Wednesday, June 20, 2018

President M. Russell Ballard on media's influence and speaking up for virtue

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"The choices we make in media can be symbolic of the choices we make in life. Choosing the trendy, the titillating, the tawdry in the TV programs or movies we watch can cause us to end up, if we’re not careful, choosing the same things in the lives we live.
"If we do not make good choices, the media can devastate our families and pull our children away from the narrow gospel path. In the virtual reality and the perceived reality of large and small screens, family-destructive viewpoints and behavior are regularly portrayed as pleasurable, as stylish, as exciting, and as normal. Often media’s most devastating attacks on family are not direct or frontal or openly immoral. Intelligent evil is too cunning for that, knowing that most people still profess belief in family and in traditional values. Rather the attacks are subtle and amoral—issues of right and wrong don’t even come up. Immorality and sexual innuendo are everywhere, causing some to believe that because everyone is doing it, it must be all right. This pernicious evil is not out in the street somewhere; it is coming right into our homes, right into the heart of our families....
"The new morality preached from the media’s pulpit is nothing more than the old immorality. It attacks religion. It undermines the family. It turns virtue into vice and vice into virtue. It assaults the senses and batters the soul with messages and images that are neither virtuous, nor lovely, nor of good report, nor praiseworthy.
"The time has come when members of the Church need to speak out and join with the many other concerned people in opposition to the offensive, destructive, and mean-spirited media influence that is sweeping over the earth."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Let Our Voices Be Heard," General Conference October 2003
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

President Ballard issued this warning about media 15 years ago. Certainly the concerns he mentions are significantly worse today! The negative influence of media presentations can be brazen and overt, or subtle and hidden. Sometimes "family-destructive viewpoints and behavior are regularly portrayed as pleasurable, as stylish, as exciting, and as normal." But the more subtle attacks, where the agendas are hidden and clever, can be even more destructive to us and to our families. We must guard actively against these attacks of "pernicious evil" that are attempting to invade "right into the heart of our families."

President Ballard encouraged us not only to safeguard our homes and monitor our support of public media presentations, but also to "speak out and join with the many other concerned people in opposition" to the negative and destructive influence of this kind of media. We should seek for opportunities to have our voices heard!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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