Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Ephesians 5:11-12

Have you ever experienced the awkwardness of watching a show or a movie with your parents when a particularly uncomfortable scene or image comes on the screen? All of a sudden you wish you could change the channel or leave the room or become invisible, anything to get out of this horrible moment?

I confess that I had this experience just this past week while watching television with my wife and my dad. I was eager to share with my family a comedy show that I sometimes enjoy; unfortunately, it only took about three minutes for this particular episode to become filled with sexual innuendo and crass jokes. After a few minutes of squirming, avoiding eye contact, and turning red, I finally changed the channel out of embarrassment and shame.

The experience made me reflect upon the concept of shame. We tend to think that shame itself is a bad thing, something to be avoided at all costs. But as I reflected upon it more, I realized that in some situations shame might be the voice of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to change my ways.

1 Timothy 4:2 talks of those whose “consciences are seared,” presumably referring to men and women who longer feel shame about their sin. They have traveled so far down the path of evil that they no longer feel embarrassed about violating God’s commandments or seeing others do the same.

Recently I had a young woman express to me concern that many of her friends seemed less bothered than she was by the violent, sexual, and evil images in movies and television shows. She thought that perhaps something was wrong with her, that perhaps she was being too judgmental.  When she pointed out to her friends the evil in much of the media they were consuming, they responded by saying, “Oh, I hardly notice that stuff anymore.”

Unfortunately, such a response comes from a heart and mind that has been desensitized to the point of numbness. Once we ignore the Spirit and suppress all shame, it becomes hard to hear God’s voice and obey.  Perhaps we should begin to “notice that stuff” and turn the channel, say a prayer, or speak truth in the face of the lies that fill the screens and airwaves of our culture.

Do you take in images and music and words indiscriminately, without using any discernment? Do the ideas with which you fill your mind reflect the character of Jesus Christ? Do you laugh and approve of images and concepts in media that are at odds with the values of the Bible? Perhaps it is time to rethink your perspective. Perhaps it is even time to do without iPods, televisions, movies, and websites (gasp!) until we are able to reconsider our values. Read and memorize Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Even shame can be valuable, if it drives us to purity in heart and mind, to a reflection upon the things of God rather than the wickedness of the world. What will you allow to fill your thoughts today?