Note: Today’s post will include Judeo-Christian stories that help parents talk to their children about inadvertent exposure. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Inadvertent exposure is an important discussion topic that helps children bust shame around coming into contact with pornography. It helps open space for children to come and talk to their parents about exposure to pornography.
I love to use two examples in Judeo-Christian heritage in having this discussion. The first is the story of
Joseph of Egypt. Joseph was a prophet and important person to God in helping save the Israelite nation from starvation. He was clearly a deeply good person. During his time as head slave in Potiphar’s home, he was put in a compromising situation. Potiphar’s wife attempted to initiate a sexual relationship with him. He politely refused, and when she insisted, he RAN. He did not stop to consider whether or not he would look bad, or what others thought. He immediately got himself out of the situation. Joseph was inadvertently exposed. The situation was not his fault, he did not ask for it. It just happened. But when it did, he immediately left; he got out.
In contrast, the second story is of King David. King David was also a person who was close to God. He had been anointed by the prophet to be king at a young age, he had received direction and strength from God early on in his life in helping the Israelites defeat the Philistines. Later in his life King David was outside his palace one evening, the highest point in the city, when he noticed a woman bathing on her rooftop. (I will pause the story to clarify that this is the normal place and situation for bathing). King David was also inadvertently exposed. It was not his fault, he didn’t ask for it. It just happened. But in that moment of choice, he did not turn away and leave the situation. He continued to look. He then continued to think about the situation and fantasize over it. And eventually this led him to bring this married woman to his palace and sexually assault her (because at that time in the world’s history even a married woman would have had no ability to refuse anything the king wanted).
These two examples are particularly powerful because they are high profile individuals. A prophet (even if in the making), and a King. These stories demonstrate that everyone can be inadvertently exposed to indecent material, even people who are “grown-up,” important, or holy. This can be a time to discuss that “even big people like parents get inadvertently exposed. I’ve even been inadvertently exposed.” A brief and non-detailed explanation could follow, whether it was a billboard in Las Vegas, a TV show/movie, or a pop up ad on the computer. This helps normalize that inadvertent exposure HAPPENS. It happens to everyone. You’re not bad or wrong for having been exposed to something. That part is just life.
And that’s the valuable lesson from these two similar stories. Both had been taught by their religious law about sexual purity. Both were inadvertently exposed. Exposure is not the issue. It’s what we choose to do in the moment of exposure—OUR choice—that determines the character we begin to build. King David chose to linger. He chose to linger with his eyes and later with his mind. This decision eventually led to horrible choices, probably ones beforehand he never would have considered making. Joseph, on the other hand, made the healthy choice—he got out immediately.