I love the little gems Charlotte Mason drops concerning purity in her fourth volume, Ourselves. She would likely be astounded at how very needed her words are. In a world where pedophiles and abusers are hunting down child victims, we have to teach our children how to protect themselves. Don’t look twice isn’t just sage advice; it’s critical protection for our young.
When I was a child, pornography usage among the young was often deliberate. What I mean is, they sought it out. The children viewing pornography weren’t as often victims the way they are today. Junior high boys might have heard, for example, that Johnny’s dad had a subscription to Playboy magazine, and they would go to Johnny’s house after school to seek it out. This is what I mean by deliberate. (Deliberate does not mean justified.)
These days, children can have pornography thrown in their faces without warning. Just last week, fifth graders in San Leandro, who have been forced by our governor to stream their schooling online at home, were targeted by a hacker who streamed pornography into their online classroom. I heard similar complaints in a California parents’ rights group to which I belong, including one incident of violent beheadings streamed into high school online classes in Orange County.
Don’t look twice. This is what we must teach our children.
So many times I have reminded my children that the first viewing might not be their sin. There are people who hate children and seek to destroy them, I say. They may target you. They may show you something awful and evil just because you are a child and they want to corrupt you or violate you in some way. Or someone you think is your friend may be looking at sinful things and want you to do it, too. You cannot always control the first time you see something. But you can control whether you look twice. Be the kind of person who doesn’t look twice.
Charlotte Mason says something similar in Ourselves:
Christ has said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” That does not mean, I think, “shall see God” when they die, but “shall see” Him with the eye of their soul, about them and beside them, and shall know, whenever temptation comes through this Appetite — “Thou, God, seest me.” That thought will come home to them, so that they will not be able to make themselves unclean by even a thought or a word. They will turn away their eyes from beholding evil; they will not allow themselves to read, or hear, or say a word that should cause impure thoughts.Ourselves, p. 22
Protect yourself, my child, because I cannot always be there to do it for you.
We train our children in other types of self-defense. They know how to disarm someone carrying a gun. They know to identify all the exits as they walk into a crowded room (we started training them to do this after there were threats made against local churches one year on Christmas Eve). They know how to fight and resist a kidnapper. They know how to use a variety of weapons. We consider their physical safety and prepare them to preserve it.
So ought we to do with their purity.
When our children were little, they were never without a protector. We knew they could not protect themselves, so they were constantly accompanied by an adult who loved and cared for them. Likewise, they are still, even as teens, not allowed to go gallivanting on the internet unaccompanied. They do not have the password to the laptop. They know to ask before using the iPad. They do not have their own devices. They are heavily supervised. (Our oldest received the password to the laptop on his 17th birthday.)
But you know when one of our daughters first saw pornography? With her grandma. An evil person hacked the Focus on the Family website. This person was trying to corrupt others, to harm whoever sought out the organization that day.
We can’t pretend that if we do all we can, something won’t happen anyway. Evil people are devising plots all the days of their lives. You never know when your child will be their target.
What was seen could not be unseen. But what was seen didn’t have to be seen twice.
That is where character and self-control come in.
Something to add to this advice is that there are two ways to look twice. One is to look again, right away, or by returning later. The other is to look again with the mind’s eye.
Children must be taught to avoid this second way — looking again with the mind’s eye is a corrupt use of the imagination and it will poison the soul as easily as looking again with the physical eye.
My child, do not treasure the memory of evil. Run away from it. Get help. Think about something else.
Whatever you do, don’t look twice.
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