March 25, 2007
#5 Raising G-rated Kids in an X-rated World
Introduction: We live in a sex-crazed culture in which boundaries have eroded. How do we protect our kids (and ourselves) from the onslaught of pornography, promiscuity, and unchecked sexuality?
1. Be strong inside: __________________________________________________.
Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, 10-18
2. Be smart outside: _________________________________________________.
Leviticus 18, Proverbs 4:23-27, 16:17, 22:5, Philippians 4:8
3. Be accountable: ___________________________________________________.
Romans 14:12, Hebrews 4:13; James 5:16
March 25, 2007
#5 Raising G-rated Kids in an X-rated World
ILL: Pastor Bob Russell writes:
When I was a teenager, my mother had a rule: don't ever bring your girlfriend to our house when no one is here. And I'd always say, "Mom, why? Don't you trust me?"
She always had the same answer. "No. That's too much temptation." She did not say, "It looks bad to other people. I don't trust her; I do trust you." She said, "No, that's too much temptation."
I would act like I was really hurt. My own mother doesn't trust me. That's terrible. I'd walk away and deep inside I would think, My mother's pretty sharp. She knows what I'm thinking. My mother believed in the sin nature—that it needed to be restrained more than my self-esteem needed to be boosted. Otherwise maybe I wouldn't be here today.
That’s one smart momma! You have a sin nature that needs to be restrained; so do your kids. And in today’s culture, most of the restraints have been removed. So mom and dad, if you want to raise sexually pure kids today, your work is cut out for you. That’s what we’re talking about today.
Offering and announcements:
Next week: Baptisms and communion—baptism classes today in all services (upstairs in office suite).
Easter sign-ups—back of tear-off tab. And invites!
Special Offering (at the start of the message)
Would you be willing to give two bucks to give someone a Bible? We are teaming up with other churches to give a New Testament to almost every household in our county—150,000 homes. These New Testaments are customized for our region, and will include local stories of lives changed by Jesus. 110,000 of the New Testaments will be delivered with the local newspaper to every subscriber at a cost of $2/Bible. Another 40,000 New Testaments will be distributed by churches and individuals at a cost of $1.50/Bible. If you do the math, that’s $280,000 to put a New Testament in 150,000 homes in our county.
I believe in the power of God’s Word so I think it’s a great idea to get it into as many people’s homes and hands as we can. A similar project was done in Colorado Springs. Based on what happened there, we can expect more than 8000
people to make first time commitments or recommitments to Jesus, and more than 4200 people begin to attend church, many for the first time.
The Bibles will be distributed next year on Bloomsday Sunday, 2008. Why are we taking an offering now? Because if we can raise $50,000 by March 31st, a matching grant of $50,000 will be given! So fifty churches in our community are trying to raise $1000 each this weekend by asking everyone to give $2. That’s what we’re asking for today: two bucks! Pay for one Bible: two bucks. If everyone here gives $2, Life Center will give $8000…a big chunk of that $50,000. $8000 bucks…8000 people make decisions for Jesus. That’s a good investment. Some of you might want to pay for more than one Bible…if you want to drop in $5, or $10 or $20, I don’t think God will mind! Woohoo!
We’re going to talk about how to raise G-rated kids in an X-rated world. How many of you don’t have kids? So is this message for you? Yep! I’m going to talk about things that affect all of us, whether we have kids or not, so stay tuned.
I’ve gotten a few complaints from people about this series. Some married couples didn’t come the week I spoke on “Safe Sex for Singles” because they weren’t single, so it didn’t apply to them. And some singles stayed away or said they wished they would have after the last two messages which dealt with sex in marriage—it didn’t apply to them, so why come?
Two weeks ago, when I was speaking on “The Best Sex You’ll Ever Have”, Pastor Noel rode to the evening service with me. He said, “I was thinking about not coming tonight. I’m single and 78 and didn’t think this message was for me. Then I realized that I don’t come to church just for me. I come to love and encourage others. And even if the message isn’t something I need, I may talk to someone this week who does need it, and I’ll be able to help them.”
Thank you, Noel.
Friends, I hope you won’t get into a consumer mentality that evaluates church only on the basis of “is it good for me?” This isn’t just about you; it’s about us. All of us. We’re a family, and we’re in this to help each other. I hope that each week you’ll hear Biblical truth that will help you, that applies to your life; and I hope you’ll hear Biblical truth that will help others, that you can share with a needy world. I hope you’ll have Noel’s attitude: “I don’t come to church just for me.”
Alright, let’s dive in. We live in a sex-crazed culture in which the boundaries have moved.
· When Gone with the Wind hit the big screen in 1939, Clark Gable uttered the first profanity in the movies. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” There was a huge uproar; Gable was fined $5000, an enormous sum at the time. The boundaries have moved—not only in terms of language but sexually explicit scenes. That was 68 years ago—one lifetime. And look where we’ve come in one lifetime. The boundaries have moved. Where do you think they’ll be in one more lifetime?
· When I was a kid, Ward and June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver didn’t even sleep in the same bed—they had twin beds! And that was a married couple! That was just over 40 years ago. The boundaries have moved. Today, in the four years of high school an average teenager who watches 3 hours of TV a day will watch over 13,000 sexual episodes or exchanges, most of them between unmarried couples. The boundaries have moved. Where do you think they’ll be in another 40 years?
· Remember when Elvis Presley was shocking because he wiggled his hips while he sang “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog”? The boundaries have moved. Many popular CD’s come with warning labels because of sexually explicit lyrics that I wouldn’t repeat anywhere, let alone in church. The boundaries have moved.
· Prior to 1991, you had to go somewhere to buy porn. But with the advent of the Web in 1991, porn can be piped into your home, with or without your approval. In 16 years, internet pornography has become a multi-billion dollar industry that targets your teenage kids. The boundaries have moved.
I could go on, but you all know what I’m talking about. We live in a sex-crazed culture in which the boundaries have moved. How do we protect our kids (and ourselves) from the onslaught of pornography, promiscuity, and unchecked sexuality?
1. Be strong inside: Build a strong relationship with God.
In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the spiritual battle we’re in and tells us:
Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Be strong in the Lord. If you want to win the spiritual battle in general, and the sexual battle in particular, you need to be strong in the Lord.
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to build a strong relationship with God. When you love God with all your heart, when you follow Jesus with everything you’ve got, you will be strong inside—stronger inside than any temptations outside.
ILL: In 8th grade science, we learned about atmospheric pressure. Who knows what air pressure is at sea level? 14.7 pounds per square inch, or 10 tons per square meter! Why doesn’t all that weight crush us?
We did an experiment. We took a metal coffee can, sealed it and inserted a vacuum hose, then turned on the vacuum. It was like a huge unseen hand crushed the can. What crushed it? Air pressure—14.7 pounds per square inch. Before we turned on the vacuum, there was 14.7 pounds of pressure inside the can pushing out; but when we sucked out the air, the can all by itself was unable to resist the pressure on the outside.
You need to be stronger inside than the pressure on the outside. All by yourself, you’ll have a difficult time resisting the pressure; you need God’s Spirit inside you, making you strong inside.
The best thing Laina and I did to raise G-rated kids was we gave them Jesus. We passed on a genuine love for God that has made them strong inside. We gave them a genuine faith in Jesus that has given them strong values and the courage and strength to live them out. Let me tell you how we did passed on a living faith to our kids.
First, we lived it. This is first and most important. Faith in God, love for God is more caught than taught. If you’re on fire, they’ll probably catch fire too. In fact, your kids will probably catch what you have…whatever it is, good or bad. Think about that. Do you want your kids to be like you? To live like you? Because the chances are, they will. So if you want your kids to love God, you must love Him. If you want your kids to be pure sexually, you must be. If you want your kids to follow Jesus, you must follow Him. With all your heart!
Everyone knows that actions speak louder than words. You can preach it all you want, but if you don’t live it, your kids will follow your actions more than words. So we lived it. We lived our faith and our kids—all adults now—caught it.
· We lived our faith by personally spending time with Jesus—PBJ time—praying, reading the Bible, journaling. Our kids do the same.
· We lived our faith by making church a priority—we’re here every week—it wasn’t optional or up for debate, and we didn’t let other things trump it. Our kids do the same.
· We lived our faith in our marriage. Laina and I have tried to love and respect each other as God wants. Our kids have watched that, and they’re doing the same.
· We lived our faith in the way we handled our failures. When we failed, we owned up and asked them to forgive us. Our kids are doing the same.
· We lived our faith in the way we treated others. We put a high value on people, and treated them with love and respect and kindness. Our kids do the same.
· We lived our faith in the way we shared it with others. Our kids watched and they do the same. I love to hear them tell stories of friends from work or school that they’ve shared with and brought to church.
· We lived our faith with our money, giving God the first ten percent, and being generous with the poor and needy. Our kids do the same.
I’m not saying we lived it perfectly—no one but Noel does that. But we lived it genuinely. And our kids caught it. First, we lived it.
Second, we taught it. We talked about Jesus, the Bible, our faith, and what it means to live it out…a lot. We didn’t preach; we just talked about it, naturally.
Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
We did that. We talked about what God’s word says at home, and in the car, and when we went to bed and when we got up. For years, when the kids were little, we read the Bible or told Bible stories at night as we tucked them in. We prayed together. And we taught them to pray. We talked about Jesus…a lot.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. You’ve got to teach them—live it first, but then you’ve got to teach them what it means to know and follow Jesus.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
When do you start training or teaching? When they’re children. Train a child. Some parents say, “I don’t want to force religion on my child; I’ll let my child grow up and make his own decision.” You don’t do that with education: “I don’t want to force education on my child. I’ll let him grow up and decide if he wants to go to school.” You don’t do that with behavior: “I don’t want to force my child to obey. I’ll let him grow up and decide if he wants to behave.” And you shouldn’t do it with faith. The word “train” is sometimes translated “start”. “Start a child in the way he should go.” From their earliest days, we taught them to follow Jesus. We started them out on the right path.
First we lived it, second we taught it.
Third, we had help. This is huge. What we gave our kids was reinforced and supported by many people. I want to give a shout out to some of my peeps!
· To all the Adventureland staff and volunteers who loved my kids from the cradle to the sixth grade…thank you! You made church fun for them… they loved coming to church because of you!
· To all the junior and senior high youth group staff and volunteers who loved my kids, taught them, led their small groups, and hung out with them…thank you! You were the reinforcements we needed when the battle heated up!
· To all the families in our church who were extra parents to our kids and whose kids were best friends with ours…thanks a million. Your example and your kids’ friendships helped our kids stay on the way. We love you!
· To our extended families—to Laina’s dad and my mom, to our sisters and brothers (all the aunties and uncles) and the cousins—whose prayers and love and acceptance made it easier for our kids to follow Jesus…thank you!
· And a special shout out to Laina’s dad, Pastor Noel, who has lived with us for the last 15 years and been more than a grandpa. You’ve been a father in the faith to us, and our kids know what it means to follow Jesus because they’ve watched you. Thanks Noel.
Our kids are sexually pure because they are strong in the Lord. They caught our faith because we lived it, we taught it, and we had help…lots of help.
First, be strong inside. If you want to raise G-rated kids in an X-rated world, give them Jesus. If you want them to win the battle, help them be strong in the Lord.
2. Be smart outside: Protect yourselves from wrong influences.
Be strong in the Lord. Be smart about what influences you. The old saying is, “Garbage in, garbage out.” So guard your heart. Protect yourself from wrong influences.
Proverbs 4:23-27 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life. Then it tells how. Watch what you say and listen to. Watch what you look at. Watch where you go and what you do.
Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life.
Avoid evil. Stay away from bad stuff! By guarding your way, you guard your life. Protect yourself and your family from wrong influences.
Does it really matter? Does it matter what you watch, what you listen to, what you look at, what you talk about? Yes!
ILL: The September, 2004 issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reported on a study of the effects of TV on teenage sexual behavior. Those with the highest exposure of TV sexual episodes were twice as likely to initiate sexual intercourse as those with the lowest exposure. The more you watch, the more likely you’ll imitate what you see. They also discovered that sexual talk on TV has the same effect on teens as depictions of sex. Does it matter what kids watch? You bet.
One other conclusion from this article is worth noting. “Parents may be able to reduce the effects of sexual content by watching TV with their teenaged children and discussing their own beliefs about sex and the behaviors portrayed. Pediatricians should encourage these family discussion*s.”
At the very least, know what your kids are watching and talk about it with them. Better still, protect your family from wrong influences.
ILL: Dads, if a man broke into your home at night to violate your children, what would you do? I’d fight to the death to protect my kids, wouldn’t you?
What kind of intruders are you allowing in your home…via the internet or the TV or video games or music? It’s time to protect your family. Here are some practical suggestions:
· No child needs a TV or computer with internet in his or her own room. TV’s should be in shared rooms—a family room or living room—where watching is a shared experience, not private or secret. All computers should be in open areas where others can see what is being viewed.
· Use a filtered internet service. We’ve listed some on the back of your outline. These services block inappropriate content and emails before they get in your house.
· Regularly check the usage history on all computers. You can set it up to see which websites have been visited, when and by whom.
· If you have cable or satellite TV, block all inappropriate channels. You can also block movies or programs by ratings.
· Set a good example in what you watch. If you’re watching movies or TV shows with lots of sexual content, it’s not good for you, and it’s pretty hard to tell your teenage kids not to watch that stuff if you are. Again, actions speak louder than words.
· Know where your kids are, who they are with, what they are doing, and what they are watching or listening to. When our kids had friends over and wanted to watch movies, we had to approve the movies. We said “no” to movies, TV, and music that was sexually inappropriate.
We had boundaries. And let me say again…when do you start? When they are little. If you wait until they’re teenagers and then start saying no, you’re in trouble. We started young, and they accepted the boundaries early on. But even if you’re starting late…better late than never. You’re the parents—show some courage and set some boundaries. Try to protect your kids.
By the way, when our kids protested and asked why, we didn’t say, “Because I said so.” We explained why. We explained the importance of loving God and living His way, and the dangers of moving the boundaries. This is very important. Rules without reasons result in rebellion. Tell them why.
Which leads to my last point:
3. Be accountable: Talk about it.
Be strong inside: build a strong relationship with God.
Be smart outside: protect yourself from wrong influences.
And be accountable: talk about it. We talked about our sexuality from the time the kids were very young. I said in the first message in this series that kids are curious, and ours were. When they asked questions, we answered them honestly, clearly and Biblically. We didn’t freak out. We didn’t panic. We didn’t get embarrassed. We didn’t get mad. We just talked about it.
We created an atmosphere, a culture of openness and honesty in our family—no secrets. (The exception to that was Jeff, who because of his disabilities, had trouble socially, and had secrets. Sadly, it was one of his secrets that killed him—secretly buying and taking painkillers.) But our other kids have always been very open with us. When they came home from dates, they’d tell us what they did, where they went, what they talked about. We knew when they had their first kiss. When they began dating seriously, we talked about what kind of sexual boundaries they had established, and we talked about how they were doing living within those boundaries. Now we were the ones asking questions, and they were honest with us.
Again, we’re not perfect at this. Sometimes I overreacted and the kids shut down. Sometimes Laina got stubborn—she’s one tough momma—and the kids would shut down. But we’d regroup, and apologize and try again, because we were committed to being able to talk about it.
Parents, study after study has shown that you are the biggest influence in your child’s life. Bigger than their friends, their music, the media…bigger than all those other influences. So talk with them—the operative word is “with”. Don’t talk at them; talk with them. Listen. Be honest. Don’t sacrifice your influence by failing to communicate. Create that culture of communication. No secrets.
I want to finish by talking with you about childhood sexual abuse.
For the last couple months, I’ve been one of several local Protestant leaders meeting with local Catholic leaders to discuss what we might do together in response to the sexual abuse crisis they are facing. We have focused our discussion on two things.
1. What can we do to prevent childhood sexual abuse, not only in the church, but in our whole community? We want to make our community, our homes, our schools, and our churches safe places for kids to grow up.
2. What can we do to help the victims of childhood sexual abuse? We are concerned not only for those who were abused in church settings, but all victims of sexual abuse.
And that is a staggering number of people. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. That means roughly 1 in 5 people were sexually abused as children. There may be 200-300 of you sitting here right now who were abused as children. An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse live in America today. These are your friends and neighbors and family members, and many of them are living with a terrible secret that eats away at them.
Sexual abuse is the most secret of sexual sins. But its consequences are catastrophic and widespread and felt by all of us. At one of our recent Catholic/Protestant meetings, I listened as a lady who has worked with victims for years described the loss, grief, and anger that the victims feel. Victims struggle with:
· Hatred toward the offender, and often toward society in general and God.
· Mistrust. Many women who have been abused find it almost impossible to ever trust a man. Those abused in church have lost their trust in the church and its leaders, and sometimes in God.
· Guilt. Even though they were the victims, those who were abused carry a huge load of guilt and shame. It is a false, but overpowering sense of guilt.
· Low self-esteem. They feel worthless.
· Intimacy. They have a diminished desire for sexual activity in marriage. What was meant for pleasure is associated with great pain and avoided.
· Dependency on alcohol and drugs. 70-80% of abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
· Psychiatric disorders. Young girls who are abused are 3 times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than those who were not. 70% of young men who were abused seek psychological treatment for substance abuse or suicidal thoughts or attempts.
· Increased vulnerability to sexual temptation. Victims of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to be sexually promiscuous. More than 75% of teenage prostitutes were sexually abused as children.
· Second generation sexual abuse. The abused frequently become abusers, especially men.
How can you find help and healing? The first and most important thing to do is talk about it. No more secrets.
First, talk about it with God. Jesus Christ can heal broken hearts, and help you rebuild your life. Jesus offers forgiveness for the past, power for the present and hope for the future. You are safe with God.
ILL: I heard a lady tell her story; she had been violently raped when she was 26 and her life went into a tailspin. She began to read the Bible, and not knowing where to start she began with Genesis. She said, “The only problem with starting in Genesis is that soon you get to Leviticus.” We all laughed. She continued, “But Leviticus is where I met God. I read in Leviticus 18 all of God’s laws prohibiting sexual abuse and rape and incest, and read of God’s punishments, and I felt safe with God. This was a God who understood my pain, a God who said that what happened to me was wrong and that my rapist deserved to die. I was safe with this God.”
You’re safe with God, I promise. Talk about it with God.
Second, talk about it with family and friends. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member will seem scary; but you will probably never be free until you tell another person what has happened to you. Your friend or family member may not have any great advice for you, but will be able to offer compassion and concern, and love and a listening ear. But just getting it out in the open, in the light, is a great relief, and an important step towards wholeness.
Third, talk about it with a trained counselor. A good counselor can help you work through the emotions and issues associated with abuse, and stay on the road to recovery and wholeness.
Talk about it. No more secrets. That’s the road to healing. If you want to talk about it today, we’ll have some of our pastors and prayer team up front after the service. Or if you came with someone you know, when we’re done, turn to them and say, “Can we talk?” And talk about it.
I want to recommend an excellent website on childhood sexual abuse. It’s an organization called Darkness To Light whose mission is to reduce childhood sexual abuse by educating adults. Their website is www.darkness2light.org. I’d encourage you to go there and educate yourself.
Parents, if you want to raise G-rated kids in an X-rated world, talk about it. Create an open honest culture of communication in your home. And if one of your children ever says that he or she has been inappropriately touched, believe them. Children rarely make it up, so believe them, and get help right away.