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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Staying Out of the "Garbage Can"


Many years ago, someone wisely said,

“You don’t send your children to the garbage can
hoping they might find a few good scraps of food to eat.”

I’d like to address the problem of the “garbage can” and maybe help you draw some conclusions for your family’s mental and spiritual health.

Years ago, there were studies about children who watched violence on television and afterwards acted out in violent ways. I don’t know if people even do those kinds of studies anymore, but what used to be “violent” back in the day was mild in comparison with today’s realistic and fantastic scenes.

Violence is only the beginning of the disturbing trends. The moral tone—maybe we should say amoral tone—in most movies is wrong. Most music videos are immoral and obscene. Most lyrics contain violence and crass, vulgar language.

When the Beatles sang such innocent lyrics as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Love Me Do,” women screamed and swooned.

Today, Katy Perry (a young woman) sings, “I kissed a girl and I liked it,” and the hearers think it’s cute.

A new movie being made, Between Hell and High Water, “blurs the lines between good and evil.” The producer proclaims he’s “very proud of that.”

It used to be that the black-and-white screen King Kong—an obviously fake gorilla—held screaming damsels over his head. Today, realistic gore, explosions, and dismembered body parts fill huge movie screens. Gone are the days of avoiding gratuitous death and murder. Today's viewers expect it.

Male movie heroes aren’t noble any more. (They’re not very manly either, if you ask me.) Women beat up on other characters. The protagonists are killers, homosexuals, thieves, immoral, and filthy-mouthed. Most movies today contain nude or partially nude scenes. RisquĆ© has gone mainstream, and people from all walks of life actually watch this stuff.

I don’t even want to start on video games. Most include prostitutes, war, shooting, and violence. Some gamers have a difficult time distinguishing between “fun” video game violence and reality.

In the old days, the good guys always won, and the bad guys were found out and locked up. That is positive moral tone. That’s the way it should be. Justice isn’t always served in real life. I realize that, but I believe that young people should be taught an ideal of justice.

What’s wrong with today’s generation—and maybe their parents’ generation as well? They’ve been fed a diet of iffy moral tone. They don’t understand the absolutes of right and wrong, and they don’t expect the authorities in their lives to be fair. They don’t respect laws or enforcement. They’re swift to play the victim and slow to look for good.

Why do kids get into viewing nasty stuff? It’s because their parents do—or because they’re free to choose for themselves. Or, they may be with peers with questionable taste.

Where do a lot of people learn to disrespect each other, life itself, and the authorities? On a screen, in their own homes.

Where do criminals get the ideas for their crimes? On TV, in movies, and on video games. It’s been proven! When an awful crime takes place, police examine the suspect’s computer. They find images of violence and hate, a fascination with gore and death, and different kinds of perversion.

So, what can Christian parents do? Even back in the days of the early church, the Apostle John admonished, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the spirits of antichrist): because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). We can’t completely shield our children (or ourselves) from the world without living in caves, but there are measures we can take in order to keep our children out of the “garbage can.”

What’s some biblical advice for helping children focus on the good in the midst of so much evil?

1. Be an example. Dad controls his eyes, entertainment, and reading choices. He is a man who demonstrates to his children what a godly man looks like. He does fun things with them, too, and teaches them. Mom is sweet spoken, even-tempered, and is careful about her own reading and entertainment choices. She explains to her teens why she chooses her path—what’s right and wrong. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck (Proverbs 1:8-9).


2. Give your kids a biblical reason for your decisions. Randomness begets randomness. On the other hand, if children realize that you base your choices on Bible principles, they’ll understand exactly where you’re coming from. They’ll comprehend that your house rules come from biblical convictions. Here are a few examples:
  • “We don’t watch movies that contain profanity. Why? The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times (Psalm 12:6). All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them (Proverbs 8:8). We want to hear clean, pure words that please God.”
  • “We do not want you exposed to movies that Daddy and Mommy think are too violent. Why? Do violence to no man (from Luke 3:14). These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief (Proverbs 6:16-18). God hates violence, and we want you to hate it, too.”
  • “We don’t want you to watch anything with naked people and immorality. Why? Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Your father and I want you to grow up with pure minds and hearts and not be tempted to lust. Viewing fornication will not help you have a pure mind.”

3. Shelter. You don’t send your children out into the world to fight those battles when they’re young and not fully prepared. I believe this means two kinds of sheltering:  
      1. providing them with a Christian education and worldview 
      2. being careful with their friends and all peer influence and activities
Your home needs to be a shelter for your children, protecting them from physical, spiritual, and emotional harm.


4. Provide them with good. One of the great faults of Christian parents has been to say no to everything. Make sure your child is socialized, has lots of clean fun, enjoys life, and has a close family. This will mean making the effort to take them to the zoo and give them great books to read—and taking the time to read to your children. As they get older, they will be guided toward clean movies and healthy video games. They will also learn to do fun things without screens and gadgets—actually participating in life. Make sure your kids are in a vibrant, Bible preaching church. Make sure they have opportunities for Christian service with other teens.

I believe that some parents are “tired,” and they almost let their children rear themselves. (As many parents work full-time, they actually are tired!) Parents need to make the extra effort to guide their children and diligently help them understand boundaries—including why they've decided on specific boundaries.

Don’t send your children to the “garbage can” to see if they can find some good scraps. Instead, provide them with a wealth of good things, so they won’t ever think about sorting through garbage.


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