I am mature enough to watch any movie or television show, read any book, listen to any music, or surf any web sites without it affecting me in a negative way.
Most of us become desensitized to what we see or hear. I’ve demonstrated this through an experiment I conduct when teaching about sexuality during weekend retreats for youth groups. I once recorded two hours of prime-time television shows such as Friends and Seinfeld, then edited the tape down to a twelve-minute clip including only the sexual innuendos (anything visual or auditory related to inappropriate sexual conduct). As I show this video clip, I challenge the audience to keep count during these twelve minutes of how many sexual messages they see or hear, giving me a sign (placing their thumb on their nose) to indicate that they recognize each one.
As many times as I have conducted this experiment, I’m amazed at how the same thing happens every time. They catch maybe the first three or four innuendos, but then become so engrossed in the funny scenes that they forget to give me the sign or to keep count. At the end of the twelve minutes, I ask, “How many did you count?” The average response? Eleven or twelve. The actual number of visual or verbal innuendos? Forty-one.
Even the adults in the room do not usually recognize more than 50 percent of these innuendos because they are so accustomed to crass humor. As a society, we have become so desensitized by sexual messages that we often unscrew our heads, put them under the Lazy-Boy recliner, and tolerantly allow the television to fill our minds with worldly scripts. Once our minds are corrupted, our hearts memorize these scripts, and then they seep into our lives.
Jesus taught his disciples this principle in the gospel of Luke when He said: “The good [woman] brings good things out of the good stored up in [her] heart, and the evil [woman] brings evil things out of the evil stored up in [her] heart” (6:45).
Everything you choose to take in through your mind can be stored up in your heart, and it is your heart that determines the direction you will take and the choices you will make in the future when confronted with temptation. If you fill your mind with images of sexually compromising comments and situations, you will become desensitized to similar scenarios in your own life.
A good rule of thumb is never to watch a movie or television program or read a book that you wouldn’t want others to know about. If you have to keep it a secret, chances are it’s going to greatly intensify your battle for sexual integrity and undermine your ultimate fulfillment.
You should also be careful about how you use the Internet. I am very thankful that I reached a place of sexual and emotional integrity before the days of e-mails and chat rooms. So many women tell me how they were sucked into a living nightmare through the World Wide Web, falling head over heels for men they initially thought were their Prince Charmings, only to discover they were frogs with lots and lots of warts.
What makes chat rooms so alluring to women? Here are some of the answers I’ve received, along with my rebuttal:
~ It is exciting to be intimate with a stranger. Since when is sitting at a desk and typing back and forth intimate? And anyone can be excited by a stranger. Everything you learn or share is new, but learning new things about a strange person is not intimacy. Intimacy is seeing what is truly on the inside of a person (which can only be discovered face to face over long periods of time such as what you experience in marriage). Be careful not to mistake intensity for intimacy. Intensity fades as the newness wears off, but intimacy continues to blossom the longer you know a person.
~ I can be anyone I want to be while online. Why would you want to waste your time being anyone other than yourself? You could spend that time becoming the person that God wants you to be. Besides, if you aren’t yourself, how can you feel good about this man’s feelings for you? You can’t even be sure he knows you. Also remember that he can be anybody he wants to be, too. He can act like Regis Philbin but turn out to be more like Jack the Ripper!
~ I appreciate someone being interested in getting to know me regardless of what I look like. But don’t think for a minute that he’s not eventually going to be very interested in what you look like. Then what will you do? Why go there? Don’t get hooked.
~ I enjoy just conversing with a man without having the expectation placed on me to get physical. You may not want to get physical with him now, but after you’ve swallowed every line he’s fed you about himself and poured your heart out to him, you are going to want to move beyond the emotional. Remember, women are Crock-Pots who love to simmer emotionally, but once we’ve had time to warm up, we get hot! To avoid getting burned, I suggest befriending only real people in our lives (not virtual people).
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Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.