Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hear Evil, See Evil.......Speak to God

I had a friend ask me how to teach her son about pornography, including the types of pornography. I would again refer to The Drug of the New Millenium by Mark Kastleman as a start. He includes a section on what he calls “Three Power Principles to Protect Your Family from the Plague of Pornography.” Because many of us feel that we can’t take the time to read an entire book, I will add a few of my thoughts about teaching children about pornography.

There is really only one type of pornography. Anything that is intended to stimulate sexual arousal (outside of the sanctioned marital relationship) is considered pornography. I know some people talk about “soft” or “hard” porn. Dallin H. Oaks said, “Some seek to justify their indulgence by arguing that they are only viewing ‘soft,’ not ‘hard,’ porn. A wise bishop called this refusing to see evil as evil. He quoted men seeking to justify their viewing choices by comparisons such as ‘not as bad as’ or ‘only one bad scene.’ But the test of what is evil is not its degree but its effect” (Ensign, April 2005). Pornography is just pornography.  

Now let’s consider how to teach our children. We need something tangible to teach younger children who do not understand a lot of abstract concepts (and sex is semi-abstract to a child because they do not understand the desire part). Let’s think about how pornography enters our minds. The way to feed our mind is through our senses. Pornography generally enters through our eyes, ears, and touch.

Teach your child:
1.      Eyes – What enters through the eyes that is pornography? Immodesty, or seeing positions of the body that include men and women lying on top of one another. This can be pictures, movies, television, anything you can view with your eyes. Teach your child about modesty – what is looks like for boys and girls. There’s a simple way to teach all ages and both sexes about modesty:
a.       Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
Head - If you touch your head, does your belly show? If so, there's too much show.
Shoulders - If you touch your shoulders, do you feel fabric covering where your fingers can feel? If not, add a layer or cover/cardigan. 
Knees - When you bend to touch your knees, do you feel fabric? Does your cleavage show (for girls)? If you don't feel fabric, you need more length. If you see cleavage, you need an insert of some sort or layer (for girls). 
Toes - If you touch your toes, does your skirt/shorts go up too high in the back? Does your cleavage show (for girls)? If so, add some length to your shorts/skirt and height to your shirt. 

You can use this to let your child know how to tell what is immodest. Then, when they see someone dressed immodestly, they can recognize it and look away.

Also consider, what shows are you watching and your child watching? Is there immodesty or sexual behavior? What is being brought into your home that could be considered pornography, but isn’t always recognized because it’s on a family time television show or the side of the screen on your computer?

2.      Ears – What enters through the ears that is pornography? Music, like Katy Perry, enters the ears. Teach your children to listen to lyrics. Teach them how to look up lyrics, or know where to go to read lyrics. I used to listen to music with a couple swear words here and there, but don’t anymore because I realized that my children wanted to listen to my music (which usually has a good message). But, they would be singing those words with me. I might know how to skip a word, but they don’t. Then, I would have to explain why we listen to the word, but don’t say it. It’s still there in your mind……even if you don’t say it. What is said on television or movies also enters ears.

3.      Touch – What touch is considered pornographic? Obviously, genital touching (here I mostly mean masturbation or seeing others touch people in private areas). Dancing with others too closely and other behavior like this can be pornographic for those watching.

We know all this about our eyes, ears, and touch. But, this is a way to teach your child to look for clues as to what is pornography. Teach them to tune in to what they see and hear, and what they feel in their hearts.

This takes persistence. I was at Hancocks the other day with our oldest son who is 8. He was helping choose fabric for his new scripture case. As I was looking at fabric he said, “Mom, don’t look at that.” He was looking away and pointing in the direction of the end cap. Of course, I looked. I didn’t realize he wasn’t teasing until I saw what he was pointing at – a puzzle with a picture of a boy with his pants down (back view). Now, this wouldn’t be considered pornographic to an adult. But, it’s a start to understanding pornography for a child. It didn’t stimulate sexual arousal and wasn’t meant to. But, it was disrespectful of a body of a child of God. That is the message I am trying to instill in my children, to be respectful of bodies. Then, they will have a testimony of the gospel to anchor them and help guide them through the spirit. They will know what feels wrong. Linda Reeves gave a great message during General Conference this last April. She reminded us that filters can help with technology and such, but the most valuable filter is within your child’s heart. Help them recognize that spirit so they can avoid pornography in some cases and get away from it quickly when it presents itself in other cases.

And, don’t lie to yourself……this WILL happen to your child. They WILL see pornography. The outcome may depend on the training you give them now.  

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