Talking to your kids about pornography can be awkward.
When you were their age, you had to seek out pornography. Now it’s delivered directly to them through devices, friends, billboards, video games, TV commercials, and dozens of other ways.
► For more, read "12 Ways Pornography Leaks into Your Home (and How to Stop It)"
We can make these kinds of conversations less awkward and more rewarding when we invite the Holy Ghost to help us teach our families about the dangers and realities of pornography.
With that in mind, here are 7 scripture-based ways to talk to your kids about pornography.
Read each section and determine which scriptures will be best to use based on your child’s age, maturity, and level of involvement with pornography.
1. Feelings of attraction come from God—and they’re good. (1 Cor. 11:11)
First, if your child is struggling with pornography, help them to understand that the feelings they have are natural.
As President Gordon B. Hinckley put it: “The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. It is beautiful when handled in the right way. It is deadly if it gets out of hand.”
When dealing with pornography at home, make sure your children are not ashamed of the feelings they have. They come from a God who loves them and wants them to be happy.
Help them understand that your primary goal is to help them understand the importance of recognizing those feelings and using them in the right way—ways that bring the most joy.
2. When you see or experience something you know is wrong, run away. (Genesis 39:7-12)
Help your children understand that while having feelings of attraction is not a sin in and of itself, acting on those feelings—especially through viewing pornography—is a sin against God.
Read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph wasn’t tempted by pornography, but he was tempted by a woman who wanted him to engage in inappropriate behavior.
In the story, point out that Joseph first told her “no” and then ran away from her when she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
Address the fact that modern-day technology can be much more insistent than even Potiphar's wife was, repeatedly flashing inappropriate ads, commercials, videos, or images on your device or TV screen.
Encourage your children to “run” from these situations by immediately putting down the device or turning it off.
3. Feeling tempted is not a sin. Even Christ was tempted. (Matthew 4:1-4)
When your child feels tempted to sin, feelings of shame can also accompany such temptations.
Be sure to remind your children: being tempted is not a sin. We do not sin until we give in to such temptations.
Read the scriptures above and point out that even the Savior, the one perfect person who ever lived on this Earth, was tempted. He knows what it’s like to have to reject temptation and sin. He can help each of us do the same.
4. Everyone makes mistakes—only Christ can judge yours. (John 8: 3-7)
In the scripture above, a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus Christ who stoops down, writes in the dirt, and utters the well-known words: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
As you read this story with your children, ask them to point out what the wicked men did after Christ answered them: they all left.
Help them understand that many other people have struggled with pornography and have repented of it. Only Christ can judge you for your sins and we are all indebted to Him.
They’re not alone in making mistakes. Nor are they alone in repenting of them and coming closer to Christ again.
5. Your thoughts matter, so be careful what you think about. (Mosiah 4:30)
In this scripture, King Benjamin reminds us to watch our thoughts, our words, and our deeds.
Remind your children that their thoughts are important. What they think about shapes who they become. And, as we’re reminded in Matthew 6:22-24, we can’t serve God and the world—we can’t consume pornography and expect to receive the fulness of God’s blessings.
6. If you only listen to your body, you’re rebelling against your Heavenly Father. (Mosiah 3:19)
Help your children identify the difference between the natural man (cravings of their bodies) and the Spirit. Explain that if we only pay attention to the things that our body wants, then we are going against what our Heavenly Father wants.
In the verse above, Alma pleads with his son Corianton to stop succumbing to temptation and to repent so that he can inherit the Kingdom of God together with his family.
Perhaps the most important thing you can make sure your child understands is that they can repent if they feel they’ve engaged in pornography. Christ has always loved them and waits with open arms to forgive them and fill their lives with light once again.
Consider explaining that Satan will try to convince them that they’ve done too much to be forgiven or that it will be too embarrassing to repent by talking with their parents or bishop. But Christ wants them to repent and be forgiven.
Use the Spirit as your guide
Conversations with your kids about potentially awkward or painful subjects like pornography can be hard. Pray for help from heaven and try using any or all of the scriptures listed above to have a Spirit-filled discussion that will help them understand how to react to and overcome pornography.
For more ideas and help on addressing the realities of pornography in your family, take a look at the resources below.
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If children are old enough to know how to turn on the computer, it's not too early to teach them about the dangers of pornography. This illustrated book is a valuable resource to help parents teach their children about the destructive nature of pornography, the sacredness of our bodies, and the love the Lord has for His children.
What Should I Do When I See Pornography? — LDS.org
The Guardians of Innocence
Protect your children from pornography by following the suggestions in this innovative and timely guide. Using research from experts and plainly describing pornography's effects, Mary Muller provides you with powerful tools to avoid, prevent, and recover from pornography addiction. Help your family members to carefully navigate the internet and to wisely use cell phones and other media devices, making your home a haven for all.
Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this book tells the life story of a headstrong mother of seven children, Rhyll Croshaw, and her personal struggles due to the trauma of her husband’s pornography and sexual addiction. She tells of the choices she made, both mistakes and successes, along this journey, and comes out on the other end not only alive, but a stronger, healthier person with more joy and peace in her life than she could have ever imagined.
Understanding Pornography and Sexual Addiction
Internet pornography is a stealth attack on our homes and families through invisibly transmitted electrons. Education about the addictive, destructive nature of this attack is paramount, and hence this manual. We must address prevention and recovery with the same tenacity the pornography industry has employed to invade our homes and our lives. Only then can we turn the tide and begin to win this war.
Dr. Manning speaks directly to the young people she calls the “internet generation.” She discusses such topics as: What is pornography? How does pornography affect people? Can pornography teach me things about sexuality that I need to know in the future? What do I do if I can't stop looking at pornography? What do I do if someone I know can't stop looking at pornography? And more.
The lead image above is from Getty Images. It is being used for illustrative purposes only and does not reflect the opinions or feelings of the models found therein.