Article by Jake LeFave
One of the pieces of wisdom Maisie and I received early in our parenting journey was to be mindful (re: diligent) of our children’s use of technology, specifically as it relates to them inadvertently stumbling upon inappropriate, or even pornographic, content. So, following after parents we respect, we placed our family’s desktop in the middle of our living room. Our kids are not allowed to be on devices in their room, by themselves. We even installed Covenant Eyes on every device we own. So far, this strategy has worked well for our family, and we would certainly recommend it to other parents looking to be “tech-wise” at home. Lately, however, I’ve wondered if, in being diligent to patrol our children’s use of technology to ensure they weren’t viewing any sexual content, that we’ve missed other ways their hearts are lusting after things of this world. Let me explain.
It’s become common to refer to any content (primarily videos and photos) that increases your longing or desire for a thing as “______ porn”. So, for example, you can find short videos on YouTube where cheese drips down a hamburger tagged with #foodporn. Or, if you’re more of an outdoorsy type, there are pictures of beautiful interiors tagged #designporn. In many ways this trend is silly; “Pornos” in the New Testament is the broad word that covers all sexual sin. In other ways, this trend is spot on. It recognizes, and celebrates, the power of images and videos to increase our lust for an object, or a lifestyle. Indeed, often this content is shot in such a way to appear sensual and gratuitous. The connection between “#______porn” and parenting then is this, “What books, videos, photos, and other content am I exposing my kids to that is forming their desires to discontentment? Or causing them to normalize sinful acts?” Let me give you an example.
A few days ago I woke up to one of my son’s reading a book on interior design. Now, the book itself was very “wholesome”. The author even professes to be a Christian (and I have no reason to doubt that). But the not-so-subtle message of this book on how to design your “forever home” was that the place you’re living in is not good enough and if you want your family to be happy this is what you need. So, our son, midway through reading the book, looks up and says longingly, “Wow, these homes are really nice…”
Now, I want to be clear. Is there anything wrong with a book on interior design? No, of course not. Just as there’s nothing wrong with a magazine on body-building, or cars, or…you name the hobby. What is dangerous, in my estimation, is giving our children (and ourselves for that matter) unlimited and constant exposure to #foodporn as we binge the Food Network, or #designporn as we obsess over HGTV. Pornography of the sexual kind needs to be guarded against with vigilance in the home. But we should not do this naïve to the other desire-forming influences we’ve set before our children. So, in addition to guarding against sexually explicit content in your home, we could also ask:
- What vision of the good life do those romance novels on your shelf communicate to your children?
- Or, what are you watching in front of them that betrays your real loves and desires?
Porn-proofing our homes is bigger than installing an internet filter. It involves curating content, both for ourselves and our children, that leads us (and does not distract us!) to satisfaction and contentment in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. You and I (I hope) might not have sexually explicit content in our home, but that doesn’t let us off-the-hook. Let us, in love, model for the souls entrusted to us what it means to gaze at the Lord Jesus (Hebrew 12:2) and, in doing so, watch our love for him grow.