What in the World is Going On?

I have been so heartsick lately to read stories one after the other of men being caught in pornography, extra marital affairs, child molestation. What in the world is going on in our society? It feels like we live in a sex craved, depraved world. Oh wait, we do. I don’t pretend to understand the reasons these things happen or how to fix it. But, I am a mom of boys and I would like to suggest to you some things that I think make it tough for boys to keep their minds, eyes and hands to themselves. (I would love to sit down and talk to you about it over a cup of coffee because I am sure that you have some ideas about this subject too.) My boys are 19 and 16, and I am not under any illusion that they are perfect examples, but they are good boys and they do desire to treat women like they deserve, like ladies. This has been a life long journey for our family. I remember when they were small monitoring the TV like a basketball player guards his team goal. If something came on that we felt wasn’t appropriate, we would jump and run to stand in front of the TV or wave our arms to focus their attention somewhere else. (Go ahead, laugh, I did more than once at myself, but it worked and that’s what mattered.  I do wonder what the neighbors must of thought when they saw shadows through the windows of adults jumping and arms flailing! Never a dull moment at the Carlson’s for sure!)  It wasn’t the TV show they were watching that I was worried about, I knew the content, it was the commercials. When they came on you had to sit perched on the edge of your seat and hit the channel button and pray the delay on the TV didn’t take too long. That was 10 years ago, those commercials seem G rated compared to the ones now. (Why does Hardees think a scantily dressed woman will make me want to buy a hamburger? Seriously, when I see those commercials I lose my appetite.) I am just tired of all the sex driven propaganda and sex filled media. It seems that every primetime show on television these days has people half dressed, having sex, multiple sex partners, lying, cheating and no commitment to anything that is difficult. (Some evenings after I breeze through the channels I’m either shocked, offended, depressed, angry or all of the above.) Why are we surprised when boys/men act out on what has been filling the TV and movie screens for years? Is it okay? No, of course not. But, honestly, why is it okay on the silver screen? Double standard if you ask me. And a confusing message to send to our boys and young men. I remember walking in the mall when my oldest son was a young boy, probably 6 or 7, and literally covering his eyes when we passed a popular ladies intimates store. It was back when they first started putting those large, life sized posters in the windows that didn’t keep much of anything a “secret,” if you know what I mean. We were walking together my hand over the side of his face covering his eyes so he could see straight ahead but not on the side where the posters were. An older man was walking by us and he laughed at my attempt of protection, but was quick to wish me well in my endeavor. That was just the beginning. We had to watch videos more than regular television, read the reviews on every movie, monitor which books came home from the library and don’t even get me started on the magazines that lined the checkout aisle in our local supermarket. (I made it my personal mission to turn the magazines around in the rack when half-dressed girls or guys were on the front of them, it was my gift to the next mom with kids and teenagers that naively wandered up unsuspecting. All we want to do is pay for our groceries people!) Fast forward to today. Why does our society make it feel so wimpy or out of touch to desire a sex free relationship until marriage? Or to pass on a R rated movie? And, why did the book series about sex bondage have an audience? Seriously? Would you really want your daughter to act like that, be treated like that? I would have a cow if my boy ever thought it was okay to belittle a woman like that!! Our culture glorifies so many things in the movies or on TV that we would never approve of in real life. Our young will watch what they see us watching and what is filling our conversations will eventually fill theirs. My husband and I have spent our parenting days feeling like we are swimming upstream in an effort to help our boys maintain a level of purity of mind and heart. It has been a struggle. Some days we feel like champions, successful and wonderful. Other days, we feel like failures, like we’re done trying, like giving up. But, we know quitting is not an option so we gather our courage and keep going. I have noticed while on this journey of parenting boys that there seems to be a real desire in many of them to be gentlemen. Really. They love the idea of being Prince Charming or Superman or Captain America or maybe to be like their youth pastor, or big brother or dad. They want good role models. Most boys like it when a girl looks up to them.  (Male ego, ever heard of it?) And what is society offering them ?   A pitiful counterfeit for what a man ought to be. Just watch primetime TV tonight and you’ll see what I mean. We are not one of those families who kicked the TV out of the house, we allow our kids to read good, popular books, we don’t feel like the movie theatre is the root of all evil, and we send our kids to public school. (Although I totally understand why people feel they need to make drastic changes in their homes regarding these issues nowadays.)  We are a very average and normal family. (Well mostly normal, I mean, what is normal anyway?) We want to raise good boys that will marry your good daughters. We want them to bring a relatively healthy heart into the relationship. Not perfect or pretending to be, just genuine and transparent. We want them to turn their heads the opposite direction when they walk by those suggestive places in the mall, to respect the girl they are with and the one they will eventually marry. To watch TV shows that are clean and not to be on any internet site that they wouldn’t show your daughter or their mom. (Side note, I told my boys if they ever take a girl to a place where they wouldn’t be comfortable taking me, then it probably isn’t a good idea. That’s always a good standard.) But of all the things we did to avoid negative media, the one thing that was most important and has had the most impact was when we invited them into a relationship with Jesus. All the self-control in the world won’t keep a heart and mind pure, only Jesus can do that. He can reach the places in the heart of your son that you never will. Pray for him. Only the Lord knows how many nights I’ve laid awake praying for my boys, all my children. Then, I’ve gotten up and done my best to live what I said I believed, to act on my convictions. It has never been perfect and never will be, but it is authentic. (Authenticity hasn’t always been true for me, but the Lord has done a changing work in my heart as I’ve gotten older. And, I have also learned that kids can see through a person who is disingenuous. So, if you’re in need of a deeper change, don’t be discouraged, ask the Lord and he will do the work that needs to be done in you. Trust me, He is faithful.) Boys can see that, and even when they are momentarily swayed out into the dark waters of promiscuity, most will sooner or later return when they continue to see the lighthouse of love and hope offered to them in the form of a Savior that won’t give up on them, parents who will fight for them and lots and lots of and consistency. I really do believe this, I’ve watched it in my own life and in the life of my precious boys. Hang in there mommas and daddies! One day it will be worth all the effort. And, remember you are not alone in your upstream swim against the current of our culture, there are others out there swimming against it right along with you. Well, I’ve said my piece, now I think I’ll go see what’s on TV, gee, I wonder what’s on tonight? Sex, cheating, lying, tragedy, death? You know, I think maybe I’ll just go to bed.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”   Psalm 119:37

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