"Have you ever watched the show _________?"
A friend of mine asked me this question recently about a television show that is particularly popular right now. I told him I'd never heard of it and asked him to describe it for me.
He went on to explain that the show centers around a man who works for the police department by day, but who moonlights as a vicious serial killer. And this lovely man is the protagonist of the show. Those who are familiar with the show recognize the plot description-- I'm intentionally omitting its name from this post, because I honestly don't want to motivate any new viewers to go check it out.
As he described some of the graphic, violent, highly sexualized imagery of the television show I began to feel my stomach turning. People actually watch this for entertainment? And they root for the homicidal maniac as he dishes out his sadistic brand of "justice"?
Now I am not normally a particularly squeamish or prudish individual. I watch a few TV shows, and enjoy a good suspense or action movie as much as the next person. I'm also not an alarmist -- I don't truly believe that watching a show about a serial killer will produce a nation of crazy maniacal murderers.
That having been said, I've found myself more and more sensitive to the violence and sexual perversion that often presents itself as entertainment in our culture. Perhaps it's a consequence of having children -- I can't watch fictional images of people being tortured, abused, murdered, or used without thinking, "That's somebody's child or father or mother or friend." I just don't find it entertaining anymore. Perhaps it's a consequence of the Holy Spirit's increased conviction in my heart -- I keep remembering passages like Philippians 4:8 that remind me to consider carefully what I think about.
Those who believe that what we put into our minds has no impact on our behavior or thought processes are simply wrong. I could cite study after study, and there are many (see parentstv.org if you want a few), but I don't really need to cite them. What we put into our minds affects how we think. How we think affects how we act.
No, I don't think shows like the one I've described will make me go kill somebody. And no, I don't think watching Desperate Housewives will make me a raging adulterer. But I do think that continually viewing graphic, bloody, heartless murder just might lower my ability to empathize with those who are suffering. I know that constantly looking at highly sexualized images of young men and women will lower my ability to view other people as anything more than objects for my personal gratification.
How do I know that? Because I speak with people nearly every week who are drowning in sexual addictions and pornographic images, which follow them around at school, at work, and at home. Such thoughts color their attitudes toward other people and deeply harm their ability to love and serve others as Christ does.
I don't need another new study -- I've seen the devastation.
So what is the point of all of this? Simply this: Are the shows you are watching, the sites you are surfing, and the music you are hearing consistent with Philippians 4:8?
Do the images you put in your head and your heart honor or degrade the image of God in your fellow human beings?
Are the heroes you cheer on dark and twisted anti-heroes, or are they men and women fighting for what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?
Would you invite Jesus to watch with you?
Guess what? If you know Him, He's there with you already.
Still sure you want to watch that?
Question for you: Do you set standards for what you choose to view or hear? What are they, and what sort of steps have you put in place to ensure that you adhere to them?
[Image via http://www.physorg.com/news162468111.html]