Purity in Music, Books and Internet Use

Music

I downplayed my music choices in the past, but God is making me take a hard look at even what I listen to.  The big themes in my music choices that I’m now cutting out include idolatry of romantic love, foul language, sexual immorality, partying, drunkenness, materialism, revenge, anger, hatred, self-harm and depression.  This is MOST music these days.  Some of my music still has elements of things like anger and depression, but I go through these emotions keeping them in check with God and do not allow them to dominate my day or actions.  More often than not, I end up listening to Christian stations, classical stations, or my ipod (which has had a good cleansing now)! I have noticed a difference.  The more I’m keeping my mind pure from earthly things, the easier it is for me to keep my focus on God and respond well to thoughts and temptations.  Even the other day, I had just been listening to encouraging, peaceful Christian music when I was confronted by someone that I have a very difficult time with.  To my complete shock, I did not freak out inside and become overwhelmed by negative emotion; I felt calm and was able to respond in a way that I know made God proud.  My temptations to be sexy, use foul language, party, drink, become bitter, and overly-focus on guys/romance have noticeably decreased.  It’s honestly very freeing.

Books

What we read definitely has an influence as well.  My main pitfall  is romance, and I used to mainly read cheesy romance books to feed my idolization of romance.  But I know books can have every element of immorality that movies/shows do, and it can be easy to ignore the influences because it’s a silent activity with no images.  I know a big thing for a lot of women is racy romance novels – you know, the ones with the suave half-dressed, muscular man holding the gorgeous, troubled woman on the cover?

https://hotteahotbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/master-of-desire.jpg?w=127&h=201

It can seem pretty silly, but these truly can be a source of desire and lust, and can cause discontentment within marriage. Not to mention books like 50 Shades of Grey, which I haven’t read, but I can gather it isn’t a great influence.  So any negative themes or influences in books need to be looked at, as well!

Internet

This is probably the biggest danger today.  How easy it is to stumble across pitfalls on the internet.  We can be anonymous participants in anything, and enter a whole other world that no one around us may have a clue about.  Everyone needs to be self-aware of immorality online and let the same principles apply.

We all know the biggest elephant is pornography.  There are so many levels of this, that it is easy to slip through the cracks.  Even I have had my failures with immorality online, which is especially easy when something is not “porn.”  The struggle is very different for men and women, which is something to learn about.  And there are so many ways to fall into dangerous situations, from things you read to things you hear and see.

I personally have witnessed men who casually browse sensual pictures disguised as interest in other things (news, sports, surfing, blogs, forums), many of the pictures including women in bikinis, underwear or other suggestive clothes (I know it doesn’t even have to take much skin for something to be alluring).  We try to fool ourselves and others, and maybe pretend God isn’t watching, when we have no business being on a website, clicking on that picture, or watching that video.

This is a big area where accountability is important, which is another topic I definitely want to get into.  If you’re struggling in this area or have been failing for a long time, don’t try to do conquer it alone.  As scary as it is, tell a trusted Christian you know that will help you in the right direction, and don’t give up on finding the community and accountability you need until you reach success.

With accountability and support, we learn our triggers and have specific options for responding to temptation (go to a safe website, turn off the computer, leave the room, leave the house, call someone, etc – just whatever it takes to overcome that temptation). If we know computer or phone use in certain situations increase the chance of temptation and especially failure, then we simply avoid use in those situations, whether its staying up late, having nothing to do during the day, being home or in a room alone, browsing websites like Reddit and Facebook, etc.

A great defense I found is http://www1.k9webprotection.com/.  I have it on my computer, and it blocks out a LOT, from sexually alluring advertisements to graphic image results to explicit material.  You can adjust the settings to make it as restrictive as you want in whatever areas you want. It reduces temptations by drastically reducing the amount of sexually alluring material you see online in day-to-day internet use.  It’s a free program that is a great first line of defense against temptation, but it definitely is not all you need.  I had a friend who used this on his laptop which I thought was great, but I found out he continued to struggle with pornography despite the program (he had the password so in moments of temptation there really wasn’t much stopping him; he also kept his struggle a secret and had no accountability). Using web protection can also be kind of a hassle, because sometimes a simple web search can be complicated because of the program, but it’s so worth it if it helps to avoid sin.

We need to assess ourselves in the level of accountability we need, how/when/where we use the internet (I’ve heard of some men who even got to the point where they could not have internet in their home because that’s what it to took to end their pornography use), who has the password to our web protection (for practicality and accountability), etc. The last thing we want to do is downplay sin, and I see some people getting lax views of pornography because it is so common, but it needs to be taken seriously and avoided just as much as other sins (drug use, pre-marital sexuality, etc). If we know we can take action to avoid another failure, then I firmly believe it’s our responsibility to do so.

Scripture on Pure Influences

Psalm 101:3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

Galations 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Galations 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Matthew 6:22-23 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Psalm 119 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! …How can a young man keep his way pure?By guarding it according to your word…

Romans 1:23 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”

Why Finding a Show to Watch is Difficult

Seeking Purity in What I Watch

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Lately, God has really been challenging me in what I fill my mind with, to the point where I can’t enjoy most music, shows, and movies.  I feel him asking me why Christians are so OK with filling our minds with immorality.   The common themes in entertainment today are sexual immorality, mockery of God and religion, drunkenness, depression, drug use, corruption, anger, hatred, fighting, foul language, idolatry of romance/romantic relationships and the list goes on.  We can try to pretend like seeing or hearing this stuff doesn’t matter, but in reality what we fill our mind with can and does effect us.  We can also try to pretend like all of these things are unavoidable in society today so its just part of entertainment, but  I don’t think that defense will hold up when it comes to facing judgment.  We are called to submit every part of our lives to him, which includes entertainment, but I’m blown away by how much of my entertainment conflicts with scripture.

So many of us blindly enter movie theaters only to find that a movie is rampant with immorality.  Ten minutes into one movie I saw, a girl ripped open her blouse into full frontal nudity, which was followed by a graphic sex scene.  I sat there covering my eyes, to the amusement of my friends, uncomfortable and frustrated that I put myself in this situation.  Thankfully, I have since discovered websites like imdb.com, movieguide.org, pluggedin.com, and commonsensemedia.org. On these sites you can search the movie (also TV shows on commonsensemedia) and read the content review, so you can determine beforehand what kinds of things will be in it.  I often check all 3 sites, because things can be overlooked.  It may seem like a hassle just to watch something, and yeah, there are honestly a lot of things that I don’t watch now, because in reality most movies and TV shows these days when examined in light of scripture are not pure.  It’s another way we can submit to Christ, and naturally, it involves sacrifice.

It’s so common for movies to pointlessly throw in sensuality, nudity, language, and even full-blown sex scenes.  Even kids movies can sneak in some of these themes.  Most of us would never go to a strip club (hopefully), and we would avert our eyes (hopefully) if we saw someone changing or having sex, but somehow we’ve accepted watching this stuff on a screen.  I know as a woman all of these trigger feelings and urges to varying degrees.  For men, these images definitely do the same, and can even pop into their heads at later times and trigger even more battles.  Sex within marriage is great (so I hear) and is the only time sexuality is pure.  I’m becoming convinced that we need to flee from any other forms of sexual stimulation.

Here’s one area I think about that I’m sure will push some buttons: sports!  Hockey has ice girls; basketball and football have cheerleaders. Now, I genuinely don’t know if men struggle with looking at these women lustfully, but if they do, do they look away from the screen? And if the struggle continued, would they stop watching the sport? I can guess the response.  They’re invested in their team, and sports are a big part of the social life of many men.

If we are surprised by things in movies, sports, TV shows, and commercials that spark wrongful desires in us, do we look away, change the channel, fast forward, or even decide to no longer watch that?  We can keep watching and pretend nothing is happening inside of us, and if anyone is watching with us we can hide it from them.  I’ve done it.  We may try to fool ourselves and others, but not God, who we’ll answer to.  I’ve seen men casually flip through channels and pause on sensual game shows or exercise channels.  I’ve watched movies that indulge different desires, but it’s just a movie so no one will know, right? I can almost imagine God just shaking his head.

Have we given God control of every area of our life and do we truly live set apart from the rest of culture?  It can be tough.  Family and friends might not get it, and it can complicate picking something to watch. But now that I better understand my convictions, I’m going to explain to those around me when it comes up and flee from any shame or criticism that I’m surrendering every part of my life for God.  It’s not simple or quick, and sometimes I’m not as on my guard as I should be, but I’m making the commitment and will continue to let God shape my decisions and life.

To decide on a movie or show, I look at the content that will be in the movie and compare it to scripture.  I also think about questions like this: What kinds of thoughts and desires will this put in my mind? Would it be uncomfortable to watch with my pastor or in church? Would I let little kids watch it with me? (We don’t let kids watch or do certain things because we want their minds to be innocently and purely shaped, but it’s OK for us?) Would I watch it with Jesus if he was sitting next to me in the flesh? Jesus didn’t live a compartmentalized life.  He didn’t have the attitude of allowing certain things because that was his free time.  Every second he was mindful of God and the kingdom, and we are called to follow that example.  Man, I know I sure fall short of that.  I’m doing what I can to actually submit every part of my life, every second of my day.  I have a ways to go, but I’m not going to let my failure or the fact that I’ll never be perfect slow me down from improving.

I can already hear some of the responses. She’s turning into one of those. She’s getting a little too radical. We don’t have to take temptation and sin that seriously. God still wants us to enjoy life. Ok so the last one is true, but its also true that entertainment can be kept pure.  And if people think I’m weird for how seriously I take my faith and choices, then I take that as a good sign.  My compass should be God and his word, not the world!

The content of this article is actually really solid, despite the old-fashioned, pushy vibe:

http://www.dougbrittonbooks.com/onlinebiblestudies-cultureandsocietyinfluences/secularentertainmentdangers-musicmoviesandthemedia.php

Another good one:

http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Feb/27/evaluating-movies-light-scripture