I’ve been thinking about this post all day… and I’m still not sure I should write it. Here it is, anyway, for a simple reason: I’ve never seen this before, and was not sure it was possible, but am now very concerned. This is possible. If you are not a parent and will likely never have an e-mail account, you can safely skip it. For the rest of you…
I was sexually assaulted this morning — sort of. As I was reading my inbox, a relatively attractive, smiling, unclothed woman popped up, with a phone number. The e-mail was simple, had clearly gotten by all my spam filters, and I didn’t even need to open it. There she was, in full glory, in the preview pane. There was no virus or attachment; just one “come hither” JPEG with a phone #. That said, I apologize for even this level of detail, but I share it to make a necessary point: your adolescent teenagers could just have easily gotten this note, and I can’t think of anything you could/can do to stop it, short of blocking them from touching any e-mail account anywhere, including on the phone of their friend at school.
As most parents know, porn is all pervasive. It is woven into the entertainment fabric of our culture, and it drives a large portion, if not the majority, of internet traffic. In many countries, and many parts of the U.S., it is like air or the birds in the garden– everyone just accepts it, or privately rues it, and moves on. Like air pollution, it has become very difficult to escape. Nevertheless, it remains insidious, destructive of both women and men, and spiritually deadly. In so many ways it burns and cripples the soul, and creates expectations for the marriage bed which cannot build love and faithfulness. In short, porn lies, and creates sexual liars.
As parents or grandparents who take the danger seriously, this e-mail and the entity who produced it* force us all to consider the hardest yet most effective response. Paywalls, porn filters and “don’t touch the computer without me in the room” are seldom that response, because they can all be defeated**, and many can be defeated quickly. The only sure remedy to this kind of e-mail assault is a wise and godly heart, first in the parent, and then taught to and nurtured in the child. This is hard. Ultimately, it is impossible without the leading and power of the Holy Spirit of God, Who created sex and can make it both breathtaking and deeply satisfying in the marriage context.
I’ve been in IT for over 30 years and have seen many thousands of malicious e-mails. Perhaps I am naive or just fortunate, yet this is the first time I’ve seen one like this, where the user gets visually hit without clicking or opening anything. Praise the Lord that there are resources to help parents capture and nurture the hearts of their children, regarding porn and many other deep pits. If you are alarmed or angered by this kind of e-mail assault, or wonder if your kids are already getting it, leave a comment and I will post some links. If you think I am being alarmist or too sensitive, please explain. Finally, if you are thinking, “…what’s the deal?…”, I recommend the comments of the wisest man of the ancient world (and a man who surely knew more than all of us about sex). You can find his advice in Proverbs 7.
*It is unlikely the woman pictured above actually sent the note. She is probably one of millions of amateur porn creators who have saturated the net with their work, and someone else used a screenshot to make $ off of her sad & deadly confusion.
**The details are technical, but it is likely that there is a 10 year old at your child’s school who knows all about proxies, TOR and the deep web, and will gladly teach your child what he knows, then demonstrate on a smartphone…