by Gerard Terry
I found a new TV series the other day and have been watching several episodes to relax. The program is rated PG at worst, so I thought it was ok to watch. Although there is no nudity, the content models moral values inconsistent with the standard of Godly living I want for me and my family.
I have been amazed that during the day I unconsciously think of the program, its characters and its fictional small town setting. I daydream of what it would be like to live in that town. Surprisingly, I am even starting to imagine doing some of the immoral things which the characters do – not just in the fictional setting, but in real life, with real people. The show is affecting the way I think.
The Building Blocks of You
I once heard an old saying that you and I are the people we are based on the books we read and the people we meet. To modernize the quote, we become like the people we hang out with. Today, we hang out with our friends, family, authors of books, and producers of videos, TV, music and movie shows. These are the people who influence us and shape who we become.
Regrettably, I often let influencers into my life without first screening them to ensure the message they will be sending is consistent with who I want to become. In other cases, when my conscience tells me (or my wife, who has better instincts) I should not be watching a video or show, I ignore my conscience’s alarm and move forward anyway, certain I can screen out any improper influence. Anxious for some excitement in my sometimes boring life, I allow myself to be influenced and programmed by men and women with opposing values. Looking back, I am only fooling myself if I think I can avoid their influence in shaping who I am.
Defining a New Reality
If you are not yet convinced, consider the fantasies, dreams and thoughts you have. Where do they originate if not from those you interact with? Why else would advertisers pay a million dollars for a 30 second football game ad? Who inspires you to take risks and try new things? Who fuels your thought life? What do you see in your mind when you close your eyes?
What we see portrayed by others becomes our reality. We start to formulate our goals and conduct based on our interactions with others. When these interactions occur with movies and television, we are unconsciously being programmed to adopt their version of what is real and acceptable.
In the powerful world of sexuality, where our brains release chemicals with sexual pleasure, we can quickly learn a false reality. After seeing hundreds or thousands of nude women whose only desire seems to be to please men, we start to think every woman wants us and our body. We eventually think we deserve a woman who will engage in extreme sexual acts. Eventually, we act on these false assumptions, and experience conflict with our wives, or the destruction of an affair, illicit sex or even a sexual crime.
While society is permissive with those who send us these destructive messages, it is unforgiving once we act as programmed. Courts are filled with men caught sending nude images of themselves over the Internet or who met with an underage girl. Men expose themselves to women and are truly surprised to find themselves in handcuffs. I have seen the epidemic of men living this false reality paraded through courts and sex offender treatment centers. They wonder how they could have drifted so far.
Shame and Guilt are Your Friend
I know many anti-porn groups teach that shame and guilt are bad. I disagree. Shame and guilt result from the collision of your true reality (Godly living) and the false reality (worldliness). Working hand in hand with shame and guilt, our conscience is designed to convict us of our ungodly behavior. This God-given emotional / mental cue is trained and strengthened through years of Godly living and Godly influences. Yet, like ignoring a smoke alarm, you can become conditioned to ignore your conscience’s warning and eventually not hear it.
Pornography will quickly dull your conscience, shame and guilt. Continued involvement in this destructive habit is perilous and sure to result in harm to your family, career, and freedom. Only by retraining a Godly conscience can you again hear the warnings of this essential defense mechanism, put in place for your protection.
There is a reason we don’t let our children hang out with kids who do drugs, use profanity or engage in premarital sex. We know that our children will be influenced and eventually fall into these same destructive habits themselves. Isn’t it time that you and I follow our own advice to our kids? What business do men who love their wives and children have hanging out with destructive porn producers, actresses and actors?
Be intentional about what goes into your mind. You are the product of your environment. Make it a good and Godly one.