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  EDUCATIONAL
 
Small word, big problem
 
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  PEOPLE who have studied English as a second language tell me that three of the biggest challenges they encount  
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  COUNSELING  
     
 
   
Internet porn
  By Dr John K. John  
  Dr John K. John has been a theologian, administrator and counselor for over three decades. He served in various capacities in Emmanuel Hospital Association and is presently the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Trust of India, New Delhi. He took his Bachelor of Divinity from Serampore University in 1991 and has a doctorate in Christian counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary in the United States. He would be answering questions from our readers on their personal and family problems. Dr John can be contacted at jkoodath@gmail.com


Question: My school-going son insisted that I buy a computer for him. I took a loan and bought one for him but I did not know that it would cause so much trouble. When I found him spending a lot of time on the computer, I thought he was studying. But I had a shock of my life when I accidentally went through the computer history. Then I realised that he had been visiting pornographic sites and chatting with undesirable persons. I do not know how to handle him. He is no longer studious. He had been a regular churchgoer but now I have to compel him to go to church.

Answer: Internet pornography is a growing problem globally and it has become quite prevalent among the urban youth in India. It is spreading exponentially wherever the Internet is accessible. Due to its private and individualised effect, this problem is certainly one of the largest facing this generation of Christians.

Previously, Internet addictions were seen predominantly as problems facing young men. Latest studies, however, have revealed that more and more men and women of all ages and groups, including pastors, have become prone to such evils.

The worst part of the problem is that the church, by and large, has been silent on this issue because leaders are either in denial or are ill-equipped to face it. Sex is still a taboo subject in our country even among church leaders and most pastors would not want to discuss it even in private. What we do not realise is that any association with pornography is a perversion and extremely destructive in its nature, especially within the church. Let me congratulate you for your courage to raise this important issue here.

Look at this issue from your son's perspective. He is in his teens with all the insecurities and struggles that come with it. He is confused and curious about his sexuality and finds it difficult to deal with the attraction to the opposite sex. All the visuals in the media, real as well as unreal, give rise to fantasies about the opposite sex and overwhelm him while his hormones play tricks with him, as it were.

His young mind finds pornography the best solution to quench his curiosity and get release from the tension that builds up. He repeatedly finds himself defeated in a war against this monster of an addiction, which seem to cling to his soul! Worse, the teachings in the Sunday school and sermons on Sundays haunt him and take him through a perpetual cycle of shame and guilt.

God, parents and church leaders are seen as those who forbid sex and judge and punish all those who deviate from the rules at the drop of a hat. He sees no one in sight to share his struggles, fears, shame and guilt. Ask yourself, does your son deserve condemnation and punishment or emotional support and Godly counsel? As his father, if you do not initiate the process to deal with his struggles, who else will?

Please make an appointment with your son to discuss your concerns with him. Don't start with accusations, shouting and yelling but by expressing how much you love him. Talk about your feelings and concerns about your son's life and his future. Point out the grave dangers that await him along the course he has set for himself. Go on to make some practical steps to help him through a season of restoration.

The simplest practical step you should take is to cancel your Internet connection immediately or install effective software to filter Internet browsing. Cutting sin at the root is often the best way to fend it off. If he owns a mobile, check and make sure he does not have an Internet connection on it. Ensure your son does not visit Internet cafes or spend extended periods of time in homes of friends or relatives where Internet is easily accessible. Check his room to see that he does not possess magazines, CDs, pen drives and DVDs with pornographic material. Someone has to teach him to see girls as human beings who are meant to be sisters and friends created in God's image rather than sex objects.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, he might need special care and counsel from a pastor or qualified counselor who should explain why this addiction is dangerous. Occasionally these kinds of addictions are related to demonic bondages that have to be dealt with. Whatever the case, the ultimate and lasting solution for him is to have a personal relationship with Christ who alone can give him the resources and strength to deal with this problem. The Lord will help your son to 'guard his heart, which is the wellspring of life' (Proverbs 4: 23).

Your son also needs a community of Christian friends and a mentor who would stand with him through this struggle and call him to account for his actions without being judgmental. The best you can do as his parent is to love him and pray for him. It would also help if he gets involved with constructive activities like sports and games, outdoor activities, youth camps and other church programs to keep him occupied and where he would feel accepted and appreciated as an individual.

I can recommend two resources that could help your son in this struggle. The first is the website, www.settingcaptivesfree.com which holds free online courses that give a Biblical perspective on these issues as well as offering an online mentor to help people like your son. This method, of course, would have to be supervised. Secondly, if you really feel you need the Internet in your home, I suggest you use the Internet filtering program "Safe Eyes" which can be downloaded online.

There are several such Internet filters available online which will allow you to keep a tab on your son's online activities. May God guide you as you take the bold steps of helping your son to overcome this problem.


 
   
   
Marriage a sacrament
  By Dr John K. John  
  The columnist has been a theologian, administrator and counselor for over three decades. He served in various capacities in Emmanuel Hospital Association and is presently the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Trust of India, New Delhi. He completed his Bachelor of Divinity from Serampore University in 1991 and has a doctorate in Christian counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary in the United States. He will be answering questions on personal and family problems. Dr John can be contacted at: jkoodath@gmail.com

Question:
I am a first-generation Christian and belong to a tribal community from Chhattisgarh. I moved to Delhi about 30 years ago for a government job. I have two daughters, both of whom were brought up as Christian believers. They are highly qualified. One is a probationary officer with a nationalised bank and the other an officer in the Indian Revenue Service. However, I have been looking in vain for suitable matches for them in the Christian community. I am on the verge of giving up. Should I look for suitors for them from outside the Christian community?

Answer:
All of us are products of our culture and values we inherit or acquire. Sooner or later, the core values of our faith will come to bear on our relationships, and the closest and most important of all ties is between husband and wife.

Most people tend to ignore this issue when a decision on marriage is to be made. This is partly because most people, young or old, fail to see the vital difference between culture and core values. Older people tend to view religion as the summation of values, family, culture and society.

A major reason for conflict between parents and children is that of differing values, and not religion. In the past, there were taboos and practices that prevented the young from marrying from outside their clan or religious group. This protected their value system. With the onset of modern education, young people are not restricted to their communities and have taken up work and professions that are different from those of their parents. This is increasingly giving rise to situations that make inter-caste and inter-religious marriages easier. In a modern, secular and humanistic setting, this is seen as desirable, not bad.

However, as Christians, we need to measure values and practices, whether of the older form of our cultures or what is approved as good today, against what the Bible teaches. The viewing of culture as non-negotiable has been a predicament in all cultures over the centuries. I abide by the premise that states that cultures have risen and fallen, fads of values come and go, but Biblical truths stand the test of time, because the Bible is the eternal word of God. So then, what is the 'truth' of your problem?

Start by asking your children what their foundational values are? What do they see as the ultimate purpose and destiny of their lives? Is there a God? If yes, who is God and what role does He play in their lives? If your children value power, position or money as their life's ultimate purpose, they need to look for spouses with similar values.

The answer to your question, therefore, will be determined by the answers your children give. Let them make their choices. As parents, your role should be limited to giving them all the resources and information they need, based on your knowledge and experience, to help them make informed choices. This could also include warnings, as well as making them aware of possible consequences of their choices.

Whether you arrange their marriages or they choose partners from your community or outside, the success of marriage will depend largely on compatibility of their values and interests. Ultimately marriage is not about one's community or religion, but is based on the basic foundations one builds his or her life upon.

The way you resolve this issue will depend largely on the kind of relationship you have with your children and how much they respect and love you. If you love them, you will leave the final decision to them. If they reciprocate your feelings, they will value your advice and make choices you approve of. If you and your children both follow the truths of the Bible, I assure you that God will lead you to like-minded spouses for your daughters. The Bible very clearly teaches us 'not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers'. This clearly summarises all that has been said above.
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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