You mentioned in your book together about how you handle media choices. Could you share some advice? Music, tv, entertainers (comedians), too much screen time overall? Also praying that pornography is not an current or future issue.
Jen’s question is such a good one, my friends, and she graciously gave me permission to answer it here on our blog.
My friends, as we walk in closer intimacy with Jesus, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if you are finding yourself unable to read, watch and listen to things you used to.
For example, I used to love to read thrillers and watch shows like Criminal Minds. I can’t anymore—haven’t been able to for a while. In fact, just the other night, my hubby and I were watching one of our shows together (we have a handful we both can agree upon) on Hulu, which still has commercials, and an ad came on for the show “The Following” (yes, the one starring Kevin Bacon).
I didn’t even think about my reaction, my friends. My hands flew up and covered my face and I blurted out something like, “Oh, I can’t watch that. Nope, can’t watch that.” I think I kept saying it too so I couldn’t hear the dialogue either. I’ve no idea what my hubby thought as I couldn’t see his reaction, but he did let me know when it was over. Whew! (And what a bummer that I can’t watch Kevin Bacon!)
Now if something disturbs you, it’s going to disturb your children. And saying it’s just me or it’s not a big deal is hedging away from the truth that it does make a HUGE difference as to what we allow ourselves to watch, take in and assimilate. We have more wisdom and experience than our children so it’s crucial we stand in the gap for them too. Our minds and hearts are precious to God and need to be protected as this is also where our battles begin.
This is one area that I will even go as far as to say, stand your ground no matter what. Stand for yourself and stand for your children. I know these are the times that can really create havoc in our marriages, but ultimately we are influencing our pre-believer as well. Trust God to work that out and don’t be surprised if, over time, you find your spouse’s choices influenced by yours as well. As we protect our children’s viewing choices, we can influence our spouse’s as well with love and grace. (My friends, please share what you have experienced in this area as I think it would help us all.)
Let’s look at a great Bible verse that speaks to this topic of what we put into our minds:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Phil. 4:8 NLT
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. — Phil. 4:8 The Message
Once the imagery goes into our minds it’s hard to get it out. I’ve had ask the Holy Spirit to actually remove images in my mind that came from books I read and movies I watched as a teenager and young adult. He’s very good at that and you can even ask Him for positive imagery to replace it.
Now how and where do we draw the line? I believe some of this is obvious but some isn’t as what may be okay for one person isn’t for another. For example, I’m very sensitive to things to do with the mind (evil) and sexuality. My husband is very sensitive to violence. We work together to makes choices that we both can enjoy while being sensitive to the other person.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” — 1 Cor. 10:23-24 ESV
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” — 1 Cor. 6:12 ESV
This goes for music and books as well. In chapter five (Peaceful Kids) of our book Not Alone, I share how my family and I handled the Harry Potter books when they entered the scene. My husband wanted to read the first one to my oldest daughter who was around 12 at the time, but I was very concerned and expressed those feelings. We agreed we’d all read the book at the same time. This gave me an opportunity to discuss different aspects of it with her and reinforce the truth of good and evil. This option wound up working very well for our family.
And what I love especially in what Paul says is that he will not be dominated by anything. This is profound wisdom, my friends. For that is one thing we must be on guard for, that nothing would dominate in our minds and hearts to becoming an idol in place of Jesus. That which we fixate on we give control to.
Again, I think the same principles apply as above. What works and is appropriate for you and your family? I do tend to think less is better as we can more than likely “think upon” better things. But content needs to be considered as well. There are many documentaries available today that when chosen wisely, can offer a wise use of time. Another example, my husband and I took our time watching a series about the Roosevelts and found it very enjoyable. We learned more about our country’s history and enjoyed doing this together.
I’m also a big believer in redirection. Let me explain. I find much more success in suggesting an alternative option than arguing against the current one. Too much TV watching? Suggest that you and hubby go for a walk, or suggest a game to play with the kids, indoor or out. These are great ways to stay together as a family instead of defaulting to everyone going their own way. We can be creative in how we handle these situations with the leading of the Holy Spirit, my friends. Don’t limit yourself or the Holy Spirit to give you and your loved ones another way to go.
About the “P” Word
Jen is wise to pray against the presence and influence of pornography. Very wise indeed. My friends, follow those nudges from the Holy Spirit. He may be showing you something to pray for or against that could happen tomorrow or two years down the road. Remember, the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16), so follow those leadings and pray. Don't be afraid or fearful, just pray and trust Him. The more you do these things the more you will recognize your Shepherd’s voice and grow more and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It just takes practice.
Thank you, Jen, for sending in your question. My friends, I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I’m sure many of you have some great ideas and words of inspiration for this important topic. I’m so thankful for this loving and supportive community! You all are amazing!