Whatsoever Things Are Pure

Mark Twain was once asked what he thought of Richard Wagner's music, to which he replied, "Well, it's not as bad as it sounds."

There seems to be a bit of the same rationalization among society at large and Christians in particular when it comes to what is currently being accepted into many homes today via the media. I’ve had to step back and ask myself what has happened to virtue, decency and just plain good manners, to say nothing of the blatant profaning of God’s name in many of the popular media programs.

Slide into Sleaze

A sizeable percentage of Americans were jolted out of their lethargy recently by the Super Bowl halftime show debacle. An unprecedented 200,000 people wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to register their disgust. Yet I wonder if that one incident had not occurred, would there have been any outcry at what has become an ongoing slide into sleaze? Even the advertising on that day seemed to hit an all-time low. Immediately following the main event, an interview with a sports celebrity included the foulest vulgarities. When the superstar was reminded that he was on live TV, he replied that he didn't care. I have an uneasy sense that his comments may have represented the feelings of many of today's actors, celebrities, sports heroes and producers.

While traveling in my car the following day, I tuned in to several radio talk shows and was struck by my own belated response to this trend. On one hand, I was glad to hear the outspoken condemnation of what had been shown. On the other hand, I was chagrined to think that I had to hear the reactions of the "worldly" commentators before I was motivated to act.

Is it any wonder that America is facing moral bankruptcy? One city is deciding if they should grant prostitutes permits, while other cities are endorsing gay marriages. And many of us are passively watching it all happen.

As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, it’s time for us to take a deep breath, step back and assess our personal listening and viewing menus against the standard set forth in the Bible. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). If we did use the above criteria, I suspect a lot of us would make better choices in what we watch and how we spend our time.

So, what can we do to counteract this downward spiral and become a positive influence within our world? Here are a few suggestions that occur to me:

1. Do a careful family assessment, remembering that by beholding we do become changed. The same rule we've learned with computers applies to our minds: garbage in, garbage out.

2. Write to the FCC* and express your strong displeasure with the current state of affairs. Some within the media world may expect that the current furor will blow over and things will just get back to normal. As Christians, we have a responsibility to not let that happen.

3. Write to your congressperson. As a result of the above incident, they may be acting on new legislation. Don’t delay. Now is the time to make them aware of how you feel.

4. Pray that God will help our country become a positive moral influence in the world. Let’s pray that the Christianity we travel around the world to proclaim will not be further tarnished in the eyes of the global population groups who associate it with the decadence of our Western society.

Just because our study of prophecy tells us that things will get progressively worse before Jesus comes is no excuse to sit passively and do nothing to prevent this moral slide. I, for one, have received a wakeup call. I hope you have, too.

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April 01, 2004 / Editorial