Thinking Biblically is Teens' Only Protection Against Media
- Al Menconi <i>Agape Press</i>
- 2004 7 Jul
Editor's Note: Taken from Ten Steps to Talk to Your Children About Values. Full text version available at www.almenconi.com/topics/parent/tensteps.html.
A very shy, young man about 16 years old approached our display table where we had books and Christian music CDs for sale. When my assistant asked what kind of music he enjoyed, he meekly responded, "Whatever my mother wants." He wasn't kidding! Here was a young man who looked old enough to drive, but he didn't have an opinion that differed from his mother's. It's tempting to think, how wonderful that is today! A teen whose opinions were still in submission to his mother! On the other hand, I thought, this was a kid who still didn't know how to have an opinion of his own.
Later, at the same convention, a mother asked me for Scriptures to make her 17-year-old son stop wearing baggy pants! Styles and clothes aren't my area of expertise, so I wasn't about to get into that battle. But I was thinking, "At what age was she going to let her son dress himself?"
Here were two parents who thought they were doing the right thing for their children by trying to make all their decisions for them. If they don't tell their children what to think, God only knows what they will think, right?
Research indicates that the majority of young people raised in Christian homes will not live for Jesus as adults. How can this be? I believe there are two major reasons. First, Christians have a tendency to tell their children what to think instead of teaching them how to think. Second, the entertainment media tends to undermine nearly every Christian value we hold dear.
We are in a spiritual battle for the souls of our children. The entertainment industry aims its weapons at the heart and soul of our families. We shouldn't be surprised that so many young people are entertaining themselves to spiritual death.
The primary strategy for many Christian parents is to shelter their children from all worldly media. But this is no longer possible in a media-saturated America.
Concerned parents often ask me how I handled this battle with my children. For one thing, I tried to never fight with my daughters about their entertainment. After my wife and I set our family guidelines, I allowed my daughters to listen to any song, go to any movie/video, and play any video game as long as it was within the family guidelines. I didn't see it as my responsibility to keep the bad stuff out of our home. It was their responsibility to prove to me that what they watched and listened to was worthwhile to be in our house.
Our family developed a simple 10-step plan to teach our children how to think Biblically. You can do the same.
1. Start on your knees -- Pray diligently for your children for the next 30 days. If you are praying two minutes a day, may I suggest you pray five minutes? If you pray ten minutes, may I suggest 20? Pray specifically that they remain spiritually strong and morally pure. Ask God to surround them with godly friends and to help them make entertainment choices that will encourage spiritual growth. A good rule of thumb is if you are spending more time confronting your children than you are coming to the Throne of God about your children, your priorities need adjusting.
2. Establish your limits -- While you are praying for your children over the next 30 days, discuss with your spouse suitable entertainment limits for your home. Decide how much of the enemy's influence you are willing to accept in your home through TV, videos, computer games and the Internet. Your goal is to give your child a sense of security through a consistent understanding of what is acceptable in your home.
3. Evaluate your own entertainment -- It is not helpful to keep your child from listening to the empty philosophies of most secular music and television programs, if you're going to entertain yourself with R-rated videos. Make sure your own entertainment fits within the guidelines you are setting for your children. Don't say one thing and do another. You might not see the hypocrisy of your actions, but your children and God do.
4. Explain your limits to your children -- At the end of the 30 days of prayer and discussing guidelines with your spouse, explain to your kids what you have decided. Put it in writing.
5. Challenge your children to think Biblically -- Colossians 2:8 says in the Living Bible, "Don't let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong shallow answers built on men's thoughts and ideas instead of on what Christ has said." With that pivotal verse in mind ask your children questions such as these:
• How's your faith in Jesus?
• Do you wonder if there is a God?
• Is the Bible true?
• You say that your faith is strong? Good! How is your joy?
• Why doesn't your life radiate the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control?
Maybe you have been letting the entertainment media undermine your Christian faith and joy with their empty philosophies.
6. Talk about current entertainment choices -- A lot of parents don't want to know what is going on with today's entertainment. They say, "I just tell them to turn it off and don't let them go to R-rated movies." Remember that to have real communication there must be some common ground. Why not let your knowledge of their entertainment become the common ground? Our website (http://www.almenconi.com) can help.
7. Use the teeter-totter principle -- Think of Colossians 2:8 as the fulcrum of a teeter-totter. One end represents the principle from the Satanic Bible: "Live for yourself; deny Jesus." The other end represents the Biblical principle to "Deny yourself; live for Jesus." Now put the philosophies of your entertainment on the imaginary see-saw and see if it "teeters" or "totters." Just like the teeter-totter you used to play on as a child, the side with the most weight will sink to the bottom.
8. Answer their excuses -- Most young people have an innate ability to deny the obvious. They claim: "It doesn't affect me." Be ready with a response that makes them prove that claim. Ask, "How do you know?" and wait for their response. Then remind them that although the Bible doesn't say that you will become a Satanist if you listen to satanic music or that you will kill someone if you play video games; it does say that if you entertain yourself with the empty philosophies of this world instead of what Christ said, you will struggle with your faith and your joy in Jesus.
9. Explain and demonstrate the value of Christian music -- How can you tell your children they should be listening to godly music, if you don't listen to godly music? While you are in prayer for 30 days for your children, find at least one song that illustrates your faith in Jesus -- a song that moves your soul every time you hear it.
When you find your song, ask your family for five minutes so you can share with them why you love Jesus. Tell them you would like to use a song to share your testimony. Take one minute to explain why you chose the song, and the remainder of the time listening to the song while they read the lyrics with you. It is important to have everyone read the lyrics while the song is being played to focus their attention. After you listen to it together, ask them if they understand why you love Jesus.
10. Go on a Christian music diet -- My final challenge to you is to eliminate all your entertainment that is on the negative side of your teeter-totter and only listen to Christian music for the next 30 days. Try this for 30 days and see if it helps you as you attempt to set biblical guidelines. These suggestions aren't magic. They won't lead to some extra-biblical experience. They won't even make you more spiritual. They're simply godly common sense.
Al Menconi is founder of Al Menconi Ministries, an evangelical, non-denominational ministry. The 22-year-old ministry seeks to offer a balanced, responsible, Biblical approach that teaches Christians how to think, rather than just what to think, particularly in the area of entertainment.
© 2004 Agape Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.