Raising righteous children in a world full of corruption and evil cannot be accomplished by locking them away in a high tower like Rapunzel.
One of the scariest propositions we have to face his parents he is our children encountering pornography and becoming corrupted by it.
The quarantine approach to preparing children to face a world full of pornography is misguided approach that will lead to tragedy. An example how this approach is misguided can be illustrated by the Native American being decimated by the diseases brought by the Europeans. As many as 90 percent of the native peoples of america died of diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles, and even chicken pox, because unlike the Europeans, the native peoples had no resistance to these diseases. American Indians at European Contact
We’ve been told to be in the world but not of the world raising our children away in a locked tower is not raising them in the world. It does not prepare them to meet the challenges and temptation that they will face as they sojourn in the world.
The LDS Church recently released a video…
For a parent of small children to think that by the time their child is 10, almost half of their peers will have encountered pornography is very scary.
“Hopefully this video can be a tool for helping inoculate children by giving them an understanding of pornography before they encounter it,” said Lee Gibbons, manager of family-focused products for the Church who was involved with the video production. “We think it’s something that’s fairly inevitable for children these days.”
“It’s not sufficient to teach our children what our parents taught us,” said Matthew Hamby, manager of the Church’s family-focused products. “As soon as children are old enough to talk and understand, it’s time to start giving them the tools they need.”
What is a parent to do?
If hiding of our children from the world isn’t proving to be an adequate defense, perhaps the answer lies in approach that is far more radical, far more comprehensive. Perhaps an approach of inoculation against the dangerous temptation of pornography is the solution to preparing our children with adequate tools to resist the temptations found in ubiquitous pornography.
Consider for a moment one metaphor is one shared by an online friend –
I can remember as a youth we did not have any guns in the house, for the most part. At one point my mother had a .22 rifle that she ‘stored’ for my uncle for a couple of years. I can remember ‘finding’ this rifle and along with a brother ‘playing’ with it some like it was a toy.
When I got older and on my own I started buying some guns. By the time I married I had several around and had decided that my kids would learn about guns, gun safety and as part of it I would allow them to have opportunities to touch, hold and eventually shoot guns. I have never had any issues with guns around, my kids have always been safe with them and no hint of inappropriate use/behaviors with guns. I often took them out to shoot, either air rifles, .22’s or other firearms as they were able to hold and shoot them, sometimes I would virtually hold the firearm for them but allowed them the opportunity to shoot it.
The result? I keep loaded firearms around the house with zero fear of one of my kids getting it and having any sort of unintentional discharge. My kids have no “curiosity” about guns as they know the right time/place to shoot them and they have sufficient exposure to them.
The same principle follows with nudity. Hide nudity from kids and they will be curious about it. They will find the hidden ‘nudity’ and search it out. Anyone who thinks this won’t happen or that they can keep if from kids is a fool. There has never been a kid who was curious about nudity and kept from it that didn’t find an inappropriate means of satisfying that curiosity at one point or other. This applies to both genders.
By exposing kids to non-sexual nudity in appropriate and controlled settings you completely dispel the curiosity as a factor and kids learn a healthy respect for the body and never become ensnared by the trap of pornography.
So what are some specific steps we can take to empower our children with tools to help them recognize pornography for the lie it is when they encounter it.
Developing open and honest communication channels with your children.
- Have an open attitude about nudity in the home.
- Change clothes with the door open.
- If someone is in the shower, the toilet is available for use.
- Delay dressing after a shower.
- Walk naked from the bathroom, to the bedroom, or other rooms in the house.
- Don’t shame your children when they are naked. The reason we dress is for protection, not to hide.
- Have an attitude that the human form is of value, of worth, not dirty, not evil.
- Have high quality art in your home that includes nude art.
When kids, especially preteens are exposed to pornography, their curiosity is what makes them continue to look. If they have never encountered the nude human form, this will be their first exposure. If they have only been taught that the nudity is wrong, that will add an increased thrill to the exploration of satisfying their curiosity, as they explore the unknown with the added kick of doing something illicit. However, if they have been exposed to nudity in a way that makes the nude human form seams as something normal and natural to them, the the message that pornography is wrong or unhealthy will have stronger message for them to not continue to look. They will recognize the lie of the imagery, with the increased level of open, honest communication, they will feel more empowered to bring this up to their parents, and parents can help them process the new information. They won’t be deceived by the temptor’s whispers of “Quick… hide.. you’ve committed a sin, you should be ashamed.”
In another conversation thread my friend said, in the context of how this change of attitude withing his family culture has affected his children’s experience with pornography:
Having grown up in a very conservative family I have to admit that I am glad there was no Internet when growing up. If there had been, I would probably have had some serious problems. At that time porn was only via the magazines and adult book/video stores. Not a lot of those in Happy Valley and the Play boys and such were generally hidden under one’s dad’s mattress. I didn’t associate much with those who would have had access to them so I didn’t get that much exposure (yes pun is probably intended).
Initially I followed the pattern of my parents at home but in time came to re-evaluate the situation and through an academic approach learned [this approach to] nudity. Even to this day I have to admit I don’t have the emotional need/desire to be nude as many others do, but I have come to enjoy the freedom of nudity and how relaxing it is. My kids were teens and pre-teens when I came into the [change of perspective on]nudity and so it was interesting to transition. My wife having a Finnish ancestry was open to the concepts and even wondered why I was so prudish to begin with. We approached the teens and allowed them to study it out, ponder and pray about it to get their own answers on [this new perspective on nudity]. They accepted it without issue. The pre-teens were advised of the changes and after some ‘boundary testing’ soon settled down to the new environment without issue.
I can’t speak for others, but I can speak to my family situation. Since making these changes I have noticed a much closer and more open family. My kids have been willing to talk to me about issues that a few years earlier would never have happened. I have been able to approach them on topics that have been crucial for them to making good decisions. All I can say is that it’s been a positive experience all the way around.
In our culture, nudity is treated as something shameful, to be hidden. Because as adults the only time we are naked with another person is for sex, because the way the media; movies, magazines, books for treat nudity as a precursor for sex we think nudity equals sex. But there is nothing inherently sexual in the state of nudity. As a way for overcoming pornography addiction changing the mindset, the belief that nudity equals sex, endows the individual with a powerful new tool to being able to disengage the need for pornography.
In the story from MyChainsAreGone, the collar in that story is this attitude of “nudity equal sex” – that the body is inherently sexual, and removing that binding from our mind completely frees us from the chain of pornography.
But… isn’t nudity sinful?
In the Adam & Eve Story — it was Satan, not God who told them to be ashamed of their nakedness.
In Moses 4:13-17, we read: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God, as they were walking in the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And, I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where goest thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself. And, I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? ”
So – if we consider, who it was that introduced the idea of shame of being naked to Adam and Eve, it wasn’t God, but the father of lies, Satan, the devil himself. Now the lord as he was casting Adam and Eve out of the garden into the lone and dreary world gave them clothing, not to hide their nakedness, but to protect their bodies as they were going into the world of thorns, cold and pain.
If you read the link below, you will see how nudity is addressed in several areas of the bible.
Here are a few key Points from that analysis.
A very interesting story concerning nudity occurs in 1 Samuel 19:23-24. Here it is recorded that when the Spirit of God came upon King Saul he prophesied, but it is not until Saul finds Samuel and with Samuel strips off his clothes all day and all night that the people wonder if Saul is not also a prophet. Here the word Arom is used for Samuel and Saul’s nudity. [No] sense of indecency is conveyed concerning the public nudity of these two prominent men. Indeed, the sense of the story is that public nudity was common and expected of the Hebrew prophets, and even served as a standard professional practice and method of identification of true holiness.”
Another very interesting look at how the God of Israel viewed nudity is given in 2 Samuel 6:12-23.
Here the Ark of the Covenant has finally made its long-awaited entrance into Jerusalem. King David demonstrated his joy by dancing nude (Hebrew galah in this case, which does have erotic overtones) in public (wearing only a linen ephod, ceremonial upper body wear).
“King David’s wife Michal was apparently offended by his public nudity and gave a very modern sounding speech about how shameful it was for King David to expose himself to the young women.
“King David responded that it was right to demonstrate his joy nude before the Lord and protested that the young women weren’t offended.
The Bible then records that Michal was cursed with barrenness until her death. Thus this account not only approvingly records a claim that God approves of public nude dancing as a means of expressing a message of righteous joy, but also records that a high rank Israelite who disapproved of public nude dance was rewarded with a curse. Such an account could hardly occur in a society with a blanket disapproval of public nudity.
An allegory in Ezekiel (chapter 16) indicates that it was the common practice of the Israelites to let even sexually mature female children run totally naked until they were married. As verses 7-8 state,
“… And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your [pubic] hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you … ”
An allegory cannot be effective in communicating a truth if the circumstances are unfamiliar to listeners. The assumption should be that the described situation was familiar and common to the audience. The only logical conclusion then is that premarital public nudity was common and taken for granted as a way of life for Hebrew youngsters even after sexual maturity.”
The New Testament also in passing makes some very positive statements about simple public nudity. The “in passing” is all the more telling as we are informed that some public nudity was commonly a way of life for first century Christians.
“Jesus Christ praised public nudity as a virtue when he asked, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:25, 28-29)
The image of flowers greeting the sunshine and breeze as a metaphor for nude bodies in nature might seem unusual to modern Westerners. However the metaphor was quite familiar to a Jewish audience steeped in their own literature, which we see in the “Old” Testament.
The Prophet Ezekiel made exactly that connection between the natural plants of the field and natural human nudity (Ezekiel 16:7, more clear in RSV). In praising a natural naturist lifestyle Jesus was using a literary allusion already quite familiar and common to his Jewish audience and likewise used by a major Old Testament prophet.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday also provides evidence of His positive acceptance of public nudity.
In Matthew 21:8 we are informed that the crowd spread their garments on the road. In Greek the common garment is called a himation. According to Bowman the himation was typically the only and single garment owned by the common majority in those times (recall the Law of Moses commandment against keeping a debtor’s garment).
Historically, underwear as we understand it first came into general use only about 200 years ago… Thus, lacking underwear, when the crowd removed their himations to honor Jesus most of the crowd would inevitably have been naked.
There is no record that Jesus considered this mass public nudity in his honor as morally incorrect.
On the contrary, He accepted the crowd’s honor. There is also no record that the Roman authorities were concerned about the public nudity of Jewish crowds – only their support of a Messiah. In contrast to the cheering nude crowd that honored Jesus on Palm Sunday, the officials and mob that sought his death were apparently dressed.
In his advice to Christian wives, Saint Peter pointedly stated that the adornment of chastity or modesty is “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3:3-4, KJV).
These have been some biblical examples of attitudes in the bible, and biblical times towards nudity. (I encourage you to read the entire document. It is very good.) It is clear that in ancient times, there was a clear distinction between nudity and sex, and that being in a state of nudity didn’t equate with a sexual connotation.
There is another issue that I think is a very important benefit to this outlook on the human body. This philosophy & practice, as I call it, and that has to do with body image.
Women especially in our modern culture struggle with accepting their body. There are many movements out there that address this. Projects like Body Image Movement – There was a Dove soap advertising campaign that aired a few years ago that had a very body positive message – strange because usually the beauty industry is all about messages of your body isn’t good enough so you should use our products and it will be perfect.
It is healthy for us to see others in a natural state, so we can realize that every body is different. That every body is beautiful. That our own body is beautiful.
In the modern world, most people’s ideas of what a naked body looks like only comes from pornography. The actors in pornographic films and images aren’t average, normal people. They have freakishly large penises, and freakishly large breasts. They aren’t the kind of bodies you’ll encounter in the real world. They aren’t the kind of bodies you’ll encounter in with your spouse. They aren’t the kind of bodies you’ll see in the mirror. They give us a warped, distorted, fictional view of the naked human form.
When children are taught that their body is shameful, that they need to hide it, this is one of the seeds for that child developing an attitude of body dysmorphia. A misperception that their body is flawed and includes powerful feelings of shame and loathing for one’s own body. This can lead to unhealthy behaviors and disorders. However, if the child is raised in an environment that is body positive, with a firm understanding of the idea that every body is beautiful, they will develop a stronger, healthier self image of their own body.
Art presents better views, but still largely not fat, not skinny, but idealized. What better examples of the human body for the developing child then the body of their parents.
There is an empowering feeling that comes from encountering the endless variety of humanity, and realizing your body is valid, is OK, is beautiful.
There are other powerful benefits to adopting a body positive attitude that separates nudity from sexuality.
Being nude with other person in a non-sexual situation opens you up to greater emotional intimacy. this is true between husband and wife, parent and child, or strangers. The state of nudity removes barriers, causes us to drop our masks, our walls, and leaves us open to emotional closeness that is difficult to achieve when everyone is clothed. Clothes are primarily for protection, but when we choose to be nude, in a safe environment, we are dropping defenses, and opening ourselves up, we are vulnerable. And that state of openness, vulnerability is incredibly freeing. It empowers us to connect with others. To accept ourselves and others in their real, unprotected state.
To inoculate your children against the perils of pornography, open communication is vital. Children need to be taught that there is a difference between a paid performance for the purpose of arousing an audience and what actually goes on between real people, just like how things are unrealistic in say action movies, etc; so the children can have a healthier framework with which to deal with pornography. It is also important thing to teach children about is the difference between arousal and love, endorphins and committed, meaningful relationship building.
There are two basic motivations in the human condition… Fear and love. The standard cultural approach to preparing children for their first encounter with pornography comes from a source of fear. Largely, it is a head in the sand approach, don’t look at that. But a more proactive approach will yield much better results. A proactive approach is a tactic that comes from a source of love.
The approach of hiding and shaming the body is based in fear. The approach based on openness acceptance and differentiating between nudity and sexuality is based in love.
We, as disciples of Christ are told to be a peculiar people. Perhaps, having this kind of radical attitude is exactly the kind of peculiarity the lord had in mind.
As parents, as families to adopt a more open attitude, a practice of not hiding and shaming the body, will help develop families that are resistant to the temptations of pornography, that have positive self image and acceptance of the beauty, and value, and goodness of their own body. In this environment, the growing children can be raised with a rational respect for their body, and recognize it for the amazing, wonderful gift from our loving father in heaven that it is.