‘Daddy, is that what a man does?’

You’ve probably seen it before: A father brings his 10-year-old son to a professional football game with some of his buddies. During half-time the cheerleaders strut out onto the sidelines. The man takes out his binoculars, and, after watching the cheerleaders for a moment, passes them through the outstretched hands of his son to a friend sitting nearby.

He didn’t say a word, but his unspoken statement was, “You’re not yet old enough to lust after the bodies of these girls.”

Think about what must be going through the mind of that little boy.

“Someday I’ll get to drive a car, get a job, get married and lust after cheerleaders … someday when I’m a real man like my dad,” the little boy might think.

The path a man’s eyes follow will show a curious child what he finds valuable. The eyes of a dad train his son about the worth of women and the value of his mother, sisters or future wife.

It’s not what a son hears in church that counts, nor is it what he hears his dad say. The lessons of life are taught by what a child sees his dad do – or not do.

Children also learn life lessons by what their dad refuses to do, for example, if one of the fathers at the game chose not to use the binoculars.

“Do you remember when the men at the game were passing their binoculars around?” that father might ask while driving his son home from the game. “Do you know why I just passed them on down instead of looking or handing them to you?”

When his child doesn’t know the answer, the father has an opportunity to teach his son a lesson.

“It was because some of them were looking at the cheerleaders’ bodies, and that’s wrong!” he might say.

Dad then has the opportunity to talk to his son about the quest for disciplining his eyes. This discipline is vastly overlooked in the lives of men today.

Christian fathers have a responsibility to explain that the Bible says lusting after a woman’s body with your eyes is just as bad as actually having an affair with her (Matthew 5:28). In fact, it’s an emotional affair. This shows how incredibly important it is to gain control of your eyes. Eye-control will help a man avoid having to work on other areas of sexual control.

How many men in college today would be saved from the No. 1 ravager of America’s college dorms if they had not been taught to use “internet binoculars?” Watching what dad does or does not do plays a huge part in the life and future of a little boy.

Every young boy needs to see how dad chooses, and then Dad should train his son about the reasons behind his choices.

“Son, I make these decisions, because, No. 1, I trust that God is right when He says not to lust after a woman. Let me show you some of those verses when we get home (Proverbs 6:25, II Peter 2:14 and Proverbs 17:24). I also choose to discipline my eyes when it comes to women who are not your mother, because it’s an insult to Mom if I do,” the father who possesses eye-control might say. “There’s still another reason. Other women are someone’s sister or daughter. How would you feel if someone had sexual thoughts about your sister or mom?”

What a dad chooses to view or comment on plays a huge part in his son’s development, whether or not he sees it. When friends tell his son about internet pornography, will he be prepared with the reasons not to click on tempting sites? When a woman at his office dresses inappropriately, will he know how to handle his eyes and his thoughts?

If his father led a life of integrity, chances are he will.

Along the way, a son will ask himself, “What would Dad do in this situation?” And, if his father trained him to follow the Lord, he will ask the more important question, “What would God have me do?”

It’s time for dads to realize that it is their responsibility to teach their sons the hard lesson of guarding their eyes.

It’s also time for dads to teach this lesson by disciplining their own eyes, whether the child is with them or not. If it’s a lifetime rule, a dad will never mess up by forgetting his son is with him.

And, yes, it’s also time for Christian women (including moms and sisters) to decide that they won’t be a part of the problem any longer by dressing immodestly.

A son is constantly watching his dad because his dad is the benchmark of what it means to be a man. As dads, we need to be watching for teachable moments, and we teach by how we live. Our behavior today has an immense impact on our child’s success tomorrow.

Live in a way that can be imitated. Live in a way that will honor God. Watch your eyes, because your son is watching you.

Dr. Robert Barnes is the president of Sheridan House Family Ministries. He and his wife, Rosemary, are authors and speakers on marriage and family issues.

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