Listening attentively to your presentation, I began to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the truth that you are advocating. You have used the term ‘media discernment’ so many times, and I think that I grasped the general meaning of it before your presentation. I had even implemented many of the principles you taught within my own life. However, I was convicted after your talk that there was more I could do to practice those principles more diligently and consistently. It’s like when the Harris brothers exhort our younger generation to ‘do hard things.’ Limiting my intake of music, reading, and yes, selected films wasn’t easy. It was hard. Actually, before I became a Christian, it was nearly impossible, and I’ll tell you why. I had formerly made the mistake of thinking that when you said “media” it just meant movies. It took me a while to realize that media is all-encompassing; movies, video games, books, magazines, MTV, websites, and music are all under the category of “media.” Though I have definitely had my share of most of the above, music was my passion…and my stumbling block.
What had first been an intrigue with some music someone had loaded onto my new iPod, gradually developed into a habit of unappeasable addiction. I was already feeling empty, because I possessed a severe spirit of rejection, and because I was desperate for an identity that gave me the assurance of security and significance. Certain types of music provided a temporary relief and distraction from my seemingly-inescapable life of disappointment, depression, and even despair.
The particular music that this person had put on my iPod provided such temporary relief, superficial and poisonous as it was. My first immersion into secular music was regretfully defiling. I grew up in a home where I was carefully sheltered and protected, and I was innocent concerning things that go on in the secular world– especially when it comes to sexual matters. I found out a great deal through the new music I was listening to.
This is where your principle and conviction of media desensitizing comes in. I remember so clearly being horrified at first by the absolutely degrading lyrics that promoted base sensuality and lust, as if it were not only common and unavoidable, but ‘okay,’ and even fun. This one particular artist that I listened to is well-known for his steamy music. He has quite a reputation. I listened to him for more than an hour every day while I worked, and each day I grew a little more callous, a little more cold towards the sin implied.
My taste for that type of music rapidly decreased and was replaced with a passion for hard rock. Though the particular rock I was listening to did not degrade sexuality or women to any great extreme, it was no better. I actually developed an addiction to this music. Frustrated, angry, and hopeless, I listened to hard rock that only fed these ungodly feelings. The surge of adrenaline that I felt with all the thrash and noise gave me a temporary euphoria that kept me going just a little longer. I look back now, and I realize how desperate I was for a little more noise, a little more grunge, a little more metallic thrash to drown out the screaming in my soul. I literally developed an unhealthy addiction. If I didn’t have rock music to listen to when met with difficult circumstances, I actually had panic attacks and grew frantic. I even had spurts of uncontrolled rage. That was the extreme bondage I was in. The music I listened to was violent, depressing, and angry. Funny thing is, I, too, was violent, depressed, and very, very, very angry. Though I would not point my finger and blame it on the music itself, I absolutely believe that what I was listening to actually aided in amplifying and even further developing these destructive feelings within my heart and my mind.
With all the distractions I had turned to and clung to with such an aggressive tenacity, not one ever filled that lonely void in my soul. (And not one ever will!)
Praise the Lord for His salvation! Jesus gave me what, for example, “My Chemical Romance” couldn’t– He gave me hope, He gave an identity in Him, He filled my empty heart not with anger, oppression, or hopelessness, but with peace, love, and a beautiful hope in Him, and in Him alone. Salvation in Him is what gave me enough strength to not just have a media fast (as you call it) from my old choices of music, but rather an abstinence from it altogether. I have chosen to not listen to what I used to because it not only fails to bring glory to God, but it does not encourage me in my walk with Him. The particular music I gorged myself with did not promote such vital principles such as the sanctity of life or the sacredness of purity, and it certainly did not offer hope beyond life, much less in this present one.
Knowing this, and valuing such principles, I have made the conscious choice to abstain from that music. I would not put restrictions on anyone or even attempt to judge or criticize their choices or established limitations. These are my own personal convictions because I know my own weaknesses, and I know even more where I want to be in my relationship with God. It’s been several months since my salvation and since I’ve listened to my ‘old’ music; the blessing is that I don’t even struggle with desiring it in that capacity anymore. And the most beautiful thing is that God has so cleansed my mind that I cannot remember the melodies or lyrics to nearly every song that I have ever listened to. Sure, I’d probably remember if I revisited my old ‘haunts,’ but with Christ in my life now, I don’t intend to.
I think you are so right on when you say that all media has a message. It does. Everywhere I turn I’m bombarded by this world, whether I’m walking through North Star mall, passing twenty huge TV screens at Target, tuning into the radio, or waiting in line near the magazine aisle at the grocery store. For others it might be other media distractions in many different places. Regardless, the reality is obvious– there is a battle not only for our attention and our time, but ultimately for our souls. One of my favorite verses says that ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of the air.’ Media is such a powerful tool that the Enemy uses against us, whether it is to simply distract us from our focus on God or to even entrap us in a vicious cycle of bondage to sin.
You suggest ‘unplugging,’ and that’s a worthy goal in my life. Don’t get me wrong, though– I love movies, I love music– so much so, in fact, that I am pursuing filmmaking and music, among other pursuits. However, I want anything I put my hands on to glorify my God, and I desire that anything I listen to, watch, or read be used in building my spirit and in helping to positively influence others towards God. I want my choice of media to be righteous media. Which sort of puts limitations on what media I can ‘indulge’ in! That’s okay, because I was so encouraged by your exhortation to find other activities that we as young people can do to wisely invest our time.
Your bookmark has some awesome suggestions on it. My goal in life is to honor and glorify God– that’s why I was created– and I’ve made the personal decision to take care in what I allow myself to be ‘amused’ with. It’s not always easy, and it’s not even always clear as to what is ‘good’ and what isn’t– I make mistakes, and I’ll make more. However, I’m just desiring to be used by God, to glorify Him with my life, in all that I do– even in my media choices.
God bless you and your family. You all have been so instrumental in my life, and I thank God immensely for you. May His blessings be upon you!