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How Media Transforms and Deceives Us

In the past, it would take a man many years or decades of sexual sin to come into deep spiritual darkness. But the advancement of technology and media has allowed the enemy to sow these seeds into boys and young men at earlier and earlier ages. However, with the change of culture, we have been blessed to see more young men coming into our counseling programs – and being given new life in Christ.

Patrick Hudson is part of this millennial generation. He uses his own experience as the springboard to discuss the destructive power of technology and media with two other Pure Life staffers, David Rodriguez and Skip Gabbin. They share how secular music, digital entertainment, and social media was used by the devil to both deceive and transform them.

Patrick: Before coming to Pure Life Ministries, the main form of media that dominated my life was music. I played cello, I sang in a choir – it took up most every day of the week. Outside of this, I was also listening to music—mostly secular music. My whole world revolved around it. It was a source of recreation, and it also gave me meaning. I even ended up teaching music, because I thought that's how I could serve God, and how he wanted me to serve Him. But something I didn't see in my relationship with music was that the messages I was listening to and the people that I was talking with about this all had this negative influence on my life because so much of it had nothing to do with God. Now I can't blame secular music for the sin that was in my life—that was my fault—but, I see how the enemy used it as a powerful weapon to corrupt me and pull me away from the infant life in God that I had at a younger age. You see, I always had a list of favorite secular songs I would listen to whatever I was doing. I would listen to the same song for hours, allowing myself to be taken up by the emotion of it. It fueled fantasies and the desires in my heart. Looking back, I see how much of an idol It really was. The more I listened to the words and the messages that it was proclaiming, the less I looked like a Christian and the more I began to look like the world. You guys grew up in the same generation as me, so I wanted to ask, how did that play out in your life through other forms of media and technology?

David: Yeah I was obsessed with digital entertainment; I really lived for video games and t.v.. This fueled a very self-focused lifestyle; I was lazy; I was full of self pity; I really cared only about myself. I wasn't taking care of basic household responsibilities or my personal hygiene. I had a good job but I really didn't care about it. I was so addicted that I would be online very late into the morning a lot of times until the sun came up and because of that I was late to work so often it's a miracle I wasn't fired. I was just in love with comfort and pleasure—all I wanted to do was be home where I could sit at my computer. So that was the pattern of my life for over a decade and I have come to see that it was all an attempt at escaping reality. I used digital entertainment because it told me I was on the right path—no one said it in words—it just made me feel good about escaping reality. The video game scene, especially, lent itself to just living a very fake, fantasy life. I knew that I had to escape reality because there was just so much wrong weighing me down; I was confronted with deeply rooted desires that I knew were wrong, so I did all I could to escape.

Skip: Looking back, I had Facebook Instagram—all these different social media platforms and every time that I had free time I would go to my profile. I was always updating, always trying to look at captions and statuses. It really did control my life. I was going on different feeds and just seeing what everybody was posting kind of entering into their lives, so to speak. And it did consume my life; it became such an idol in my life that I scheduled everything else around it; it dominated my thought processes; dominated every free idle moment that I had. In reality, I just used technology and media as a way to escape. It actually became my religion, in a way. If I posted a picture or a caption having to do with God or Christianity, I really thought I was doing God a service. I thought if someone wasn't posting about God, they weren't saved. Looking back I really used social media as a way to run from the Lord and feed that self-centeredness.

Patrick: In high school I did have a love for God, but I didn’t see that the music I was listening to stood against the faith I professed to have. I was singing words that celebrated a life focused entirely on pleasing myself. So that’s how I started to live. What's crazy is, up until coming to Pure Life, I thought I was the best Christian out there. But in reality I wasn’t reading the Bible, I wasn’t praying and if I went to church it was more of a social club. If I found myself in a church, I would experience a hellish hate for those there. I was brought to the point where I couldn’t even see right from wrong anymore. So I know sin was deceiving me. What about you guys? How did that play out in your lives?

<pull-quote>“I was always being confronted with deeply rooted desires that I knew were wrong, so I abused digital entertainment because it made me feel good about escaping reality.” — David R.<pull-quote><tweet-link>Tweet This<tweet-link>
David: Before PLM, I sowed a lot of sin and that sin brought with it, as it always does, a war that deceived me and left me confused—it made me insane. On the one hand I could see the bad fruit in my life; I could see that I was an awful roommate; I was an awful employee; a bad son. Sin was controlling my life, it was dominating my thoughts and my actions and just the way I perceived the world. But the insane part is, I really ultimately thought I was OK. I still thought that I was basically a good person. In reality I was not OK and that war really increased my need to escape reality. I can remember weekend after weekend just being cooped up in my room—door closed, headphones on, eating fast food and playing video games—just completely dead to the world.

Skip: It was all about status to me; popularity. It was always about who had the most likes; who had the most people following them. I got caught up in all of that, to the point to where I thought I was doing the right thing. I don't know if that makes sense—I thought I was right in doing this because I wanted to show people that my life looked as good as I was presenting it to be. It became my reality in a way, I was self-deceived, thinking that I was really living out this life that I posted in pictures. It almost felt empty without it—I felt like I had to have that social status.

Patrick: In the decades before coming to Pure Life, secular music sowed much more than just sexual sin into my heart. I became isolated and selfish, which made me exceedingly lonely and depressed. This allowed an ever-growing hate, anger and bitterness to fester as well. And of course, music was what I would turn to feel better. But absent of God, absent of real hope in Christ, the feelings and thoughts would become worse and worse leaving me more miserable. I was entirely self-absorbed. Everyone around me was just a means to an end of pleasing myself. But it was never enough. When you look back on your life, how did your lifestyle begin to degrade your character?

David: When I was in the program, I saw into my heart, past the sexual sin to the arrogance the bitterness and the laziness. The Lord allowed me to examine my life in a much deeper way. I had turned to entertainment and piled on all those activities to get away from reality, but the atmosphere that I walked into just continued to feed my self-life. The community I was in was entitled, they were bitter and arrogant just like I was, so it was really easy for me to feed off of that and continue going down that road.

Skip: Yeah, I mean it made me so jealous and covetous of other people. Someone got like a job promotion... One of the things that always tripped me up was "so and so is in a relationship with so and so" and that always made me... "man! I want to be in a relationship" or change my status to "it's complicated" things like that. It just made me so covetous and more self pitiful. I would always look at my circumstances—the circumstances that I got myself into—and thought, "man like my life isn't really as great as I want this to be perceived as."

Patrick: When it came to sexual sin, there was really no escaping it when all I was turning to was music. If the lyrics didn’t talk explicitly about hooking up, then I was still using the feeling of the song to help me live out the imaginative fantasies that were beyond reach for me in real life. I can remember one song in particular that I would always listen to and imagine I was singing it to whoever I was lusting after at the time. I can't count the number of girls I imagined singing this song to over the years. So, of course, when opportunities to act out the sin that was in my heart came, I jumped at it. So when you look at the media that was in your own lives, did that play a part in making sexual sin worse for you, or were they more separate issues?  

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David: I would estimate I spent 40 to 50 hours a week sitting on my computer playing video games watching t.v. shows movies You Tube videos. I exposed myself to so much worldly media and I immersed myself in those communities. The messages I got from them really reinforced the perverted and self-centered lifestyle that had already rooted itself in my heart. The people that I met on the Internet became my closest friends, but they were living the same kind of lifestyle that I was. Being surrounded with them really just continued to reinforce the normalcy and acceptability of immorality—there was no standard of morality in our chat rooms. We talked about whatever we wanted, we even bragged about immoral behavior.

Skip: Social media fueled my sexual lust without a shadow of a doubt. Looking at pictures, looking at videos... I really saw that social media, underneath it all, was about pleasure, was about sex, was about sensuality. The more that grew in me the more that I actually started searching it out. That fed so much of that fantasy and that lifestyle that was already kind of embedded in me over years of feeding self-centeredness through social media.

Patrick: Today I don’t listen to secular music, and I do love worship music, but the Lord actually has taken me through seasons where I won’t listen to music for months at a time. I think this has taught me to rely on Him and not on my feelings and thoughts like I used to. There’s actually an old hymn that says, “Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word.” And that is what I see changing in my life. For so many years I wanted to feel better, but music could never accomplish that. And now God’s Word is the most precious thing to me. But it isn’t there to save me from my bad feelings—It’s there to save me from my sin. For you guys, video games and social media aren’t a part of your personal lives at all. What has God taught you about living a real Christian life that contrasts with the way you used to live?

David: Well that entertainment-obsessed lifestyle that used to live was all about me getting what I wanted and feeling how I wanted. Now I can honestly say that the Lord is teaching me, painful as it is, to deny myself and having a routine for the evening and the morning. He's giving me grace to wake up when I need to. He's showing me the value of denying myself when it comes to things like eating right. He's actually changing my heart so it's not just drudgery, and He's giving me a really clear view of how I can humble myself before Him and before others. The Lord is transforming me into a man of God who is ready and willing to exercise his faith so that I can deny my laziness, my apathy, my arrogance and, by God's grace, actually be a different person.

Skip: What has God taught me about living a real Christian life? I think one of the main things was fellowship. I think the last couple of years without social media. He showed me that I don't have to live that facade—I just don't have to. As a Christian being in fellowship with other believers and being there physically... like I remember, after not being on social media for a while, finally looking at my parents and saying like, man, they have the same eyes as I do. Because I was so attached to my phone and attached to social media, I never looked at my parents like that before. I think he gave me like a whole new renewed mind in the area of what it means to be with somebody—to be—to just be in their presence

Patrick: When I look back, I see how empty it all was. There is a sadness at how many years I was grieving the Lord. But also such a gratitude because he's given me something real in my life. His Word says that we know His love in that while we were still sinners He died for us. And every day I was hurting Him more and more He was still working out a way to redeem me.

David: It's really difficult to explain how clearly I can see the lies that are in the American culture that I consumed on a daily basis. I think back on it and I'm nearly overcome with grief, but also filled with so much gratitude because the Lord has been using His word to cleanse me and change me from the inside out. In my personal study time I'm reading through the Bible in a year—reading, studying, meditating on 4 to 5 chapters every morning—and I can't tell you what it's like to have my mind filled with God's Word instead of spending all that time filling my mind with absolute garbage. I get to fall asleep with scripture in my mind and wake up actually excited about getting into the Word and spending time with the Lord in prayer.

Skip: I thought I knew what it meant to give away my life, but looking back I see that I was rejecting the life that He was trying to give me. I don't know how else to put it—I mean, in social media, you think that you're going to find it one day; you think that you're going to finally be happy and finally be at the pinnacle of the image. It's almost like you keep climbing the mountain that you never get to the mountain peak. But living as a Christian in this real life based on the Bible, I'm seeing it's the opposite, it's going down the mountain, in a way, coming down off the mountain into humility and losing that life to find Him.

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