Four high school sophomores cruised into downtown Cincinnati one Friday evening. Seated in the back, the eyes of an aspiring musician riveted on the display window of retail outlet for musical instruments, now closed, and fading from view as the car streaks past..

“Stop the car,” he suddenly insisted. “A guy just kicked in the window. He’s going to reach in and take out a snare drum.”

We were two blocks beyond the scene by the time we were able to stop. We figured there was a burglary in progress, although it turned out this was only a smash and not a “smash and grab.” We contacted the police, and within an hour the perpetrator was nabbed, thanks in part to my friend’s identification.

The year was 1969. We chose to get involved; to do the right thing. I remembered TV shows that demonstrated this principle. I had grown up watching my heroes perform the brave, courageous and bold, to borrow a jingle from Wyatt Erpp. Perhaps you can still find re-runs of Bonanza, My Three Sons, Father Knows Best, Laramie, Roy Rogers, Leave it to Beaver, Wagon Train, and scores of other three-decade-old shows. We used to derive our values from church, school, and home. Network television, although a little violent, reflected and reinforced similar values.

Anybody old enough to remember Rob and Laura Petrie (Dick Van Dyke Show) sleeping in twin beds, almost fully clothed, realizes today’s producers have mastered titillation and even sleaze.

This report inspired by – and even plagiarized n part  from – Ron Sylvia, senior pastor of the Church at the Springs, Ocala, Florida. It was the pastor’s second sermon in a 5-part series “Challenging Our Culture.” This challenge is to the entertainment media. It followed Challenging Cyberspace and preceded challenging our sexual ethics, our value of life, and the post-Walton Family.

The combination of mega-channel TV, movies, music, the internet, and video games perform sinister germ warfare on the human psyche. By the time the typical American graduates high school, he’s spent 20,000 hours watching TV compared to only 12,000 hours in the classroom. Kids ages 2 to 11 absorb TV 25 hours per week.  Worse yet, perhaps, many are tucked away in their bedrooms shielded from adult supervision, surfing cable TV, satellite TV, or the internet.

Pastor Ron Sylvia terms the situation a matrix, meaning the entertainment industry:

 ‘Hollywood’ exerts strong influence upon attitudes and perceptions, indicated the pastor. It curbs person-to-person communication, and seemingly stimulates violence and evil in not-so-rare instances.

The eye is a light for the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be full of darkness.  –        Matthew 6:22-23, NCV

“Our cornea impacts our character,” said the pastor, underscoring his point with the proverb: "As a man thinketh, so is he."

“You become what you’re exposed to,” said the pastor. “That’s the law of exposure. What you feed is what will lead.”

Decrying what he termed a moral vertigo, he denounced the common rationalization that trivializes the situation.

“If it is not that bad,” said Sylvia, “it’s bad.”

You know it’s bad. Do youhave any idea what to do?

1. Monitor your entertainment.

Keep me from looking at worthless things. Let me live by your word. – Pslam 119:37, NCV; Check  more traditional translation

 “Everything is permissible”– but not everything is beneficial.
“Everything is permissible”– but not everything is constructive. 
– 1 Corinthians 10:23, NIV

The pastor recommends setting a family standard. In so doing he suggests just one thing – avoid the extremes. Not too loose, not too tight, you and the Holy Spirit work it out.

2. Evaluate what you see and hear

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On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.        1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, Message Bible;  Check  more traditional translation

A fool will believe anything; smart people watch their step. –        Proverbs 14:15, TEV; Check  more traditional translation

If you don't appreciate the importance of this matter, please recite the what Jesus termed the "first and greatest" commandment (Matthew 22:37):

"`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[emphasis added]

"With all your mind" is frequently overlooked. Pouring sleaze into your mind is the nutritional equivalent of junk food, if not poison. A lot of TV and movies I've seen, regrettably, make it difficult to become transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).

3. Stay sensitive to conviction (sin)

A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash. – Proverbs 15:14, NLT;  Check  more traditional translation

Most of us constrain our behavior according to the parameters of social acceptability, and social acceptability springs from – guess what? – portrayals of situational ethics in TV, movies, and song. Let’s not overlook the talk shows. We’ve become fascinated with our own intellect, even attempting to out-think God. The concept of tolerance cleverly disguises sin as alternative lifestyle, individual preference, or an impediment to the separation of church and state (see article).

4. Spend more time in truth and less time in virtual reality

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.        Phillippians 4:8, Message Bible; Check  more traditional translation

By what code do you live? If the parameters of your behavior are accumulated from entertainment-world depictions, then you’ve fashioned a patchwork of beliefs that put you in line with an admission from Jeb Magruder, a Nixon lieutenant in the Watergate scandal.

“I lost my moral compass and with it the ability to navigate my life,” said Magruder.

Your moral compass has to be a clear, ever-deepening understanding of holy scripture, the unchanging, unfailing instruction manual of godly life.

I’d like to borrow a principle from the health and fitness realm. Ellington Darden, Ph.D., taught me superhydration, a concept recently underscored by Roger Lycke, a man who has studied health issues from the animal kingdom.

A vast majority of us are chronically dehydrated. Our daily water intake is grossly insufficient. Dr. Darden advises exercising people to shoot for two gallons of ice cold water per day. Roger’s recommendation is one ounce for every two pounds of body weight.

It’s nearly impossible to filter out the ALL the filth of the entertainment industry. You tune in a basketball game and are subject to commercials promoting some sleazy show or movie. You drive past billboards of half-naked women (or a “we dare to bare” strip-joint advertisement). It seems the Devil's lure is everywhere you turn.

Obviously, church attendance, bible study, tuning into Christian TV, radio, worship music and befriending people who uphold similar values are the antidote to the unavoidable exposure to trashy material.

Pour on the videotapes, music, books, sermons, cassette teaching tapes and other fortifiers of your faith. It functions like a vaccine!

– Terry Duschinski
Copyright 1999, Terry Duschinski
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