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It's the Thoughts That Count

The secular world rarely considers the effect of popular culture on our thoughts. The only time it shows concern for the thought life is … when someone becomes a racist through being exposed to racist literature, or a killer mimics a scene from a violent film. The Bible presents the different idea that what we think is judged alongside what we do. It's possible to keep the law and yet have an immoral mind. Our thoughts are as much a part of our moral character as our actions. …

Often people will defend unsavory entertainment because they say it hasn't led them to do anything bad, but this doesn't take into account the content of their minds. We can remain meek and mild yet have a brain swirling with the most poisonous images. When Jimmy Carter was running for U.S. president in 1976, he gave an interview to Playboy in which he was asked whether he had committed adultery. In his answer he said that he had committed adultery many times in his heart. The secular media scoffed at this because it hardly seemed like a moral infringement, but Carter was of course picking up on a Bible truth that it's possible to commit sins in the privacy of our heads; sins known only to God. …

Christians sometimes expose themselves to dangerous stuff just to show how resilient they are. It's the spiritual equivalent of tightening your six-pack and challenging someone to deliver a swift punch: "See! It didn't hurt." But we can't always tell at the time how things will affect us in the long term. Images we saw decades ago can rise to the surface of our consciousness without us being aware of where they came from. The biblical proverb asks,

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without ...
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Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment
IVP Books
2013-07-11
254 pp., $13.60
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It's the Thoughts That Count
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June 2013

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