Where’s the Love?
By C.S. Bezas
Paul painted a frightening picture of our time.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Tim 3:1)
“Perilous” means serious risk. Our day would appear to be not for the timid. Although there are individuals who seek righteousness, both within our church and elsewhere, there are many who ridicule chastity, moral purity, and the entity that seeks to develop both — the home.
And here is the burning question: How are we doing teaching our children all of this? In fact, how will our children know of His will? It must be through us. So how are we doing? Are we teaching the philosophies of men to our children unknowingly by what we watch or participate in? Or are we teaching God’s truths by what we watch or participate in?
This ever-tightening world of confusing thought is one of the reasons we hold Family Home Evening each week — to antidote that which seeks our children constantly.
- Did you know that 81% of surveyed youth knew friends with pornographic images on their cell phones? (from “The King is Naked” pdf file, located at http://www.cp80.com)
- Did you know that “children are the largest consumer of internet pornography”? (http://www.meridianmagazine.com/matters/070109problem.html)
- Did you know one researcher found that, “Hardcore porn has become the principal vehicle for quite young children’s understanding of everything to do with love and sexuality, sometimes their only point of reference? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,722017,00.htm)
- Did you know that all it takes is a few exposures, accidental or otherwise, to become addicted in deeper ways than any illicit drug? (http://www.meridianmagazine.com/matters/070109problem.html)
- Did you know that “even if a filter blocked 99% of all pornographic content on the internet, there would still be tens of thousands of web pages available”? (from “cp80_ad_1” pdf file found at http://www.cp80.com)
- Did you know that pornography is becoming the leading cause of divorce today? (http://www.meridianmagazine.com/matters/070109problem.html)
It is increasingly clear that society ignores the long-term effects of porn and its accompanying addiction. But we mustn’t. Thus, I ask, “Where is love?” and “Who is teaching our children what love is?”
We are all hungry for love. Our children are especially hungry for love. Where will they find it? The Lord extends and teaches the kind of love that does satiate. But do we listen? Are we willing to follow? And do we teach the children?
We as Meridian readers and writers loudly proclaim, “We will!” And with that, my friends, let’s have a little FHE Fun!
First, a thought to preface the FHE activity: What are the chances your child has never seen a pornographic image?
It may be uncomfortable to discuss the dangers of pornography. We may not want to. But the world our children are growing up in is replete with it. They must be armed and prepared to know how to deal with it, once they encounter it.
Opening Song. Hymn #294: Love at Home
This link will help you with the beautiful words to the verses. You can even sing along!)
Devotional. Allow any who would like to share a scripture or inspirational moment they experienced during the last week. This is a great time for children to learn how to explain, share, and testify of a gospel principle or truth they discovered during the week. Not only may it strengthen them, but also the other family members when shared.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Tim 4:7-8).
Read the theme scripture. Ask the children what it might be like to be in a battle. Why would it be important to follow the captain when he gives safety instructions?
- Sharp Knife [DISCLAIMER: There may be some families where a different object would be more appropriate. If so, substitute that object or simply talk about this example when you get to it in the lesson.]
- paper and pencil for each family member
- Hold up the spoon. Ask the purpose of the spoon. How does one use it? Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate. Ask what would happen if you tried to use it while it was upside down.
- Hold up the hairbrush. Ask the purpose of the hairbrush. How does one use it? Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate. Ask what would happen if you tried to use it while it was backwards.
- Hold up a book. Ask the purpose of the book. How does one use it? Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate. Ask how effective it would be if upside down and closed.
- Hold up a sharp paring knife. Do not ask for a volunteer. Instead, ask if anyone has seen Mom or Dad use it. What is its purpose? What if Mom or Dad held it backwards by the blade and tried to pare an apple? What would happen? Why? Who is safer — one who follows safety rules or one who does not?
- Ask for a volunteer to stand by you. Ask him to show a couple of things he can do with his body. Allow him to have fun, either showing how he can jump high or do push-ups, or whatever else he wants to do. Once done, invite him to sit down and ask, “What are safe things we can do with our bodies?”.
- All youth in Young Women or Young Men should have received their own “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. Have them bring it out at this point and ask them to read page 17 aloud for the rest of the family. After each paragraph is read, stop to discuss its meaning. For those who might not have the pamphlet, here is a link.
Explain that pornography has many meanings. The easiest one to understand is that it is pictures of people dressed inappropriately or with little to no clothing. You might ask your children if they’ve seen things like this. Let them openly talk about it without responding yourself, so that they feel free to share.
Now for a test! Pass out a piece of paper.
Invite each family member to ponder on this question: The prophets have always told the truth. True or false?
Allow them time to write down their answer. Discuss what they wrote down. Then ask why the prophets tell the truth?
Open back up to page number 17 in the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet and read this phrase:
Pornography in all its forms is especially dangerous and addictive … Pornography is a poison. (emphasis added).
Ask them what this means. Tell them that the prophets have warned that pornography is even more dangerous than a sharp knife, that it is a poison. Tell them that as a family you’re going to practice some safety measures to help protect themselves against this deadly poison.
Roleplay: Physical Defense
Practice with one person trying to show the other person a bad picture:
- on a cell phone
- on the computer
- in a magazine
- at a movie
Brainstorm ways to walk away in such a situation.
Roleplay: Verbal Defense
Did you know repeating the same phrase will help you when tempted?
Here is a scene to practice with your family. This example surrounds the use of alcohol —- sometimes an easier subject to practice with. Pick two people to act this out.
Friend: Here, have a drink.
Self: No thanks. I don’t drink.
Friend: What? Come on. Have a drink.
Self: No thanks. I don’t drink.
Friend: No really. It’s all right. Nobody will see you!
Self: No thanks. I don’t drink.
Friend (feeling a little exasperated): You crazy? I’ll even pay!
Self: No thanks. I don’t drink.
Friend: Oh, you think you’re too good?
Self: No. It’s just that I don’t drink.
This exact scenario played itself out in my life during my college years. I’d gone to see a performance of a friend. Another mutual “friend” was with me. (One might begin to question the term “friend” for someone who makes living the gospel more difficult, but that’s a lesson for another day). This exact conversation occurred. I discovered great strength in keeping my responses short and similar. People will desist after the fourth or fifth try, when you keep repeating the same phrase. They see that you are insistent in your choice.
This approach is useful in many difficult situations, not just those with alcohol. Whether a teen uses it with an immoral advance from a date (“No thanks. I don’t do that”) to someone wanting to go see an immoral movie (“No thanks” would simply suffice here), it is a useful technique. Allow each child the opportunity to role-play the one making the positive choice.
Even if it’s just a memorized phrase of, “No, I don’t do this,” having a phrase ready can make all the difference. Repeating it each time when asked not only builds a hedge between the person and the offending activity, but it also strengthens the one repeating it. By practicing it, it allows the mind to form a response that is easily drawn from if the situation should arise.
The point is, no matter what the “friend” says, the simple nature of the phrase strengthens a person’s resolve and eventually the tempter stops. They can see they’re not getting anywhere. They, my friends, have met an Ezekiel “gap filler.”
This role-play is an important one and one that should be frequently practiced. Have your children brainstorm ideas or challenging scenes they might face. Have them then brainstorm short phrases they could repeat over and over again while being challenged to do something they don’t want to do. Let them know sometimes they will simply need to walk away.
What if You’ve been Cut?
Close your FHE with the question, “What if you’ve been cut by a knife? What do you do? What if you don’t take care of the wound, what might happen? If it gets infected, then what do you do? What if you don’t do anything even then? What if you didn’t know what to do?”
Explain that sometimes even the best of God’s children get cut by something out in the world. The Lord loves them and wants their infection to be cleaned out so they can be happy again. So even if a person has viewed pornography, he can have this cleaned out. To do so, he needs to seek help from an expert, because pornography addiction can sometimes be hard to quit.
In addition to talking with an adult expert, each person needs to seek the help of the Lord. Read the following scripture:
I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written; that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen (Ether 12:41).
Testify that Jesus came to this earth because He knew we needed help getting back to God. As we turn to Him and our Heavenly Father, a way will be provided so we can be valiant for them.
There have been others who lived during times of deepening sinfulness. Noah and Enoch are just two. They would understand well of what we face. In fact, all of the prophets exist to teach us, guide us, and even warn us of dangerous poisons. When we turn to God, He will give us ever-increasing power to follow His commandments and to return home to Him.
Closing Song. Hymn #304 Teach Me to Walk in the Light
When we use things properly, we get great things from them. A spoon used properly helps us fill our stomach. Then we’re not hungry any more! A brush used properly helps us look great. A book used properly can fill our mind. A paring knife used properly can prepare yummy foods that taste great.
But if we use any of these items incorrectly or unsafely, not only do they not work well, but some could injure us. Our senses act the same way. If we use them wisely, we feel enriched and strengthened. But used in nefarious ways, we become weakened addicted creatures who ever increasingly feel less.
Living here in mortality, it is nearly impossible to view all the things that hold potential harm. Our day definitely is not for the timid. While there are individuals who seek righteousness, both within our Church and elsewhere, there are many who ridicule chastity, moral purity, and the entity that seeks to develop both — the home.
That is why the Lord calls special witnesses to speak to us and teach us of Christ’s way, truth and of life. When we listen, we experience eventual and complete joy.
We are taught by the Lord’s prophets that physical intimacy brings sacred beauty and joy when shared within the bounds of marriage. This is the joy that true love brings — available to all who will shun the philosophies of the world and who instead will embrace the truth the Lord offers.
* For powerful information on how to protect your children against the advancing world of pornography exposure, please visit http://www.cp80.com.
C.S. Bezas’ book is now in LDS bookstores and has been described as perfect for youth leaders and parents of teens. Powerful Tips for Powerful Teachers: Helping Youth Find Their Spiritual Wings is also available by clicking here.