By Jack Wilkie
In my last post we looked at four steps churches can take to help end the pornography epidemic in Christianity. In this one, I’d like to share five ways we can confront the problem in the home. Just as the issue grows worse when churches refuse to realize how common it is, so it worsens in the home when families bury their heads in the sand and pretend not to notice the elephant in the room, whether it’s a spouse’s, a child’s, or even a parent’s usage.
As always, the first step is to talk about it. Couples must be open with each other and agree to immediately confess any struggles or downfalls. With as many men as there are fighting this battle and how easy it is to give into temptation, husbands must be committed to being trustworthy and honest with their wives. And the truth is, that establishment of trust must go the other way, as well, as the number of women users is on the rise. The parent-child relationship must include wide open dialogue about pornography as well. Parents have to come to grips with the fact that no matter how good their children are, porn will seek them out and if they don’t know where to turn when that happens, it will almost always turn into an addiction. The average age of first exposure to pornography is somewhere around 11 years old, and it’s often first seen unintentionally. By 18 years old, 90% of boys and 60% of girls have been exposed to it. That means parents need to expect it to happen, address the topic earlier than they might think, and establish a channel of communication in which their children can come to them when they do find pornography.  Talk about it with your spouse, and talk about it with your kids.
Second, monitor each other’s devices. No one in the house should have access to a device that only they can use. There is absolutely no reason for a husband to refuse his wife access to his smartphone, tablet, or computer (and vice versa). It’s in that kind of secrecy that problems arise. That’s not to say that there needs to be some kind of suspicion. Rather, it’s part of creating that culture of openness, that if your spouse picks up your phone there isn’t anything to hide. If spouses can’t have complete privacy with their devices, then it naturally follows that children most certainly shouldn’t either. Parents need to know the passwords to their children’s devices and check them regularly. Kids should not be allowed to take any device out of a common area and into their bedroom or behind any other closed door (and that includes TVs and gaming consoles). Pornography is persistent. Any cracks in our efforts to keep it out will be exploited. Make sure to keep watch to prevent it wherever you can.
Third, set up filtering and accountability software and use parental controls. Every family device should have some kind of accountability reporting software installed. X3Watch offers a free one that will send email reports of sites visited and flag the ones that maybe shouldn’t have been visited. CovenantEyes offers lots of free resources, but their family plan for their filtering and accountability software comes at a price of $15.99/month. Unless you literally can’t cut anything else out of your budget, I encourage you to find the money for this software and put it to use in your home. By keeping tabs on what sites are visited in the home and who viewed them, the ability to carry out step #1 gets a lot easier.
Parental controls are also available as a free feature on many devices, particularly cell phones and tablets. Put them to use. The level to which you apply them is up to you, but I highly recommend making app downloads inaccessible to children. That way they have to ask you if they want to put a new app on their phone, and you can look into it and know exactly what they have downloaded. Remember, it’s not “if” but “when” with regard to when your children will stumble across pornography. You need to be prepared to block it as often as possible and know about it whenever it does happen.
Fourth, refuse to make excuses. With as many lives as pornography is wrecking, there is no place for excuses when it comes to preventing or eradicating pornography from the home. Still, some parents will say, “All that technology just goes over my head.” So? Google it. Watch a 5 minute YouTube tutorial. If your kids were trying to sneak alcohol or narcotics into the house, you’d probably go to great lengths to stop it. Be committed to doing the same with pornography. Others will say, “I’m uncomfortable talking about it.” So? You’d rather your spouse or child get dragged into a life-long battle with sin that they may never win, just because you want to preserve your comfort? Please take the threat of pornography with all the seriousness that it is due and refuse to make excuses when it comes to addressing and preventing it.
Fifth, pray. It’s an obvious step, but it’s one we should never neglect. Our God listens to our prayers. Our God doesn’t want pornography in our homes. He will help us if we turn to Him.
The pornography industry works 24/7 to get anyone and everyone they can hooked on their product. Our homes have to be ready to wage war and keep every person from falling prey. Make a commitment to keep this sin out of your house if it isn’t there already or drive it out if it is. Your soul and the souls of your children may depend on it.