From a talk I gave in 2009, upon moving into my current ward:
With the convenience of modern medicine, doctors can counter seasonal allergy attacks by injecting the patient with tiny doses of the particular allergen over a long period of time. This process slowly desensitizes the patient’s body to the specific allergen, even though their doses continued to increase.
Much like this method of treatment, Satan deviously introduces many immoral “allergens” into our lives through the media and entertainment. His intent is to desensitize our hearts and dull our spirits so that the evils of the world are less noticeable over time. Once successful, he continues to barrage us with the intent to “ensnare the hearts of men” (Alma 28:13). The majority of these evil pollutants can be found in movies, music, television, the Internet, books and magazines.
The ancient prophet Nephi prophesied that in the latter-days the devil would wage a war against righteousness and “others he will pacify, and lull them into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion… and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21).
We have been instructed by our Church leaders to “live in the world, but not of the world.” This includes steering clear of all modern-day immorality, including the constant media bombardment. It is not an easy battle, but one that must be fought day in and day out ‘down in the trenches’, in order to maintain a level of spirituality that will help us to return to live with our Heavenly Father after this mortal existence.
II. Negative Influence of Media
Our modern-day prophets have warned and counseled us on numerous occasions to avoid the “sleaze and filth” that is rampant in today’s media. Nobody is immune to Satan’s attacks, in or out of the Church. Elder Joe. J. Christensen has warned that “Satan has made great inroads into the lives of some Latter-day Saints through the evil in the media.” He also stated that “the Lord and his living prophets are counting on [us] to avoid the trash that surrounds [us] in the media.”
Unfortunately in today’s society, there is much evil that is portrayed as popular, or normal; and much good that is portrayed as unpopular, or odd by the media. Clearly, we are living in a day and age where men “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Fortunately, there is much that is good, wholesome, and positive left to be consumed in the media so that we do not need to associate ourselves with the sleazy filth peddled by those who seek nothing more than monetary gain. We, as Latter-day Saints, must not, and can not become involved with the negative. We can not give in to “the enticings of that cunning one” (2 Nephi 9:39) while trying to get closer to our Heavenly Father. The Savior taught his disciples on two separate continents that it is impossible to “serve God and Mammon” (Matthew 6:24 & 3 Nephi 13:24).
Elder Christensen further added that “if we permit ourselves to become involved with the negative, there will be much cause for the devil to laugh and his angels to rejoice.” None of us can ever expect to be unharmed from the exposure to immorality in entertainment and to not be damaged spiritually. As Elder Christensen so aptly put it, “we can’t roll around in the mud without getting dirty.”
Despite the ever-changing worldly viewpoints of what is acceptable and considered the norm, Elder M. Russell Ballard warned that “the commandments have not changed… right is still right. Wrong is still wrong, no matter how cleverly cloaked in respectability or political correctness.”
III. What Can We Do to Counter the Negative Influence of Media?
Since my days as a teenager I’ve heard the prophets convey that my generation is a choice generation. Our late beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, in speaking to the youth of the church, stated on more than one occasion that “[they] are the best generation we have ever had. [They] are stronger [than the other generations] to face the temptations which come [their] way.” He then implored the youth to live the Gospel standards, to be an ensign to the nations, a light to the world, and to pray for the guidance and protection of the Lord. My generation has now grown and there is a new generation of youth. The generations keep coming. We need to ensure that our children know and live the Gospel standards so correctly that they in turn will instill those righteous principles into the next generation.
We know that these are the latter-days. We are living in a time when Satan and his angels, through subtleties and craftiness, are desperately trying to destroy the souls of anybody they can, including families, before the Second Coming of our Savior. Christ himself taught that “the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am” (D&C 38:8). In the short time we have before Christ’s magnificent return, we need to do all that we can to strengthen our families, to increase our spirituality, and to keep the Spirit’s presence in our daily lives.
There is no better way to strengthen the family within the walls of our own homes than to center our families and lives around Christ. When we live Christ-centered lives within our homes the Spirit will be present and we will be given the strength to withstand the temptations that indeed will come from the adversary. In meeting this standard, we can center our entertainment choices around Christ by following the guidelines that have been laid out for us by the leaders of our Church.
The For The Strength of Youth pamphlet is an excellent tool for outlining what forms of entertainment are deemed holy and worthwhile. It is an inspired manuscript. It also cautions that entertainment in any form that is immoral is not acceptable to the Lord. We have been commanded to not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. We are also told to stand up for what is right, to have the courage to walk out of a movie, turn off a computer or television, change a radio station, or put down a magazine if what is being presented does not meet Heavenly Father’s standards. We, as Latter-day Saints, are to seek after things which are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13).
Our loving Heavenly Father has given us a precious gift that can help us make correct choices in entertainment. As baptized members of the Church, we have had the Gift of the Holy Ghost placed upon us. This magnificent gift carries a promise with it in that “it will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). Those of us who have been baptized and who have received the Holy Ghost can have its constant promptings with us whenever we are worthy. With this special gift, we can know for certain when we are participating in inappropriate entertainment, for “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Helaman 4:24). Simply put, the Holy Ghost will help us to choose the right.
We are taught this concept in a hymn that highlights this magnificent tool we’ve been given and a blessing that comes from our Heavenly Father:
Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.
In the right the Holy Spirit guides;
Choose the right! Let no spirit of digression
Overcome you in the evil hour.
There’s the right and the wrong to ev’ry question;
Be safe thru inspiration’s pow’r.
Choose the right! Choose the right!
Let wisdom mark the way before.
In its light, choose the right!
And God will bless you evermore.
Our homes should be refuges from the evils of the world. As parents, the most influential way in which we can teach our children which forms of media are and are not allowed in our homes, is by example. We can not expect our children to follow the Lord’s guidelines if they see us participating in contradictory activities. With the rising risk of online chat rooms, social networking and pornographic sites, we need to know where our children are on the Internet. There are free family filters available to protect children from the evils of the Web. Our leaders have also counseled us to know what our kids are listening to, know who their friends are, and to know what they are watching within the walls of our own homes. In addition to these, we should also encourage other forms of entertainment other than indoor activities. These include hobbies, games, exercise, sports, and service projects.
I am confident that if we improve the choices in entertainment in our own lives, in and outside of our homes, our levels of spirituality will increase, our families will draw closer together and we will know that the Lord is proud of our lives. We can and will know that we are “in [the] strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:18-19). When we make correct entertainment-related choices we will be happy. When we participate in inappropriate entertainment we may think we are happy, but as Alma taught over 2,000 years ago, “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
We live in wonderful times. We also live in perilous times. Satan is seeking to destroy the souls of both you and me. He knows that “he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12) before the Savior ushers in the Millennium. We can not give in to the wiles of temptation, no matter how flattering they may be. None of us are immune to temptation. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, warned us to “remember… the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one” (2 Nephi 9:39). As this new year dawns, let us resolve to inspect our individual lives and those of our families to determine if we can gain just a bit more of the Holy Ghost by turning off a suggestive show, by choosing not to pay for a movie ticket of an ill-advised movie, by listening to better music, or perhaps by asking ourselves the following questions:
- Does what I am doing make me feel worthy to kneel in prayer?
- Would my parents be proud of what I am currently doing?
- Would I watch or listen to this with President Monson around?
- How would I feel if I was watching or listening to this at the time of the Second Coming?
The Lord has promised that we will be blessed for our righteous choices.
In closing, I recall the words of Alma, preaching to the people in the land of Zarahemla, when he said “all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things.” (Alma 5:57).
May we strive to live this New Year closer to our Heavenly Father and his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to have his Spirit with us “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9), in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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