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March 6, 2013
Just for a Day
Safe Water, Hot Water
by Kathryn Grant

Remember the old analogy of the frog and the hot water? If you throw a frog into a pan of hot water, he’ll immediately jump out. But if you throw him into a pan of cool water and then gradually turn up the heat, the frog doesn’t notice the difference and eventually dies. In the frog’s case, the key to survival is being aware of the strong contrast between safe water and hot water.

Recently I experienced one of those spiritual highs where I felt close to the Lord and saw his tender mercies everywhere. Miracles in family history led to sweet temple experiences. Whisperings of the Holy Spirit led to scriptural insights. I marveled and felt so grateful for blessing after blessing in my life.

It was in this context that I was invited by some friends to watch an older movie. I’d heard of it but hadn’t seen it before. However, the plot sounded clever and it had been popular in my parents’ day, so I felt no reason to be concerned.

However, as the movie progressed I started to feel uncomfortable at its suggestive jokes, and then implied promiscuity. True, the movie was tame compared to many of today’s offerings. However, probably because my feelings were still sensitive after feeling so close to the Lord, the off-color jokes and off-screen immorality stood in stark, even grimy contrast to the beauty and purity of the Lord’s standards. After being exposed to the movie, my spirit felt somehow soiled, as though someone had driven by and spattered mud on me.

This experience reinforced a similar experience I’d had years earlier with music. I love music, and popular radio stations were a daily companion. But I started to see the corroding effects on my spirit of constant exposure to lyrics that ranged from self-centered (“What have you done for me lately?”) to self-deceived (“Imagine there’s no heaven”) to blatantly immoral. I decided I would root this kind of music out of my life and set my radio stations to Christian and classical music.

Was it an adjustment at first? Sure. But now each day I’m encouraged by uplifting lyrics like these: “My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior’s always there for me;”(1) “Out of these ashes beauty will rise, for we know joy is coming in the morning;”(2) “I know Who goes before me; I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side.”(3) What a difference!

Sometimes we don’t realize the muck that’s flung at us until we remove ourselves from it and replace it with something better. But when we do, the contrast becomes clear.

So here’s the challenge for this column: For at least a week, jump out of media “hot water”—in other words, any media that promotes ideas and practices contrary to the light of the gospel. Avoid TV and movies (even favorites) which portray immorality as acceptable or which use crude language; shun songs with lyrics that cheapen sacred relationships or encourage breaking the Lord’s commandments; leave unread magazines that focus on materialism, appearances, and gossip. Focus instead on media that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Article of Faith 13).

After the week is up, consider the contrast. Is there a different feeling in your home and heart? Is the influence of the world more obvious by having avoided it? Do heavenly things seem sweeter?

1. Aaron Shust, “My Savior My God”

2. Steven Curtis Chapman, “Beauty Will Rise”

3. Chris Tomlin, “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)”

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