It is said that there are three kinds of people in the world—those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.
To survive the onslaught of immorality in mainstream culture, you’re going to have to make things happen by taking control of your life and those you are responsible for. If you don’t, you will be a casualty, and so will your family—to whatever degree you allow the antagonists to infiltrate your domain. It’s just that serious, as we shall see.
We need to realize that we are up against more than just a collection of media mavens with subpar moral views. We face an unseen enemy whose ultimate goal is to completely destroy God’s family way of life!
To survive the assault, you must first know what you are fighting. You need to understand who is attacking you and how.
Know the Enemy
The Bible reveals our real enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” In other words, Satan is a man-eating lion, and he preys on the unsuspecting.
One of his favorite strategies is to convince people he doesn’t even exist. For example, while close to 90 percent of Americans express belief in God or a higher power, only about 65 percent believe that the devil is real. Of those who do believe in a real devil, many are persuaded that he has little or no sway over their lives. And that’s exactly what he wants you to believe: that at most, he’s a relatively harmless, cartoon-like annoyance. Most people are oblivious to the vast power he wields.
The truth is, God does not rule this world; the devil does (John 14:30, New King James Version). In His plan, God has allowed Satan to be the present god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and most people unknowingly worship him! He is the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and he broadcasts.
In all probability, you are right now in a room that is filled with voices and music. A television or radio tuned to the right wavelength would make them audible to you. In similar fashion, Satan broadcasts to the spirit in every human being, which is automatically tuned to Satan’s wavelength. He stirs the spirits of humans and injects into them such attitudes, moods and impulses as selfishness, vanity, lust, violence, envy, bitterness and resentment against authority. Since he broadcasts in attitudes, you don’t hear anything. People don’t recognize where these attitudes, feelings and motives come from because they can’t see the invisible devil. Yet they feel these impulses and desires. That’s how Satan deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). In essence, the selfish, hostile, deceitful, wicked, rebellious attitude we call human nature is Satan’s nature that he broadcasts into unsuspecting minds beginning in early infancy.
Now here is a crucial point! To the extent that those broadcasts are not countered or allowed to penetrate unchecked is the degree that each individual will become more or less evil. This is vital knowledge that you need to ponder in order to survive the culture war.
Don’t Be Duped
In any war, including our personal war against immoral influences, you can know the enemy and how he operates but still be fooled by propaganda. Our enemy the devil is the most cunning being that has ever existed (Genesis 3:1; Moffatt). He disguises his ulterior motives very subtly, in ways that sometimes appear or sound righteous! He is a master of deception. And those who are deceived don’t know that they are deceived.
To illustrate, some believe that the culture war is a myth—that it is propagated by extreme viewpoints on both sides that don’t reflect the majority’s centrist positions. We’re led to believe there is a “middle way” for those who champion enlightenment and reason but simultaneously acknowledge religious belief and experience. Let’s be more inclusive, tolerate different ideas and expand the “common ground,” the thinking goes. It sounds noble. But do you know what immediately follows that kind of thinking? Compromise does.
Compromise is classic devil logic.
For example, most Americans believe that homosexuals should be granted civil rights while marriage should remain the union of a man and a woman. Therefore, we legitimize homosexual behavior and still protect the sanctity of marriage. Now there’s common ground. But God doesn’t walk there! He says homosexuality is an abomination that needs to be repented of! (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:27).
A majority of Americans believe that abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy is not murder but they strongly oppose partial-birth abortion. Again, some solid middle ground to stand on—if you care to walk with the devil. God reveals that abortion is always murder (see the February 2005 Trumpet article “Is Abortion Really Murder?”).
These examples expose just one classic technique Satan uses to undermine God’s authority. Compromise bolstered by “enlightened” reasoning is a slippery slope that eventually leads to oblivion! It’s like the proverbial frog in the kettle. If you throw a frog into a kettle of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. The saying goes, however, that if you put it in the kettle and gradually turn the heat up over a period of time until the water boils, it will stay in there until it dies! Western culture is the frog, and we’re stewing in Satan’s kettle. The water is already boiling!
You and your family, however, can survive the onslaught. Remember: Don’t underestimate how powerful the real enemy is, and don’t be duped by his deception and propaganda.
Now you’re ready to battle.
Fight to Win
The culture war does not threaten your possessions, but it will rob you of happiness, peace and satisfaction if you let it. That’s the price you’ll pay if you don’t fight this war with the purpose of winning it. That means you need to implement effective strategies. To do that, you must first know where the main battlefield is.
The Apostle James wrote that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). In other words, we must stop wrong thoughts from taking root before they drive us to wrong action—because we are what we think! (Proverbs 23:7).
The main battlefield is in your mind! Satan knows that very well. That’s why he broadcasts to the human spirit—relentlessly. He never rests. Abusive media content is one of his main tools. He uses it to fertilize the mind so that you will more readily accept his evil moods and impulses and allow them to grow until they mature into wrong and destructive actions.
A vitally important strategy for surviving this war, then, is to guard your mind. The more you allow Satan to engage you on that battlefield, the weaker you will become—the more susceptible to his wiles. He will fool you into thinking that you’re strong enough to handle a little bit of wrong thinking—but you cannot entertain evil thoughts in moderation. The key is to immediately reject all wrong thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). The more you challenge his advances, the stronger you will become and the less effect he will have on you. “… Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This is the key to surviving the war against immorality.
Instead of plopping yourself down in front of the television, for example, use your leisure time to build your mind—filling it with good things that will provide ammunition in this war (Philippians 4:8). Read a good book, exercise to stay fit, or take a class to learn about something. (Incidentally, the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course is an excellent way to learn about your Bible! It’s a three-year course that we offer absolutely free.) Update your knowledge and skills to be a more valuable employee. Fix things around the house, do some gardening or landscaping and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Develop a hobby or two, visit the sick, write letters or cheer someone up with a phone call. Volunteer at the local library, zoo or charity. Play games with your children. Spend time with them! There are many better things to do than watch an inordinate amount of tv. You will be happier because of it, and so will your children.
The adverse impact on so many children is the greatest tragedy of the culture war. As a parent, you have a responsibility before God to control and monitor your children’s media exposure too, especially when they are very young. The Carnegie Corporation (www.carnegie.org) reports that brain development during the prenatal period and in the first year of life is very rapid and extensive and much more vulnerable to environmental influences than previously thought. Those very early experiences have a long-lasting impact on a child’s brain. If we use television and other media as a babysitter, that content is what will shape their minds! Furthermore, it deprives our children of the love, attention, teaching and discipline they need in order to develop into well-rounded, balanced individuals.
Satan is also aware that young minds are impressionable. He strives to mold them in his image, which is reflected in much of the teen subculture today! And no wonder. A shocking report disclosed by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2005 revealed that, on average, children between 8 and 18 years old are absorbing more than eight hours of media exposure every day from tv, dvds, videos, music, computer video games, the Internet and other media sources! (“Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18-year-olds”).
As parents, we should be asking ourselves some hard questions. Are we neglecting our responsibilities to our children? Does that cause them to turn to the media for satisfaction? If so, how vulnerable are they to becoming warped and twisted? Will they be victims of the culture war?
You can do a great deal to prevent that from happening. Dad and Mom should be the strongest positive influence in a child’s life—not peers, not teachers or coaches, and certainly not the media.
Control Media Exposure
Coarse and vulgar media is the devil’s number one method to condition the minds of children to be more susceptible to his broadcasts. Therefore, to be successful in the struggle against immorality, you must control the media your children are exposed to.
Watching too much tv, for example, stifles brain development. Television has now been linked to attention deficit disorder (add). “We can say with confidence that excessive television viewing causes neurological damage,” said Gloria DeGaetano, ceo of the Parent Coaching Institute. “tv watching causes the brain to slow down, producing a constant pattern of low-frequency brain waves consistent with add behavior,” she said. “Television viewing may be the number one culprit of the cause of add” (Washington Times, Aug. 27, 2003).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 2 not even be allowed to watch television—none at all!
Whenever you do let your young children watch tv, you should watch it with them, whenever possible. Even in sanitized shows, you need to be on the lookout for rebellion, disrespect for authority, immorality or indecency, cruelty, intolerance, lying, cheating, rudeness, displays of vanity and so forth. By being closely aware of what your children are viewing, you can offset any bad effects by teaching them what is not acceptable behavior. If you find that you have to speak so much that you can’t enjoy the program, then you shouldn’t be exposing your children to it!
For older children, be extremely selective in choosing what you allow them to watch or listen to. Avoid programming or music that glamorizes crime, violence, cruelty, illicit sex and vulgar language. Set a good example yourself of what you allow into your mind, because actions do speak louder than words, and children can detect hypocrisy in a heartbeat! Most importantly, become God-centered in your entertainment choices. Always ask yourself if you would watch or listen to a program if Jesus Christ were sitting right in the room with you.
When it comes to the Internet, be aware of the websites or chat rooms your child is visiting. Ask the child, but also learn how to check the Internet history files on your computer. As the parent, you have the responsibility and the right to know what your child is doing on the Internet.
Set up your Internet computer in a public area of the house, like the living room, where its use is a family affair. This way you can monitor what’s going on. Don’t allow your child to be on the Internet in another room behind closed doors. Proverbs 29:15 warns that “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” The “latchkey” and otherwise unsupervised children of today are easy targets for Satan. The natural curiosity of children can lead them into wrong areas very quickly, and we must protect our children’s minds.
Take advantage of password controls when the computer is used. Set the password that allows your computer to boot up. Also, consider purchasing some password-protected Internet security software, or parental-control software, so that offensive material cannot be viewed.
Above all, don’t allow tv, the Internet or other media to become a babysitter. Set a time limit on how much media exposure you allow. Because we love our children, we must establish rules to protect them from satanic influences that they don’t fully understand. If you don’t, it could undermine everything else you should be teaching and doing, including the positive strategies that follow.
Here is more practical advice to help you insulate your children from pervasive immorality so that they will develop into happy, well-balanced individuals.
- First, remember that Satan is the god of this world and is working to destroy the family because he knows that strong traditional families hinder his purpose—to destroy mankind. The culture war is intended to hasten our demise! To protect your children, you must counter his influence.
- Provide good music often for your children and read to them daily with animation and voice inflection (studies indicate this even has a beneficial effect while they are still in the womb). This will begin to instill a love of reading and music appreciation into their precious minds. It stokes their curiosity and imagination, and enhances bonding between parent and child. It is also a fantastic memory-training technique. As children begin to talk, they will be able to “read” books from memory! Continue reading to them aloud as they grow older.
- Teach your toddlers to respect authority, especially yours. Discipline them appropriately for their age—for rebellion and infractions of rules that you have taught them. And always do this calmly, with explanation and love, never in an outburst of rage.
- Spend a lot of time playing with your toddler. Provide toys that stimulate creativity and develop motor skills. Discovery Toys, for example, is one company that produces quality toys that focus on learning.
- Have fun with your young children. Take them to the library, the park, the zoo. Make them laugh a lot. Above all, leave no doubt in their mind that you love them and that you are willing to sacrifice your time for them.
- Teach young children to be responsible. Build a good work ethic in them. As soon as they are physically able, require them to help you with household duties and chores. For example, make them responsible for keeping their rooms organized and tidy. If you have pets, give your child the responsibility to feed and care for them. Whenever possible, home improvement, gardening, landscaping and other household projects should be family affairs.
- Be honest with them. They must learn to trust you. If you want them to be honest and open with you, especially as they grow older, you have a better chance of securing their trust if they know you are always candid with them.
- Teach your children about sex. You need to start teaching them as soon as little minds begin to become curious about little bodies. Most importantly, make sure you stay ahead of the gutter-talk they will be exposed to from their peers. Our free book The Missing Dimension in Sex can help you do this. It is available upon request.
- Apply these principles before your children go to school so you build a strong foundation of parental respect. By the time they go to school, your children should be convinced that you are their rock-solid provider, confidant, nurturer and protector. They should know that they are fully loved and fully secure under your care.
- When your children go to school, don’t relinquish your position as the most important influence in their life. Continue to be heavily involved with your children. Become familiar with their teachers and friends. Participate as much as possible in school activities. Every day, rehearse and review with them what they were taught. If necessary, be prepared to counter any wrong teaching.
- As they start into their teen years, make sure they stay very busy. Encourage them to excel in school and to participate in sports; music programs such as band or choir; and computer, language or chess clubs. In addition, cultivate their interests. Help them to develop hobbies such as photography, arts and crafts, sewing, cooking, gardening, woodworking, building model cars, planes or trains. If time and grades allow, a part-time job would help them learn to handle responsibilities in the world of work and prepare them for the “real” world. Overall, keep them busy with fun and wholesome activities!
- Stay involved with your children as much as possible and keep the lines of communication open with your teens. This is of paramount importance. You need to know what they are thinking about. And they need to know that they can confide in you about anything. Provide opportunities to simply talk about whatever is on their minds—daily family meal time and a weekly family fun night are ideal. Ensure that you carve out that time for them!
- Above all else, teach your children from infancy the correct truth about God, His law, way of life and moral authority. Teach them to pray daily as soon as they can speak.
God reveals that “My people are destroyed for lack of [spiritual] knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee … seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6). Sobering, prophetic words, those are. If you allow it, the spoils of the culture war will be your children. On the other hand, if you do these things, you will survive the onslaught of immorality, and so will your children.