One morning when my son was an infant, I took him for an early morning drive to get him out of the house. We had no destination to reach and were casually driving through the neighborhood. I saw a few garage sale signs and I stopped at one that I saw selling a hammock. Oh how I love hammocks!
I got out and asked the woman how much and did a quick scan of what else she had for sale. And what to my wandering eye should appear? PORNOGRAPHY. Fury took hold of me as I saw the box of Playboy magazines just casually out for display like everything else at the sale. PORN—for sale—at a neighborhood garage sale! I guess I assumed there was an unwritten, common sense rule that not selling pornography at a neighborhood garage sale would just be an obvious consideration.
Instead, the homeowners found no shame in sharing their porn addiction with their neighbors. Did they stop to think that these magazines displayed right there out in the open could possibly scandalize the unsuspecting guests in their carport?
As soon as I saw the box, I said to the woman, “I will not buy anything here.” She did not realize my change in tone, so I asked her, “How can you have Playboys at a garage sale? What if the magazines scandalize a small child walking by with their parents?” She said, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. This is my guy friend’s garage sale, but I tried to put the ones that were most clothed towards the top.” Clearly since she admitted this to me, there had to be unsettling thoughts stirring in her mind telling her this just isn’t right to expose others to.
I said, “Why don’t you just throw them away.” She said, “They are my friend’s, and he’s selling them because they are old,” suggesting they might be collector’s items. I said, “Listen, you think these have worth because they are old, but they have no worth since they were trash to begin with.” Trying to hold back my fury, I said, “What if some woman’s husband comes to your garage sale and gets tempted by these images.” The discomfort set in for the woman and she went to the box and tried to reorganize. I’m not sure if she got rid of them or attempted to conceal them better, but I didn’t stick around to find out. My final words to her were, “I hope you do the right thing and throw them away.”
What infuriated me most is that there was a video game chair sitting right next to the box of Playboy magazines. I envisioned a junior high boy going to the garage sale with his mom, and rushing to see how much the chair costs, all the while catching an image of a naked woman.
The unsuspecting boy would go from innocence to experience in a place he and his mother thought was safe. It would be an image he would not forget, an image that may lead to a curiosity that would slowly corrode his mind and heart into thinking and looking at women as objects instead of unrepeatable souls. This could be followed by years of struggling with the fake counterfeit instead of fighting for the dignity of the women in his life. And some day, he might possibly trace his addiction back to the neighbor’s garage sale.
This reminds me of the stories I have heard from many young men who tell me about their struggles with and addictions to pornography. When I ask these men how it all started, they share similar stories of being exposed to porn in the most unlikely places, like the old gas-station, grandpa’s shed, in the alley, or at friend’s house. And, in most recent years, young men who share their stories with me after a chastity talk I give, almost always share that their porn addcition started from their activity on the internet. For many, it was while innocently searching for one thing that they discovered pornography instead.
What more can we do to protect our children from pornography? Especially now in the Internet age when it is merely an accidental click away? Recently, I interviewed my friend and fellow speaker Matt Fradd. Matt overcame his own pornography addiction and has dedicated his life in ministry to help many others conquer theirs. He is the author of the book Delivered and works for Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering Software Company.
In our interview, I asked Matt what the benefits are for parents who want to use this software for their children. “I promise you that the porn industry is looking for your child and if you don’t set up accountability and filtering on your computers, phones, and tablets, it’s not a question of will they, it is a question of when will they or have they already and are they still looking at it,” he said. “Unless you want your child exposed to pornography and likely to become hooked on it since it is quite addictive, then I say you should really get Covenant Eyes.”
As a mom of four- and a six -year-old, I am doing everything I can to protect my children from porn. Matt opened my eyes to the fact that if the Internet is in my home, then so is pornography, just one click away. Internet accountability and filtering is a must. We spend our money on monthly home and garden magazines, Netflix, apps and other subscriptions. But this kind of software is one of the most valuable safety-nets we can buy for our families. Now that I know it exists, I will be making it a part of my family’s monthly budget and I hope you consider it too.
Matt had this message for parents: “If you give your child an iPhone and you don’t put Covenant Eyes Filtering or Accountability or both on it, then what you have essentially done is given your child a potential x-rated movie theater. Please realize the seriousness of this.”
I make no money or profit in advocating for this type of software. In fact, Matt shared that if a family cannot afford the monthly $9 or $13 fee for Covenant Eyes products, they can apply for a hardship program and get it for free. Let us make no excuse when it comes to the protection and safety of our children and the seriousness of pornography.
I encourage you to listen to this 9-minute interview with Matt Fradd in its entirety to hear about his struggle as well as the details of this helpful software. As a parent, the interview opened my eyes, but also made me feel empowered to be able to do more to protect my family against the harm and dangers of pornography exposure.