Two critical studies published in the Indy Star newspaper lend credence to concerns the church and parents have concerning who their young people spend time with and what they expose themselves to through entertainment. Cataloging the behavior of young people and the influences that help shape their actions, they corroborate the premise that who teens hang out with can and often does influence their decisions on sex, drugs and alcohol.1These statistics going a long way in reinforcing the Bible’s warning that, “Bad company corrupts good character.”; even as it encourages us to, “Come back to your senses…, and stop sinning;…” 1 Corinthians 15:33,34As it would seem only logical that if you develop close friendships with those who routinely misbehave and rebel against their parents, the church and others in authority – you may learn their ways and mimic their behavior. (Proverbs 22:24,25)

Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 45% of teens attend parties where alcohol is available; 30% where marijuana is available and 9% where prescription drugs are available. It also reported that 44% of high school students think boys push girls to drink alcohol or do drugs in order to get them to have sex. (These percentages being comparable for college students – if not higher.) And yet this same study indicated that teens who attend weekly religious services are at less than half the risk of smoking, drinking or using illegal drugs as teens who don’t. Long-term social workers and family counselors such as Janice Gabe of Indianapolis concur. “I do think there is a connection between drinking and drugs and sexual activity… when kids are drinking and using drugs, they're going to do things they normally wouldn’t do or go against their value systems… The key issue is how and where kids are spending their time.” There being a, “…specific link between at-risk behavior – sex, alcohol and drugs – and non-structured, non-supervised hang time.”

The conclusions reached by Rand Corp. behavioral scientists strongly substantiate the connection between teens viewing TV shows with sexual content and their own subsequent sexual activity as well; their findings indicating that some teens are twice as likely to start experimenting with sex, starting with non-intercourse behavior such as passionate kissing and oral sex as compared to those with little exposure to television sex.2 Shows “only” referring to sex without its actual depiction proving almost as powerful in increasing sexual responses as those that bared it all.

From innuendo to outright depictions of intercourse, sex is pervasive on TV, research showing many teens spending an average of three hours a day watching television. This prompted Rand’s researchers to conclude that, “TV thus may create the illusion that sex is more central to daily life than it truly is and may promote sexual initiation as a result.” Rebecca Collins, Rand’s lead researcher commenting, “When they’re watching it for three hours a day, it really does become their social world. Those characters are people they identify with and pay close attention to.”

Besides which, TV sex rarely deals with negative aspects most teens aren’t prepared to deal with, including unwanted pregnancy, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; or the difficulties of maintaining legitimate, committed relationships. “Send(ing) kids the message that everybody’s having sex and nobody’s thinking about responsibility and nothing bad ever happens.”3

Thus all that “preaching” from pastors and parents – about guarding what you see and hear, what you expose yourselves to and who you associate with. Hence scripture’s admonition to, “Above all else, guard your heart, (from which the motivation for doing what we do arises) for it is the well-spring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 As, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart, and the evil man beings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart.” Luke 6:45 It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what we do is often directly linked to what we’ve been stimulated by; a direct result of what we see and hear, what we’ve become comfortable being around and thinking about. This doesn’t mean we have no control over our impulses but does heighten the possibility that things we expose ourselves to may influence us unexpectedly in situations we’re least prepared to deal with. The Bible encouraging us to, “Avoid (even) the appearance of (KJ) – or every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22 The more routine the exposure the more difficult it becomes to control the temptation they give rise to. “For as (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 (KJ) Our private thoughts eventually becoming public actions. Again, proving the truth of scripture that advises, “…by their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:20

I can still hear some protesting, ‘Just because I watch some movies, music videos, or play video games with some inappropriate material won’t automatically make me a drunken, drug-addicted, murdering rapist.’ And you’re right. But for some it may very well be that first step down a long road of wasted time and destructive behavior that no one believes could be true of them! Besides which, can you honestly picture Christ involved in these “somewhat” inappropriate activities? Do you really believe he is indifferent to your participation in them? Paul instructing all believers to center their minds on, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is praiseworthy (or worth doing) – think on (these) things.” Philippians 4:8

1 Indianapolis Star – John J. Shaughenessy

2 Indianapolis Star – Lindsey Tanner

3 Study appearing in Pediatrics Magazine