The Sixth Commandment isn’t less relevant with on demand sex around every virtual corner
In the not-so-distant past pornography was disseminated in print or video. Plenty of titillating images were shared on the playgrounds of our youth, but it was often limited to what was available- magazines or pictures, perhaps a movie snatched from an older family member’s collection. No longer. These days the internet has a dizzying and wide amount of porn available — much of it likely to induce a lot more questions in kids than answers.
It isn’t only the already existing images and videos online that kids share now, though. With almost every cellphone now incorporating a powerful camera and video camera, kids have the worrying ability to spur of the moment take their own pictures and send them to friends and crushes. The technology doesn’t come with the wisdom to know that the internet is forever. The permanency of images and words uploaded to the internet can be incredibly difficult to grasp and understanding the idea often seems to come laced with regret after less than prudent information has been shared.
Online communities for kids and teens often have a subtle lean toward permissiveness and experimentation for sexuality. Arcane sexual knowledge is no longer hard to find — if you can google it, you can find it. Following one idea to another, even on a site like Wikipedia where the initial search may be purely informative, can often lead to some dark subject matter.
Navigating this ever changing world of modern sexuality can feel helplessly complicated and overwhelming enough thinking about how we should use or not technology, let alone how we should guide our children. The world around us is exploding with new ways to tempt us — and our families — and we may assume the answer or solution is complicated and evolving as well, but that truly needn’t be so.
How does the Sixth Commandment — you shall not commit adultery — something written so long ago, have any hope of not only addressing the locker room questions of exactly what line of date night shenanigans must be crossed to no longer be a virgin but all the rapidly shifting virtual quandaries as well? Is there a more complete paradigm we need to guide our children (and ourselves) through this?
Actually, we need just the opposite. As our world and the temptations around us becomes more complicated, the answer here is simplification. Let’s back up and pause for a moment. How do you explain something like adultery and what it is and isn’t and how not to do it to kids? Is this a cause for breaking out the anatomical diagrams and talking about exact what is what? I have long explained this commandment to the younger set in general terms. Instead of talking about sex, I make it more basic.
Don’t share your body with someone you aren’t married to. Don’t ask others to share their body with you. Our bodies are special.
These basic points may seem ridiculously simple, but they can easily be applied to the scenarios discussed above. That line to be crossed on date night becomes a moot point if you never start down the path until marriage — Don’t share your body. Taking pictures of your posterior and sending them to anyone is an understood no-no — Don’t share your body. Seeking out porn, regardless of media, is obviously outside moral bounds — Don’t ask others to share their body with you.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Instead of trying to think up every possible way our teens and preteens (and us adults) might come up with to sin and get in trouble, let’s get back to a far more basic principle. Your body was created by God to be special. You are special. Those around you are special. Let’s save that and keep it in mind.
And when mistakes are made — and they will be made– and when someone messes up — which they will, let’s remind them there’s a whole lot of room for forgiveness here, as well. Making the conversation about a present tense set of guidelines helps it be easier to explain that our missteps in this area do not have to define us as people. A mistake made today does not have to set our course for tomorrow.
This difficult part of modern life can be simple and clear. We can outpace the changes before they come by seeking to address fewer ideas instead of more.