We live in a day when we are surrounded by many, many opportunities to make small, but consistent moral mistakes. The billboards, the grocery store checkout isle magazines are blatant examples but far more insidious is the media we bring home: books, movies, magazines, websites and music. Like David who looked from his rooftop and chanced to see something he should have turned away from, we seem surrounded by temptation lurking around every corner of day to day life. My family was disappointed when a google image search for “car” returned results that included some scantily clad women with cars, but when a similar search for “horse” turned up a sleazily dressed woman with a horse, we were downright surprised. Thus we live in a day where there is a constant flow of temptation to look, read and listen where we ought not. We are perpetually on David’s rooftop. We can hardly escape in our own living room.
Let us not pretend these temptations are not strong. The body is the great gift of mortality, the grand prize given to all who kept their first estate. But to a great degree “the test” we experience in this life revolves around what we will do with that gift. I am not sure anyone is as frank as Christ is in the matter. Christ stated that for a man to not look upon a woman to lust after her is to “take up [his] cross”. Referring to this as a man’s cross could come from no more compelling source than the Savior who would literally carry his own. Thus Christ Himself is extremely frank that for a man to look on a woman to lust after her is a serious and compelling temptation.
Our media provides a bountiful feast of interesting music, movies, books and video games. It is natural to love stories and music, but our media’s many intriguing offerings quickly turn out to be a maze where almost every turn seems to lead us down a dark corridor of innuendo, filth and sleaze. I have heard it said that Satan doesn’t tell only lies, as then people wouldn’t believe him. He instead tells lies mixed with truth, making the overall effect of his message a lie. Thus it is with our media. It pulls us constantly into small moral compromises we would never have allowed by themselves. It is a steady diet of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Only now days it is mixed with more adultery and less with scripture.
If we decide that we are big enough to watch shows or listen to music with innuendo, or with sleaze, or immodesty, or that portray immorality or perversions like homosexuality as normal then our media drains us, and makes us lukewarm instead of hot. It makes us a pale imitation of ourselves, spiritually. It saps even an otherwise good church member’s interest in family, fills one’s mouth with spite toward one’s spouse, divides parents and children, it drains one of an interest in good meaningful gospel doctrine. When we partake of an evil scene in a film, or even of the running milder sleaze that taints some entire film it gives that being who so tempts us some degree of power over that aspect of our lives – over intimacy, family, fatherhood, parenthood, and childhood.
Why are so many, many members of the church unwilling to listen to the commandment to “multiply and replenish”? This was the first commandment, the great objective the fall was undertaken to obtain. I suspect it is largely because we allow ourselves be nickeled and dimed to disaster, giving Satan power to blind and influence us by partaking of the moral degeneration in our media here a little and there a little until with flaxen ties the devil has bound such a firm grip around us that, while we may stay away from moral disasters, we can hardly expect to be sensitive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost or even the plain word of the Lord regarding the sacred gift of intimacy – that we are to “multiply”, that children need a mother in the home, that men should, if at all possible, bear the burden of providing the necessities of life for a family, and that a fancy home, a nice TV and a second car are not those “necessities”. That we should partake of the joy offered us in the gift of having children freely. If Jesus, though weary, still said “suffer the little children to come unto [me]” what other path can those who seek to follow him reasonably take?
We have, in some ways, backed away from a serious study of our doctrine because we are so used to hearing the voice of the adversary’s missionary program: the many forms of bad media ranging from the borderline media that gets us to just soften our views, to the movie that has “just a scene”, to downright pornography. With this loud and insistent message drowning out all that is good and virtuous it isn’t surprising that the result is a dulled interest in marriage, in family, in children, in mothers that stay home, as well as in the doctrines of the gospel, which are so intimately connected to family it is difficult to see where one starts and the other ends.
The popular actors, actresses, musicians and other entertainers of our day are notorious for not being able to make a marriage last even a few years. Many of our youth’s ideas about love, romance and choosing a spouse are learned directly from the romance they see in their entertainment. It should be pointed out that from even a purely practical standpoint listening to Hollywood, popular music and popular literature on the topics of love, romance, marriage, family and children is like going into a restaurant that serves the most intolerably disgusting food and then having the chef come out and offer heavy handed advice about how to cook. An industry rife with people who can’t stay married four years, much less forty should not be where our youth learn about what romance and love are. It should not be where they learn what to look for in a spouse. Our youth need these false teachings frankly rebutted. They also need true teachings about these great topics. But they can’t have them, not even from us, if we are indulging in the constant moral compromises that we make when we partake of the vast, vast bulk of modern media. If we choose to blind ourselves with these things then we can be no better than blind guides to our children in these essential matters.
The important point here is that Hollywood and our music and book industry offer a constant stream of very interesting and enjoyable media which regular people enjoy – but that it comes poisoned with seductive scenes, innuendo, a constant flow of immodesty, of portraying immorality as acceptable, and a constant stream of vile ideas. When we participate constantly in what we justify as being only a little wrong it gives the adversary power over us to a degree and that constant flow can sum up to a large effect one little bit at a time. Thus this is Satan’s great missionary program through which he has converted many to his ideas and through which he ties down members to apathy and harms their sense of family, spouse, the joy of children, keeps mothers in the workplace and divides parents from children. Through this means he leads the bulk of the nation by the nose in all matters related to intimacy, family, morality, virtue, the role of parents, the role of children, and everything related to intimacy and family.