Should I tell my dad I found porn on his computer?

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Should I tell my dad I found porn on his computer?

Apr 21, 2008 |John Thomas
Question

A few days ago, while my dad was on a business trip, I had to use his computer. I was trying to open a program to play a DVD for a portion of my Bible study. While trying to coax it to play, I came across something I never expected: a pornographic picture. I quickly clicked away from the picture. Porn can come into email frequently enough, but this was a file saved onto the computer. I was too appalled and stunned to scroll to see what else was there.

My brother was in the room and saw it. Then he revealed to my mom and to me that he'd seen it before and had even deleted my dad's porn from the computer before. But apparently, according to my brother, "He hadn't gotten the message." Of course not, I thought. It's an addiction!

After I finished what I needed to do with the DVD, I cried my eyes out in the shower so no one could hear or see.

I'm not sure if I was most upset because I never expected my dad to be involved with such sin, or that it seemed to be an indication of something I have feared for too long: that my dad isn't a Christian.

For background, he grew up viewing church as "something you do." He attends church with the family on Sundays but says he doesn't "do Wednesday church," whatever that's supposed to mean. He has never been involved with any care/small group or had any inclination to grow spiritually. For years, I've wanted him to lead our family spiritually. Yet, he won't even bless dinner without a reminder. I've never actually seen him open a Bible even though he's even served in church choir. He's never been opposed to my doing things with church, but as I've grown closer to God, the gap between us has widened. I can't go to him and expect biblical advice. I can't expect an exhortation to look to the Word for answers or to seek Christ's way and not my own. His expectations of modesty, discernment in media, life goals, and gender responsibilities are drastically different from mine. For ... years now, I've settled it in my mind that he's experiencing spiritual drought, but this new shock seems to affirm that he's not a Christian at all.

Now I'm left with no idea of how to proceed. I wasn't even capable of looking him in the face after he came home. Do I confront my dad about his sin? About his relationship with God? I'm a peacemaker to the worst degree in that I'm terrified of confrontation. Is confrontation the best action to take? Do I ask my mother to confront him? She, too, hates fighting (it is true that I was very blessed that animated disagreements between my parents are the most disruptive things I saw growing up), and I fear that would end up with her hurt. Do I continue to cry out to God? Right now, I seem to be deaf to His answer. I can't force my dad to be reconciled with God or to repent of his sin.

I feel hopeless. I love my dad dearly, and the thought of him being forever separated from God in eternity crushes my heart, as well as the thought that our lives will have to become more and more distant if I continue to follow Christ and he the world. I am desperately hoping a clear and God-focused mind unattached to this situation can give me some words of exhortation and guidance. Thank you so much for your help and for your ministry.

Answer

Thank you for trusting Boundless enough to share such a deeply personal and difficult family story. We don't take lightly that you've chosen to do so, and I hope the Lord can use me to bring some peace and even encouragement to your heart.

The grief you are feeling is, on a microscopic scale, what our heavenly Father must feel on an infinite scale when He sees His children choosing to wander off and live and hunger for pig food, knowing that a lavish banquet of joy and satisfaction in Him is available to us. That grief you feel is very real, and at least in part it is a holy grief over the sin that has blinded your father. That it is your own earthly father brings feelings only a daughter who loves her daddy could understand.

Right now is when a revelation of the sovereignty of God is critical for you. Where you are right now is because God has brought you here. You haven't done this. Coincidence or chance hasn't done this. God, in His sovereign grace, has allowed you to discover this. It is an expression of His unspeakable love for your dad and His call on your life at this moment. His path on which He has been leading you has arrived by His hand at this place on your journey. You are halfway across the swinging bridge; don't look back and don't stop trusting Him now.

Here's what I advise. Pray about and then create a time together where it's just you and your dad. Maybe a picnic date or walk or hike or corner table in a quiet restaurant or coffee shop, someplace that is conducive to a private conversation. It might be just lingering after everyone else has gone to bed and looking for that opportune time to have an uninterrupted discussion. Given the nature of the topic, it needs to be a private enough location where he will not be worried about being overheard by anyone else.

Then, just share your heart. Tell him what happened, how you discovered the pornography and how it made you feel. Tell him about your grief and concern. For now, that's all you need to do. Then let him respond. My guess is that the Holy Spirit will have already been at work in your dad's heart.

You can't fully understand this now since you're not (yet) a parent, but disappointing your child, I mean really disappointing your child, is a very, very tough thing for a parent. I obviously can't presume what the vast mind of God is up to here, but one thought that has occurred to me is that if I knew I had let my daughter down in such a way, it might be just the wake-up call I needed.

Obviously we want your dad to eventually be more concerned about the heart of God than the heart of another human, but maybe this is a starting point. A daddy's love for his children and the pain he feels when he lets them down is a very strong thing. Maybe God will use that to reveal some truth to your dad about how much God loves him and wants him at the banquet table.

This is a painful stop on your journey, but I believe you will look back on it as a gift to your whole family if God is allowed to invade it. Your dad will ultimately make his own choices; you can't force him to do anything. Your challenge now is to stand on God's sovereignty, obey His guidance and trust Him for the outcome.

Keep us posted.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

P.S. A caution: This topic is connected like a web to countless others with your dad: his spiritual condition; addictions; your parents' marriage; his role as a father and husband; his view of the local church; biblical manhood; and on it goes. Know your limits as to what role you play in the process. Just share what you know and how you feel and keep your part simple. Don't dive in and try to fix all of your father's problems; they probably run deep. One thing at a time; this is step one for you.

Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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