A Covenant with My Eyes
Smoke is burning your eyes. You know the fire is up ahead, but you call to your wife, take your children by the hand and you press forward. Common sense tells you that your current path will result in serious burns, but you continue on—confident that you can safely guide your family through to the other side. After another 15 yards, you look around and realize your family is surrounded by flames. Fire licks at your very heels, threatening to engulf those whom you love. It’s at this moment you question your decision to press forward. Why didn’t you just turn and run? But it is also this moment that will determine how great a leader you truly are. So…how do you get your family safely away from the soul-threatening media they are surrounded by?
Friends, it is high time we train young men and women to be “soldiers” and leaders who can rise to the occasion of safely leading their friends and family away from the danger of immoral media. We need fathers who are the spiritual leaders in their homes men not too afraid or apathetic to take control of the remote and turn off material that is offensive to Almighty God. We need preachers and elders instilling the sentiments of the inspired psalmist who declared, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in your way” (Psalm 119:37, emp. added). Now please do not misunderstand, I recognize not all media is bad (after all, you are reading a magazine that is classified as a form of media), but I am not naive enough to think that one can continually ingest the diet offered by the mainstream media and walk away without it affecting your mind and contributing to spiritual sickness.
The tentacles of media are far more reaching than most parents realize. Sure, we monitor what our children watch on TV, and we don’t allow them to watch “R” rated movies. But friends, that just barely touches the hem of the proverbial garment. Consider the opening paragraph of the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation Survey in which they acknowledged: “Over the past few years, media use among children and teens has become more prevalent than ever. With the launch of the iPod, the explosion in instant messaging, the birth of mobile video and YouTube, and the advent of social networking sites like MySpace, young people are rarely out of contact, or out of reach of the media” (emp. added). [To see the full report go to http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/7638.pdf ] We must realize that Satan is alive and well, and he has surrounded the average person with a whole host of media—most of which is immoral or secular in nature.
A quick glance down the TV guide will reveal that television and movie producers have taken a “Shock and Awe” approach to programming. The simple days of “Andy Griffith” and “Little House on the Prairie” have been replaced by “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex in the City.” The images of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire’s romance, dressed in their very best in their 1934 film The Gay Divorcee, are but a fading memory. Oh, for the day when curse words were taboo in television shows. Today even commercials have foul language and often promote immorality!
We know that things are getting worse in the media, but my question is this: Are Christians becoming more diligent to prevent their consumption of this garbage? It is no secret that movies rated “PG-13” today would have received an “R” rating in the past, and that many “G” rated movies today would have been considered “PG” in times gone by. But is the average Christian “sober” and “vigilant,” on guard against the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8-9)? Are we really remaining “steadfast in the faith,” or have we bought into the lie that it’s just harmless “entertainment”?
Before you read the following statistics, consider this: Hollywood would not produce the garbage if it were not profitable. They won’t make it if we stand up and declare we are no longer going to consume it. If we are going to demand change, then we must have the strength to resist temptation. One hard and fast economics rule is that advertisers will not pay money for television shows people are not watching—period. We complain and protest about the media from ivory palaces and pulpits, but what are we actually doing behind the closed doors of our own homes? Consider the following:
A 2005 Kaiser Family study demonstrated “the number of sexual scenes on television has nearly doubled since 1998…. The study found that 70% of all shows include some sexual content, and that these shows average 5.0 sexual scenes per hour, compared to 56% and 3.2 scenes per hour respectively in 1998, and 64% and 4.4 scenes per hour in 2002. These increases combined represent nearly twice as many scenes of sexual content on TV since 1998. [For more information, see http://www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia110905nr.cfm].
A 2007 study reported that American adults and teens would spend an estimated 3,518 hours—or nearly five months each—plus $936.75 per person consuming media.
- 65 days in front of the TV
- 41 days listening to the radio
- More than a week on the Internet
- A week reading a daily newspaper (www.frankwbaker.com)
By the time a child is 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed (given average viewing times), 200,000 acts of violence including 40,000 murder (Huston, et al., 1992).
A report in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics published in 2004 noted that sexual content appears in 64% of all TV programs. The data they collected demonstrated that programs with sexual content averaged 4.4 scenes per hour that contained sexually related material, and approximately 1 out of 7 programs includes a portrayal of sexual intercourse. The professionals who conducted this study concluded:
“Watching sex on TV predicts and may hasten adolescent sexual initiation. Reducing the amount of sexual content in entertainment programming, reducing adolescent exposure to this content, or increasing references to and depictions of possible negative consequences of sexual activity could appreciably delay the initiation of coital and non-coital activities” (see Collins et al., 2004, pp. e280-289 or available online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/114/3/e280).
We know the problem exists, but are we willing to do anything about it?Make no mistake about it; actions have consequences. The old computer science term GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) is still applicable today. Paul admonished the church in Rome, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Have we forgotten that we are not to be conformed to this world?
Living in the Information Age, Christians can no longer use the excuse “I didn’t know.” There are excellent Web sites available that, within just a few minutes, will provide a review of the content on television shows, movies, and even music. (There are free sites such as http://www.pluggedinonline.com and http://www.kids-in-mind.com/, as well as subscription services such as http://www.screenit.com/). The resources are available! But will we utilize them? Consider the following reviews from Kids-In-Mind.com given for two popular movies (focusing only on the aspect of profanity):
Alvin & the Chipmunks[PG] Profanity: 2 mild anatomical terms, 1 mild obscenity, 1 exclamation (holy nuts), name-calling (stupid, filthy creatures, sudsy, loser), 1 religious exclamation.
Austin Powers in Goldmember[PG-13] profanity: 9 F-words (1 mouthed, 8 are bleeped), 2 obscene hand gestures, 16 sexual references, 7 scatological terms (1 in German is not translated, and 1 is spelled out in subtitles), 43 anatomical terms (3 spelled out in subtitles), 18 mild obscenities, 1 religious profanity, 3 religious exclamations.
Having read that, now consider the words of Jesus Christ, Who was asked what “is the greatest commandment?” and replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38, emp. added). Can we honestly say we love God with all of our mind if we have just filled it with the garbage listed above? The reality is that within just a few minutes, a family can determine if such programming is really something they want to be watching. Will you rise to that challenge?
In Job 31:1, we find Job declaring, “I have made a covenant with my eyes. Why then should I look upon young women?” It is time we follow Job’s example—make that covenant with our eyes—and set our minds on things above, not on things of the Earth (Colossians 3:2). The cost of failure is too high.
Fire licks at your very heels, threatening to engulf those whom you love. It’s this very moment that will determine how great a leader you truly are. So…how do you get your family safely away from the soul-threatening media they are surrounded by? Will you continue to lead your family into the fire, “hoping” they arrive safely on the other side with only minor burns? Or will you be proactive and flee?