Protecting children from porn called 'daily war'

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Churches and parents must model and emphasize a godly respect for human sexuality to protect children from the pervasive and savvy culture of pornography, speakers in a religious webinar addressing the subject said Tuesday (Nov. 7.)

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No longer adequate are the internet filters parents have relied on to prevent exposure to pornography, said Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Tallahassee, Fla. He was the main speaker in the webinar hosted by the interfaith Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP).

"Let's be wise and have filters in place, but it's got to be deeper than that. It's got to go to the heart," Inserra said. "We've got to create a different environment. We have to be distinct from the world and raise up a church that is unafraid to say as a male, these things matter.

"As a male, this is one of the greatest responsibilities that God has given me, that I respect, care for, love, look out for and protect women, especially in this area," Inserra said, referencing the #MeToo campaign that has exposed allegations of widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood, business, politics and other arenas.

The free, one-hour webinar, "Parents, Kids, and Pornography: Attack on a Generation," also included a panel discussion led by David Blair, director of the Church of God (COG) Department of Youth and Discipleship. Indiana COG youth director Josh Martin and Dewayne Moree, founder of the Youth Ministry Coaching Network, offered additional insight on the panel.

The webinar was designed to help parents and churches equip children and teenagers to honor God and avoid entrapments by pornography and sexually graphic images and terminology. RAAP has announced a second webinar on the subject Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.

Before the age of 11, 93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls in the U.S. have viewed pornography, webinar participants said. In addition, 12 to 15 percent (close to 100 million) of all websites are pornographic in nature. Anxiety, depression, addiction and peer victimization are all byproducts of porn exposure and use, speakers said.

"We need to kind of get our heads out of the sand and realize that we live in this world now that is saturated with it everywhere, and we can't control it," Inserra said. "It means that pornography is now coming to us."

Alleged and admitted sexual abuse, rape and sexual harassment claims that have grown from the Harvey Weinstein scandal are indicative of the harm pornography has been shown to instigate, Inserra said. He described sexual sin including pornography as a major contemporary evil that must be addressed in Christian discipleship.

"The conversation that needs to happen in churches, that needs to happen in discipleship group, that needs to happen with parents in homes, is what does it really look like -- in a porn-saturated world, in a sex-obsessed world -- what does it really look like to live out that prayer of Jesus, to be in the world and not of it," Inserra said. "It's a daily war. We walk into battle as God's missionaries every single day."

Parents should anticipate their children's exposure to porn and teach them in advance how to respond, Martin said.

Among pointers offered to parents and churches during the webinar:

-- Communicate the need for modesty in dress and behavior without blaming women for men's stumbling, nor making women a scapegoat;

-- Counter the cultural falsehood that "boys will be boys" by teaching boys to become men who are respectful, humble and intentionally protective of women;

-- Churches must intentionally tackle the issue through modeling, training and preaching;

-- Students are more receptive to advice from church leaders who have taken the time to build relationships and trust.

Registration for the Nov. 16 webinar is available at Webinar attendees also receive a list of pertinent resources.

With support from Christians, Muslims and Jews, RAAP markets itself as an organization working "to create a broad interfaith effort to alert, educate, and mobilize all people to understand and combat pornography."

K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia and immediate past president of the National African Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Dan Darling, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission vice president for communications, are members of RAAP's advisory board. Retired ERLC President Richard Land and the late Adrian Rogers, former SBC president, are among past board members.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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