So where have I been for the last few years? I realize that blogging, for a while now, has been as much a part of American culture as, let's say, Facebook. Or shopping malls. Or satellite TV. Or cell phone movie players that store all your music and are actually teeny tiny computers that you carry around with you. And while I have recently discovered the joys of blogs and Facebook, I don't frequent the mall, I still don't have satellite television (or cable...or an antenna...or even rabbit ears), and I don't carry around an atomic do-all phonicular device.....I have a trac-fone.
Why, you may ask? Why do I try to limit my access to some of these things? Not because any of them is inherently wrong or evil, but because they are worldly, and any worldly thing can be dangerous if misused.
So...American pop culture. Shopping malls. Television. Advertisements. Internet. Fast food. Movies. Magazines. Music.
If there’s one thing I’ve discovered that all these have in common, it’s this: they can all lead me to sin. And I’m not talking about the premeditated and calculated sin that I carry around with me and pamper and feed like a little Hollywood pet. I’m talking about what I call “spontaneous sin” – the kind that reaches out and grabs me before I even realize what’s happening. The kind of sin that I don’t choose (or at least don’t mean to choose) in the moment, but end up committing nonetheless.
Spontaneous sin, unfortunately, is part of being who we are - human. Our flesh is weak, and even without prior intent, it can easily be swayed to take part in sin. This is the reason I do my best to avoid places and activities that I know (from experience) will tempt me.
Take, for instance, the shopping mall. My husband is fond of saying that a shopping mall displays everything that’s wrong with our country, and I would have to say that I agree. Lavish spending. Materialism. Greed. Immodesty. Jealousy. Debt. Discontentment. Yet there is nothing innately wrong with shopping. There are a few stores at the mall that I visit regularly (especially those with good clearance racks), but I usually just go in and out. No mall walking. If I spend too much time browsing, it’s especially easy for me to fall into the trap. Suddenly, I’m no longer content with the bedspread we’ve had for years, or my girls need new matching dresses with accessories, or I find myself wishing I could look good in that. Where I was content before the mall trip, I become discontented.
We’ve all done it. We may spend too much money on things we don’t need. We may fall into self-loathing when we don’t measure up to the models displaying the clothes we try on. Women may walk past a lingerie store and feel inadequate; men might struggle with lust and impure thoughts. Spontaneous sin, all of it.
I’m not in any way suggesting that we should never go to the mall or to the movies, read a magazine, watch TV, or do anything else that the world enjoys. I am simply saying that we need to be careful. Before we accept something of the world as part of our lives, we should evaluate the risk of spontaneous sin involved. My husband and I (even before we had kids) picked apart our television habits and decided that for us, the bad outweighed the good. We were constantly tempted by (and falling to) laziness and lack of communication, and also had little to no control over the violence, language, and immodesty that we viewed. So we no longer watch TV at all. (And besides the adjustment of the first few months, we haven’t missed it in over six years!)
You see, all worldly things carry with them a risk of spontaneous sin. The internet brings easy access to pornography. Movies often glorify violence, immorality and sex. Magazines can be full of gossip. The questions we, as followers of Christ, have to ask ourselves are ‘How much risk are we willing to take?’ and ‘How much temptation can I stand up to?’ Maybe you are stronger than I am, but I’ve discovered that the temptation to sin is often greater than I can handle. I don’t want to spontaneously sin. And while I know that God will always give me a way to overcome temptation if I seek it, I’m not willing to consistently throw myself into the middle of a jungle (or a shopping mall) and trust that I will choose the right path.