Like the mother above, we may be horrified by what we find on our computer. I received this email recently. What would you say?

My husband and I planted a church in [ ] several years ago. I’ve been leading a Mom’s Bible study using your book The Disciple Making Parent.

Two days ago I caught our almost 15 year old son looking at inappropriate pictures on the Internet. We are purchasing software for our devices, etc. but I was wondering if you have any resources that you would recommend for the discipleship process that we now need to embark on to help my son work through and hopefully overcome this temptation. I appreciate any help/resources you could suggest.

Thank you. Emily

My Response
Thank you for reaching out to me. I wish I could be onsite and help out. The best I can do is ask some questions and make some generalizations based on my interacting with other families.

Questions about the nature of your family – how strong is your marriage, how involved is your husband, what number is your son, how stressful has the church plant been, what is the state of your son’s heart (repentant, hard), does he claim to be a Christian, do you think he really is a Christian, etc. Answers to all those would affect how I approach this situations. I will give you my answer making some assumptions.

With teens and with all children, I recommend a strategy that involves two parts: heart and behavior (words and actions). And in this case your husband should take the lead. Moms tend to be horrified by the thought that their child would even consider porn. Men, who know what goes on in our hearts, understand that this is a constant temptation. If I was pastoring today I would expect that over 50%? 80%? 95%  of my guys would be struggling with this. I think it is important that you see this as a gospel moment that God in his grace had allowed your son to get caught and help. Dont see this as, “How in the world could my son do this. We have raised him right.”

Behavior – yes in this day and age we need blocking software. Do other electronics need to be taken away? Even as you do that, dont think that this will solve the heart problem. It just helps the impulsive sin temptation.

Heart – I would expect that your husband would take the lead. This should serve as a wake up call for him. In addition, it is a training moment to understand what guys who come into his church are fighting. I would encourage him to take your son out for breakfast and start many conversations that include:

Speaking to the Heart
1. “I love you, God loves you, It is his grace that caused you to get caught.”
2. “God’s view of sexuality is good. So powerful it is surrounded by covenant. Distorted in every age.” (Have you talked with him about the mechanics of sexuality? If not, I think this is a shortcoming that you can apologize for.)
3. “Men especially are tempted to pervert this gift. But Jesus tells us to get rid of anything that prompts temptation” (Matt 5:29-30).
4. “We are going to fight this battle together. This is every man’s battle. I am going to ask you accountability questions. This will draw us together.” (Make sure you have an atmosphere where it is safe to confess sin. Is your home one where members of the home regularly confess sin to each other?)
5. “Tell me about this temptation. How long?”
6. “This is a chance to get serious with God and not coast as a Christian. This is a chance to ask if you have a new heart.”
7. One idea depends on your judgment of the situation. Either have him confess it to another man/elder in the church and ask for prayer. Or tell him that if this happens again, you will have him do that.
8. Never forget about the flesh.  That is what the chapter on the Flesh and the Spirit is about in The Disciple-Making Parent. I would assume that he will be tempted the rest of his life. This would be an area for you and your husband to pray about and for him to keep an ongoing conversation about.
9. Tell him that you two will be praying about this because you are on his side. And you will be praying that any future sin comes out – not to catch him but to help him fight this temptation.

Some Resources
Waging War on Lust – I have written a Bible study that he and your son could do together.  This links to the kindle version. Paperback is available from my website here.
Finally Free – I read and went through this with a young man in his twenties. A longer book.
The Porn Problem This is the next entry in The Talking Points book. It is short and readable. While it may not be a book the two of them will do together, it will give your husband some “talking points.”
The Purity Principle – Another short book to read through together. I love Randy Alcorn and his ministry!
Every Young Man’s Battle – I have not read this but it has been a bestseller. Although written by a psychologist it might be helpful for equipping your son. I have since pulled my mention of this resource after reading this review. Moral of the story: Dont mention a book you haven’t read. 🙂
Passport to Purity – The classic weekend getaway for a parent and child.

Emily’s followup back to me:
Thank you for all the resources. The Bible study you wrote looks like something we will definitely use. As soon as I caught him I bought the passport to purity weekend kit. It had been something we had been considering but were trying to figure out when to use it because it’s a fine line between protecting and prematurely introducing ideas that may be detrimental if it’s not a struggle yet. Obviously we erred on the wrong-side of that one.

And just as an encouragement for you, I had done Chapter 20 in the Disciple Making Parent book with some other mom’s a few weeks before Christmas and I felt like the Lord was leading me to fast and pray for this son specifically for his lack of self-control in his life as a whole. I had been doing it once a week for over a month when this came out and I do think that it is all linked so thank you for your book.