I know the battle I faced as
a teenager. Today’s younger generation faces something more challenging.
It wasn’t easy for a guy to find
pornography when I was a teenager. I remember giving into the temptation to buy
a Hustler magazine when I was in high
school. Inside the drug store I paced back and forth near the magazine rack for
at least half an hour. My palms were sweaty. My heart was racing. I finally
walked to the front of the store, put the magazine face down on the counter and
avoided eye contact with the clerk as I forked over the cash.
I grew bolder in my sin when I graduated
from high school. When I turned 18, I went to downtown Atlanta to visit an
“adult bookstore” (a strange label, really, since the men who frequented these
seedy establishments did not act like mature adults). In 1976, anyone who
wanted to see hard-core porn had to visit these awful places with garish signs
and painted-over windows.
people today are continually assaulted by temptations that kids didn’t face in
the 1970s. The war for a generation is on—and it is intense.”
As I pulled into the tiny parking lot off
of Ponce de Leon Avenue, the heart palpitations returned. I rushed inside the
shop with my head down so no one would see me on the street. Then, when I saw
the graphic images on the magazines that lined the wall, I almost fainted from
a combination of adrenaline, fear, nausea and guilt. I bought a thin magazine
that didn’t cost much and literally ran out of that place.
As I was leaving I caught a glimpse of a
bumper sticker I had put on my car a few months earlier, in response to some
decisions I had made in a Baptist youth meeting. It said: “THE DIFFERENCE IN ME
IS JESUS.” Suddenly I felt even sicker to my stomach. I was already convicted
of my sexual sin; now I realized I was
a hypocrite. All I wanted to do was get out of there. Before the night was
over, the magazine I bought was in the trash and I felt miserable.
A few days later, while I was mowing my
yard on a hot July day, I began to think about a Bible verse I had heard in
church many times. I didn’t know the reference, but I was able to paraphrase it
in my mind. It said: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and
the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter
through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and
there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14, NASB).
I had never experienced a vision before,
but at that moment I could see a fork in the road in front of me. I knew I was
approaching a crossroads. I could either be a committed Christian, or I could
choose a life of compromise. God was showing me that I needed to choose the
narrow way before I took any more steps in the wrong direction. I was hit by a
terrifying sense of the fear of God, but I also recognized this as His
protective love. Within a few days I had surrendered my life to the lordship of
I shared this embarrassing story last
week when I spoke to a group of students at a Christian college in north
Georgia. I knew many of them were at a spiritual crossroads. I also knew that
in today’s cybersex world, they don’t have to go to drug stores or adult
bookstores to see porn. The voice that lured me to downtown Atlanta in 1976 has
become more brazen and aggressive today, making porn available 24/7—on the Web,
TV and even phones.
Young people today—the so-called
Millennial Generation—are continually assaulted by temptations that kids didn’t
face in the 1970s. The war for a generation is on—and it is intense. Families
are in shambles. Many kids are fatherless. Media has entirely rewritten our
moral values in a few short years. Casual sex is considered a`normal pastime
for 14-year-olds. And many teenagers today haven’t been exposed to the gospel,
so chances are slim that they might remember a Bible verse from childhood or
feel the sting of guilt like I did years ago.
That’s why I’m devoting time this month
to prayer for a spiritual awakening to touch the younger generation. The devil
has claimed today’s youth, but the same God who averted disaster in my life can
do it in theirs. As you thank Jesus for the grace He’s shown you, please ask
Him to extend it to the millions of Millennials who are following the crowd
down the wrong road.
J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. For more information about the
Awakening America Alliance’s prayer and fasting campaign, being held Jan. 1-21,
go to awakeningamerica.us/.