Detoxing From Bad Media

Creative writing in 5th grade: what thoughts can proceed from the mind of a 10 years old? I submit that what comes out of his mind is what went in in the first place. In one assignment given to me at this age I demonstrated the role of media input much to the dismay of my mother. The assignment was to list 10 reasons your parents did not sign the homework. My reasons prompted a phone call home, and had I been a 5th grader at the time of this writing, I would have been sent to a psychologist and probably placed on state-ordered treatment.

I wrote the following few items among my list:

Freddy Kruger killed my mom
Jason Voorhees cut my mom up with an axe
My mom fell off a cliff and died

Sin is bound up in the heart of a child, but the sin in our hearts is more like a general gravitation toward evil intent.  What we see around us influences that sin and allows it to fester in our hearts.  You see, as a child I never watched many of the popular Disney movies, however, I did view every Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th up to that point in my life. I was allowed to watch such films and as a natural result, evil flowed from my heart and my mind wrote such horrible words.

Over the years, a lot of debate has ensued about how media influences our life. On the one hand, nothing but our own choices cause us to sin, commit crimes, and write such things as I wrote on my homework. But on the other hand, what we place into our head is what will permeate our heart, and out of our heart flow the sins of our death (Matthew 15:19). We are sinners at the start of the day, though the more we focus on the things of Christ, the more love and truth will flow from our heart. But if we feed the sins of the world, those that our Savior died for, into our minds they will start to fill our thoughts and impact our actions. For me, this is not a debate or a theory. It was my life that I know it to be true.

When I became a Christian, I had a lot of work to do in my soul. The movies full of sexual immorality and senseless gore will be forever in my head and heart seeking to express themselves. My teenage years of evil music, complete with pentagrams, Satanic symbols, vulgarity, sexual references are likewise forever in my head. It is these images that attack my spirit as I pray and torment my soul to tears as I think of the years of my life that were squandered. I cannot get those back, but I can move forward with better decisions, better input, and crowd out the evil with the power and light of God. This first part of my thoughts on media evaluation is my ‘detox’ plan. I assure you that if you are likewise tormented by your past input, it does get easier to resist the thoughts.

Stop the flow immediately

In future articles I will walk through detailed instructions on determining whether a media source is good or bad. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is not. If you have kids or young people you mentor, you will need to be able to guide them appropriately. Once you identify a source as bad input, cut it off from further influence (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). David likewise said, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes (Psalm 101:3)."

Replace the bad with good

If we do not find something to fill the void left by removing a movie, band, or radio station, we will go back to it, and worse (Matthew 12:43-45). I am not suggesting to remove all non-Christian material from your life here, just to abstain from evil.

Purify your mind with the Word

Romans 12 reminds us to transform ourselves by the renewing of our mind. In Ephesians 4-5, Paul contrasts how we are to live in the Spirit as contrasted to our natural state. He writes:

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21)

Stand firm against evil

Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-17 about putting on the full armor of God. Several components of standing firm are mentioned. Ultimately, Paul writes that our true battle with spiritual forces, not our own flesh (Ephesians 6:12). We need to be armed with Truth that we know what in our world is really right. Without Truth, we will be moving toward the wrong goal. Righteousness is living correctly so we are both an example, and blessed by God. The Gospel gives us hope for others, and our Faith allows us to make good decisions even when it seems that all things are not right in the world. Salvation ushers us into the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Word of God is our ultimate weapon for life.

Coming to Christ as an adult gave me perspective of sin in that I was contaminated by the world. James reminds us to be unstained by the world. Whether we have been Christians for a few days or several decades, we always need to examine our life and entertainment carefully. We need to prevent evil from entering our minds and work hard to clean up the mess created when it does get in. These steps can help us follow Christ more in our culture.