Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Small Conversations with Big Results

Leslie Basham: How old were you when you heard about the birds and the bees? Josh McDowell says today’s children are probably going to need that talk a lot sooner.

Josh McDowell: We cannot raise our children the way our parents raised us—not in the light of the Internet. You can’t do it.

Leslie: So how do you raise children in a world full of easy access to temptation? Josh McDowell will talk about it today on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, September 3.

Many of our listeners will be familiar with Josh McDowell, author of over 100 books, including several books on teaching teenagers the value of purity. Josh has helped teens as they’ve faced temptation over the years, and he’s seen how the battle for purity has changed. Today, he’ll help parents understand how to raise children in a plugged-in, socially-connected world.

If you have younger children, this program is for you, but it might not be for them. You may want to get them busy somewhere else, then come and listen. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking with Josh McDowell. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Josh, I know that you have written a book with Erin Davis who’s no stranger to our audience because she is the one who writes our Lies Young Women Believe blog. Tell us about the book you and Erin wrote together.

Josh: Ah. I’m so glad Erin said “yes” to it because it made it so much better of a book and more effective. I felt that the issue of sexuality was becoming so dominant because of the Internet more than ever before. There is so much ignorance out there and fear to deal with the issue. I decided to write a book about sexuality really frank and straightforward, with reverence and biblically based, but using modern medicine, etc. and understanding of our bodies now which is all new and how it applies to sexuality. The title is called The Bare Facts about Sex, Love, and Relationships. The subtitle is 39 Questions Your Parents Hope You Will Never Ask About Sex.

 I wrote the book first of all for parents. If you’re not informed with a healthy knowledge, then you have a fear to become involved with your children. This helps parents to have greater courage and knowledgable understanding to interact with their kids about sexuality. It helps kids to understand sexuality in the light of the Internet and movies and videos today.  

Nancy: You’ve written another book with your wife called Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex. So this is obviously a subject that you have a lot of concern about.

Josh: I do. This is 137th book, and yet I think it’s one of the most significant. The reason we wrote Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex is that the Internet is moving so fast. It is so big. For example, YouTube is just one of millions of websites. In 2011, every minute twenty-five hours worth of videos are uploaded which influence young people. Half of them stand against anything that we believe about Jesus Christ and the Christian life.

By the end of 2011, it went to forty-seven hours every minute, every sixty seconds, uploaded to YouTube. By the first of 2012, it went up to sixty hours per minute uploaded. Do you know what it is now? According to the stats by YouTube, every sixty seconds seventy-two hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. That’s over 4,000 hours of video every sixty minutes.

Nancy: What’s the implication of that for families?

Josh: The implication is that kids get their information no longer from their parents. They don’t get it from school. They don’t get it from CBS or NBC or Fox News or CNN—none of that. They get it from blogs, and they get it from videos on the Internet.

Nancy: So when you were raising your kids, TV was the thing you had to be concerned about the influence it had on kids lives.

Josh: And now the Internet dwarfs TV. For example, an average child—this is average, Nancy. An average child takes in thirty-four gigabytes of information every twenty-four hours. Now what is that equivalent to?

Nancy: Yes. Help me put those numbers together.

Josh: That’s equivalent to data of 8,178 songs every twenty-four hours is taken into the average child’s mind.

Nancy: Wow!

Josh: The majority of it is against almost everything that we teach our kids. But they’re going to use the Internet. But what the Internet has done is it has made pervasive and intrusive not just sexuality but pornography. Nancy, pornography is the number one threat to the cause of Christ, five times greater than anything historically in the last 2,000 years. It's the greatest threat to young people, the greatest threat to marriage, the greatest threat to family, the greatest threat to pastors, oh, the greatest threat to youth pastors—this pervasive pornography on the Internet. And most people don’t realize. It’s five times greater than anything the church has ever faced in history, and it’s destroying kids right now.

Just an example, finances have always been the number one reason for divorce. Now, 60% of divorces for Evangelical Christians is pornography. Right now there are over five million pornographic websites. With my smart phone right here, I can access within three seconds, just one click away, 1.2 billion pages of pornography.

Nancy: So it’s so accessible in a way that it never has been before.

Josh: It’s incredible. Do you know how many pornographic emails will be circulated today—sixty percent by young people? 2.5 billion. Do you know how many complete pornographic movies will be downloaded where the parents filter and their computer will not detect it because it’s done by P2P, peer-to-peer, which most people don’t understand. Kids do.

Nancy: Okay, hold on a second. You’re saying that parents listening to this program who say, “But we filter our Internet,” their kids can access this stuff, too?

Josh: With most filters you can totally go around it because it’s P2P. It doesn’t come off the site. It’s Person to Person with your computer. They can download it on their parent’s computer, and it won’t be detected—an entire pornographic movie. Do you know how many will be downloaded today? 1.5 billion complete pornographic movies. It won’t be detected because it’s person to person—not through a website. It’s incredible.

Nancy: Think about our kids in Christian homes, Christian youth groups, Christian schools, homeschool families or whatever. Is this going on there, too?

Josh: Oh, absolutely. It’s one of the few things in history that there’s very little statistical difference from non-believers and believers, from non-Christian home, Christian home, from secular school, Christian school.

Nancy: And what’s drawing these kids from Christian homes into that kind of thing?

Josh: Well, first of all, of the 68% that struggle with pornograph—these are evangelical, fundamental, born-again Christian kids that struggle with pornography—91% of them were never seeking it. They were not looking for it. You’ve got to understand. Kids are really not looking for pornography initially. Pornography is looking for them.

Nancy: So they just stumble on to it?

Josh: That’s right—doing a paper, homework, whatever. And here’s the thing. Your child will see pornography, period.

Nancy: When you say “child” is this happening to little children, too?

Josh: I would say from four years old up your child will see pornography. You cannot protect your child from pornography. I don’t care if you homeschool them; I don’t care if you keep them in the house, whatever. You cannot protect your child from not seeing pornography period.

Nancy: Okay, some parents are now saying, “Okay, we’re throwing the computer out. We’re not going to have . . . Help us out!"

Josh: That’s ridiculous. You say, “Then we’re not going to have a computer in the house.” What about your kid’s friend’s computer? Besides, 50% of all access now to the Internet pornography is a hand-held device—a cell phone, a smart phone. “Well, my child’s not going to have a phone, then.” What about your child’s friend’s phone? See you can’t. They’re going to see it.

Here’s what you have to understand. Those that are thirteen years old and younger, I call them the digital generation. I don’t know what others are going to start calling them. But it’s the first generation that’s been brought up and almost everything they have learned came from the screen. This is where you must understand. I don’t care how much you think you understand the filter and everything else, they are natives. We are immigrants.

Nancy: Yes. For sure.

Josh: Many, many kids can work around filters at six, seven, eight years old. They can work around filters. But even if you have a filter, what about your child’s friend’s machine? What about your child’s friend’s cell phone? It used to be on the playground—whether Christian school or not. Somebody would tear out a page of a Playboy magazine that Father had in the house or somewhere else. And they would say, “Hey, look what we got. Look at this. Look at this.” Now, they just hit it, one click away, reset. It’s all on video. It's ten times more impactful like that.

But here’s the sad thing. Of all the young people that see pornography, and every child is going to see pornography, 80% of all teenagers in America have seen XXX pornography which is the far worst. You hear that, Nancy? 80%. The overwhelming majority of them were not looking for it. You have to understand pornography is looking for them, and they will find our children. And the key, Nancy, is not, “Well, I’m going to protect my child. I can keep my child from it.” To me, that mothers the problem.

Nancy: And you’re freaking out some parents right now.

Josh: Well, I hope so for the sake of their children. My daughter, Katie, has two children, and as of nine days ago, a third son. She sent me an email which said, “Dad, now I understand what you’re saying.” She’d been talking to her friends and everyone else who’s little kids have been exposed to pornography and in the most incredible way at Christian schools, at daycare and everything.

She said, “Daddy, I now realize I cannot totally protect my children from seeing pornography.” This is the key. “I need to prepare them for the first time they do.” Now, that’s the mother that’s going to win. That’s the mother that will not lose their child because here’s the key, and this is one reason I wrote this book. And boy, I am dogmatic on this.

The first time your child sees pornography statistically is nine years old. If somebody said to me, “Now, Josh, in the last six months, what would you say for evangelical, fundamental Christian families, pastors and everyone else is the average age?” I’d say, “Four to six years old.”

Nancy: So it’s getting younger and younger.

Josh: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. But here’s the key.

Nancy: So how do you prepare them for that?

Josh: By the first time they click on to it, you need to establish the most incredible relationship with that child where it’s such a relationship that they have no fear to come to you with anything. It’s a safe environment. No question, no subject is out of bounds—even starting at four, five, six, seven, eight years old. Here’s the principle: Rules without relationships lead to rebellion. Rules with relationships lead to response. So you’ve got to build that relationship.

Second: By the first time they click on the pornography, they need a certain amount of understanding of sexuality, their own bodies, everything. This is why I say, “You start at birth.” A mother came to me (just so many Christian moms come to me like this), and she heard me speak on Straight Talk and the Internet and pornography. She said, “Oh. I’ve got to get my husband to give the talk to our son.”

I said, “How old is your son?”

She said, “Twelve.”

I’m just sitting there saying, “Oh, lady, you blew it.” Kids don’t remember the talk. The talk does not hardly ever have an impact.

Nancy: You’re talking about a way of life and community.

Josh: That’s right. You see, it’s not “the talk.” By the time you give “the talk,” it’s too late. If your children can remember the first time you talked to them about sex, you blew it. They should never be able to remember the first time because they should have been so young they can’t even remember it.

Nancy: So describe what that might be like.

Josh: What it’s like is this. It’s not the talk. It’s not small talks. It’s small conversations. Very small conversations. Starting when they’re young about the beauty of their body, everything. Just being honest with them. You step in, address it, step out. You normally have no more than maybe at the most a minute-and-a-half to two minutes up until about nine, ten, eleven years old. Because up until then sex is not a problem.

I’ll have mothers say, “That’s why if I talk to my child about it, they’re going to think about it, and they’re going to do it.” No, no, no. If you don’t talk to them about it, they will do it in the day of the Internet. You must talk about it. You cannot act surprised. You cannot laugh. You cannot. You must just take it right in stride no matter what your child says. You can go out by yourself and laugh later. I believe as parents, we need to be so sensitive always to step in and briefly answer that curiosity.

The reason is, the way you answer a child’s curiosity from when they’re born up until they are about twelve, thirteen years old pretty well determines how they’re going to live their sexuality out from thirteen to twenty. It breaks my heart. How many parents miss the opportunity to satisfy that curiosity in their child? What a way for you as a parent to address it, to put it into God’s perspective. But you only have a minute, a minute-and-a-half at most, and you go from there. That is how we must approach our children. You must start young.

Nancy: So you don’t want them to think that sex is something shameful or dirty.

Josh: It’s not. There’s not one single verse in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that says sex is dirty. Not one. There’s not one single verse in the entire Bible that says sex is sinful. And yet, you go out and you talk to people, and they say that the Bible teaches sex is sinful, that God teaches it. I say to pastors, “Give me one word. Show me one verse in the entire Bible that says sex is sinful.” You can’t do it. There are none.

You’re looking at me a little puzzled. Well, the reason is this. Here's an illustration. I was speaking with 500 parents on Straight Talk with Your Kids about Sex. I made this statement in the first session that there’s not one single verse in the Bible that says sex is sinful. Just before the break, this woman jumps up in the back. She storms to the front. She got to the third row, and she yelled out in front of 500 parents to me. She said, “You are disgusting.” She came up and she slammed down a sheet of paper on the table that I use. I always like to speak from behind a table. And she said, “This is what God says about sex.” Then she stormed out of the church.

Every single verse she had written down (the same with all the pastors and everything else) had nothing to do with sex in the Bible. It had nothing to do with why God created sex or anything. Every single verse had to do with the misuse of sex. What we’ve done over the years, moms dads, others have done it, preachers have done it, we take what the Bible says about the misuse of sex, and we apply it to sex. No one has ever written down a verse from the Song of Solomon. Never once. No one has ever written a verse from Proverbs 5. Not one pastor, not one Christian mom has ever written that down with what the Bible says about sex.

Nancy: I think a lot of parents see what’s going on with the misuse and the perversion of sex, and they don’t want their children to experience that. They don’t want them to taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Josh: But Nancy, the best way to deal is not dealing with negative, it’s dealing with the positive. What does God say about sex? What does God say about your human body? Who created your body? If they don’t see it in that context, you will be defeated.

Let me show you why. When I did this book, I sent a video man to all four of my children’s houses to interview them about how I ever talked to them about sex and everything. For example, they asked each one of them, “When was the first time your dad talked to you about sex?” Every one of them said, “I don’t know. We always talked about it. It was part of our family conversation.”

Second, they asked each one of my kids and my son “What was your greatest motivation for waiting sexually until marriage?” Every one of my kids said, “Because I always wanted what my father has with my mother, and it was worth waiting for.” You see, they saw it was something beautiful. They saw that God created it.

Then when you’ve established that, then, Nancy, you say, “But see, this can be distorted. This is what God means here when He says, 'Do not be commit sexual immorality for it’s one sin you commit against your body.' That’s not about sex, it’s about the misuse of sex." Then I have the basis that I’ve created in my children, a foundation now, to put that in the light of scriptural truth.

So we must start out with the positive, and then you have the foundation to show how that can be distorted through sexual promiscuity, through pornography, everything. If you don’t do that, you’re not building in a reservoir within your child to be able to say, “no.” You’re not. And that’s why I wrote this book. 

Nancy: Do you think a lot of parents are parenting out of fear?

Josh: Yes, they’re parenting out of fear because many of them, their parents parented out of fear—whether with television or whatever. This is why I wrote Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex. I think there are twenty-seven principles I lay out. For most of them, those parents are going to go, “Whoa! That can’t be true.” Then they read a page-and-a-half to two pages and they say, “Oh my. I never realized how significant that is.” I want to change attitudes when it comes to raising our kids. We have to. We cannot raise our children the way our parents raised us. Not in light of the Internet. You can’t do it.

You’ve got to start younger, which is sad, but even then, I always started with my kids when they were born. “Oh, God created such a wonderful, little body that you have.” And just building beautiful, positive things about their body. Because if they hear you talking about it and that God created it, they’ll start believing that “God created me, and I’m something beautiful; therefore, it’s worth protecting.” But if you don’t know how beautiful you are and who created you who you are and a little bit about sexuality, then where’s your motivation to wait, to say "no," to live a pure life? There is none. There is none

Nancy: I think something really important that you keep going back to in this book, Straight Talk, is the importance of relationship—the context of relationship. Where do you see parents, Christian parents, going wrong in relationship with their kids? What can help them establish those healthy relationships?

Josh: Thank God not all, but so often it’s based upon legalism.

Nancy: What do you mean by that?

Josh: I always parented out of the character of God. “Daddy, why can’t I do that?”

“Well, the Bible explains here that God is Truth. And because God is Truth, kids, anything contrary to His nature is wrong. And so lying is wrong. Why? Because it’s contrary to the person, character and nature of God.”

You see, I want to raise my children out of a relationship with their Creator, not out of a book. You see, the book is not our guide. It’s God. How do we know that? Through the Scriptures. How do we know God is love? Through the Scriptures. But I don’t want my kids to worship the Scriptures. I want them to worship God. You say, “Oh, you ought to hold the Scriptures so high.” Too many Christians worship the Scriptures. You never should. You worship God.

Jesus said to the religious heretics who were saying they were better than the Gentiles and everything else. Jesus said, “You have the Scriptures, and in them you think you have life.” Like many Christians today, “Oh, we have life in the Bible. You’ve got to read the Bible. That’s life.” No, no, no, you don’t have life in the Bible. Jesus said, “You have the Scriptures, and in them you think you have life.”

And all the religious leaders said, “Sure.”

Jesus said, “No, you have life in Me.”

We don’t have life in the Scriptures; we have life in the God of the Scriptures. How do we know that? Through the Scriptures. How do we know how to worship that God? Through the Scriptures. But we don’t worship the Scriptures; we worship the God of the Scriptures. As I raise my children that way, oh Nancy, it’s such a greater motivation. They’re not responding out of legalism, they’re responding out of a relationship. Then it is so much easier to raise children to love the Scriptures, to walk with Christ and all.

If you ask my kids today what’s their greatest motivation, it’s not the Scriptures, it’s the person, character, and nature of God. How do we know that? Through the Scriptures. The Scriptures are a roadmap. You don’t worship the roadmap. You don’t want to get to the roadmap. You want to get to the destination of the roadmap. Well, it’s the same way with the Bible. The Bible is our guide to know Him.

We don’t have life in the Bible, we have life in Him. We don’t have righteousness in the Bible, we have righteousness in Him. And boy does that put the Bible in a different light. You say, “But Josh, you’re depreciating the Bible.” No I’m not. How do you depreciate the Book when you propagate what the Book was given for. “Well, you spend so much of your time trying to prove it’s true.” If I cannot come to the conviction that the Bible is true, then what conviction can I ever have who is God. How do I know if this part is true or fake? That’s why it’s so important—apologetics—to have a conviction and an intellectual understanding why we believe it is true.

Leslie: Josh McDowell has been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about the challenges and opportunities facing parents, teachers, and pastors today. Josh has written on these topics in a book called Bare Facts: Thirty-nine Questions Your Parents Hope You Never Ask about Sex. Our friend, Erin Davis, co-authored the book with Josh.

They wrote the book to give honest, practical information to kids about the consequences of sin and the joy that comes from godly choices. This book is useful for bringing up helpful conversations between you and your children. We’d like to send it to you when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Make your donation and request the book at ReviveOurHearts.com. Or ask for it when you call with your donation. Here’s the number: 1-800-569-5959.

Well, tomorrow, Josh McDowell will be back continuing to show parents how to develop deep relationships with their kids—the kind of relationships needed as parents and children talk together about temptation and purity. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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