The church teaches us on a foundation of principles and doctrines rather than a set of specific rules and guidelines. When we have a rule we can only go as far as the rules allow us. When we have doctrine we can progress as much as we can progress to where our Heavenly Father is.
I will share some of the ideas, but mostly I want you to listen to the spirit. You will receive rewards for doing and acting, but if you don’t you won’t receive those rewards. You can write down copious notes, but you will end up with copious notes, but focus on what the Holy Ghost is telling you for your home and what you will do to change it.
This is not a case that we can teach our children one thing and then do something different. This is a lesson for you. This is how you should more effectively use media yourself.
What doctrines and principles, if understood, would help me or you more consistently make appropriate choices regarding my selection of media and my usage of technology??
Knowledge---facts and figures
Understanding---In your heart
Actions—what you do about it.
Class member: 13th Article of Faith…anything virtuous lovely of good report or praiseworthy.
Is that a doctrine, a principle in your mind, a statement of belief, a law, or a commandment?
Elder Bednar doesn’t give you everything in your mind.
Class member: I was thinking of ‘light giveth unto light’. You are what you watch, listen to participate in.
Class member: The spirit accompanies certain media.
Dig a little bit deeper into doctrine.
Doctrine #1: Agency
D&C 101:78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
Class member: We don’t all have to be exactly the same.
How does that help us in choosing media?
Class member: It also takes the ownership back to yourself.
If children understand that then it’s not Mom setting rules, Dad enforcing the rules, and the Child obeying the rules.
Class member: This has been coming up a lot because we have to be careful how we say things like that. “Our family chooses to not going to birthday parties on Sunday” instead of “We are Mormon and don’t do that.”
That is better, but it still says “I’m a rule follower in my family and roped in.” How about I choose not to do it because I obey the Sabbath? The blessings are so much greater to use the blessings that way. I’m not bound by those rules.
Class member: My 12 year old son is having the discussion of the PG-13 movies. He wants to be able to watch them. His friend watches all of them. He said, “People swear at school all the time.” I asked him, “Would you bring those friends into your home and allow them to swear?” He said, “No.” He understood the principle. He made that choice.
I think that is great. It was helpful to connect those one step further. We don’t teach the ‘Why’. The doctrine is the why. Maybe it’s because we are uncomfortable or don’t understand it ourselves. I want you to hold onto this. We have to talk about the PG-13 stuff.
What does “Pertaining to futurity” mean? (D&C 101:78)
Class member: We act and think about the future.
This is not what teenagers do. They act to gratify what they do right now.
“that every man may be accountable for his own sins” (D&C 101:78)
Kids will know that the choices they make will affect them and how it will affect them. We look to the future. This is what they will receive.
“If you put all of the doctrines of the church in boxes and laid them on a large floor and asked me to assemble them in some order, I would sort through the boxes and find one. It would be a long box and a heavy one, and it would say ‘Agency, Freedom, Agency.’ I would put that down first, and everything else we believe would be stacked in proper order on top of that. President Boyd K. Packer (Mine Errand From the Lord pg 176)
How does this help us in making choices in media?
Class member: It’s their choice. It really is them. It’s not our rules. Ultimately it has to be their choice.
You are right. You are thinking I am the parent and I do create the rules. You can set a standard in your home and let them live by that standard. It doesn’t need to be a dictatorship. They will come along willingly.
Class member: If I instill fear in my children they will obey, but if they go to a friends house they might not follow. They will make good choices because they want to or because they are afraid of me or they want me to approve of them. It’s because they can make good choices.
Doctrine #2: Plan of Salvation
Abraham 3: 24-28
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.
Class member: My kids were lying about their age so they could play some shooting games. They lost that ‘estate’ and it is password protected.
Class member: This goes back to agency. We are choosing what to do with it.
“If they do whatsoever the Lord commands them.” If they follow the rules then I will give them more. Heavenly Father has eternal rules. He shares them with us. “Glory will be added upon our heads forever and ever.”
Class member: It’s more the why. It brings you happiness.
That is the power. Not even because a prophet has said it. We do it because it is an eternal principle and will bring us happiness. Not because someone told me to do that.
Class member: How do you make teenagers care? They go through a period of whether they believe it or they don’t just care.
Question: How were you made to care?
Answer: I had to figure it out for myself.
This is the wrestle of parenthood. Our problem as parents is that we stay on the surface level of rules. Our rule is the prophet said not to watch PG13 movies. We never get down to truly testify to our children. When is the last time you testified to your children about an eternal principle? We have teenagers that just don’t care. Those of you who have children under the age of 5 it is easier. There is hope, but we need to stay grounded into the ‘why’ and the doctrine and teach them.
President Boyd K Packer “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.”
Class member: This actually goes back to agency. This shows what will happen if you use agency appropriately. Sometimes it’s easier to just give them the rule. That’s easy. There is truth to that. As they get older how do you teach them to care? When I take the time to show them what you are doing now (it’s a bigger time commitment) .
I have a guy I work with that chews tobacco. He asked me one time and said, “You can’t chew tobacco.” I said I disagree. I can choose to do it if I wanted to. Can you choose not to? He needed to feed an addiction from choices he made. We talked with our kids about that concept of the path that someone followed and through these choices he is addicted. Am I bound by that law or am I set free from that law? It takes more self control on your part.
The problem is we default to a dictatorship. I don’t care if you don’t understand. I’m the parent and I call the shots around here. We often will say we do this and you will get these blessings. Do we make them work for that answer? We have to listen and ask questions. They are working through the reasons in their mind.
Why do you think there is this standard? Don’t just say because we will get blessings. Let’s talk about your friends and what you see. We need to have these conversations.
They touch us because they are true and they are eternal principles.
Class member: That sounds so great, but what if they don’t have any experiences. We just don’t do sleepover. She has never heard about the horrible things that happen. She is 11. I feel very strongly because of all the things that could possibly happen. That’s more of a safety matter not a heart matter.
You have to be sensitive to the maturity of the child. If I were you I would have a frank conversation. Let’s talk about this. You are so driven by it. Let’s talk about the why. These are some of my feelings. I feel like sleepovers are not ok. It lets kids be in situations that are not safe. Pornography was there. Why would I subject anyone to that environment? So they don’t think you are this dictator that just gives these rules. If there are real reasons then share those to the extent that you can.
Class member: We have had that same experience with our 8 and 9 year old daughters. We talked about things that happened late at night like toilet papering. We implemented late-overs. If I say “Yes” now this takes away our family rule.
If you establish the rule and teach the why then when the circumstance comes up so why would you even want to do it even just once.
We will talk about it when we get to cell phones.
Class member: When teaching your kids you can make a good choice, but then not allowing our children to get into those situations and something bad could happen. How can I prove to you that they can make a good choice? (Where do you draw the line where I let you decide and where do you say these are our rules and this is how it is. You just need to abide by it.)
Where do you let them have their agency and let them fall on their face. That is a great question. I think you have to follow the Spirit. It is the most valuable tool. When it comes to issues of eternal consequence or worthiness when you fast forward 2 years from now, don’t let them make a mistake. You need to hold fast. They just need to follow the rule until they learn. Even though we talk about the why and the doctrine hopefully it will help them motivate them. You set those rules, but you have to teach the why.
Class member: Even though they have their own agency and they may choose the right, the other people in the situation can make their own choices and their choices will impact them because they are just there. There are other choices others make. You trust them (the child), but you don’t trust the environment.
Object lesson from a bishop….he was an entomologist. He studied ants and their behavior. He spread out powder and these ants would track the powder which you couldn’t see without black lights. He laced these gloves with powder. He had 3 people come up on put on these gloves he laced with powder. You put on glasses to protect you from what you see. Now you put on this mask. You put on this apron. All these things to protect yourself. Are you protected? Yes. Take it all off. You have had all this protection on. Are you clean? Yes. Think again. He turned on the black lights. The powder was all over them. Just because you read the scriptures, are baptized, and do FHE doesn’t mean you can go to the Friday night kegger. Don’t expose yourself to that. It was a powerful lesson. We have to help them understand really what is going on…on a deeper level.
Doctrine #3: Holy Ghost
D&C 68:25 And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.
It is your responsibility to teach them.
1 Nephi 4:1-6
1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3 Now behold ye know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.
4 Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
5 And it was by night; and I caused that they should hide themselves without the walls. And after they had hid themselves, I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban.
6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
Class member: I don’t think you have to view what you are seeing. You don’t have to turn it off because you never viewed it to begin with.
There are G movies I don’t feel comfortable with. It is possible to have a movie that chases away the spirit. If I teach them the doctrine of who the Holy Ghost is and how he operates then they can be agents unto themselves.
Class member: Your Mom was talking about testifying to your children. My 7 year old & I stop at the library to get audio books instead of listening to the radio. In the first paragraph there was a popular phrase that my daughter didn’t know. It was “OMG” I was explaining it to her. She said, “That doesn’t make me feel good can we take this back to the library?” I had the opportunity to tell her that this was not a good thing for us to listen to. It was an awesome experience.
I had an experience in FHE, we shared a story and it was powerful. The Spirit was there. My 6 year old son said wow I just feel warm and sweaty inside. My wife started laughing. I said tell me about that feeling. We talked about it. Is it a good feeling or bad feeling? He didn’t know how to describe it. This is the Holy Ghost. It comes as a warm feeling. He associated things as hot as being sweaty. We had a great conversation of the Holy Ghost. It testified of truth. When did you feel it? How did you feel it? It was a good feeling and it’s one he wanted all the time. We have to capitalize on those.
“The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and as such like God the Father and Jesus Christ, He knows our thoughts and the intents of our hearts. He loves us and wants us to be happy. Since He knows the challenges we will face, He can guide us and teach us all things we must do to return and live with our Heavenly Father once again.” Elder Craig C. Christensen (An Unspeakable Gift from God)
He knows my thought. He knows our childrens thoughts.
Class member: In “Courageous Parenting” 17 year old son who wanted to go on a trip with friends. I just didn’t feel good about it, but didn’t have a specific reason. The son was disappointed. I said, “I don’t know why I just don’t feel good about it. I love you too much to ignore the feelings inside.” When our children understand what the feeling of the Holy Ghost is they will trust that we are really feeling that.
October 2013….Robert D. Hales “In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected.”
That says….At some point we will experience those misunderstandings.
To what extent are my teenagers…watching hearing reading and sharing the words of the prophets? To what extent do we do that? The latest news, Facebook post, or anything else.
“The only safety we have. (President Harold Be Lee pg 84-85) You may not like what comes from the authority of the church…it may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is the ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail again you;…and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good and his name’s glory.”
“For Strength of Youth”
Entertainment and Media
You live in a day of marvelous technologies that give you easy access to a wide variety of media, including the Internet, mobile devices, video games, television, movies, music, books, and magazines. The information and entertainment provided through these media can increase your ability to learn, communicate, and become a force for good in the world. However, some information and entertainment can lead you away from righteous living. Choose wisely when using media because whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Select only media that uplifts you.
Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others. Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.
Pornography in all forms is especially dangerous and addictive. What may begin as an unexpected exposure or a curious exploration can become a destructive habit. Use of pornography is a serious sin and can lead to other sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs. It is a poison that weakens your self-control, destroys your feelings of self-worth, and changes the way you see others. It causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit and can damage your ability to have a normal relationship with others, especially your future spouse. It limits your ability to feel true love. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately.
If you are involved in pornography, cease now. Seek the help you need. Your parents and bishop can help you take the steps necessary to repent and rid yourself of this destructive habit.
Take care that your use of media does not dull your sensitivity to the Spirit or interfere with your personal relationships with others. Spending long periods of time using the Internet or a mobile device, playing video games, or watching television or other media can keep you from valuable interactions with other people. Be careful that your use of social media does not replace spending time with your family and friends.
Guard your safety and the safety of others by taking great care about what personal information and images you share through technology. Do not communicate anything over the Internet or through texting that would be inappropriate to share in person. Obey the laws that govern sharing music, movies, and other copyrighted items.
If you are not sure whether something is appropriate to watch or listen to, talk to your parents and other adult leaders. The Holy Ghost will give you strength to make correct choices.
She is searching for ways to teach her kids. This is why you and I are here. Find something else so you can connect with them. Help them connect. The extent we can take it and go deeper to the doctrines that create these standards they will gain that additional testimony.
In my priests quorum in our ward, I asked “How do you view this ‘For Strength of Youth’ pamphlet…is it recommendations, tips for life, commandments from God. They said we view it as suggestions and guidelines….ideas that will help us to be happy. If you view it in that context and put it on a different plain of we need to be baptized to go to heaven. A commandment is a roadmap to true and eternal happiness. That is the way there. Baptism is the way to true happiness. Following FSOY guidelines is a path to true happiness. This is what youth struggle with.
Criteria for decision making…..
1. Increase your ability to learn
3. Become a force for good.
If something crosses my path I would ask myself those 3 questions.
Whatever you are exposed to has an effect on you.
Class member: Adults look at this as ‘for youth’ and not for me…adults. This lesson is for you.
Experience: This was my first week as YM president in our ward. I jumped in and the way it’s supposed to work it is a boy lead program. We are there to supervise. I asked one of my priests ‘what do we have for our activity this week’. It’s at my house…game night. I think ‘monopoly’…great. I want you to make sure it’s priest appropriate. The boys bring a couple things they start put in a screen as big as my house. I was the only adult in the room. They were still setting up. “Call of Duty” flashes on the screen. I have never viewed this. Is this ‘priest’ appropriate? Well….they are getting their paddles and they are choosing their weapons. I was behind the couch and they were still going. I said, “Hey is this priest appropriate?” One of them turns and said, “What?” Kind of like are you serious? I said, “Are you really going to play this?” They just kept going, but didn’t answer that question. Almost like…hurry let’s get going so it’s exciting and then he will leave us alone. There is this awkward silent moment. The decision they were making…I said this. That is not ok. This is no longer a priest quorum activity. You are friends meeting and playing together and I’m leaving. I left. I was so out of control.
Fortunately the leaders that had been in the other room came back and talked them through what happened. I live in Kuna. I went to a country road and took a long personal walk and thought about how I am failing. I turned off my cell phone and these boys started texting. The other leaders came in and said, “Brother Tanner left are you ok with that”. They helped them feel guilty enough to change their behavior.
They went over to the bishops office and asked him if he has seen Brother Tanner. He said, “No did you misplace him?” They replied, “Don’t worry about it.” They go to my house. “Have you seen Brother Tanner?” My wife said, “No I thought he was with you.” They said, “Don’t worry about it.” It becomes this fire storm to find Brother Tanner.
I lowered the hammer on Sunday. I talked about standards and choices and agency. It is their choice. I received a text from the boy that originally brought the game. He said, “I thought about your lesson today I feel that the decision I have made today to stop playing Call Of Duty and other violent games. I had to pray and study the section on For Strength Of Youth. Thank you.”
You and I must live it. I’m not there to be their friend. They have plenty of those. I’m there to be a leader to help them know what a good decision and a poor decision is.
IN ANY WAY….
Do you think that realistic gore is violent in some way? Even in a small way? Is graphic violence ‘violent in some way?’ Having the Spirit makes these choices easier to make.
Someone else said, “That means we can’t watch anything.” I think he was hoping that I would say it’s ok if you can put it in it’s place. If you are putting yourself in a situation where you are chasing away the spirit you lose the blessings of having the Spirit with us.
The rule in the family is we want to invite the Spirit. You cannot put your kids to bed and put on a PG movie that you can handle because you are an adult. If I really really want to be like President Monson and my Heavenly Father I will do what they can do.
This weekend we were watching a movie. The movie was “Tin-Tin”. Only 10 minutes into this movie there is a scene where a guy comes to the door and the guy gets shot and you see the bullet holes come through the door. I’m thinking my 6 year old just saw that. We do that all the time. We keep watching. We say “That’s bad” and then keep watching. We turn it off. That’s not good. It drives out the spirit. Let’s turn it off. We will find something else.
In New Jersey I was teaching early morning seminary. We had a problem in our ward some RS sisters were taking our daughters to Breaking Dawn. I thought I have to teach them standards. I read this line…”In any way…” I read the rating and then pulled out the rating. It has detailed reviews, “Rated PG13 for partial nudity…Edward and Bella have sex a few times, no nudity is seen except their naked bodies can be seen from the side.” Let’s go watch Edward and Bella have sex a few times, but that is what you are doing. Let’s go watch naked bodies from the side. You are effectively saying that. I went to that movie and I had aunts on either side. During the bad parts I closed my eyes. I felt like I was able to handle it. Guess who can’t handle it. The Holy Ghost can’t handle it. You just spent 2 hours of your life downgrading yourself because you aren’t spiritually stronger since you went in.
Approach any decision with “What will I get out of it? Am I downgrading myself?”
‘Select only media that uplifts you.’…makes you better. I feel like being a better person. Does that cut out a lot of media and entertainment. We all should be squirming in some sort of a way.
We create these criteria.
Class member: I came to your class last semester. I felt the spirit of that. I thought I would be a big giant weirdo if I did that. After awhile and a few conferences ago when he talked about keeping our nest safe we decided to make some changes. I really like shows so I had to be extreme and cancel our Netflix. It has made a big difference in our lives. My children to if they are not around me they won’t like to be around where the spirit isn’t.
You have to make the decisions first. We can’t be hypocrites.
Class member: The news is on in the morning on our TV during breakfast. It was so discouraging so I quit turning it on. My husband said, “You never have the news on anymore.” I said, “I just don’t like it on in my home.” He turned in on and within 5 minutes he turned it off. There is peace in our home. It doesn’t make you feel great.
When we cut these things out we ourselves are changed.
Trends….How long it took to reach 50 million users
Draw Something App---50 days
Cell phone stats….
Loneliness factor went up with more technology
Those that use media 7% developed depression over 7 years.
We give them an iphone or a gadget to entertain the kids.
Technology is not bad. The church uses it all the time. Companionships have cell phones. How do we teach them to use technology while avoiding the evils.
1. Make the rule early on!!
2. Be more restrictive in the beginning (it is always easier to give than to take)
3. Explain the rating system. Openly communicate about the standards.
Stake president gave his son a cell phone and he lost his son. He took his cell phone and smashed it. He said this is ruining our relationship.
4. Be consistent—No Exceptions
5. Remember, the rule is for Everyone, especially parents!
6. Most important: The ‘rule’ is already set, you just need to explain it.
The rule is the doctrine we are just learning how to live the doctrine.
What if someone that wants a cell phone. You can ask… “Why do you want a cell phone? You are 13. Do you have clients or business appointments you need set?” What is the ‘need’ or is it a ‘want’. Once they got over a need vs a want. You have to pay for yours as well. So no he calls on his ‘No phone’. Discover the need and have them be disciplined with it.
Err on the side of not ‘letting things in’ rather than letting them in and making a mistake.
Class member: We did the same thing with my husband’s tablet. We just didn’t like how it was affecting our family. My husband took it and smashed it and threw it in the garbage. My 4 year old came in and he acted like it was a pet. He wanted to see it in the garbage can and was crying. It’s been great every since.
Technology is for our use. We should be able to use it.
Homework: Read this talk by David A Bednar “Things As They Really Are”
There are 2 questions that should guide every decision…2 criteria he tells us in there. What are they?
Remember that the reason we have it is a tool. If 80% of our usage is fun, entertainment, relaxation we aren’t using it as a tool. Allow them to interact with it as a tool. I put my job lists on the Ipad. He watches Youtube as part of his structured lessons. Organizing, keeping yourself. Consider it a tool.
Follow the Holy Ghost and you will know how to do it.