The other day, my wife noticed a blind boy struggling to cross a busy intersection. Because of the traffic buzzing all around Cindy’s car, she was in no position to come to the boy’s aid––so she sat there looking through the windshield, cringing as he groped with his cane toward the curb and the relentless flow of traffic. When she could stand it no longer, she resolved to go and help the boy. But just as she opened her door, the boy stumbled off the curb, and Cindy shut her eyes in horror. Suddenly, a woman appeared out of nowhere, snatched the boy from harm’s way, and pulled him back onto the curb. Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump! Cindy’s heart galloped like a race horse, as she watched the boy’s apparent “sight coach” dust him off, speak a few words of encouragement, and steer him in a new direction. Cindy watched the boy and his coach, until they were distant specks on the sidewalk, and her heart rate had grown peaceful again. Then, she closed her door and drove on towards home…thankful for the gift of sight.
Sight. There is nothing so wonderful––yet so taken for granted. One seldom misses it until he is blind.
If you’ve been following my previous two posts, you’ll know I believe a different kind of blindness has plunged our world into oncoming traffic. I am speaking of pornography, and it is so intrusive that the nonprofit organization, “Family Safe Media”, reports that every second of every day, 28,258 Internet users view pornography. That means that in the course of 24 hours, 2.5 billion pornographic “hits” are recorded worldwide. Sometimes, however, the less dramatic statistic makes the loudest statement. According to FSM, 92 percent of today’s 8 to 16-year-olds have viewed porn online, many of them while doing homework.
I’ll pause to let you ponder the darkness of that last sentence.
Jesus once said, “The eye is the lamp of the body,” and the word He used for “lamp” was “luchnos”––a tiny, portable vessel, usually made of clay, and often no larger than a man’s fist. It was the common source of light in Jew and Gentile homes alike, and it needed to be filled daily with oil in order to perform its duty. Filled with anything else, it was useless.
The metaphor is not a hard one to understand.
We are a planet populated with blind people, who have filled our eyes with material so detrimental to our vision, it’s no wonder we lack clarity to lead ourselves out of the problems we face socially, politically, economically, and globally. What else do you expect from a blind society? In the two minutes it took me to write this paragraph, another 101,728,800 eyes were blinded, and the darkness keeps on thickening.
So, what’s a parent to do who discovers his son has blinded himself with porn? Do we simply say, “Oh, well. The damage is done. I’ll buy him a nice, long stick, and teach him to make the best of it?” Of course not. Friends, there is a way out of the darkness, and it goes like this…
The first thing a parent should do upon discovering porn has blinded a member of the household is to “get an arm around the shoulder”. Besides its blinding effect, pornography also isolates those who use it. If you want your son to regain his sight, you must first assure him you are not going to abandon him in the dark. Once he knows he is not alone with his porn, (and its monstrous effects), he will feel free to explore treatment with your help. So, hear this––the fastest way to perpetuate a porn torn soul’s isolation is to SHAME him and walk away. Don’t do it!
Secondly, resist the temptation to employ the ragged cliché––”just say no”. Truth be known, during the time it took your son to develop his addiction, he has said “no” many times to pornography. The problem is not your son’s “will power”, it’s his “won’t power” that now keeps him in the dark. He simply won’t consider that there are far better blessings he forfeits every time he uses porn. And you can be assured he “won’t” kick his addiction until he understands the things to which he should say, “yes” are more valuable than the things to which he should say, “no”. You see, one feels shame when he fails to say, “no”, to a thing that is destructive to himself. But one feels sorrow when he fails to say, “yes”, to a thing that benefits himself. And it is this sorrow that we want to tap into. The trick is finding a thing to which one can say, “yes”, whose payoff is greater than the payoff of pornography. A couple of biblical examples come to mind:
Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.”
The message in the Matthew passage is obvious. When one’s heart is pure, his vision is clear! Insight comes more readily. Wisdom is accessible. Direction is obvious and second nature. All of these and more are available to the one who says, “yes”, to purity. But the John passage is a little harder to understand. Let me suggest that the key lies in the word, “manifest”. In it’s latin form, the word is, “manifestus”––meaning, “joyful hand”. Thus, our John 14 passage suggests that when a person says, “yes”, to God’s commands, God extends His hand of fellowship––and the two walk together joyfully. Therefore, a key to recovery from porn addiction is saying “yes” to the far superior things that God offers––things like an intimate walk with the Savior, or clearer vision of God and His world. Until an addict realizes what he has been missing out on, it will be virtually impossible for him to say “no” to his porn for very long. The appeal of it is just too strong.
All of this amounts to a powerful reprogramming of the mind, or, to be more precise, a deliberate acquiring of new tastes. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” The Bible is filled with these tantalizing promises! When one feeds on them regularly, the appetite for pornography decreases––and eventually it becomes no more appealing to the former user than a bowl of rotten stew. (Think, “Esau”.)
Thirdly, you will want to encourage your son not to fall into the trap of “counting his days of purity”. This leads only to pride, which, in the end, is a far worse sin than sexual lust. Many is the boy, (or man), who congratulates himself on his 200th day of porn-free living, only to fall flat on his face the very next day. Jesus once said, “Let today’s troubles be sufficient for today, for tomorrow will have trouble of its own”, (Matt. 6:34). As your son breaks free of pornography, the best mindset he can adopt is… “one day at a time”. And speaking of time, you should remember that addictions do not develop overnight. It took a while for your son to get stuck in porn––and it may take an even longer time for him to get unstuck. Be patient, and encourage your son to be patient, too. This is the humble approach, and the most effective, as well. Do all you can to establish it.
But what if your son’s old tastes for pornography are just too hard to overcome––and, try as he might, he keeps returning to his sin? Here, is where I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have several local, Christian therapists in my resource files who do amazing work with people who are addicted to pornography, and I’d love to share their contact information with you.
That’s all for now.