Question:

I am a Christian. I just found out that my daughter, who is also a Christian and almost 19 years old, is sexting. I found very sexually explicit emails between her and a boy who is supposed to be a Christian as well.

This happened a couple of years ago and the boy's parents found out about it. She confessed it to me and said she had repented of it. Her and the boy broke up, but now they are back together (although she only tells her dad and I that they are "just friends".)

I found out all of this by reading her emails. My question is this: As a Christian should I tell her dad and then he and I sit her down and confront her with this? And, since we can't trust her to not find another avenue (other than her email) of doing this, should we take away her devices or change the password and only let her be online in a "public" area of the house and when we can monitor it?


Answer:

I thought about this for a while and discarded several answers. The difficulty is very similar to dealing with an older teen who is into pornography. While limits can be placed, the problem is that a determined person can get around them. When I talk to teenage boys about pornography, I tell them up front that neither I or their parents can make them not sin. I can encourage them not to sin, I can show them ways to avoid sinning, but I can't keep them from pornography if they are determined. What we then do is discuss why pornography is wrong, the damage it can do, and why it is so alluring.

I see the same difficulty with your daughter. Any limits you place can be worked around if she is determined to so so. Email accounts can be changed. Access can be gained on library computers and other places. The focus ends up on the physical access, but the true problem is a spiritual one.

The second problem is that there are two involved in this sin. Addressing one without the other person will leave one seducing the other into returning to sin, which is what it sounds like happened.

Yes, your husband needs to be told what you discovered and both of you need to talk to her about it. But I would like you to not approach it as laying down the law upon her. "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:24-26). Your daughter doesn't realize or appreciate the depth of the trap she has fallen into. Clearly she knows it is wrong, after all she is hiding the extent of the relationship. But there are some questions that need to be explored:

  • Why is she doing what she knows is wrong?
  • Does she think it is harmless or safe?
  • Does she have any concerns about what this is doing to her boyfriend?
  • Does she lack self-respect that she thinks she has to sexually arouse a guy to keep him interested in her?

There are probably a dozen related questions that need to be answered, and I hope she will be open and honest with you. It is only when you know the "why" behind this sin will you be able to then formulate a response that can help her overcome it.

Since it has to be a two-prong approach. You also need to talk to the boy's parents about what you discovered. Again, not demanding that the relationship end or that he be punished, but to let them know that there is a problem which you will be addressing on your end and that you hope they will discuss with him on his end.