The Four Commitments for Entertainment and Media – 2016

The commitments, what are they?

Entertainment and Media, unlike most of the others, can easily be summed up in four commitments, two lesser commitments and two greater commitments:

  • Lesser two:
    • Be safe online; obey copyright laws
    • Don’t spend too much time using the Internet or a mobile device, playing video games, or watching television or other media.
  • Greater two:
    • Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way.
    • Select only media which uplifts you.

Also unlike many of the others, these are also very simple to understand. In this segment, instead of finding a variety of commitments to pick and choose from, those who commit to this will be reminded daily of these four commitments that you will make. I would suggest focusing on commitments one through three, and then once you’ve gotten a handle on them, the next step would be to commit to commitment four.

  1. Until April 3, 2016, I, ____________________, commit to guarding my safety and the safety of others by taking great care about what personal information and images I share through technology. I will obey the laws that govern sharing music, movies, and other copyrighted items.*
  2. Until April 3, 2016, I, ____________________, will take care that my use of media does not dull my sensitivity to the Spirit or interfere with my personal relationships with others by not spending long periods of time using the Internet or a mobile device, playing video games, or watching television or other media.*
  3. Until April 3, 2016, I, ____________________, will not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way.*
  4. Until April 3, 2016, I, ____________________, will select only media that uplifts me.*

You can do this! It will be only 3 weeks, by the end of which your mind will feel so much cleaner, as I know from trying this before.

*These are all paraphrased from For the Strength of Youth.

I’ve committed. What next?

Following is some advice on how to live each commitment.

For the first commitment, if you want more information on computer safety, provides lots of helpful advice from the church as well as links for more specific topics (such as content filtering, online games, identity theft, and viruses).

For the second commitment, For the Strength of Youth doesn’t elaborate on it, but my suggestion would be to find ways to have fun/relax that don’t involve a screen. For example, maybe make a craft instead of playing a video game, play a board game instead of watching a movie, or going for a run instead of sitting in front of the computer. This way you’ll have something else to turn to when bored or tired.

The third commitment is what I really want to talk about. Before I first started For the Strength of All, I tested to see if it would work by making the third commitment, to not attend, view, or participate in anything that was vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in anyway. To help me with that, I instigated what I call a One-Strike policy. What I did (or at least tried really hard to do) for three weeks was that the moment I heard, saw, or felt anything wrong with a movie, article, song, book, etc., I would just stop. Stop reading, listening, watching, whatever it was, or leave if I couldn’t stop. I decided I would do this no matter what the circumstance, so that I didn’t have a choice. I just would. By the end of the three weeks, among other things I learned that you really can just stop, and it isn’t too hard to find something else that actually is uplifting.

However, before I was able to commit to that, I needed to know what was “wrong” in the first place, so I used something called a dictionary.  As said before, we are commanded to not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in anyway. Here are some definitions that I think help to understand what that means (note for parents, these are very blunt definitions. You may not want you child to read all of them):

  • Vulgar: Something is vulgar if it makes explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions; is coarse and rude.
  • Immoral: Something is immoral if it does not conform to God’s standards of morality.
  • Pornography: Pornography is printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. It can be in books just as easily as it can be in movies and pictures.
  • Violent: Something is violent if it uses or involves physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

These are the definitions, although some (specifically violent) can be extremely restrictive in what they tell you to avoid. Choose for yourself the degree to which you want to avoid something. Listen to the spirit, and obey its promptings. For a slightly less restrictive commandment about violence and immorality, this is also found in For the Strength of Youth: “Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.”

Commitment four, to select only media that uplifts you: As said previously, this one is more optional. Commitment three is very powerful, so it can be enough to stick with it. However, to go the next step, obey the advice given in Article of Faith 1:13: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (emphasis added). Continuing with the idea of the commitment three, why not look up some definitions?

  • Virtuous means to have high moral standards.
  • Lovely means to be exquisitely beautiful.
  • The report of someone/something is the way in which he/she/it is regarded, or their reputation. To have good report means it is regarded as good, has a good reputation.
  • To be praiseworthy means that it is deserving of approval and admiration.
  • Something is uplifting if it is morally or spiritually elevating; inspiring happiness or hope.

So looking at that, we seek for beauty, happiness, hope, things worth admiration and that have a good reputation, high moral standards, and spiritual elevation. Isn’t that a lovely list? ( 🙂 ) The more we seek for what is good, the less we seek for what is bad. This works in both a spiritual and a temporal sense, A: Temporally, if we literally spent all our time seeking good, we literally would have no time to seek for bad, and B: Spiritually, the more we seek for good, the less we want to seek for bad. That is what really matters.

I’ve read the previous section and understand. What now?

Congratulations! You’ve almost started! I suggest rereading the commitments. Try to really set them in your mind, so that you know what you are going to do. Then act on them. Throughout the next three weeks, read the daily reminders that will be sent out, and use to help you to remember this commitment, and the reason why you are making this commitment, specifically, to come closer to Christ, to do as He would, and to strive to be the best that you can be.

~ George

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