New statistics and new reasons to guard our children

I was enjoying my first cup of coffee and watching the news when the reporter stumbled over these words: A new study from a children’s advocacy group reports one in ten 12 to 13 year-olds are worried they are addicted to porn.  The reporter has children about that age and I could tell it was difficult for her to finish reporting the story.  The other statistics she reported were equally disturbing.

One in five youngsters surveyed said they had seen pornographic images that shocked them.

A worrying 12 percent also said they had made or been part of a sexually explicit video.

One in five 12 to 13-year-olds think that watching porn is normal behavior.

Watching porn is making them feel depressed, giving them body image issues and making them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts they’re not ready for.

Young people are turning to the Internet to learn about sex and relationships. We know they are frequently stumbling across porn, often unintentionally, and they are telling us very clearly that this is having a damaging and upsetting effect on them.

Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys.

The study is out of the UK and based on approximately 700 conversations with children.  No statistics are exact, but if those numbers are even close to the truth it is still incredibly alarming.  Every parent worries about their children’s health and tries to prevent them from accident, illness and disease.  Exposure to the Internet is becoming a significant threat to our children’s health and well-being.

The same news broadcast displayed huge crowds of people who were protesting the legislation that would protect the religious freedom laws.  Those laws were labeled discriminatory and many of the politicians were back-pedaling from their original stance because of the noisy, angry crowds.

I don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news.  I prefer to write blogs that will encourage and brighten a person’s faith walk.  But, the Church is currently losing the culture war.  We have built bigger buildings, forged close-knit communities, and tried to circle the wagons to protect ourselves from an unbelieving culture.  Some churches are set up and programmed so that their members have very little need to have much contact with the world.  The church provides everything we need for our social lives and spiritual education.

In the last 30 years I’ve watched church buildings in our nation get bigger and the pew-statistics of church membership grow smaller.  Our Christian influence has become a negative for many in our culture and in the media.  Hollywood probably won’t say much about the pornography statistics above.  They might have to turn down important roles if they talk about pornography. There won’t be huge protests outside the Google, Yahoo and other Internet providers’ headquarters.  We all enjoy the up-sides of the Internet.  Our ministry, for example, depends on it.

What can Christians do to protect our kids, and their friends?  Statistics indicate that it will not happen through legislation.  We don’t have the numbers to win democratic elections anymore.  Truthfully, it isn’t possible to legislate morality anyway.  The only way to change the world is the way the Christians in the early church changed the world – one soul at a time.  

Peter was explaining what had happened to those gathered in the upper room at Pentecost.  He reminded them of what the prophet had said, 500 years earlier:  “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:18).  What happened next describes what changed the world:

Acts 2:37-41 reports: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’  Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

This is the good news.  A LOT of people recognize that our culture is not what they want it to be and are looking for answers.  Did the statistics above “cut you to the heart” and make you wonder, “what shall we do?”  Our answer is the same as it was for those in the first century.  God’s people, who will walk in the Holy Spirit’s giftedness, are equipped to share the truth of God and the promise of salvation with the world.  And God is ready to bless that effort in miraculous ways.  How many thousands will be saved and how will our culture change if Christians return to the basic call of our faith?  Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19)

One last thought from James, Jesus’ half-brother:  “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).  Spirit-led Christians can change the culture, the lives of our children and the world they will grow into.  That is the promise of Scripture.  Let’s get busy.  Pray for God’s guidance and obey his call.

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