TrueNorth Freedom Project

Those Uncomfortable Talks: Moving Past the Pause By Anne Kerr of TrueNorth Freedom Project

Talking about sexual things is uncomfortable. I know. As a child, I looked at the porn I found, yet couldn’t tell anyone. In college, I fit the description of a “good” Christian yet crossed many boundaries sexually. My closest friends had no idea, and I carried a lot of shame. As my own kids grew, we had a few talks about sex. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t enough.

Most parents aren’t comfortable talking about sexuality. They pause, and in the silence, the sexualized culture rushes in. 

 Sexuality is God-given and one of the most common aspects of our being! Everyone is sexual. This isn’t the same as saying everyone’s ready for sex. At a deep level, even molecularly, we are all sexual beings from birth, male or female. A boy has a penis and experiences erections, a girl has a vagina and can feel arousal, but do we ever talk about that?

We discuss other body issues like skin and eyes and keeping them healthy. We teach kids to bathe. But when it comes to private parts and related issues, we Pause. It can feel uncomfortable. We learned to be reserved.

Many realize the importance of early and regular talks about bodies and sex. We all encountered something sexual early on without having a framework for it. Maybe you saw a more developed peer or a friend showed you porn. Maybe it was more harmful like inappropriate touch or exposure. Perhaps a sexualized scene in a book or a magazine ad felt arousing. In an instant, your light, innocent heart became heavy with shame, and sexuality became taboo.

Now you have little ones, and you want to lead them. But you pause, hearing excuses; “I have no idea what to say.” “I’m no expert on all this.” “I don’t want to make them curious about something they might be too young for.”

Did your first sexual encounter catch you off guard? Your loved ones will have similar experiences.

Did you make mistakes sexually? Most of us did, and your kids will.

Did you have someone to talk with about sexuality? Most of us didn’t, but your loved ones can.

Will it be easy to become a safe place for your loved ones? Maybe not, but it will be worth it, and God is on your side.

We have an enemy working to derail us in our sexuality. We are inundated with overt and subliminal sexual messages. Cartoon characters have shapely bodies, wear revealing clothing, and are targeted to young children. Viewers internalize messaging that may be contrary to your values. Children, teens, and adults may see pornography that is simultaneously exciting and shameful. These images can’t just be wiped away. Don’t think your kids would never look at porn. Remember things you did that your parents still don’t know about? ALL kids can fall prey to these temptations, and adults can too. We are sexual beings living in a sexualized world. You cannot protect your loved ones from every harm or temptation.

These questions can help you move beyond Pause:

How well was wholesome sexuality modeled for me?

Most of us received limited information about sex or learned about it via unhealthy means. You can learn the wholesomeness of it and forge a new way for your family. God redeems our past and equips us. Check out Authentic Intimacy, or God’s Design for Sex Series.

How did my experiences affect my understanding of sex or sexuality?

Are there wounds, past sexual sin, or areas of weakness God may want to redeem? We all have some level of sexual brokenness. Consider a Christian counselor, perhaps someone who specializes in trauma care or sexual addiction.

Are current sin patterns keeping me from living authentically?

God’s best for us is to live fully known and fully loved. His perfect love helps us live authentically. Bringing our sin into the light, confessing to others, repenting, and working to restore broken relationships are markers of an authentic life being conformed to the image of Jesus. Find a more mature Christian to speak with as a starting point, someone who will call you up into your holy identity in Christ. Satan’s power begins to diminish as we bring our sin into the light and God’s healing grace transforms us. Read my husband’s five-part blog series here.

How have I modeled healthy sexuality? Does it go beyond simply what not to do?

In terms of sexuality, we need identification as much as information. Remember confusion from your early experiences? Have you asked your children about feelings associated with things they’ve seen? Even a lingerie ad can be arousing. God wired the brain to respond to sexual things in various ways at every age. A friend’s seven-year-old had seen porn and said this: “It makes your penis hard!” Yes, it does! And porn might give a girl a funny feeling in her vagina. It can feel good, but children aren’t ready physically or emotionally for sex. Parents can help kids separate the good feelings from what is best for them and give them a plan for when they encounter something sexual. Teach about God-honoring sex and that porn is the opposite of that.

Could God have more for me?

Satan works to bring couples together sexually before marriage then keep them apart after. Sex is a sacred gift for marriage, bonding couples at a deep level. Science proves this. Brain chemicals released during sex bind us with the object of the encounter and remind us of pleasurable feelings associated with sex. This happens naturally in God-honoring sex or counterfeit sex. Begin to talk more authentically with your spouse, repent of past mistakes, and ask God to redeem this aspect of your marriage. A Celebration of Sex, shares biblical truth and practical application. Find other resources here.

Sexuality is precious, but also fragile and easily marred in a broken world. We need a guide. Become a trusted source of information for your kids and work to create a shame-free home where you can talk about anything, and prayerfully move beyond the Pause.

Written by Anne Kerr of TrueNorth Freedom Project

 

 

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Talking with Your Teen About Porn: Is Today’s Porn Harmless? Part 1 of 2  

Do I really need to talk to my son? It seems like viewing porn is pretty harmless and just a normal part of being male these days.  Isn’t this just a phase most boys (or young people) go through?

Yes, the male brain is wired for visual stimulation. So, yes, it is normal for boys (and men) to be aroused by and interested in the sexual imagery available through pornography.  Dr. William Struthers’ book “Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain” offers a fantastic explanation of how the male brain is designed to be captivated by the sight of the female’s body, without the typical “boys will be boys” (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) excuse-making our society condones. 1

Although it is normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography.

1.     The adolescent brain is in a critical stage of development. Extensive literature points to the negative impact pornography has on young people, developmentally.

The brain stores our first sexual experiences with a chemical stamp that makes them incredibly powerful. For example, most people can easily recall (in vivid detail) their “first love,” their first encounter with pornography, or their first sexual experience. This serves us well, where our first experiences are healthy, and where our first sexual relationship is with our spouse – bonding us to that person with a powerful chemical attachment. It can create real difficulty where our first experiences are unhealthy or harmful.

The arousal template (what a person finds arousing) is significantly impacted by and strengthened by early sexual experiences. So, whatever a young person is experiencing sexually (whether it is healthy or unhealthy) – is then paired with sexual arousal. The result is often that the brain easily grows attached to that stimulus. So, whatever your teen is experiencing and aroused by is also shaping what he (or she) will tend to desire. Repetition reinforces these patterns of arousal.

Although it is certainly normal to be curious and interested, the average young male today will not “casually” view pornography without being seriously impacted by what he consumes. There are several reasons for this and therefore several reasons parents need to be talking with their kids about pornography. Here’s a second reason that viewing porn might not be harmless.

2.     Advanced brain imaging scans now show us that viewing pornography creates a neurochemical high in the brain that compares closest to the high of using Heroin. The pleasure centers of the brain are impacted, neurochemicals are firing (ie., norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, endogenous opiates), and connections are made that reinforce the desire to repeat the behavior.4

The chemical high of arousal, pleasure, and euphoria serves to reinforce the false message that porn is an easy escape from anything dull, boring, or unwanted. Porn temporarily masks the pain of loneliness, rejection, fear, worry, loss, stress, or anxiety. This neurochemical reward cycle makes it easy to create a life-dominating habit.

"I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." Job 31:1 NIV

Written by Mindy Pierce, LPC

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