In my first part one of Pop Poison we discussed secular music. Now let’s turn our attention to visual media!
Beware of What You Watch
It’s not only the music we listen to, but also what we see that affects our spiritual health. Matthew 6:22 reads, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” If we are viewing unwholesome things, it logically follows that we will develop unwholesome spiritual appetites. In the book of James, the author explains how we arrive at temptation. Read the following verses and consider how you feel after looking at a commercial, music video, tv show, movie, or magazine. How does what you have seen affect you spiritually?
“13 Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
Both the words “lured” and “enticed” in the original Greek have the connotation of hunting for game. Professional hunters know their prey. They know exactly what appeals to the animal they lure in for a kill. Marketing executives spend millions on knowing what their target audience desires. They take advantage of our natural desires to be respected, loved, and accepted, along with our more selfish desires for fame, power, and self-gratification. Do you not feel like going and buying Nikes after you see their trendy commercials? Or going to buy Victoria’s Secret underwear after the seeing the “Angels?” How do you feel after watching one of those glamorous music videos? Whether it’s the artist’s’ fancy dance moves, stylish clothes, or lifestyle depicted in the video, we often try to imitate what we see done on TV. (Why do you think commercials have to add “Do not attempt!” at the bottom of the screen when a stunt is done?)
Don’t Under-think It!
Maybe you think I’m overthinking this whole mass media thing, but those advertising executives are counting on you not giving any serious thought to what they are really doing. Frederick Barnard once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Just because there may not be an essay before you, it doesn’t mean that any visual you look at isn’t making a statement. Try this exercise the next time you are listening or watching some entertainment. Think about the implications the media is making in its content. Is this media promoting biblical values or thinking?
Resist the World’s Influence
Again, I know saying that you shouldn’t be watching Empire, TrueBlood, and Madmen can be offensive to some of you, but you need to let go of anything that may cause you to move further from God. We’re engaged in very real spiritual warfare everyday. Satan and those who love evil are not passive. Our culture is saturated in ungodliness, and as Christians we must be a Holy people, set apart from the things of this world. Why would you even want to give the enemy a foothold in your life or your children’s’ lives by exposing yourself to media that promotes living in the flesh?
Today it is incredibly difficult for youth to maintain a level of innocence. Thanks to popular culture and our own poor standards for entertainment children these days know so much about sex, drugs, and money. And even if you don’t let them listen or watch certain artists or programs, what good will that do if you yourself are watching and listening to things that provoke your own sinful nature. In that case your children will still be exposed to those bad values that media promotes when you act on the sinful inclinations they inspire!
When the Holy Spirit Convicts You, LISTEN!
Again I am not attacking wholesome programing that is in line with biblical values, but please be discerning. When Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he didn’t stay in her presence and try to reason with her. He took off running! He removed himself from the situation entirely! Completely remove sin-inspiring media from life! If you are watching something and the Holy Spirit begins to convict you about it, listen! Don’t ignore His voice, or say to yourself, “Ah, this aint that bad.”
Don’t be foolish! You are not immune to the brainwashing of public television, music, video game, and film industries. If you honestly love the Lord, don’t put yourself or your family in a position where they can and will be molded by the worldly influences of mass media. As Christ followers we need to unplug from corrupt influences, and instead plug our minds into God’s word and our hearts into an intimate relationship with Him.
If you’re reading this and you’re still determined to watch ungodly shows, listen to ungodly music, and play ungodly video games―let me be clear. That’s idolatry. When you’ve elevated a tv show or singer above your Christian responsibility to have the mind of Christ, you are worshipping pop culture entertainment. (Read about having the mind of Christ here: 1 Cor 2:5-16) God cares about what you listen to, read, sing, watch, and do on a regular basis! Just be sure that you are consuming media that will lead you and those around you closer to God!
A Few Alternatives to Get You Started
Please remember that we are Christians first and pop culture fanatics dead last! If you want to start filtering your media, the best time is now! There are plenty of God-pleasing alternatives to popular culture entertainment. Here are a few of my favorite music labels as well as some of my go-to spots for entertainment.
Do you know any other good sources for positive Christian media? Comment below!