This Friday afternoon I will spend close to two hours speaking to an assembly of 7th graders. I will be showing them why it is important to guard their hearts and I will be giving them practical suggestions on how to keep them sticky – for a marriage bond that will last.
After a short break the youngsters will learn to discern media messages. And in the process I will warn them to steer clear of pornography. I’ll tell them that pornography is especially dangerous for kids their age and I’ll tell them why:
When you are young – a toddler, a pre-schooler, an elementary school kid – your brain is like a sponge. It continually soaks up all kinds of information. Every piece of new information that comes at you gets attached to existing information and synapses (connections) are formed.
Then, when you become around 11 for girls and 12 for boys, your brain starts to prune itself. It’s like little scissors start to snip some of the connections. Random info that you don’t really need gets snipped away. But the connections that are reinforced – like by practicing the piano; adding, subtracting, multiplying every day; listening to the same song over and over until you have the lyrics memorized – those connections become really strong and tough. They are too thick for the scissors to snip.
So if you are a 10, 11, 12 year old kid looking at pornography on your computer, smart phone, whatever, your brain will make a connection between inappropriate images and sexual arousal. And if you reinforce that connection by looking at it again and again, the connection will become strong. Very strong. Too strong to be snipped.
Years from now, when you marry the beautiful, godly woman of your dreams, you’ll have a difficult time being aroused by her – especially after the newness of your marriage wears off – because you have trained your brain to be aroused by lust, exploitation and flesh rather than by love and intimacy with a beautiful soul.
There was an article in Time magazine several years ago that said pornography is as addictive as heroin when it comes to the effect it has on the brain. When I was a social worker, I often saw moms choose heroin over their children. Not because they didn’t love their children, but because heroin is so powerfully addictive. So is pornography.
Five years ago I took a group of young people on a retreat to pilot a Bible study I was writing. On the morning of the final day I asked them to share their stories. Here’s RJ’s story:
I first met RJ and Beth when they came to lead worship at the retreat. I hired RJ over the phone, sight unseen. It was clearly a divine appointment. I still keep somewhat in touch with them through Facebook. They now have a band, a precious little boy and another baby on the way. They are a darling couple and their lives are good, and hard. Sometimes REALLY hard for Beth. Every time her husband chooses to indulge his addiction he is choosing to break her heart. When his lifeless eyes reveal that he has fallen off the wagon, when their browser history reveals that he has been googling “how to get around Covenant Eyes” at 2 am, he breaks her heart again. REALLY breaks it.
And though she forgives him, that forgiveness costs her a lot. And he keeps letting her pay.
Which breaks MY heart.
I asked my retreat guests to work through portions of the Bible study and give me feedback. I collected them at the end.
In the chapter entitled “Know Your Enemy” I asked:
Is the enemy trying to rob you of the glory of your future marriage by appealing to your physical need? Is he trying to get you to prove your desirability? Is he offering you immediate gratification with a cheap imitation of the “naked and unashamed” marriage God has planned for you? Couples who are living together and sleeping together are being tricked out of it and it’s a darn shame.
Beth highlighted those questions and wrote:
This kind of trickery does not stop once you get married. It just begins to happen in new ways. Also, Satan does what he can to get people to have sex outside of marriage & he does what he can to keep you from having sex when you are married, unless it is w/ someone other than your spouse. We need to fight this tactic!
I wonder how many young wives, whose husbands are addicted to pornography – whether through actively partaking or through revisiting the images that they cannot snip from their brains – are tempted to prove their desirability elsewhere. To somebody. To anybody.
Mamas, watch your babies. Talk to them, explain things to them. And when you have a minute, read this:
© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist