WHERE IS GOD’S LINE WITH MEDIA?
According to For the Strength of Youth (2011 & 2012 editions), God has drawn a clear line. You can ask yourself these questions about your movies, music, websites, TV shows, books, magazines, and so on.
God wants you to use this kind of media:
2. Helps you keep the Spirit
3. Helps you make righteous choices
4. Helps you think good thoughts
Satan wants you to use this kind of media:
4. Pornographic in any way
5. Drives away the Spirit
6. Makes evil look normal, funny, exciting, no negative consequences
20 PRINCIPLES TO HELP US STAY ON GOD’S SIDE OF THE LINE
1) MEDIA IS ONE OF SATAN’S BIGGEST TOOLS
“Satan has made the television and film media among his most effective tools to destroy minds and souls” (Joseph B. Worthlin, Ensign, Nov. 1988). “Satan’s greatest threat today is to destroy the family, and to make a mockery of the law of chastity and the sanctity of the marriage covenant” (President Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 227. He said this in 1972). Do you see any of that going on in today’s media? Mick Jagger told Elder Gene R. Cook on an airplane ride something like, “My music is calculated to lead teenagers to sex” (Gene R. Cook, Raising Up A Family to the Lord). “It seems very strange that we place deadbolt locks on our doors to prevent evil people from entering into our sacred homes and then we turn around and invite the same type of people in through television programming” (Randal Wright, 25 Mistakes LDS Parents Make and How to Avoid Them, 66).
2) WHAT WE WATCH AND LISTEN TO AFFECTS US
“It is very unreasonable to suppose that exposure to profanity, nudity, sex, and violence has no negative affects on us. We can’t roll around in the mud without getting dirty” (Joe Christensen, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 39). “The body has defenses to rid itself of unwholesome food, but the brain won’t vomit back filth. Once recorded it will always remain subject to recall” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Pornography,” Liahona, May 2005, 87–90).
3) THE AMOUNT OF HOURS SPENT ON MEDIA AFFECTS US
“We need to limit the amount of time our children watch TV or play video games or use the Internet each day. Virtual reality must not become their reality” (Elder Ballard, “Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 16). “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, television watching is tied to desensitization to violence, obesity, teen pregnancy, use of alcohol and drugs. Isn’t that what every young woman would want? To become a desensitized, obese, pregnant alcoholic? Probably not” (John Bytheway, “Turn off the TV and Get a Life!” audio CD, 2003).
4) MEDIA WASTES A LOT OF TIME
“I decry the great waste of time that people put into watching inane television”(Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, May 1999). “American teens spend one-third of each day with various forms of mass media, mostly without parental oversight” (“Impact of Media on Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors,” Journal of Pediatrics, July 2005). “Research notes that typical teenagers will spend almost twice as much time in front of the television as they will in the school classroom by the time they graduate from high school” (Randal Wright, 25 Mistakes LDS Parents Make..., 63). The average child watches 200,000 violent acts before he graduates. The average teenager sees 14,000 sexual references and innuendos per year on TV.
5) ALLOWING CHILDREN TO IDOLIZE MUSIC AND MOVIE STARS INVITES THEM TO COPY THEIR IDOLS
“I was allowed to have worldly heroes from the time I was very small. Not only allowed to have them but actually encouraged having them by my parents. They would allow me to spend countless hours watching super hero television programs and movies and then buy me their action figures to play with. Later, I had posters of rock stars and movie stars all over the walls of my bedroom, most of which they bought for me. In high school they would also allow me to go to their concerts and buy their products. It seems strange to me now but I think they were shocked when I began to act like the heroes they allowed me to be exposed to” (An anonymous man, quoted by Randal Wright, in 25 Mistakes...161).
6) TV IS A POWERFUL TEACHER
Have you heard people say, “What I watch doesn’t effect me?” If that’s the case, why in one month, did Reeses Pieces sales go up 78% when the movie ET was released? Why did the applicants to become fighter pilots skyrocketed after the movie Top Gun? My friend admitted that being raised watching soap operas contributed to her having skewed views of marriage and love, and led her to commit adultery. Thanks to MTV and other shows, youth are doing dangerous things like riding on top of a car at full speed. What people watch affects them. (See Randal Wright, Education Week.)
Ask yourself, “What is this show teaching my family?” Most shows today teach the exact opposite of what God wants us to teach our families. Most shows teach it’s normal and cool to do wrong things: swearing, disrespecting and disobeying parents and teachers, hurting others, killing others, rudeness to family and friends, calling mean names like “butt head,” lying, cheating, stealing, sneaking, the dishonest guy wins the girl in the end, good girls should “settle” for dishonest and mean guys, fighting, arguing, cheating, sexual promiscuity, immodesty, instant gratification, greed, materialism, idolizing movie stars with no morals, people’s value is based on how they look and what they own, there is no God, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, defying the law and authority, that the parents and teachers are dumb, and so on. Is this what we want our families to turn out like?
7) MEDIA IS GETTING WORSE EACH YEAR
“Part of my warning voice tonight is that [media] will only get worse. It seems the door to permissiveness, the door to lewdness and vulgarity and obscenity swings only one way. It only opens farther and farther. It never seems to swing back” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 2000). “We live in a world that promotes pornography and prohibits prayer” (John Bytheway).
8 SATAN IS USING MEDIA TO DISTRACT, DECEIVE, DERAIL, AND DISCOURAGE THIS NOBLE GENERATION
“There are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world...” (D&C 121:34-35).
A letter from a mission president and his wife in April 2014: “One of the biggest surprises we have experienced is the lack of preparation as our missionaries arrive. Very few contribute financially for their own support. Few have any work experience and few have any useful skills. Few know how to study. Many come with unresolved sin. A major contributing factor to these challenges is video gaming... As we worked with Church psychiatrists, we learned that it is a common problem in Church missions. We currently have six missionaries who have confessed to video addiction and almost all missionaries have significant experience with it. Video gaming rewires the brain and a person gets to the point that social interaction is nearly impossible. Frustration is resolved by violence. Last night we went to dinner with the local Church Education System director and his family. His wife is pregnant with their fourth child. Their children's ages range from three to eight years old. They are very cute. As they came in, each child was playing a video gaming device and would not even pause long enough to be greeted. It terrified us. A strong impression came this morning to warn you that Satan can turn even a seemingly harmless activity into a tool for his destructive goals. Please use great caution with your children and grandchildren. Please be careful with your own computer use. Even excessive social networking can distract and miss use time."
9) MEDIA COVERS THE QUIET WE NEED TO FEEL THE SPIRIT
“President Boyd K. Packer once taught that ‘inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings.’ Elder Henry B. Eyring recently said, ‘Only when my heart has been still and quiet, ...has the Spirit been clearly audible to my heart and mind.’ And Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin counseled, ‘Inspiration comes most easily to a mind that is calm and focused.’ We need to make time to find those peaceful settings where our hearts can be still and our minds can be calm. Then we will be open to the Spirit and ready to receive the inspiration we need” (Charles W. Dahlquist, II, "Rise Up, O Men of God," Young Men Open House, 2007).
10) “BUT MOM, WHAT I WATCH DOESN’T AFFECT ME”
“But Mom, it’s just one bad part.” What if I gave you a pan of delicious brownies and reassured you that there’s only one little bad part—just a little bit of dog poop in the brownies? President Benson said, “Thoughts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits lead to character—and our character will determine our eternal destiny” (“Think on Christ,” Ensign, March 1989, 2). President Kimball said, “How could a person possibly become what he is not thinking? Nor is any thought, when persistently entertained, too small to have its effect” (Miracle of Forgiveness).
“‘Mom, it’s not that bad, it’s just sex and violence...’ What did Alma the Younger say to Korianton were the worst sins?  Denying the Holy Ghost,  murder,  breaking the law of chastity. Most of television is 2 and 3... And they often deny the Holy Ghost...not in the same way, but by rarely mentioning God or anything religion, and when they do mention something religious it’s usually in a negative way” (John Bytheway, “Turn off the TV and Get a Life!” audio CD, 2003). “But Mom, I’m 17 now so I can watch rated-R shows.” At what age does our mind grow a smut filter? (See Randal Wright, BYU Education Week). If it’s below God’s standards as a child, it’s still below as an adult.
11) CHURCH LEADERS SAY “NO” TO VIOLENT SHOWS
“The Spirit is offended when we pollute our minds with harmful, violent material, whether or not such material causes us to commit violent acts... It is troubling that so many people consider it entertaining to view violence or play violent video games” (Brad Bushman, “It’s ‘Only’ Violence,” Ensign, June 2003). “Watching violent...shows can effect you no matter what they’re rated. For more than 30 years, Church leaders have been warning us against watching violence” (Name Withheld, “Just a Little Violence?” New Era, August 2007). Some think it’s “fun” to watch horror films. God says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1: 7). “Thou shalt not...commit adultery nor kill, nor do anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). Isn’t watching immorality and violence “anything like unto it?”
“The strongest predictor of violence in adulthood is children’s repeated exposure to violent [shows] and...video games...[This] more strongly influences future aggressive behavior than does living in poverty, engaging in substance abuse, or having abusive parents. Men in their early 20s who were heavy viewers of violent TV shows between the ages of six and nine were twice as likely...to push, grab, or shove their spouses. They were also three times as likely to be convicted of criminal behavior. Women who were high-volume viewers of violent shows as young children were more than twice as likely as other women to have thrown something at their spouses and more than four times as likely...to have punched, beaten, or choked another adult” (L. Rowell Huesmann, “The Impact of Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research,” Journal of Adolescent Health 41, Dec. 2007, S6-S13).
“Violent video games might be even more harmful than violent TV programs. While television viewing is usually a passive activity, video game playing is highly interactive. Most violent video games require the player to take on the identity of a violent game character, and most of these games reward individuals for behaving aggressively. For example, players get points for killing people. The violence portrayed in these video games is almost continuous. ...Violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Lamentably, the most popular video games are violent ones” (Brad J. Bushman, “It’s ‘Only’ Violence,” Ensign, Jun 2003, 62).
13) CARTOONS AFFECT KIDS
One study showed children’s programming had more violence per hour than prime time shows, with Cartoon Network having the most (Kristen Fyfe, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, A Content Analysis of Children’s Programming,” March 2, 2006, on www.parentstv.org). Violent cartoons are not realistic. A heavy piano is dropped on a character, which flattens the character and makes kids laugh. Then the character bounces back up to his original size. This teaches kids that real consequences don’t happen from their violent actions.
“My ten-year-old boy went into a slump at school. He daydreamed. He didn’t do his work. His grades dropped so markedly he was failing. At the suggestion of an observant teacher, television cartoon watching was stopped. Within a few weeks Richard was back to his usual excellent study habits. He was reading, doing his work, and was a different boy.... Television cartoons teach violence and confusion, and waste valuable time” (“Screening Out the Garbage: How to Teach ‘Correct Principles’ about Television in the Home,” Glen C. Griffin & Victor B. Cline, Ensign, August 1976).
14) TV OR INTERNET BAD IDEA IN BEDROOMS
“At the Impact America Conference we learned that if any child or teen had internet in their bedroom they would fall [to pornography addiction]” (Joann Hibbert Hamilton, “Who Will Speak for the Children?” audio CD). “Don’t parents realize that if they let their children watch much television, they are setting them up for [pornography] addiction?” (An expert teaching professional counselors about helping pornography addicts, cited by ibid). “The more media a teenager is exposed to in their bedrooms, the more willing they are to engage in premarital sexual behavior. Everything should be done to try to protect youth from these immoral influences. As Michael Rudiski said, ‘The thing about young people is when they see things in the mass media and they think it’s going on, they start doing it’” (Randal Wright, 25 Mistakes LDS Parents Make and How to Avoid Them, 67).
15) MEDIA IS ADDICTING, DESENSITIZING, ESCALATING
“Not only is television a tremendous time waster, but also it has the potential of being psychologically addictive... There is a very simple way to tell if you or any member of your family has an addiction. Shut off all [electronic] media for seven days and see how everyone reacts to the experiment. Over the years I have challenged thousands to give up television for a seven-day time period...I have asked them to keep a journal. One teen said, ‘I have never prayed so much, read as many scriptures, or had so many conversations with my Mom and Dad. I have never felt closer to the Lord in my life.’ From a mother: ‘An amazing thing happened... Our teenage daughter cleaned her room! Our 12-year-old discovered that the Reader’s Digest was interesting—read it until bedtime and took it to the bus stop on day two. Day seven: We held a family council and have dramatically cut down on TV hours. We are spending more quality time with our children and with uplifting literature” (Randal Wright, 25 Mistakes LDS Parents Make...64-5).
If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water he’ll jump right out. But if you put him in cool water, and turn up the heat a little at a time, he’ll get used to it and before he knows it he’ll be dead. That’s how Satan works with us, little by little. “[If you raise the temperature of my] bath water … only one degree every 10 minutes, how [will I] know when to scream?” (Jeffrey R. Holland quoted Marshall McLuhan, in “A Prayer for the Children,” Ensign, May, 2003).
16) PORNOGRAPHY IS ADDICTING & ESCALATING
“Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. It erodes the moral barriers that stand against inappropriate, abnormal, or illegal behavior. As conscience is desensitized, patrons of pornography are led to act out what they have witnessed, regardless of its effects on their life and the lives of others. Pornography is also addictive. It impairs decision-making capacities and it ‘hooks’ its users, drawing them back obsessively for more and more. A man who had been addicted to pornography and to hard drugs wrote me this comparison: ‘In my eyes cocaine doesn’t hold a candle to this. I have done both. ... Quitting even the hardest drugs was nothing compared to [trying to quit pornography]’ (letter of Mar. 20, 2005). Some seek to justify their indulgence by arguing that they are only viewing ‘soft,’ not ‘hard,’ porn. A wise bishop called this refusing to see evil as evil” (Dallin Oaks, Liahona, May 2005).
Sister Linda Reeves gave an excellent talk in April 2014 General Conference. "Protection from Pornography: A Christ-centered Home." Click on the video above to watch it.
17) VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES ARE ADDICTING & ESCALATING
“‘Shawn was consumed,’ his mother said, ‘It came to the point we could not get him out of the game [Everquest]. He moved to his own apartment, devoted his life to the online fantasy world of wizards, warriors, and elves. After a while he stopped leaving the apartment. He quit work, he even stopped buying groceries.’ His mother finally moved him into a group home for people with addictions. Finally... Shawn moved into his own apartment, bought a used computer, and his life once again spiraled out of control. He chained the door shut. For two weeks he didn’t answer his phone. He cut himself from reality. On Thanksgiving 2001, his mother cut the chain on her son’s door. She found him dead from a...gunshot. He was lying in front of the computer. Everquest was still on the screen.’ [There are] 430,000 subscribers to this game” (San Francisco Chronicle, quoted by John Bytheway, “Turn off the TV...,” 2003).
“A guy named Reuben...played Civilization for seven straight years after a college dorm friend gave him the installation disks. ‘At the time the ability to create an alternate world was a refreshing break from the routine of student life. For the first week I didn’t sleep... It was worse than being on crack. I’d always get a sinking feeling when I looked out the window and saw it was dawn. I’d be angry at myself for being such a loser, because the game was controlling my life” (San Francisco Chronicle, quoted by John Bytheway, “Turn off the TV and Get a Life!” audio CD, 2003).
18) “IN OUR FAMILY WE OBEY THE PROPHET”
“To you I have only one question [about choosing media according to God’s standards]: are you going to follow the true and living prophet or not? It really isn’t any more complicated than that” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “When Shall These Things Be,” March 12, 1996, BYU Devotional). A good question to ask your family is, “Would we watch that if Jesus were in the room watching it with us?” “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
19) THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD MEDIA TO ENJOY
“...Media offers much that is positive and productive. Television offers history channels, discovery channels, education channels. One can still find movies and TV comedies and dramas that entertain and uplift and accurately depict the consequences of right and wrong. The Internet can be a fabulous tool of information and communication, and there is an unlimited supply of good music in the world. Thus our biggest challenge is to choose wisely what we listen to and what we watch) (M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, Nov. 2003).
“Read good books together . . . I feel sorry for parents who do not read to their young children. I feel sorry for children who do not learn the wonders to be found in good books . . . If we could follow a slogan that says, "Turn off the TV and open a good book," we would do something of substance in strengthening another generation . . . If you cannot find good heroes and heroines for your children on television, help your children find them in good books” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing For Something, 190).
“I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages [using social media] filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (Elder David A. Bednar, "To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood," BYU Devotional, August 19, 2014). Click here to watch or read his talk.
20) MEDIA CAN OBSTRUCT COMMUNICATION & RELATIONSHIPS, EVEN BREAKING UP TEMPLE MARRIAGES
The brethren are concerned that today’s youth are lacking communication skills like talking, because of spending so much time with electronic media like texting. Leaders at the MTC say some youth who have a testimony can’t share it by mouth because they’re so used to electronically communicating. They are also worried about today’s LDS young adults not courting and dating, but rather “hanging out” and texting.
“I wonder what would happen if we treated our Book of Mormon like our cell phones? What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it? What if we flipped through it several times a day? What if we spent an hour or more using it each day? What if we used it to receive messages from its text? What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? What if we gave it to kids as gifts? What if we used it as we traveled? What if we used it in case of an emergency? This is something to make you go Hmm...where is my Book of Mormon? Unlike our cell phones: One plan fits all. Unlimited usage. No roaming charges. You always have reception. No weak signals. And we don’t ever have to worry about our Book of Mormon being disconnected because our Savior already paid the bill” (Author Unknown).
Elder Bednar said, “Today a person can enter into a virtual world, such as Second Life, and assume a new identity... Wall Street Journal: Ric Hoogestraat is ‘a burly [53-year-old] man with a long gray ponytail, thick sideburns and a salt-and-pepper handlebar mustache. … [Ric spends] six hours a night and often 14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular … cyber-self. The character looks like a younger, physically enhanced version of [Ric].’ [He] sits at his computer with the blinds drawn. … While his wife, Sue, watches television in the living room, Mr. Hoogestraat chats online with what appears on the screen to be a tall, slim redhead.
“He’s never met the woman outside of the computer world of Second Life, a well-chronicled digital fantasyland. … He’s never so much as spoken to her on the telephone. But their relationship has taken on curiously real dimensions. They own two dogs, pay a mortgage together and spend hours [in their cyberspace world] shopping at the mall and taking long motorcycle rides. … Their bond is so strong that three months ago, Mr. Hoogestraat asked Janet Spielman, the 38-year-old Canadian woman who controls the redhead, to become his virtual wife. The woman he’s legally wed to is not amused. ‘It’s really devastating,’ says Sue Hoogestraat, … who has been married to Mr. Hoogestraat for seven months’” (Quoted by Elder Bednar, “Things as They Really Are,” CES Fireside, May 3, 2009).
“Sadly, some young men and women in the Church today...neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value. My heart aches when a young couple—sealed together in the house of the Lord for time and for all eternity by the power of the holy priesthood—experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing. A young man or woman may waste countless hours, postpone or forfeit vocational or academic achievement, and ultimately sacrifice cherished human relationships because of mind- and spirit-numbing video and online games. As the Lord declared, “Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment … : Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known (D&C 60:13)” (David A. Bednar, “Things As they Really Are,” CES Fireside, May 3, 2009).
- Click here for six resources to teach your family appropriate use of media.
- Click here to see how an LDS bishop and lawyer answers the question, "How can I protect my children from pornography?"
Feel free to tell us your favorite principle or quote in a comment below. If you've seen a difference in your life from when you have used Satan's type of media, to when you repented and only used God's type of media, what differences did you notice? If you're willing, leave a comment below.