Would it surprise you to learn that 12 percent of the websites today are pornographic? Would you believe the statistic that there are presently over 24 million pornographic websites?
As if those numbers aren’t shocking enough, how about the statistics on youth porn consumption: 93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls are exposed to porn before 18, often as young as 9?
Statistics may shock you, but more important than knowing the extent of a problem, is learning the steps of a solution.
Noel Bouche and Dan Martin of pureHOPE, a ministry providing Christian solutions in this sexualized culture, recently spent a weekend at Grace Fellowship Church doing exactly that as they educated and equipped different audiences with tools for “Raising Kids in a Sexualized Culture.” Saturday night Noel and Dan met with church staff, elders and lay ministry leaders to explain the ministry and discuss Sunday’s plans, which included a sermon on purity, a parenting seminar for parents and grandparents, and two events for the youth.
“I heard Noel and Dan speak and really liked what they had to say,” explained Dave Gundlach, a Corona del Mar resident and teaching pastor at Grace. “Sex is something we have never addressed before, but it’s so pervasive and it impacts our relationships with our kids, with each other, and with God. Historically the church has not been known for addressing this issue well, and it’s like the elephant in the middle of the room; it needs to be addressed and we wanted to do it right.”
Established in 1983, pureHOPE is a nonprofit ministry that partners with churches and Christian schools across the country to equip people to pursue sexual purity in a sexually exploitive world.
“Our vision is a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness, and we work towards that through our mission of providing Christian solutions in a sexualized culture,” Noel said. “ As Christians, we need to pursue purity in thought, word, and deed that communicates love and justice, rather than apathy and self-indulgence. As parents, we need to lead by example, model this for our kids, in some cases helping them avoid the poor decisions we made.”
The four core values of pureHOPE begin with the letters P U R E:
P – Pray: develop intimacy with God
U – Understand: gain insight and knowledge of God’s purposes and design for sexuality
R – Resolve: commit to a life of openness and accountability
E – Engage: love one another by cultivating deep relationships
“The key to the whole process is to have ongoing conversations with our kids about sex, and purity,” Dan explained in the parenting seminar. “We need to speak truth into our kid’s lives. It is never an easy conversation, so give up the dream that it ever will be. When parents ask when they should give the biological sex talk, I tell them, it’s younger than you think it is; it’s probably 3rd grade, and it’s ongoing.”
“Our children are inundated with lies; the American Academy of Pediatricians estimated that children are exposed to over 14,000 sexual messages in a year,” Dan continued. “Kids have questions, feelings, and hormones; if you’re not speaking to them, they’ll get their questions answered elsewhere. Who do you want to be the source of their information? Become your kid’s go-to person, and when they ask you tough questions, thank them for coming to you.”
Dan advised parents to protect and equip children, but to be mindful not to over-protect and under-equip. He also said to be honest with your children about your past, and model integrity in your everyday life.
“Tell your story, if you wish it had been different, say ‘I want to help you avoid some of my mistakes, I wish my parents had talked to me,’” Dan said. “Look at your own media use. You may be able to choose your programs, but not the ads, so be sure to change the channel during certain ads, and tell your children why. Say ‘I changed it because I don’t need to see that, and I don’t want to replay that image in my mind all day long.’ That’s a better message than ‘I don’t want you seeing that.’ What are you modeling?”
“Do your research to understand social media and develop a tech strategy, for everyone,” Dan continued. “Manage screen time for anything that has a screen, such as TV, cell phones, or computers. Schedule breaks from those; we have a basket that cell phones go in at 9 p.m. Encourage face time and look for teachable moments. We have God’s Word and the opportunity to introduce them to God, the author of sex in the first place.”