural issues.

Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose

Remember middle school? It was awkward and embarrassing. It was mean girls and gawky guys. It was best friends and battle scars. In Season of Change, Rebecca shares candidly from her experiences as both a middler and a mom. She invites parents to dive deeply into these years with their kids, challenging them in their choices and focusing them on their faith.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hold It Up To the Light

by Erin Bunting

My son Sam sells tickets for his middle school’s basketball games. He isn’t into sports, but he is into money. He enjoys handling it and making transactions. At one of this season’s basketball games, a student tried buying a ticket with a counterfeit $5 bill. Sam knew the money was fake and immediately turned it over to the vice principal, who called the girl’s parents and the police. When I asked Sam how he knew the money wasn’t real, merely a homemade color copy, he shrugged and said, “I just held it up to the light.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), the agency that prints paper U.S. currency, Sam used the best method to detect a counterfeit. When an authentic bill is held up to the light, invisible images embedded into the paper show through. If those images don’t show up, it’s a fake.

The numerous, ingenious and elaborate security features of the latest U.S. currency are fascinating. For instance, hold a new $5 bill up to the light and a shadowy image – a chunky 5, appears on the far right. To the left of Lincoln’s ear is a vertical column of three smaller 5s. These “watermarks” are created by miniscule differences in the paper’s thickness. A dashed black line bearing tiny “5”s and “USAs” runs vertically to the right of Lincoln’s shoulder. This feature, called a security “thread,” is actually embedded into the paper. Both watermarks and threads are virtually impossible to counterfeit. They are also only visible when held up to the light. Several other security features are only visible under an ultraviolet lamp.

The Bible abounds with warnings about religious counterfeiters -- false prophets and teachers who pass off deceptive beliefs as legitimate spiritual currency. God warned Jeremiah about them, saying, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them.” (Jeremiah 14:14) Peter said, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) Both God and Peter were saying that authentic prophecy and teaching come down only from God, filtered through the Holy Spirit. Teaching that originates anywhere else is counterfeit. Likewise, authentic paper U.S. currency is only printed in two locations: the BEP’s Washington, D.C. facility and its satellite plant in Ft. Worth, Texas. A bill printed anyplace else is a fake.

But fakes can look deceptively real. Like counterfeit money, the currency of some false prophets and teachers seems authentic and good, but is in reality valueless. The false prophets Jeremiah encountered sounded religious and said what people wanted to hear. Their promises appeared legitimate and seemed sincere, but were misleading and false. How did Jeremiah know? He brought their counterfeit words to God. Like my son did with the phony $5 bill, Jeremiah held the promises of the false prophets up to the holy light of God’s truth, and God revealed clearly that “The prophets are but wind, and the Word is not in them.” (Jeremiah 5:13)

Today our world still teems with seemingly legitimate and sincere spirituality which is dangerously misleading and false. Before you pass along or accept as truth any questionable spiritual teaching, be vigilant to first check it against Scriptural truth and consider its origin. The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) God gave us His light to test our own words and actions, as well as those of others, before carelessly introducing counterfeit spirituality into circulation. If you need extra guidance, talk to a pastor or teacher who can help you discern what’s true (think of them as your ultraviolet lamp).

If you receive counterfeit money, the BEP says to do exactly what Sam did, “Safeguard the bill and release it only to the proper authorities.” That is, take it out of circulation. We can minimize the spread of false spiritual teaching the same way. We are called to “Live as children of light … and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8, 10-11) And if God’s light exposes something false to you or even within you, release it to the proper authority and take it out of circulation by confessing it to God and exchanging it for His truth.

A statement on the BEP’s website says, “Confidence. Trust. Value. That’s what the American dollar stands for around the world. This faith in the United States currency is made possible through continuous improvements in currency design and aggressive law enforcement that protect the integrity of U.S. currency by guarding it against counterfeiting.” What if we Christians, who bear the responsibility of sharing the gospel and who believe along with the Psalmist that “All [God’s] words are true,” (Psalm 119:160) proclaim something similar? How about: “Confidence. Trust. Value. That’s what the Word of God stands for around the world. This faith in Scriptural truth is made possible through vigilant reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and aggressive efforts to protect the integrity of His Word by guarding it against counterfeiting.”

Sam recognized a counterfeit bill because he’s had lots of contact with authentic currency. Likewise, frequent personal contact with God’s Word equips us to identify what’s false around us, and in ourselves. You can’t identify a fake unless you are familiar with the real thing. “If you hold to my teaching,” Jesus said, “then you will know the truth.” (John 8:31-32) Get to know the truth. Spend time in God’s Word. Live and learn by His light. Then, and only then, pass it on.

Information about currency security features was found at
Erin Bunting is a writer, actor, artist and photographer in Huron, Ohio where she lives with her husband, Darrin, and their sons Sam (13) and Leo (10). Erin’s passion is finding the “meaning in the mundane,” and helping audiences and readers experience and see Christ in everyday circumstances.