I’m thankful that several women have been so kind and generous as to allow me to share their stories. This is the kind of thing I never questioned or prayed about as I was growing up or in my earlier adulthood. I think it is important to prayerfully examine the things we are consuming with our mind to determine if any of it is leading to sinful thoughts, desires, or motives. Some things can be really GOOD things – that may not be a problem, and may be a blessing for others. But if there is something that is becoming more important to you than Jesus, or you find that you are having sinful thoughts because of a show, a blog, a book, a movie, or a song – then it may be wise to cut that thing out of your life. Anything that entices you to trust something other than Christ alone is a big problem!
FROM A READER:
I started reading Christian dating and marriage and parenting books at age 15 and dreaming about the future – many books on marriage, (which were really likely inappropriate for that age group). I believe it was because of the great brokenness and pain in my own family that I was experiencing at the time; all I could do was retreat into dreaming of one day having the family that I never had.
I also amassed a pretty large collection of Christian books (for a teenager) and became very confused. I was allowed to go to the Christian bookstore, and I bought whatever I wanted to read from every conceivable denomination and theology out there. I became a very confused and lost young person. I read my Bible and I tried as best as I could to live for the Lord, but the authors of the books became my idols.
Preachers and teachers became my idols. I thought they had some special knowledge that I didn’t or couldn’t have, so I was always looking to someone else (a preacher or teacher) to give me what I was looking for when Jesus was there – able to give it to me all along – and I could not see it.
My mother never took us to the movies growing up. We grew up in the country with no cable TV and only 4 TV stations, of which really only one was clear. She never said why, but I believe now it is because she recognized that what is portrayed in a lot of the media is not consistent with Christian values. But what happened was a sort of isolated feeling from the culture, a feeling of being “left out,” that I believe both my brother and I felt. So that when we grew older and on our own, we both got heavy into secular media – I guess as a way to “catch up” with whatever it was we felt we had missed.
I watched hours and hours of both old and new TV shows and movies online. I had fallen away from the Lord in my adult life. I kept seeking to meet the emptiness in myself through something promised in suspense and trashy movies. Dark things.
This content I sowed in my mind reaped a harvest of lust, discontentment, covetousness, envy, and ungodliness. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I came back to the Lord and I have gradually cut it all out. I cut out all secular television, movies, and music. I started listening to Christian music, but even with Christian music, one has to be very careful. Everyone may not agree with this, but it is my feeling that a lot of Christian music paints an unrealistic picture of what the Christian life is really like – as if, once I gave my life to Jesus, all my problems would go away. And it is not like that.
The author of the last post asked, “why do we read romance?” I think we as women are very vulnerable to it because it appeals to our desire to be loved – and for me – living vicariously through it what I have never had in real life. All this media of whatever genre appeals to that need within us that can only be met and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. It is just pretty challenging to “find a new reality” (real life!) when we realize how taken in we have been by all of this media. For me it is, at least.
- “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45
I don’t know what was going on in me spiritually when I was feeding my mind with all that garbage. Death, I guess. I think Jesus makes a really good point though in the above verses. Once we cleanse our lives of this stuff, are we being careful to replace it with something wholesome, so we don’t later wind up worse off than we were to start with.
I try to limit most of my reading to the Bible now because there is still so much there for me to learn. “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” 1 Corinthians 10:11. It is not always easy reading though. Sometimes the Bible can be a hard read for me. But it is so worth it!
I think what has happened in my life are some major extremes in media consumption, kind of all or nothing. I think that is probably not healthy. But it is really the only thing I know to do, right now for me at least, at this stage of my spiritual walk. I feel I have to guard my heart. What was missing for me in my younger years was the fruit of the Spirit in my life and in my relationships with others and in my family. I have finally learned this only comes from truly knowing Christ and obeying Him. And that is when the emptiness is filled. I have to keep looking to Him, and Him alone.
I am not against all fiction, all movies, all TV programs, all Christian books, or Christian marriage books. But I do want us to guard our hearts. Even Christian leaders – we must be careful not to put them on a pedestal and idolize them rather than worshipping Jesus alone.
Christian marriage books were a stumbling block for me earlier in our marriage because I would read all these things that “husbands were supposed to do” and then resent Greg if he wasn’t doing all of those things exactly like some book said he should. I harbored bitterness against him because of Christian marriage books I had read so many times that eventually, he came to hate all Christian marriage books. Until I read Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and began to focus on what God desired ME to change instead of what God wanted him to do.
I, personally, do best when I focus on what God wants me to do, my walk with Christ, and things I can control.
Each of us will have different personal convictions about these things – and they may change over time. For our personal convictions about what is healthy for us to consume and what we believe we need to avoid – we must depend on the wisdom of God’s Spirit at various stages of our lives. This is not about someone else giving you a long list of “don’ts” but, rather, having your own desire to draw closer to God and to avoid nurturing idolatry, sinful thoughts, sinful motives, sinful desires, or anything that might cause you to stumble in your walk with Christ. If I notice discontentment, resentment, bitterness, lust, pride, self-righteousness, a desire to control, a longing for something else that is greater than my longing for Christ – I need to get before God in prayer and get rid of whatever that thing is in my life that is causing me to sin. I need to shoot down the thoughts and take my thoughts captive for Christ. I need to get rid of any worldly or ungodly influences. I need to clear my home of anything that poses a temptation to me.
- Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2