Catching Your Child in Sexual Sin (Part 1)

Have you found porn on your son’s computer or an explicit text sent from your daughter’s phone? When you catch your child in any sexual sin it can feel like the worst-case scenario. Contrary to how we feel, it’s actually a good thing when we “catch” our children in sexual sin! It gives us all an opportunity for spiritual growth. How does the Lord want us to respond?

It’s right to be concerned, because sexual sin is a serious problem. But we need to wary of our initial responses when confronting our child. In situations like these, our initial responses tend to be based in fear, confusion, and perhaps anger. But we have a more solid ground to stand on in Christ.

In parts 1 and 2 of this post, we want to offer some wise and practical steps in responding to your child’s sexual sin. Where should be begin?

  1.  Don’t Freak Out

It is easy to lash out in shock, anger, or disgust. We can even feel betrayed. We parents can sometimes say things like, “How could you do this to me?!” We definitely should not freak out in the presence of our child who’s been caught because, as James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Your child did not betray you. Your son or daughter wasn’t even thinking of you in the moment! The thoughts of his or her heart were completely self-centered and deceived.  We ought not respond ourselves with a self-centered reaction and make this about how “I” feel or how this impacts “me”.

Sometimes we are tempted to make our children’s bad behavior about “us” because it’s easy to base our self-worth, confidence, and sense of success on how our children are doing instead of on the person of Christ. If they are making good grades, doing well at sports or fine arts, and sexually behaving, we feel good about ourselves. But if they’re not, we feel like a failure. Our worth and identity as parents can often be based on our children’s performance and what others think about our kids and their struggles.

We know that every child will struggle sexually, because we all are born sinners. Our sexuality cannot escape the impact of our sinful nature or the fallen world. The good news is that our identity is not based on the flimsy foundation of our kids’ behavior or other people’s opinions of our parenting. Our identity is grounded in Christ and in what He has done on our behalf.

With our reputation safe in Christ and in His righteousness, we are free to minister to our kids regardless of the mess they’ve made. The bad news of catching your child in sexual sin can become a great gospel opportunity to help them seek Jesus.

What does real success look like in parenting? Is it your child walking down the wedding aisle as a virgin? Is it achieving perfect morality? True success in life is growing in faith, repentance, and love towards God. Getting caught in sexual sin, as embarrassing as that is, can be a path for you and your child to grow in these areas.

  1.  Stop and Pray

Stop and pray that you would recall and be re-grounded in these gospel realities when a shocking sexual episode occurs. Pray to the Lord to calm your anger or hurt. Seek from Him godly wisdom for how to respond.

And remember the big picture. God is in control. He can handle this. Since He will do His part, we can do our part. His job is to save, and our job, as parents, is simply to be a tool in His hands.

Pray that the Lord would bring your child to the same place as King David, who confessed to God in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned!” Pray that the Lord would help your child to see how sexual sin runs deeper than behavior. It’s about his or her desires, beliefs, worldviews, and allegiances.

We should come to the Lord in prayer from the beginning to remember that He is in control. It is in His strength and because of His plan that we can effectively engage our children. We are not alone but are partnering with Him to do His work.

Check out Part 2 of this post HERE.

Dan Wilson
About The Author
Dan is excited to lead the STUDENT OUTREACH because of its unique mission to the emerging generation of the Church in today’s cultural climate! Before moving to the national office in Philadelphia, Dan served for nine years with Harvest USA’s Chattanooga regional office. He is also an ordained minister in the PCA and has served as a youth minister, education minister, pastor with para-church ministries, and taught New Testament at Bryan College (TN). Dan, a Tennessee native, has a B.A. in History from the University of Memphis, a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in New Testament and Greek from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (TN). Dan is married to Heather, his lovely wife, and they have four children. He loves Kingdom theology and is a huge U2 fan.