by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
Did porn find your child? I’m so sorry. Discovering that your child has been exposed to porn can feel very shameful and isolating for both parent and child. But there is hope.
A couple reached out to me about their 12-year-old son’s discovering and continuing to watch porn on his school-provided computer. (They were assured it had a filter.) In a matter of days he’d managed to watch some terrible things. His parents were desperate, heartbroken, and unsure of how to handle the new reality. We cried, talked, and prayed. I shared a few thoughts with them, things perhaps you could use now or in the future, things that might be helpful for someone you love.
(Please know that my advice below was based on their son’s use of porn, but these truths apply in cases of girls using porn also.)
How do you become your child’s ally?
Connect with him or her as one sexual being to another. Empathize. You were once a young girl or boy beginning to become more aware of your sexuality. Relate to what your child may be feeling or experiencing today. Then, lead your child through ongoing conversations and good resources grounded in biblical truth. And finally, protect your kids to the best of your ability while trusting in the sovereignty of God.
Romans 8:28 is comforting to all of us who know the struggle of failing in the area of sexuality. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He can and will redeem your child’s wanderings. He can draw you closer as a family. He delights in displaying His strength through our weaknesses.
After several weeks, I circled back with the mom who called me about her son. She was so encouraged. She said initially she wanted to run to “the law.” Her son had sinned. He’d lied. He’d visited sites that he knew were off-limits. He’d hidden things from them. But Jesus reminded her that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8) – hers, her son’s, her husband’s. And that God’s love could bind their hearts and make their family stronger. They were intentionally moving in that direction and bringing their other children into ongoing conversations. Her husband was organizing a small group with two other fathers and their sons to have a place to be more real, a place where their sons would know they were not alone, a place where they could encourage one another and pray for each other.
God truly is redeeming their son’s story by weaving it into His bigger story – His story of grace for our sin, strength for our weakness, and His ability to take the broken things and use them for our good and His glory. I pray you’re living this kind of story too.
Would you like some guidance along your journey? Here are some resources and links you might find helpful:
Email: AnneKerr @ Bebroken.com
Personal Consultation with Anne Kerr
Personal Consultation with John Fort
Family Care Resource Page
by John Fort
Director of Training
When it is discovered that one member of our family struggles with sexual brokenness it is tempting to think of recovery as something only for them. However, when one member of our family struggles with sexual brokenness all of us are affected. Every member of the family, children included, will need to work through how they are affected.
We also need to recognize that every member of our family carry wounds of sexual brokenness that came from outside our family. This includes our children. The hyper sexual world we live in impacts all of us in negative ways.
Sexual brokenness is something we work through best with others, not alone. We are created as communal beings. God designed us to journey through healing together, not alone. The journey from brokenness to wholeness in Christ is something the entire family should take together.
Brokenness & Family Relationships
The journey to healing typically begins when one family member’s sexual brokenness is confessed, discovered, or reaches a point that the family can no longer ignore it. That family member could be a mother, father, adult child, or even a child.
The sexual brokenness comes in many forms: things done to us—like past sexual abuse, or things we do ourselves—such as problematic sexual behavior. Sexual brokenness is rarely entirely the fault of the person suffering from it. There is usually a long history of factors outside their control that contributed to their brokenness.
Sexual brokenness is very personal. It hurts in the deepest places of our heart. Sexual brokenness, no matter what the source, causes us to interact with our family in negative, often defensive, ways. Like a wounded tiger, a sexually broken person’s default mode is to react defensively. For this reason, sexual brokenness will negatively affect all surrounding relationships.
Brokenness & the Hot Seat
When a family member’s sexual brokenness comes into the light it can be extremely shaming and uncomfortable for them. That family member suddenly moves into the spotlight of attention within the family, and not in a good way. We should recognize how painful that will be for our family member.
Seeing sexual brokenness in someone we love will also remind us of our own sexual brokenness. Memories of friends showing us pornography as children come flooding back. Uncomfortable feelings resurface as we recall friends telling us graphic sexual jokes. The gut-punch sensation from others who sexually objectified us in the past may return. The shame from past sexual choices can suddenly loom large.
Rather than be reminded of past sexual pain family members can easily resort to redirecting that pain toward the family member who is in the hot seat. We become easily angered by them. We give them the silent treatment. We spend less time with them.
It is true that the sexual brokenness of a family member hurts the rest of us. It is right that we discuss this openly. However, it is unhelpful for every member of the family to not realize how their own past sexual brokenness—the parts not caused by the family member in the hot seat—is being triggered.
When our own sexual brokenness reappears it means it is time for us to start our own healing journey. Repressing sexual brokenness only makes it fester and rot inside. Such hidden brokenness will come out in really ugly ways if we ignore it.
Choosing to Journey Together
May I suggest that rather than focus only on the brokenness of the family member on the hot seat that our families are better off linking arms and taking this healing journey together. What if we all sat down, once the smoke of the initial bomb has cleared, and had a calm but honest discussion of our own histories with sexual brokenness.
I realize that in the case of sexual betrayal the family may need some time, even several months, before this can happen. None-the-less, sexual betrayal is not something that is healthy to ignore. That would be stuffing our feelings of betrayal rather than dealing with them.
We need to remember that children are also affected by the sexual betrayal of a parent, not just the other spouse. All of this will need to be discussed for family healing to happen. At some point, however, even in the case of sexual betrayal, the rest of the family will be better off when they can face their own sexual past as well.
There are a lot of other forms of sexual brokenness besides betrayal. All of them cause us to interact poorly with our family. All of them need attention to heal. Perhaps a family member finally has the courage to bring up sexual abuse they experienced as a child. This very much falls within what we are talking about.
The Brokenness that Comes to Mind
When we feel it is safe the family can begin to share the kinds of sexual brokenness they have experienced. The nude images we saw in National Geographic as a child leaving us confused as to why we wanted to see them again. The creepy person who kept commenting on our body and how that made us feel. Looking in the mirror after a shower and feeling awkward with our body or not liking what we saw. How uncomfortable we felt hearing sexual jokes. Sexual experimentation as a child that left us with feelings we didn’t know what to do with. Someone showing us pornography and feeling ashamed at how much we wanted to see it again. Feeling excited as an adolescent when seeing an attractive person and not knowing if that feeling was good or a sin. Wondering if we were weird for the sexual questions we wondered silently about.
When we dare as a family to be honest about the kinds of things that have affected our sexuality we are beginning to join arms on the journey to wholeness. And, yes, this includes the kids. Think back to how early you experienced some of the things listed above, then realize that kids today typically experience these events a couple of years sooner. Kids need to be able to talk about at least some of these things with the rest of the family.
The Family Journey
I realize there are cases where a family member needs to separate for a time or even permanently for the safety of others. Even these families, however, eventually need to work on their own brokenness, including the brokenness caused by the member who had to leave.
When the family stays united, the rest of the family has a support role to play by encouraging the member whose brokenness first came to light. We affirm their efforts at seeking outside help. We can help their hot seat feel a little less warm as we admit our own past sexual brokenness.
As each family member faces the brokenness that starts coming to mind, they may need outside help as well. This could be in the form of a mentor or professional, but it could also be a book or course the family takes together. Either way, this is a journey the family can take together. Families who dare to do this will find deeper relationships waiting on the other side.
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
At a sleepover during my fifth-grade year, everything changed for me. Of all the things we did, I have only one clear memory of that night: the 8”x10” glossy porn image that my friend stealthily pulled from a manila envelope hidden on top of the refrigerator. It left an impression on my brain and a wound in my heart, and decades later I can still feel its impact.
That photo was the first of many porn images I saw over the next several years. Magazines my brothers left in an upstairs bathroom and others in a home where I babysat tempted me, and I would often give in. I knew very little about human anatomy or sex, and the magazines were my incredibly destructive teachers which left me with more questions than answers. Feeling very ashamed and unsure about many things related to sexuality, I stumbled my way into adulthood with more than my share of missteps.
Fast-forward to 2021, and kids have not changed one bit. They still enjoy sleepovers. They are still naive and curious. And they still need to learn about things related to bodies and sex. But the ways in which most of them learn about sexual topics have changed dramatically. And the content they can easily access is infinitely more destructive than the Playboy magazines of the 70s.
Your children need to learn about bodies, sex, sexuality, relationships, and a host of other related topics. Will they learn about them from you and from God’s perspective? Or will they, like most of us, be greatly influenced by the world’s messaging?
The reality is that most of today’s kids (at increasingly younger ages) are learning about sexuality from things like…
Real Stories from Families
Often I hear stories of how kids were exposed to sexual themes, many explicit and damaging:
“My daughter’s friend asked if she wanted to see some boobs which led to a quick Google Images search.”
“My eight-year-old found a documentary on porn on our family’s streaming service. Somehow it got through the filters we’d set up.”
“My child had a friend who set up a proxy server on our computer, and he would get up early in the morning to watch porn.”
“My child was abused on the school bus.”
“My son’s class had to read the book ‘I am Jazz’ (a book about transgenderism) to kids a couple of grades below them.”
“A YouTube video for kids suddenly showed inappropriate content.”
“Sports Illustrated website and their swimsuit issue.”
“My homeschooled daughter wanted to know what sex was like, discovered porn, and began viewing it.”
“My teen daughter has been inviting her boyfriend over after we’ve all gone to bed.”
“My 14-year-old son heard that a female classmate would send a nude photo if he asked. So he did, and she sent one.”
“In my son’s Trigonometry class, two kids performed a public sex act when the teacher left the room.”
“A commercial with two men holding hands.”
“In first grade my child is learning about The Gender Unicorn.” (Feel free to Google it.)
“A middle-schooler came into my counseling office asking if she had to have sex. She’d read the Fifty Shades of Grey books and was worried about sex being painful.”
“My daughter entered public school for the first time after being homeschooled, and several kids asked her how she identified.”
“As part of an anti-bullying effort, my 11-year-old was required to complete a survey that used terms like pansexual, non-binary, and cis gender. He was embarrassed to tell me that he didn’t understand many of the terms used.”
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed, perhaps nauseous? I’m so sorry to have to bear this news, but you need to understand how different today’s world is and how very sexualized it has become. Your kids will have their own experiences just as you and I did. They will search for answers to their questions, they will be intrigued with sexual things, and at times they will experience sexual feelings as they encounter sexual things. They are human, and humans are sexual beings. They’re also your precious children, and I know you want to help guide them as well as protect them.
Many parents feel that homeschool or private school is the answer. But the enemy of our souls understands the significance of sexuality and will work in a multitude of ways to ensnare all of God’s children, even yours. All children today are quite vulnerable to his attacks.
Encouragement to Parents
While you cannot totally wrap your child in a protective cocoon and somehow miss all the sexual messaging in today’s hyper-sexualized world, you can become more aware and create an environment where your kids feel safe to talk with you about it. And you can share information about bodies, sex, sexuality, porn, culture, and relationships through short, honest conversations. You can become your child’s go-to for this information by beginning early and sharing consistently, gently, and proactively. With God’s help you can undo much of the shame your child may internalize related to sexuality. To a great extent you can counteract much of the sexual misinformation and counterfeits your kids will encounter.
Many parents today dismiss the onslaught of sexual messaging and consider it harmless. Others simply aren’t aware of its destructiveness and the easy access to sexual content online. Many minimize the challenges saying this is just the way kids learn about sex in 2021.
I believe you want more for your kids. Stay tuned.
*Today’s porn is very destructive, highly addictive, and easily accessible. Dr. Gail Dines’ organization, Culture Reframed, explains the current porn crisis well here: https://www.culturereframed.org/the-porn-crisis/.
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
In recent years a lot has been written about the negative fallout of the "purity movement" of the 1990's and early 2000's. And rightfully so. Many were wounded as a result of narrow, incomplete teaching on God's design for sex.
Essentially, "purity culture" taught that sex is for marriage, virginity is sacred (seemingly above all else), and if you save yourself for marriage you will be blessed with happiness and great, godly sexual bliss. This led many young people to go "underground" with their sexual struggles and questions due to the shame created by the purity movement (whether intentional or unintentional).
But does the failure of a particular movement mean that certain terms must be forever relegated as "dangerous" or unhelpful?
I would like to propose that the term 'sexual purity' is good and useful when properly understood. I will attempt to share what we at Be Broken mean when we use this term, and hopefully this will lead you to a fuller understanding of God's good and beautiful design for sex and purity.
Only God is Pure
When we think of purity as meaning totally unstained or absolute perfection, then there can only be one being to whom this definition fits: God. He alone is perfect, absolutely holy.
To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:25)
This is important to understand so that none of us thinks we can produce within ourselves something that belongs to God alone. God is 100% holy and perfect, we are not.
But this might seem confusing when God's Word also says, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:14-16, referencing passages from Leviticus; 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7, and others)
Is God commanding us to do something that is impossible? If only God is holy (pure), how can he command us to be holy?
This is where it is important to remember that we are "made in God's image." (Gen. 1:26-27) Another way to state this is that we are "made in God's reflection." We do not contain the essence of God in our being (we don't possess omniscience, for example), but by God's grace we do possess the capacity to reflect Him.
In this way, God's call on our lives to "be holy" is to accurately and faithfully reflect His image and character in the world around us.
Therefore, sexual purity would mean we accurately and faithfully reflect God's design and desires regarding sex and sexuality.
This is where we need to understand what God's design and desires regarding sex and sexuality actually are.
Sex is Good
In the beginning, God created Adam from the dust of the ground and then fashioned his wife, Eve, out of Adam's body. After they were created, "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (Gen. 1:31)
Human beings made in God's image, male and female, were declared "very good" by God. This included their sexuality. In fact, Adam spoke of this intimate union when he first saw Eve. He said:
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen. 2:23-24)
Adam immediately recognized the "fittedness" of Eve to himself; bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She "completed" him in a way that no other creature God created could. This "one flesh" union was good and sanctioned by God in the covenant bond of marriage ("hold fast to his wife").
But God's design for sex is more than just a way for a husband and wife to connect or procreate. God's design for sex is to give us a tangible picture of the kind of relationship He desires with us: covenantal, intimate, life-multiplying.
The goodness of sex points to the Author of good: God. He is the ultimate Lover, the faithful Spouse, our persistent Pursuer.
When we see God's design for sex through His eyes we begin to understand that His call to purity (holiness) is not merely about a list of do's and do not's, but rather an invitation to know Him and love Him in the same way a husband and wife know and love each other.
To pursue sexual purity is to guard the metaphor of sex God has given us by not distorting or dismantling it through pornography, adultery, fornication, gay marriage, polygamy, and the like.
But we also guard the metaphor by not idolizing it; the picture is meant to point us to its Painter. Sex, and even marriage, cannot ultimately provide what your soul can only experience with God.
Sex is good. God made it so. Its design is to draw us closer to our Maker, the only One who can satisfy our deepest longings.
Purity is a Journey, Not a Destination
Nothing in nature is pure. At least not in the sense that we often try to apply (or misapply) this word to sex, as in "sexual purity."
Everything in nature contains "pollution" or imperfections of some kind. Therefore, purity is not a natural state. For anything to be pure it must be purified. Purification is a process of removing the pollutants and imperfections.
For example, gold is not found "pure" in nature. There are all sorts of imperfections attached to it; dirt, other metals, rock, etc. While much of this can simply be chipped away from the gold, the impurities that are woven into the gold itself cannot be removed without melting the gold. This requires high temperatures (roughly 2000 degrees Fahrenheit!) in order to separate the pure gold from the imperfections. This takes time, patience, and precision.
This is what the process of pursuing sexual purity looks like. Human beings are not naturally pure. We have many "pollutants" and imperfections in us (and around us). Pornography, lust, abuse, and more weaves into our lives, our minds and hearts. And these impurities are not eliminated in a single moment in time. We require regular "purifying" throughout a lifetime.
Another way to think of sexual purity as a process is to consider it like a bath. If you bathed yesterday, would you consider yourself permanently clean? I hope not! In a matter of days (or maybe even shorter!) it would be evident that one bath is not adequate. Bathing needs to be a regular part of your life in order for your body to be clean (or "pure").
Sexual purity is a journey. Some parts of the journey might require purification by a refining fire to remove deeply embedded pollutants. Most of the journey will require purification through regular "bathing" to remove the normal, natural imperfections that make their way into our lives daily.
Sexual purity is not a static, permanent state. It is a daily pursuit of reflecting the holy image of God by examining the mirror of our lives and removing whatever is blocking a clear reflection of Him.
The Goal is Mature Faith, Not Sexual Abstinence
Finally, sexual purity is more about maturing in faith than it is about sexual abstinence. While there are boundaries for sexual behavior, the primary focus is on Jesus.
In our ministry, most of the people who reach out to us for help are looking for answers to very specific problems.
"Help, I'm addicted to porn. How can I stop?"
"I just found out my husband has cheated on me. What do I do?"
"My 14-year-old son is sexting with his friends. How do I lock down his phone?"
Hundreds of such requests come before us every year. These are real people with real problems and real pain. But if we simply give them quick, pat answers that only address the urgent question without guiding them to the deeper needs, we aren't actually helping them with their problem or their understanding of sexual purity.
You see, no matter what the presenting sexual problem may be, the solution is always ultimately found in Jesus. (I know this sounds like the classic "Sunday school" answer, but it is still true.) Remember, God is holy, perfect, and he revealed himself to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, the fullness of diety dwells. (Col. 2:9)
Internet filters, accountability software, support groups, counseling, and all other kinds of tools are helpful for curbing behaviors. But no "tool" produces sexual purity in the heart. Only Jesus can transform a person on that level.
Ultimately, sexual purity is about faith. Will you trust God with your whole heart, your whole life, including your sexuality? Pursuing Him in faith is the most "purifying" thing you can do. His love and truth will cleanse you in ways you might have thought impossible.
Sexual purity is not a term that we need to fear or categorically dismiss due to its historical mishandling. We just need to understand it better from a biblical framework.
When we use the term "sexual purity" we mean:
May God grant you favor and peace as you pursue a life of sexual purity.
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist
Sexuality is one of the most common aspects of being human, yet one of the most difficult to talk about. Why is that? Why are we so reticent to share about sexual wounds or sin with a spouse, a close friend, or a child? I believe it is because the enemy of our souls knows the power of authenticity to heal and unify us.
Often we hide our stories out of fear of losing the one we have hurt. Or we haven’t found that true freedom that allows us to be fully known and consequently fully loved.
In his book Unwanted: How Our Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing, Jay Stringer speaks compassionately of how our stories of sexual brokenness often are the key to moving toward sexual health and healing.
In my own life and in the lives of many others, conversations about sexual wounds and wanderings have been powerful to set us free from the bondage of sin and shame. And in a parent-child relationship, such stories (when shared appropriately) can be powerful to build bonds of trust for
Today’s kids need our stories of struggle, failure, and redemption. They need to know they are not facing the challenges of today’s culture alone.
Often parents share their concerns related to sharing honestly with their kids….
I had a friend advise me not to share of my sexual wounds and wanderings with my children as they were growing up. She said they might look at me and think that because I turned out okay, they would believe they could sin and turn out okay also. I wish I’d followed my gut and been more authentic rather than remaining silent and maintaining the appearance of propriety.
I believe both pride and fear kept me from being authentic and real. And I believe I lost an opportunity to gain my children’s trust for very tender and timely conversations related to sexuality.
My friend’s advice was well-intentioned, but it was based in fear, not authenticity and gospel grace. It assumed that conveying perfection to my kids would lead them toward perfection. I don’t think it works that way. For one thing, perfection should not be the goal. Christ was the only perfect one. But learning to live and love as Christ does is truly life-altering, and Christ was undeniably authentic.
I help parents become allies to their kids in a sexualized culture. An ally is someone a child turns to rather than hides from as he or she becomes more aware of sexuality or experiences things related to it.
Most of us hid in those moments, for example, seeing porn for the first time, experiencing sexual abuse, or discovering the pleasure of self-touch.
Without a safe person to help us process our pain, help us with a sin struggle, or provide protection, we internalized fear or shame related to sexuality. Fear and shame foster more hiding and make conversations even more difficult.
Being an ally means working through the obstacle of fear that often leads to hiding.
The way of an ally happens to be Jesus’ way also. It’s sharing honestly and humbly without fear or shame. It’s being wise to share generally without traumatizing or painting too vivid of a picture for a child. It’s trusting God with outcomes. It’s allowing God to use our brokenness in the lives of our
children. It’s being real. Being human. And being willing to grow and move toward healing for our own shame or freedom from our sin patterns.
Jesus models this for us.
Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you [a yoke is made for two] and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus invites us to come to Him just as we are and to share our burdens with Him so we can live free. Jesus will equip us to welcome the people in our lives who need to share their burdens.
If you’re in the parenting years, invite your little ones to come to you and not hide in their sin or sorrow or shame. Create that open door. Encourage them to lay their burdens down and to share their yoke－the yoke of shame, emotional turmoil, sin, regret, fear, uncertainty, or whatever－with you and with Jesus. A burden shared is half a burden. This will look different at every age.
Teach and model what it looks like to fail, to repent, to make restitution for our mistakes, and to live in the boundless and free grace of forgiveness and unconditional love.
Your children will be much more likely to turn to you when they make mistakes if you've modeled what this looks like and if they aren't afraid of you or your reaction.
Sexuality is so personal. It's easy to see how we learn to hide. We communicate privacy because that’s an important concept for little ones to learn. A level of modesty that isn’t shaming is good.
But somehow, we as Christians seem to have gotten the messaging all mixed up. We have traded the goodness of bodies and sexuality for the darkness of sin, shame, and hiding. We must reclaim bodies and sexuality for God, for His purposes, within His good design as written in His word. And we don’t need to be ashamed of anything about sexuality because God isn’t.
Find a close friend to begin to share your stories with. Cry over innocence lost, or regret, or someone’s sin against you, or poor choices made. Let that younger version of yourself express what he or she could not express then. Be compassionate toward your younger self. Perhaps find a counselor to share with, or share with your spouse.
A therapist friend once told me that she counsels many people individually but she begins to see real growth in group therapy. When I asked why, she said that there is something powerful that happens when we begin to share our deepest shame with others and realize that we are still lovable.
For parents wanting to understand better the power of their stories, I highly recommend John Fort’s book Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex. John helps parents learn the value of their stories to create bonds of trust with their children, and he shows them how to do this well.
God’s grace is for the moment, and His grace covers all our sin and shame. I pray God will lead you to at least one safe person to begin sharing your stories with. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. Vulnerability is often the first step toward exponential spiritual and relational growth.
You will probably never have to share your story on a stage as I often do, but if you’re a mom or dad you have an incredible audience in front of you right now.
No matter what stage you’re in, your friends need your stories. We are so much better together, and God created us to live authentically in relationship with each other. Become that ally that someone in your life needs. Let Jesus show you how.
by John Fort
Director of Training
To help a child who is using pornography stop we need to understand why they are seeking it out. It turns out there are several distinct reasons kids turn to porn.
The better we understand why our child might look for sexual imagery, the better we will be at helping them resist it. The reasons a child turns to porn actually points to the solution.
The organization Protect Young Minds recently completed a research project studying why kids use porn. Combining their findings with that of Be Broken's work we end up with seven reasons kids turn to pornography.
Knowing these reasons then gives parents seven ways to help kids resist the allure of pornography.
The most obvious reason kids turn to pornography is out of curiosity about sex or to gain understanding about sexual words they have heard others use. This is not just a reason for one or two visits to pornography.
Even teenagers are constantly hearing new sexual terms that they have not heard before. This can keep kids returning to their chosen sex educator (porn) throughout childhood and their teen years.
In addition, as kids use porn they see things they don’t understand, which keeps them searching to see more to gain understanding of what they are seeing.
If we do not want pornography to be our child’s sex educator we have to provide an alternative. That alternative is us.
This means we have to be the first to teach our kids about sex and even what all the words they are hearing others say mean. Our kids will not know it is okay to come to us with questions about sex until we start that conversation.
There is no other option—its either us or porn (or ignorant friends) that will teach them.
Teaching kids about sex only sounds scary at first. Once we start, our kids quickly get used to talking about sex with us. Parents are usually the most afraid to talk about sex, not kids.
2. To Feel Good
Pornography is usually sexually stimulating, even to a child.
Viewing sex causes dopamine to be released in a child’s brain, which makes them feel good inside. Kids will return just to get that feeling again. One young teenager explained seeing pornography this way, “It felt like being on a rollercoaster. Some people don’t like that but some people want to go back and feel that again.”
Kids don’t have to be looking for pornography to stumble across it.
Playing video games, surfing for shows in a smart TV, and even doing homework online can bring up pornography even when the child is not looking for it. If this happens, and they feel the rush of dopamine, they may want to return to feel that again.
We can explain to our kids that looking at pornography can make us feel good. We can even tell them it does this by causing dopamine to be released in our brain. But we can explain that pornography is very addictive and we can easily become trapped by it, almost as if we are its slave. We should not lie, yes pornography can feel good, but there are better ways to feel good.
Kids who have felt the rush of pornography will have the hardest time resisting it when they are bored. So, we need to help our kids be better at finding things to do when they are bored. We need to encourage our children to be creative in finding ways to experience fun and excitement. Perhaps some things can be changed at home that make life feel a little less dull.
3. To Relieve Stress
Using porn to relieve stress is less about wanting to feel good than running away from bad feelings. Stress relief is about seeking comfort during times when difficult emotions are present.
It is common for children and teens to turn to pornography or some other form of sexual stimulation when they feel anxious, rejected, or some other negative emotion.
For many kids, pornography can become the go-to method for coping with stress.
To prevent this we need to teach our children how to be aware of their emotions and how to process them. We call this “emotional resilience,” or being emotionally strong.
The levels of anxiety we see reflected in the news demonstrates that our entire society has become emotionally weak. This is something our entire family needs work on. It starts with learning to talk about our feelings all the time.
This process of developing emotional resilience lasts all of childhood (and beyond).
4. To Make Sense of Sexual Contact or Abuse
When a child has a sexual experience, whether due to abuse or experimentation, they sometimes turn to pornography to make sense of what happened.
Studies show that one in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused.
More children than that have experimented sexuality with another child in some way.
These encounters leave a child wondering if what they experienced is normal. If they are afraid to tell their parents what happened they may look up what happened to them online to see it again. They attempt to use pornography to process their feelings.
To prevent this from happening we need to be asking our children what they are experiencing. If they begin to act odd, such as isolating or acting out more than normal, its time to talk and see if something happened that upset them.
We will have to assure them that they will not be in trouble for whatever they tell us, as fear of punishment is the most common reason children are afraid to talk to parents about sexual experiences. If parents do discover a child has been abused they should immediately seek professional help.
5. Peer Pressure
All kids want to fit in.
In today’s world children will hear their friends talking about pornography and joking about sexual things they have seen online. Kids will hear other kids talk about pornographic websites and not be able to join in the conversation because they don’t understand what their friends are talking about.
Kids may be made fun of for not knowing what pornography is. This can even happen in Christian schools, homeschool environments, and church settings.
Sometimes the motivation to use pornography is no more complicated than wanting to understand what their friends are talking about so they can join in the conversation next time. Kids want to fit in and be a part of the group. This is particularly true with kids ages 12-14 or so.
We can help our children by frequently asking them what their friends are talking about.
If we know they are old enough that their friends are probably using pornography it is wise to ask them if they hear other kids talk about porn. If they seem afraid to talk we can tell our stories of learning that our friends were using porn when we were kids. Then we can ask if they ever feel like looking just to see what their friends are talking about.
We can ask them how it feels to not be a part of something their friends are involved in. This is mostly about listening to let them process their feelings.
Feeling left out is not a pleasant experience. We should express empathy for a child who does not look at pornography but feels left out as a result. We should feel empathy for a child who does look at pornography in order to fit in. We can help them try to find other ways to fit in or even help them find friends with the same values as they want to have.
6. To Feel Freedom
Some children live in highly restrictive homes where they feel like they do not have the freedom to express their feelings or make any choices on their own.
While structure is good, when it becomes rigid and regimented a child may feel unnoticed or unimportant. No child wants to feel less important than the house rules. In these cases pornography becomes a secret way to rebel and experience a few moments of freedom.
The feeling of freedom is what they seek, even more than a sexual rush.
To prevent this, parents need to make sure their child feels a sense of independence and freedom to say what is on their mind. It does not mean a child should get to do whatever they want, but they should be able to at least express their feelings about what they do and don’t want to do without punishment.
All children should have some times when they have freedom to do things they like. While many parents do this instinctively, some parents will find this difficult, as it is not how they were raised.
Yet, when we do not allow children any freedom, choice, or ability to express emotions, that bottled up frustration has to come out somewhere. Overly strict homes do not allow compromise but insist on compliance.
Compromise is hard for everyone, including parents, but a necessary skill. Children do need to learn to accept disappointment but parents also need to learn to give children some freedom. The alternative is always destructive.
7. To Feel Validated
Girls today often face frequent sexual comments by boys and can easily feel like sexual objects.
Girls will notice that boys often pay most attention to the girls who laugh at sexual comments made to them, who wear more revealing clothing, or who flirt with boys. A girl who does know what to make of this may find herself searching for answers online and end up with a lot of pornography on her computer or device.
It is easy for a girl to get caught up in pornography trying to make sense of how she is supposed to be validated by others.
Boys often make fun of each other, calling each other emasculating names. When boys feel rejected by peers in this or other ways they experience a deep need for validation.
When a boy stumbles across pornography, the sexual images looking back at him can appear to be validating him.
This feeling of validation can be brought on by oxytocin.
In addition to dopamine, sexual stimulation releases oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes us to feel emotionally bonded to who or whatever we are looking at when we are sexually stimulated.
Kids who need validation find porn gives them an artificial feeling of validation as oxytocin floods their brains. It may be artificial, but to a child it is better than nothing.
To help guard against this we need to do all we can to make sure our children feel validated. We do this by starting when they are very young. Validation is more than telling them, “good job” when they do something well. Girls and boys need gender-specific validation.
At some point a girl is more interested in a compliment on her looks from her dad than from her mom. She needs to know the opposite sex approves of her, and her father is the model of the opposite sex for a girl.
Boys also need approval from their dad, especially as they reach puberty and need to be affirmed in their maleness by their male role model.
Both girls and boys need affirmation from their mothers as well. A twelve-year-old girl needs to hear her mother say, “If all the twelve year old girls in the world were lined up, I would still pick you.”
Boys need to hear similar things from their mothers. Not compliments on what they achieve, but of who they are.
This information is too much for any parent to take in all at once. Instead of worrying about doing it all, pick one of these seven areas you think you can improve on in your home. Here are some examples:
For more parenting help, visit our Family Care Resources.
In a Sexualized Culture, Children Need an Ally
by Anne Kerr
Family Care Specialist at Be Broken
As an adult looking back on the images and experiences that shaped your sexuality, does it seem like some important elements were missing? As you encountered various things related to sex did you have to navigate them on your own? Did the lack of God-honoring information and the abundance of misinformation leave you vulnerable and without anyone to turn to?
The majority of parents I speak with would say yes, yes, and yes.
You may not have had anyone to process your experiences with. You may not have been protected well. You may not have received the support and information you needed. But you can forge a better way with your family today.
Several days after giving my Allies* talk to a group of parents, one of the attendees reached out to thank me. She said the timing was truly God’s as her twelve-year-old daughter had come to her sobbing and with a confession. She’d been looking at people having sex online. She was simply curious about sex, but once she’d found the videos, she continued to seek them out (which is a common response to discovering porn). She was riddled with fear, guilt, and shame.
As this mom held her sobbing daughter the thought “Be her ally” immediately came to mind. Those three words changed everything about the way she and her husband responded.
Instead of reacting with condemnation and consequences, this mom began empathizing with her child’s feelings of curiosity and arousal as well as the temptation to watch again. Soon after, Dad joined the conversation, sharing about his own struggles with porn around her age, empathizing with his child’s interest as well as her shame.
Now they’re reading good materials together and talking more openly. Their daughter is choosing healthy alternatives when the desire to view porn returns. God is using all of this to wipe away the shame and to prepare the way for more and better conversations.
These parents are creating an atmosphere in their home that will encourage their child to turn to them rather than hide from them as she encounters new challenges related to sexuality. They’re becoming her trusted resource for the information she needs. They’re becoming her ally.
What Satan meant for evil in this child’s life God is using for good. (Gen. 50:20) The darkness will not win because the light dispels it. An ally brings truth wrapped in grace, and truth sets us free.
What about your child? Would he or she feel safe talking with you about tender topics like sexuality or sexual sin?
Of all the good things you’ll teach and model for your child, very few will be as important as God-honoring sexuality. There’s nothing to fear because God will lead you. He goes before you to prepare the good works He has for you, and we at Be Broken would like to help you become the ally your child needs.
Where to Start
Just like the mom and dad I spoke of earlier, you can do this too, starting right now.
If you’re uncertain about how to begin conversations, especially with an older child, consider talking in a setting where you’re not face to face such as while hiking or sitting outdoors. You could begin with something very broad like this:
“I’ve been thinking about how things were when I was your age. Tell me what it’s like to be a ___-year-old today.”
Listen well, resisting the urge to lecture or judge. Eventually steer the conversation around to something related to relationships, bodies, porn, or sex, and then share something related from your own childhood, for example, “When I was about your age some friends showed me porn. I was kind of fascinated but instinctively I knew it was bad. But I didn’t feel safe talking with my parents about it.”
By being vulnerable first, you’ll begin to win your child’s trust.
Remember that it takes courage to talk about bodies, porn, or sex. Be encouraging of small first steps.
Gently explore what might be the root of any resistance on your child’s part. Even resistant children will appreciate the fact that you care and your desire to help. Perhaps a humble acknowledgment of the lack of conversation so far may be needed. You can even admit that it’s a little awkward for both of you but that it will get easier.
Children appreciate authenticity. Share how a lack of information impacted you and your current desire to do better for your child.
Remember, you’re building something very good, and good things take time. You’re growing a relationship founded on authenticity and grounded in truth. You’re becoming a safe place, a port in the cultural storm.
Conversations may have been missing in your home growing up. They may be lacking in the Church today. But there’s really only one way to change that, and that’s by starting conversations in our homes right now.
Be her ally.
Be his ally.
Know that you have an ally in Christ who will provide all you need for this leg of your parenting journey! Also, if there’s resistance on your part please check out the many resources Be Broken offers.
We are here for you, and if you’d like more information about bringing a presentation like Allies to your church or community, please contact us.
Will Talking to My Child About Sex Ruin Their Innocence
Tips for Protecting Kids Against Sexual Abuse
Schedule a Personal Ministry Consult with Anne
A Personal Ministry Consult is a 1-time confidential conversation with a member of our staff to help you gain insights and assistance from someone who has personal and professional experience in this field of ministry.
*Allies: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture is a 90-minute event for parents of toddlers through teens that presents a compassionate, relationship-based alternative to “the sex talk.” Allies is for grandparents and caregivers as well.
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski
by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder & President of Be Broken
If you are human, you face temptation. Every day. Multiple times a day.
But just because you are tempted doesn't mean you have to give in to temptation. You are made in God's image and therefore your life is meant to reflect Him in all of His goodness and righteousness. And through faith in Him you can do just that.
The following are 13 Bible verses* to help you resist temptation and live in the freedom and victory God offers you through Jesus Christ. In Him, you don't have to say yes to temptation ever again. Praise God!
1. There is a way out!
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
There is no such thing as a "unique" temptation. Also, there is no temptation for which God cannot provide a way out. So, when tempted guard against thinking that you are being tempted so uniquely that even God can't get you out of it. Look for His promised way of escape. Then take it!
2. Jesus knows how you feel.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Even though Jesus never sinned, He did know what the weight of temptation felt like; he was "tempted as we are" and "suffered when tempted."
The next time you feel the burden of any temptation, remember that Jesus knows what that temptation feels like and how to carry its weight -- and He is standing ready to help you in that moment. Share your burden with Him.
3. Submit to resist.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Satan is called the accuser and he uses temptation as a way of bringing accusation against you to try and convince you your life isn't worth loving. Every time you give in to temptation he "tattles" to God about you and tries to rub your nose in your failure. But Satan is no match for God; his authority is subservient to God's.
Therefore, if you want to win the fight with Satan you must submit to God first. Then, from such a position of humble allegiance you can tell the enemy to get lost -- and have the full backing of God when doing so!
4. Pray for deliverance.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray for deliverance from evil. I think it's safe to say, then, that this would be a good thing to pray. Daily. (Probably even multiple times a day...)
5. Don't blame God!
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Some temptations can be so incredibly strong. It can seem as if there is no possible way to resist. In such moments it can be easy to "blame" God for these temptations, almost as if to say, "God, whatever happens next I can't help because you don't seem to be around right now. So, I guess this is on you."
But God cannot tempt anyone to do evil. This is antithetical to His holy character. We must own our temptations and cry out to God for help in our weakness. He is faithful to help us when we humble ourselves before Him.
6. Stand firm (together) in your faith.
1 Peter 5:9
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The devil is said to "prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." That's what temptation is trying to accomplish: your destruction. But you are called by God to resist him by standing firm in your faith and remembering that you are not alone in this fight.
Calling to mind (or on your phone!) your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world is a great and powerful encouragement in your battle to resist the temptations of the roaring lion who is trying to devour you. Just like in the wild, if you stay in the herd you are much safer against the lion's attack.
7. Walk by the Spirit
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Do you want a guarantee for victory over temptation? This verse gives it to you. To "walk by the Spirit" is mutually exclusive from "gratifying the desires of the flesh." Therefore, when temptation strikes, call out to the Spirit of God who dwells within you and follow wherever He leads you.
8. Carry God's Word in your heart.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Memorizing Scripture is good, but chewing on it until it becomes part of your heart and soul is even better. Notice in this verse the direct link between carrying God's Word in the deepest part of your being (heart) and how that affects whether you will give in to temptation. When your heart beats to the rhythm of God's Word, you will resist temptation
9. Put on the armor!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Resisting temptation is a battle; a war! You would never dream of going into physical battle without the right equipment. Fighting temptation is no different. Gear up with the full armor of God:
Along with all this armor you must "pray in the Spirit." Be battle ready against all the wily schemes of the enemy.
10. Make a covenant.
Job 31:1 (NIV)
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.
A covenant is a serious commitment that carries specific consequences if broken. In your battle against temptation, get serious about your areas of weakness and consider making a covenant like Job did. He wasn't flippant about what he would allow himself to look at with his eyes. He took his gaze seriously.
What aspects of your heart, mind, and body might you need to make a covenant in order to resist temptation more successfully?
11. Love (and obey) Jesus.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. -Jesus
The most powerful force against temptation is not willpower, it is love. When you understand the depths of God's love for you through Jesus, your love for Him will grow. And the evidence of your increasing love for him will come through greater obedience to His commands.
The barometer of our love for Jesus is our obedience to His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. His commands lead us away from sin and toward righteousness. His commands are good and help us resist temptation. Trust and obey...
13. Ask for help!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
By God's grace we have access to all the help we need for resisting temptation -- if only we will ask! When you are tempted, don't waste time trying to "figure it out" or do it on your own. Instead, "draw near" as fast as you can to the Lord, eager to receive mercy and grace as you battle temptation.
These are just a handful of verses to help you resist temptation. Dive into God's Word every day so that you might know Him more and learn to walk in His ways. Over time, your faith will grow and you will experience more and more victory over temptation.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Click the icons below to find more resources to help you resist temptation and live in step with God's design.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses are from the English Standard Version translation.
It is very common for parents to tell us during workshops on talking with kids about sex, “I’m worried I will ruin my child’s innocence.” In fact, this is one of the more common fears parents have related to talking with their kids about sex. Since this concern comes up so frequently it is worth talking about.
Does talking with our children about sex or pornography ruin their innocence?
What Do We Really Fear?
When I ask parents to explain this fear they often respond with a concern that they would put dangerous ideas in their child’s head. They worry it might make their child curious about sex and go look online for answers. They worry it might put ideas in their child’s head to go experiment with on their own. Other parents worry about traumatizing their child with information they didn’t expect and were not ready to hear.
In other words, parents are worried that talking honestly with their children about sex will either traumatize their child or entice them to seek out some form of sexuality to interact with. These are fears about unintentionally putting our child in some kind of danger.
It is easy to understand wanting to protect our children from danger. The question then becomes, does talking to our children about sex and sexuality put them in danger?
The Real Danger for Children
The real danger children face is not hearing from their parents how God designed human sexuality to work.
Danger comes when a child is exposed to sexualized content while unprepared and ignorant about sex.
All children will come in contact with sexualized media or information outside of a parents’ control. The only question is, will they be ready and will they know what to do when this happens?
Children learn about sex from each other. Learning about sex for the first time can feel a bit world-altering for a child, no matter how old they are. A whole new reality has just been revealed to them, although they still barely understand it. Children process new and important information the same way adults do—they want to tell others what they just found out. Very often children will tell all their friends everything they just learned, even friends much younger than they are.
Children learn about sex from pornography. One of the most common stories we hear about first exposures to pornography is when a child clicks on an ad that looked interesting while doing homework or playing a video game. In many cases the child had no idea what pornography was or that anything like it existed. This is a particularly dangerous scenario today as first exposure to Internet porn often consists of hundreds of videos of deviant sex acts appearing on the screen at once.
Children learn about sex from non-pornographic sources. In my case, I found my mothers nursing books on the family bookshelf, which contained many photos of naked people. Their eyes were blanked out, but that is all that was blanked out. These were not images of sex, but my parents had never talked to me about nudity or body parts and I didn’t quite know what to think. I was only eight or nine at the time but I went to my friends, not my parents, to talk about what I’d seen.
When we as parents refrain from talking with our kids about body parts, sexuality, and even pornography, we leave them vulnerable, unprepared, and unprotected for when they do come across that information. Talking with our kids about sex is a way to protect them, not ruin them
When Do I Talk?
Knowing when to talk to our children about sexuality is perhaps the harder question. It is easier when we approach such conversations as a means of protection instead of just education.
Several counselors, authors, and speakers who focus on helping parents talk with their children about sex met in 2020 to discuss this very issue; when do we talk with our children about sex?
Here is the advice that came out of that meeting:
That might seem really young! However, we as parents typically view our children as younger and more immature than they really are. They are often ready for conversations long before we think they are.
In addition, children today are exposed to information about sex much younger than we realize. It does not matter if a child goes to a Christian school or even is homeschooled, they probably have been introduced to more ideas about sex than a parent will realize.
A homeschool boy came up to me after a presentation and volunteered this information, “My dad didn’t talk with me about porn until three years after I first saw it. I was already kinda hooked by that time.”
We cannot give a definitive roadmap for when to have what conversation with your child. Each child is different and there is no “best age” to have a conversation that works for every child. However, here are some very rough guidelines:
Take Your Next Step
What age is your child? Which of the conversations above have you not had with your child? Our suggested next step for you is to pick one conversation and set a date when you plan to have it with your child.
Need help? Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex has conversation guides to walk you through many of these conversations.
For even more resources, visit our
Family Care Resources page
No one truly enjoys suffering. When pain enters our lives, we instinctively seek relief. This is a right and good response. But often in our quest for relief we mistakenly assume that emotional, spiritual, and relational healing and growth can (and should) happen quickly. They don't.
But before you get too discouraged, let me try to show you why it is far better to focus on finishing well rather than just starting fast on this journey of healing and growth.
Here are 4 reasons why finishing well is better than starting fast when it comes to true life transformation.
Finishing Well Reminds You that Change is a Journey, Not a Destination
Thousands of men have contacted us over the years to get help for their unwanted sexual habits. They reach out for many different reasons, but almost all have the same fundamental desire: change.
They don't want to keep doing the things they are doing. Mainly because they are finally waking up to the reality that what they're doing is harmful to themselves and others. They want out. But they want out NOW!
It is understandable to want quick fixes when the effects of a sexual addiction are finally admitted and revealed. It's a mess. It hurts. It's heavy and complicated. To want freedom from such bondage, and peace instead of chaos, is right and good.
But change, true life change, never happens instantly. Period.
Real transformation, the kind that God works in us through His Spirit, takes a lifetime to come to full maturity. Therefore, focusing on finishing well rather than starting fast reminds us that change is a journey, not a destination.
There isn't a magical point in time where you can say, "I've arrived! All that must change and be completed in my life is accomplished. There is no more healing or growth needed." This "destination" is called heaven, and we only arrive there after death. (And even in heaven there will be no end to our exploration and wonder of the eternally infinite God...)
So, when it comes to life transformation, finishing well is better than starting fast because it keeps you focused on the lifelong journey of growth rather than constantly trying to achieve an unreachable and unrealistic goal of perfection this side of heaven. There is much freedom and peace that come when we focus on finishing well.
Finishing Well Leads Toward Practical Outcomes, Not Merely Idealized Possibilities
It is easy to "dream big" when considering how to start the journey toward life change. It is something else entirely to actually live out the day-by-day grind of such transformation. Finishing well is about establishing real goals with real results.
When I began my journey of recovery from sex addiction back in 1999 I had lots of hopes and dreams (fantasies, really) about what a "changed life" could look like. But all those dreams existed way out in the unrealized world of "possibilities," not in my actual life.
The best possibilities for transformation never happen if there isn't concrete goals and actions attached to them. And this is actually what it takes to finish well. To keep dreaming and dreaming and dreaming about all that "could" change is to stay stuck forever at a starting line you never leave.
If I was going to experience actual life change I was going to have to do something, not just dream something. I had to call a counselor and set up appointments, find a support group and attend faithfully, dig into God's Word and follow wherever His Spirit led me, and many other tangible actions that required my will, not merely good intentions.
One of the most practical outcomes of a finishing well attitude has been the relationships developed with other men for encouragement, accountability, and support. Had I only just "dreamed" about a changed life without ever doing something about it, I would still be alone, isolated, and probably completely enslaved to my addiction (if not dead).
Finishing well involves taking concrete steps toward different outcomes. Faithfulness and perseverance grow because you are committed to actions over the long haul that produce change, not just ideas floating around in the dreamland of possibilities.
(For help taking concrete steps, we have resources for Men, Women, and Families.)
Finishing Well Produces Righteous Character
So what is the actual "goal" of life transformation? If it's a journey and it requires actions, what is this process actually intended to produce?
The short answer is the life of Jesus.
We are made in God's image; we are made to reflect God in the world (Gen. 1:26-28). Jesus Christ was the exact representation (image) of God (Heb. 1:3). Because of sin we are separated from God and do not reflect Him rightly (Rom. 3:23). However, through faith in Christ we are reconciled to God and made truly alive; in Christ we are able to reflect God properly. (Eph. 2:8-10)
The Bible calls this process of maturing in our ability to accurately reflect God's image in the world "sanctification." And it is simply the process by which we "look" more and more like Jesus.
The metaphor that is often used to describe this process is fruit. In Galatians 5:22-23 we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." God's Spirit in us is about the business of producing the fruit of these characteristics of Jesus.
Fruit doesn't manifest instantly. This is why we say finishing well is a lifelong process. What God is producing in us, the character of Jesus, is not instant. It takes time to grow and mature.
Just think of a few of the characteristics listed above and how time is woven in to their very definitions: patience, faithfulness, self-control. One could even argue that love and joy and gentleness require time to mature because they are experienced in relationship to someone or something else.
Finishing well keeps us on a growth mission over time. As God reveals areas in our lives that do not align with the character of Jesus, He refines us through pruning and discipline (John 15:1-11).
By contrast, starting fast stays focused on self. It's all about making yourself look good without any actual transformation of character. It is shallow and unsustainable. It also comes crashing down when storms come. (Matt. 7:24-27)
Finishing Well Pleases the Lord and Grows God's Kingdom
Finally, probably the greatest reason why finishing well is better than starting fast is because it pleases God.
Jesus told a parable of a master and his three servants in Matthew 25 to help his followers understand what the kingdom of heaven is like. The master gives each servant a different amount of money and then leaves. When the master returns, he goes to see what the servants did with the money he entrusted to them.
Two of the servants had used the master's money to double the amounts. The third servant did nothing. Listen to the commendation the master gave to the servants who increased the amount given:
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (Matt. 25:21)
The servants who multiplied the investment of the master in them were commended. They were welcomed "into the joy of [their] master." This is a picture of heaven. Jesus (the Master) is returning and He will be asking what you and I did with the investment He made in us through His Spirit. He is expecting a return on that investment; a return that enhances and expands His kingdom.
How will you answer?
Did you "start fast" with a bunch of possible ideas that never really got off the ground and were mainly intent with cutting corners to just make yourself look good and not really show any desire to actually change?
Or did you set your heart and mind on finishing well, on humbling yourself to God's Word and Spirit and engaging the long journey that unfolds step-by-step, day after day, in the trenches of character development and authentic community?
Is change difficult? Of course it is. Is it worth it for the sake of a new heart and mind, healthier relationships, and the hope of hearing "Well done" upon entering the joy of the Master? Most definitely!
If you would like help on your journey of finishing well, please contact us.
Founder & President