by Bill Rudge
Everyone has terrifying dreams and frightening thoughts – even King Nebuchadnezzar said, “I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me” (Daniel 4:5). Living in the digital age exposes today’s generation to many undesirable images in our minds from an endless stream of sites and visuals. Feeling lonely or alienated from family and friends, needing to escape the drama of social media, being overwhelmed with the pressures of life, all escort multitudes daily into a cyber-world of movies, games, and virtual reality.
Many people from their youth spend a lifetime filling their minds with frightening and disturbing images: graphic visuals of violent crimes, explosions, shootings, beatings, blood splattered people and walls, people being hunted down, tormented, tortured, maimed, raped, and murdered by crazed killers, wild beasts, monsters, vampires, wolf-men, flesh eating zombies, alien space creatures, and demonic-like beings, to list only a few.
Every imaginable weapon and technique are used to inflict pain, kill, and mutilate. Scenes of terror such as vehicles and buildings being blown apart, horrific car crashes, pools of blood, people dangling over cliffs, trapped in tunnels or graves, or submerged under water are proliferating.
Added to the amazing special effects of blood and gore are terrifying sounds and intense music. These vivid sights and sounds implanted in our minds can (and will if not immediately, then later in life) adversely affect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The Fear Factor
Young people and adults love to be scared, especially if they think they are safe. Viewing scary movies can be a badge of courage, so to speak. The scenes and sounds provide a kind of euphoric adrenaline rush from controlled terror in the security of being surrounded by friends in a movie theater or home. But what tantalizes the emotions in secure environments can result in traumatic flashbacks, memories, and nightmares when companionless or in vulnerable circumstances.
Many youth and adults have told me of frightening images, terrifying apparitions, horrific sounds, oppressive thoughts, unseen presences in their rooms, paralyzing sensations of being touched, premonitions of doom while alone in their bedrooms at night.
Young children recount being scared in the dark after watching a terrifying movie, a barrage of eerie visuals and words seared into their impressionable minds. Is it any wonder they are troubled by fear and nightmares?
Some youth and adults have lain in bed in the “twilight zone” state between sleep and full consciousness, or been awakened from a dream with their hearts beating rapidly because of images in their minds, voices or sounds in their heads, or from the sensation of being touched by a person or entity in their rooms. Random involuntary images and words can invade the mind and disturb sleep like unwelcome intruders in one’s house.
A diet of violent entertainment can have similar effects to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of soldiers returning from war zones or persons having experienced a traumatic event. Even though most adults and teens claim to be able to handle the images, sounds, and emotions resulting from movies, many are experiencing prolonged negative stress, bouts of chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression, confusion, and nervousness.
Besides the violence, there are other unfavorable elements. Consider the occultism, sorcery, mysticism; scantily clad or naked people, sexual encounters, lies and deceit portrayed in a positive way; crude, obscene, and profane language, and you get a glimpse of today’s mental diet through the media!
The tolerance and acceptance of this is reflective of how far we have drifted as a nation and the lukewarmness of many Christians. God’s commands against sorcery, vulgarity, taking His name in vain, and licentiousness are completely ignored. No wonder so many young people are disrespectful, desensitized to violence, influenced by atheism, have an interest in the occult, and are sexually active. Many parents helped nurture this by neglecting Bible study in their homes and not placing responsible restrictions on their children.
Parents who purposely, or unknowingly, permit their young children and teens to be tainted and seduced by unrestricted media will one day reap the undesired harvest of rebellion and heartbreak. Not to mention the potential victimization by predators that everyone faces today.
I know it is a real struggle for parents (especially single parents) but you must rise to the challenge of providing wholesome entertainment and recreation for your children. Joy Lucius writes about the difficulty of doing so back in 2012:
[S]earch for a book or magazine without profanity, vulgarity, explicit sexuality, new-age propaganda or demonic influences. Decent choices are limited – almost non-existent. The same scenario often plays out when parents shop with children for movies, games, music and toys. The retail world is a culture war zone, constantly attacking the minds and souls of our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. The same culture war constantly rages on the screens of American television, as well. Surf the channels for a family-friendly show to watch with young girls or teens. Violence, nudity, promiscuity in its wildest form, and every deviant lifestyle conceivable can be viewed on almost any given night on most mainstream media channels.
“Be careful little eyes …”
God gave you beautiful children with talents and abilities to be used for His glory. When they are repeatedly exposed to philosophies and worldviews that are contrary to His, it becomes increasingly confusing for them. The only way to resolve the dilemma is for their minds and hearts to be molded by God’s Word so biblical truth and principles are the foundation of their lives. Then they will be able to discern truth from error and not be deceived by distorted, perverted, or counterfeit beliefs.
Melissa Henson states in an article titled “Be careful little eyes what you see” (afaJournal, September 2021):
We know that what kids see influences behavior, and there are decades of research to support this. Kids exposed to more violent content tend to become more violent. Kids exposed to more sexual content become sexually active at a younger age and have more sexual partners over their lifetime. The advertising industry is premised on the idea that seeing an ad can influence consumer behavior.
Alarming Trends in Movies
Reviews of contemporary movies reveal that many are laced with vulgar, obscene and sexually explicit language, sensationalized occultism, sorcery, demonic entities and satanic powers. They display a plethora of suggestive and seductive sexual behaviors and pornographic images that mock, pervert and profane sacred things, and seek to attract viewers with unceasing violence. All of these are descriptive of the end times generation, many of whom according to Scripture will refuse to repent of their evil.
When I spoke in Trinidad in 1989, the people in the villages were uninfluenced by the secular media. But when I returned 12 years later (one week before 9/11), things had changed drastically. I went to a large shopping mall and was amazed to see hundreds of young people with body piercings and tattoos – dressed like prostitutes and gang members. I asked my host, “Was this here before? Did I miss it?” I was told it only came in the last five years, because now they have cable TV; America’s movies and music completely changed a whole generation of the youth of Trinidad in a short span of time.
Speaking to young people and adults a few years ago at Manhattan Beach (near Los Angeles) I told them that there is virtually nothing in Hollywood but death, destruction, and a dead end. Romans 1:28-32 gives an amazingly accurate overview of what is often being spewed out of Hollywood:
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; … they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
The day approaches when God’s tolerance of the wickedness corrupting this earth will finally cease. God will intervene in the world scene to judge sin and rebellion by bringing people to their knees – either in repentance or judgment. He is calling to His people:
Come out of her [spiritual Babylon which represents rebellion, immorality, sorcery, and false religion] My people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).
Your Soul Is the Prize
Eons ago Satan rebelled against the Creator. In his rebellion, your eternal soul is the prize he seeks. His goal is to distance you from a pure, holy, and intimate relationship with the One who paid the price to redeem you. Choices made concerning your mental diet play a crucial part in determining who you are and what your destiny will be. So choose wisely! Your attitude, beliefs, worldview, and lifestyle are undeniably influenced by the clear or underlying philosophies conveyed in the movies, television programs, and commercials you watch, the music you listen to, the video games you play, and the Internet sites you visit.
Let me ask you a few questions: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, why would you want to be entertained by words, images, and behavior that dishonor Him and are inspired by an enemy who opposes God and seeks to destroy His followers? Why participate in that which reflects a philosophy contrary to virtually everything God designed and desires for His creation? Why allow movies and programs in your home which plant wrong images in your mind, lust in your heart, and lead to compromise and harmful consequences? Why degenerate into corrupt cultural morals when you can live victoriously by biblical standards through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit?
It would be in wisdom for you and your children to adhere to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul:
Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about [dwell on] these things (Philippians 4:8).
Replace the negative, fearful, and immoral images in the media today by discontinuing corrupt movies, disconnecting from unprofitable social media, and limiting Internet usage. It’s okay to be informed by the news but not consumed by it; that is a waste of time and energy, and may lead to unnecessary anxiety. Fill your life with positive alternatives and renew your mind by studying the unsurpassed wisdom and wonder of God’s Word. The following promise awaits:
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed [steadfast] on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).
The person whose mind is “stayed” on the Internet, social media, movies, the news, television programs, talk radio, or video games will be frequently stressed and depressed. The person whose mind is stayed on the Lord will have inner peace – even in the midst of difficult circumstances.