Test everything. Hold on to the good
Avoid every kind of evil.”
                    1 Thessalonians 5:21(NIV)

The entire social order we live in today is radically affected by the media.  Everything from how we Judge politics to our favorite music or film star is "fed" to us by the media.  The media comes to us in many different forms including TV, radio, newspapers, movies, magazines, Internet, and music. The impact of media on our lives as greater than most people realize.  The following statistics reveal the role the media plays in our lives.

  • On the average, a child in the U.S. watches thirty hours of TV a week. By the time a child reaches five years of age, he or she will have spent more time watching TV than it takes to earn a college degree.

  • The majority of parents are unaware of the amount of time or content of programs their children watch.

  • By the time a teenager graduates from high school, he or she will have watched 25 years of TV, spent approximately two months in church and less than two days reading the Bible.

What kinds of messages were given to the viewers during this time frame? They will have witnessed at least 18,000 murders and countless other violent acts. Approximately 95% of all the sexual scenes on TV violate Biblical principles. These Include scenes of adultery, homosexuality, or premarital sex. Only 5% of all sexuality depicted on TV or in the movies is between husband and wife.

The music industry influences our lives through radio, rock videos, concerts, albums and CDs. According to one study, 62% of high school students listen to rock music on a regular basis, averaging 6 to 7 hours of listening per day. Rock videos can now be seen an cable television in 40% of U.S. homes, with the fastest growing channel being MTV. Research shows MTV’s largest audiences is 12-35 year olds who "watch it almost fanatically, averaging well over an hour a day, nearly five days a week." It has been found that the younger people in this audience watch MTV for the longest periods of time. To make rock videos memorable large doses of sex and violence are utilized, even if these ideas are not in the lyrics.  Research results reveal that an average of 18 violent acts per hour are shown on MTV rock videos.

What is our responsibility as Christians?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 God cautions us to "test everything, hold on to the good, avoid every kind of evil." Christians need to apply this passage to the messages communicated to us in the various forms of media, If the messages are good, then listen to them. If the messages are in any way evil, then we are to avoid them.

How does a Christian evaluate the media?

Ephesians 6:18 and I Peter 5:8 warn us to be ALERT. If we are alert, we will be aware of the messages presented to us in the media so that we might NOT be deceived by Satan’s schemes. An alert Christian may apply this simple test:

  • What is the message?

  • Would Jesus approve?

When deciding the message, ask yourself: "What is this media (whether it be music, TV, movies, or printed materials) really trying to tell me? Four of the most common messages communicated currently are: 1) premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality are acceptable behaviors, 2) rebellion and violence are effective ways to solve problems. 3) the use and abuse of drugs is socially approved, and 4) occult practices are no longer taboo.

Then ask yourself: Would Jesus approve of this message? Gods Word instructs us to find out what pleases the Lord in Ephesians 5:10. We discover what pleases Jesus by studying His Word. Hebrews 5:13-14 further informs us to constantly use Gods Word to train ourselves to distinguish good from evil. The Bible is our ultimate standard to determine what is good and evil, and what messages Jesus would approve of.

 Where should a Christian start evaluating?

A Christian may begin by evaluating the music he or she listens to, regardless of the style. When evaluating any style of music, the Christian needs to consider the messages promoted in the lyrics and graphics, as well as in the performer's lifestyle and goals. The style of music a Christian chooses to listen to should be Jesus approved!

Here are some questions you may use in evaluating music:

 1.  What are the lyrics of this song telling me?

Too often we are not even aware of what the lyrics are actually saying. Many parents condemn their teen's rock music because of its offensive sounds and messages.  However, other types of music (such as country, easy listening and soft rock) also communicate messages NOT approved of by Jesus. We must take time to hear what is going into our brains.  Most record jackets and cassette inserts provide the lyrics in printed form for our convenience. Because of the availability of evil, the Christian must make a conscious effort in choosing NOT to listen to messages with anti-Christian values and standards.

 2.   What is the message in the graphics and symbols?

It has been said that, "A picture is worth a thousand words. This comment is so true when applied to album covers, magazine pictures, as well as clothing and jewelry worn by artists. For example, album covers are carefully designed to provide a glimpse of the messages on the recording. If at album cover promotes evil (such as: violence, satanism, drug abuse or sexual misconduct), the album should be avoided. Such evil is harmful according to Ecclesiastes 1:8. If a person fills their eyes and ears with evil, they will only want more evil.

Christians must be encouraged to reject harmful influences and think about those ideas listed in Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

 3.  What kind  of lifestyle and goals have the musicians chosen?

Lifestyle means "a way of life" that a person lives.  Lifestyles are generally based on a person's goals in life.  Information about a musician's goals and lifestyle may be gathered from interviews in magazine and newspaper articles, and specials on TV. Titus 2:11-12 declares how Christians should live. Christians will need to research to discover if the lives of the people they listen to measure up to Titus 2:11-12.  Even the recording artists who produce Christian albums must be evaluated.

Evaluating television.

Another area that plays a big role in our lives is television. On the average, children between 2 and 5 years old watch more than 30 hours of TV a week, making TV the dominant activity in the child's life. Consequently, TV replaces essential play activity. A child needs more than the passive state that TV offers to grow and develop to their fullest potential.

TV at times has been used by some parents as a babysitter, thus appropriately called the electronic parent. However, parents have no idea of the negative impact on their children by this electronic babysitter, especially when it comes to cartoons. A little known fact is that over 70% of all cartoons that are seen on TV today are promoting extreme violence and the occult. The He-Man series averages 37 violent acts every half-hour, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has 67 violent acts per half-hour and Gl Joe is one at the most violent cartoons with 80 acts of violence every half-hour.

In other words, If a child is allowed to watch countless hours of TV while growing up, this increases the chances that the violence and occult viewed will influence his or her adult life. However, the Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it."

When evaluating the TV programs or movies with the test mentioned above, if the program or movie does not pass the test, science has created a marvelous little switch to use--turn It off!

Some Christians may feel that these are extreme guidelines: 1) test all things, 2) only hold on to the good and 3) have nothing to do with anything evil. Yet, these are Gods guidelines for Christians. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character." Listening to and accepting messages that are evil will only pervert our character.

God desires that Christians NOT conform to the world’s way of thinking, but that we change our way of thinking. Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds and to become more like Jesus. His desire for us as children of God is to live pure and holy lives. These goals will not be met unless we avoid evil.

In conclusion, 1 Peter 1:13-14 says, 

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance."

References

1.   Phillips, Phil, Turmoil in the Toybox,
Starburst Publications, 1986.

2.   Peters, Dan and Steve, and Merrill,
Cheryl, What About Christian Rock?

3.   Peters, Dan and Steve, Why Knock
Rock?, Bethany House, 1984, p. 39.

 


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