Teens and dirty pictures

We bought a home computer just before Christmas 1997. How my children developed a knack for computer internet trekking so quickly I do not understand.

Like other parents, I wondered if our computer would threaten my children's sense of decency and modesty; if it would challenge their commitment to chastity.

When I was growing up, a dirty picture was a woman in a bikini. A 1990s Sports Illustrated "Swimsuit Edition" is pornographic by 1950's standards. We did not have to cope with full frontal nudity in magazines or on movie screens nor sexual acts performed live on computer screens.

While the 1950's teenager might have hidden behind the garage with a stolen Playboy, today's teen simply dials up a net address in the seclusion of the family's computer center or in a library kiosk.

Internet service providers have devised screening programs to protect teens from obscenity, but as with all attempts to treat symptoms, this does nothing to cure root problems. It is not the availability of dirty pictures that is the problem; it is the inability to abide by the Holy Spirit's guidance and avoid that which poisons one's spirit.

One day I was reviewing the web site contacts of one of my teens. He had received unwanted e-mail begging him to "Sample 30 Luscious Babes" or some other such nonsense. He was curious and went on the net to see the sample.

The good that resulted from his net navigations was the productive long discussion we had about moral purity. It was then I began to consider his dilemma.

Today's teens, more than at any time in our history, are forced to develop very mature convictions about purity at a far earlier age than previous generations. There is nothing, other than banning their computer access, that will keep a determined teen from finding filth on the net, save a pure conscience. Nothing.

Without strong moral conviction that effects all thoughts, actions, and emotions, our teens will be lost to the smut-purveyors and American society will pay the price. We will look forward to a spiraling increase in sexual activity, its resultant disease and unwanted pregnancies, more abortions and increasing impotency. As discouraging as current divorce statistics may be, a new generation of hyper-sexualized young men, dissatisfied in spousal sexual relations, bodes ill for the future of the institution of marriage.

There has never been a time when teens needed clearer and higher moral convictions than today. They must decide to reject the destructive impact of pornography and then discipline themselves to avoid its contact. This is a tall order and American society must help.

Unfortunately, modern sex educators, making their presentations in a "morally neutral" environment and train young people how to wear condoms, too often believe that teens are incapable of abstinence; that they are no better than animals at controlling their urges. This is the wrong kind of help.

In church youth groups and homes, we must be ready for discussions about these moral conflicts. We are going to have to accept the sad and sordid truth that the mores of yesterday, save for the Holy Scriptures, are long past. We are going to have to be candid about our own struggles. And we are going to have to pray hard that at an early age, God's Spirit will inhabit the spirit of our children.

Of course we need to be careful about that to which we expose our youth, and we will personally have to be consistent in policing our own sexual curiosity, but it is relatively futile for us to hope that blocking access to smut will solve this problem, nor will the heavy hand of government applying its secular standards of decency.

Only a real, living relationship with God will provide the answer to this destructive dilemma.

Author - Speaker - teacher