June 28, 2022

Minding Our Media

As a boy, Ken idolized MacGyver. He had a standing date with MacGyver each Monday evening at 8:00 p.m., in addition to each day appointments at 7:00 p.m. for the re-runs. He carried duct tape and a Swiss military knife all over the place he went, on the off probability it may very well be as useful for one among his 9-year-old escapades because it had been for his tv hero. Life was good so long as he obtained his each day MacGyver dose.

However in the future, his dad and mom lower him off. They notified him that he was solely permitted to observe one episode per week.

“It was a crushing blow,” Ken recalled with a smile. “My thoughts instantly started to race. ‘How am I going to proceed on? Select just one episode? Unimaginable!’ It was one of many first instances in my life that one of many idols in my little coronary heart was revealed — and I used to be not giving it up with no struggle.”

Twenty years later, this story — and a associated anecdote about Ken (as MacGyver) duct-taping his sister’s mouth closed — are humorous fodder for a “break the ice” story swap amongst new pals. Or so it appears. But when we perform a little poking round our personal media consumption habits, we might discover we’re simply as undiscerning concerning the results of TV, films, and music on ourselves.

Simply Trying

Have you ever ever walked into the kitchen with nothing in your thoughts besides the undertaking you’re engaged on? You’re not even hungry, however there on the counter is a luscious, sugary deal with. One look and your defenses crumble. Need that was beforehand dormant is now in a five-alarm frenzy.

What we gaze upon impacts our wishes.

Once I was youthful, I had a housemate who by no means needed to observe romantic comedies with me. Not simply the R-rated flesh-fests, however even the basic British interval items. She most well-liked science fiction or journey films. I used to be initially shocked by her preferences — in spite of everything, what’s a girly night at dwelling with out somebody getting the man?! However Susan had discerned that after watching romantic comedies, she felt a grey cloud of discontentment muffling her ardour for God.

There was nothing fallacious with these films themselves, however Susan correctly gauged her coronary heart and realized that this non-compulsory exercise had a unfavourable religious impact on her. So she stopped watching. Her peace earlier than God was extra necessary.

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A number of years down the road, I higher respect why she wasn’t commonly snacking on romantic comedies in a chronic season of singleness.

Susan is now married, however she hasn’t let down her guard. A number of weeks in the past she informed me how she was watching a film and located the main man fairly engaging. Distractingly engaging. As she watched, she realized that her consideration was directed within the fallacious place — she was discovering herself drawn to this actor in a approach that will compete along with her affection for her husband. So she turned off the film and by no means noticed the top of it.

“I like my husband and I don’t need to watch something that makes me marvel about one other man,” she stated. “It’s not value it. Leisure is non-compulsory. Defending my marriage just isn’t.”

A number of years in the past, my pastor gave a collection of messages about media consumption. I bear in mind how he laid out a problem for our viewing habits: On the finish of a film, may we thank God for a way we spent these two hours? Would we be capable of say the TV present we watched was glorifying to God?

Effectively, I not too long ago failed that check. I had settled in to observe an motion film (skipping that romantic comedy for the sake of knowledge), a film I assumed can be like others in its collection — a battle of wits and cyber-hijinks. It turned out to be a really violent film. I went to sleep troubled by the a few of the scenes and I knew I had failed the “thanking God” customary. There was no approach I may thank Him for the creation of this film, nor the time I had squandered in watching it.

The subsequent day, I needed to confess to my accountability companion that I had been undiscerning in my alternative and lazy in not turning it off earlier.

White Noise

Typically minding our media consumption isn’t just about overt idolatry like Ken’s MacGyver days, or the temptation to discontentment or comparability like Susan confronted, and even blatantly sinful junk like I watched. Typically it’s simply concerning the white noise — the fixed assault of sound and sensation that renders us deaf to God’s nonetheless small voice.

Andrew at all times stated he couldn’t focus on his work if he didn’t have music on. His iPod was an ever-present accent, even for the
5-minute drive to lunch. Then in the future he determined to undertake a music quick. His unique intention was to see how it might have an effect on his songwriting. He definitely wasn’t anticipating it to make him hungry for God’s Phrase. However that’s precisely what occurred when he was not filling up on iTunes.

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“Have a look at these pages,” he stated excitedly, holding out a well-marked Bible. “I’ve by no means learn Proverbs like this earlier than. I noticed every kind of stuff in right here final evening — it was loopy, like I had by no means even learn the Bible earlier than!”

For six hours one evening, God’s Phrase had held Andrew captive. He didn’t need to cease studying and praying. That was the results of two weeks of fasting music and taking time in his commute to hope and take into consideration everlasting issues. Absent the musical din, Andrew discovered that he hungered for the time to review and meditate upon the Bible — a profit he was not anticipating when he first began. Now he’s pondering a 2-week music quick just isn’t sufficient.

“I really feel clearer mentally when I’ve a while to be silent and suppose and pray,” he stated. “It’s been good for me to show off the music for some time.”

Junk In, Junk Out

True knowledge, as celebrated within the Bible, is intentionally cultivated and jealously preserved. Proverbs makes it very clear that we must be discerning concerning the firm the maintain, the alternatives we make, and the phrases we hear. Though it was written in an age the place leisure selections had been restricted, the precept stays: what goes into our hearts comes out in our lives. Even when it’s not actual, we nonetheless soak up the stain into our souls — a stain that can ultimately overflow from our hearts in our ideas, phrases, and actions.

My son, be attentive to my phrases;

incline your ear to my sayings.

Allow them to not escape out of your sight;

maintain them inside your coronary heart.

For they’re life to those that discover them,

and therapeutic to all their flesh.

Preserve your coronary heart with all vigilance,

for from it movement the springs of life.

Put away from you crooked speech,

and put devious discuss removed from you.

Let your eyes look immediately ahead,

and your gaze be straight earlier than you.

Ponder the trail of your toes;

then all of your methods can be positive.

Don’t swerve to the fitting or to the left;

flip your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:20-27 ESV)

What sort of crooked speech are we listening to in films, exhibits, or music? What crooked issues are we gazing upon, as an alternative of trying on the “straight and slender”? Are we fleeing evil or are we lingering to gaze upon it? What are we storing up in our hearts that can come out later, for higher or for worse? In Proverbs, we’re commanded to ponder our steps so that we are going to know for sure that we live correctly and securely. The companions we maintain within the type of tv and films can affect us for good or for dangerous.

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You Are What You Eat

I believe there’s an excellent cause why we seek advice from our leisure patterns as “media consumption.” All that we see and listen to, we ingest. It feeds one thing that takes root in our concepts, thought processes, and our attitudes. We might have the “proper” to take pleasure in numerous types of leisure, however the discerning Christian ought to take the counsel of the apostle Paul and ask whether or not this proper, or any proper we declare, is definitely useful or constructive (1 Cor. 10:23).

Ken’s dad and mom had been sensible to restrict the time their son dedicated to a TV present — they had been coaching him to be a greater steward of his time. Susan was discerning to grasp the impact of vicarious romance on her personal wishes, as both a single or a married lady. Andrew realized that his regular food plan of in any other case good music dulled his urge for food for the everlasting.

Please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not saying media is dangerous. If I did, I might be out of a job. I spend my days producing video and my evenings writing and running a blog. I eat and produce media. I studied media in school. The instrument or the medium just isn’t the issue. The content material or the message — and the way in which our hearts reply — is the issue.

A lot of our media consumption is sort of a inconsiderate snack popped into our mouths on impulse. Senseless leisure has the predictable results of making one… effectively, senseless. On condition that in the future we may have the distinction and privilege of standing earlier than our Lord and giving an account for a way we used the time He gave us, I’m merely advocating that we thoughts our media, as an alternative of letting it make us senseless.

By inspecting our leisure selections, we might be fulfilling the command in Proverbs to maintain our hearts with all diligence.

Copyright 2007 Carolyn McCulley. All rights reserved.