Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27, ESV)
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20, ESV)
Protecting Our Children’s Minds, Ears, Eyes, and Hearts
We are living in a visually graphic world. One cannot even walk through a check-out aisle at the local grocery store without being accosted by magazines of scantily clad women in enticing poses. Invariably the word “SEX” is on the cover of one or a number of magazines in big, bold letters, typically accompanied by a myriad of descriptive subheadings.
Here in Colombia, I daresay the situation is even worse. Known throughout Latin America for its underwear manufacturing, Medellin’s highways, streets, bus stops, and storefronts are awash with images of women posing as sex objects, evocative and alluring. For years, the first picture one sees when flying into Medellin’s international airport is a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling picture of a seductive underwear model!
When our children were younger we began to train them to look away from enticing billboards. When we would be riding downtown in our car, one or another child would often suddenly shout out, “Everyone look down!” A few minutes later another would yell, “Look left, everyone!” It would continue that way as we would pass sex shops and suggestive billboards, while my children were striving to protect their eyes and maintain their innocence.
Maybe It’s Laundry Day
A humorous situation occurred soon after our arrival in Medellin. We’d spoken often to the children about the importance of protecting their eyes, but as we were driving through the center of town a very drugged out lady walked bare-naked right in front of our car! There was no time for anyone to look away or even warn the others…we all saw her!
The children said, “MOM! Did you SEE that? She’s walking right down the street with no clothes on!!!” I casually answered, “Well, children…maybe it’s laundry day.” That was my attempt at trying to ‘keep it real’, to help them see the human body for what it really is, and not as a sex object. We still laugh about my response that day, although the grim reality for that poor woman is far from funny.
This exact situation may never arise for your family, but I can assure you that regardless of where you live, the world isn’t the place it was when we were growing up. It’s imperative that we have open and honest discussions with our children regarding the temptations which the world is, or will soon be, offering them.
The world in all its stark reality is right there in front of their eyes, just like the drugged-out lady in front of our car. Drugs, abuse, and violence lurk not too far away from your home. Like it or not, your children are going to see and experience things despite your best efforts to protect them.
Talk Openly With Your Children
Tom and I have decided to be upfront with our children about the issues that are on their minds and in front of their eyes. We don’t go into unnecessary graphic detail, but we do state the basic facts in an age-appropriate way, and then discuss what God thinks about it.
For instance, when we are driving and see prostitutes out at night, we pray for them, asking God to heal the terrible hurts in their hearts. We ask Him to help them see the reality of who they were created to be. We know several ex-prostitutes, and every one of them suffered greatly from the lack of her father’s love. Keeping that in mind helps us to see them as real, hurting people.
Be Careful Little Eyes and Ears!
The long-standing Sunday School song rings truer today than ever:
“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, Oh, be careful little eyes what you see! For the Father up above Is looking down on you in love, So be careful little eyes what you see.”
The second verse talks about being careful about what little ears hear. Even as adults we need to be careful with the TV programs or movies we watch, and which music we choose to listen to. There are always three voices competing for our attention: God’s voice, the enemy’s voice, and our voice.
If we’re not careful, our minds and imaginations can become the playground of the enemy. His job is to tempt us to indulge in the lusts of the flesh, while God’s voice encourages us to choose the higher road, to fill our minds and souls with the sights, sounds, and thoughts that bring us closer to Him.
God’s Word is our Guide
As Christians, God’s word should be our best defense and guide for every area of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” If we are filling our mind with violent or degrading images, or lustful thoughts that go against the very character of who God is, how will we be able to test and approve God’s will for our lives? The enemy is constantly warring for control of our thoughts. He can tempt us to watchthings that will take our affections away from God.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Even adults shouldn’t be filling our thought lives with ANYTHING that doesn’t honor God.
Be in the Word Daily
If it’s that important that we as adults jealously protect our minds and hearts, consider how much more our impressionable children’s minds and hearts need to be protected. We need to encourage our children to be in the Word daily, discerning what God wants them to do, and also helping them to understand what will draw them away from Him and weaken their faith.
So many distractions are competing for our time and energy. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
So how can we do this? How do we test what is good and pleasing to God? How do we choose from all of the plethoras of media out there? I suggest we turn to God’s Word for our answers.
The Philippians 4:8 Test
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
That is not easy, and it will take effort on our part as parents, as well as on our children’s part. However, I can assure you that the results are well worthwhile! The writer of Psalms also gives us an example of how carefully we must protect our homes.
“I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.” (Psalms 101:2-8, NIV)
God Wants to be First in Your Life
In the end, anything that distracts us from the Lord should be carefully considered before watching. Even sports or food channels on TV, if they become an obsession or take the place of your time with the Lord, may not be the best choice for your time.
God does not like to take second place to the things of this world. 1 John 2:15-17 warns us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”