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As a teenager I used to really enjoy reading novels. These weren’t just any novels, but were so-called ‘good’ novels—the kind of ones that you buy from Bible book shops and that do have some Christian themes running through them. After a while I stopped reading novels as much and started watching more movies. Then I happened to stumble across some quotes from Sr White that made me think a little. I would like to share them with you. Many of you have probably already read them, but it doesn’t hurt to re-read them every now and then. Also maybe in this day and age, we should also apply these principles to ‘movies’? After all, back in Sr White’s day they didn’t have movies, DVD’S, TV, video games and computer games. What would she write today about these things?
Question – Where are my thoughts?
“I have seen an angel standing with scales in his hands weighing the thoughts and interest of the people of God, especially the young. In one scale were the thoughts and interest tending heavenward; in the other were the thoughts and interest tending to earth. And in this scale were thrown all the reading of storybooks, thoughts of dress and show, vanity, pride, etc. Oh, what a solemn moment! the angels of God standing with scales, weighing the thoughts of His professed children–those who claim to be dead to the world and alive to God.” 1
What a solemn thought that the angels are weighing up my thoughts. Am I alive to God?
Question – Should I be reading novels, magazines and watching movies, TV etc?
“Parents would better burn the idle tales of the day and the novels as they come into their houses. It would be a mercy to the children. Encourage the reading of these storybooks, (or watching of movies?) and it is like enchantment. It bewilders and poisons the mind. Parents, I saw that unless you awake to the eternal interest of your children, they will surely be lost through your neglect. And the possibility that unfaithful parents will be saved themselves is very small.” 2
“Parents should endeavor to keep out of the home every influence that is not productive of good. In this matter some parents have much to learn. To those who feel free to read story magazines and novels I would say: You are sowing seed the harvest of which you will not care to garner. From such reading there is no spiritual strength to be gained. Rather it destroys love for the pure truth of the word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines, Satan is working to fill with unreal and trivial thoughts minds that should be diligently studying the word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.” 3
Note the quote below. Even books with religious sentiments and moral lessons are dangerous!
“Could a large share of the books published be consumed, a plague would be stayed that is doing a fearful work upon mind and heart. Love stories, frivolous and exciting tales, and even that class of books (or movies) called religious novels—books in which the author attaches to his story a moral lesson—are a curse to the readers. Religious sentiments may be woven all through a story-book, but, in most cases, Satan is but clothed in angel-robes, the more effectively to deceive and allure. None are so confirmed in right principles, none so secure from temptation, that they are safe in reading these stories.” 4
“The young are in great danger. Great evil results from their light reading. Much time is lost which should be spent in useful employment. Some would even deprive themselves of sleep to finish some ridiculous love story. (or watch a movie?) The world is flooded with novels (and movies?) of every description. Some are not of as dangerous a character as others. Some are immoral, low, and vulgar; others are clothed with more refinement; but all are pernicious in their influence. Oh, that the young would reflect upon the influence which exciting stories have upon the mind! Can you, after such reading, open the word of God and read the words of life with interest? Do you not find the book of God uninteresting? The charm of that love story is upon the mind, destroying its healthy tone, and making it impossible for you to fix your mind upon the important, solemn truths which concern your eternal interest. You sin against your parents in devoting to such a poor purpose the time which belongs to them, and you sin against God in thus using the time which should be spent in devotion to Him.” 5
“Christians are those who follow Christ. ‘Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you.’ Tenderness of conscience in regard to these amusements should never be called precision and narrowness of mind. How can Christians call that innocent which is a snare to the soul, which has led thousands in the road to certain ruin? I cannot believe a true follower of Christ will touch a card for amusement, nor read novels, nor attend balls and theaters. If they have learned of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, they will have disrelish for former pleasures and amusements. There will be possessed by the devoted Christian, a living principle in the soul, influencing the mind, employing the affections, and guiding the will, which will give force to the whole character. Their efforts will be to lead souls away from sinful pleasures to the path of holiness, by the bright reflection of their exemplary, blameless lives.” 6
Question – What is wrong with these things?
“Men who are under the power of the evil one, are inspired by him to write overwrought fictitious stories, with which our world is flooded. In this they are fulfilling Satan’s own plan; for if left to itself, the mind naturally chooses such food, to the neglect of the important saving truths of God’s word. Our youth and children, and even those of mature age, should firmly pledge themselves to abstain from indulgence in reading the fascinating novels and sensational literature of the day. They delude the imagination, and fill the mind with such an amount of trash that there is no room for storing the sacred utterances of the prophets and apostles, who wrote as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit.” 7
“The press is now sending out books in great numbers, that teach the ignorant and unsuspecting how they may serve Satan. There are works breathing the poison of skepticism and infidelity. There are treatises on money-making, that fill thousands of minds with fancies and follies, that fire thousands with an insane desire to amass wealth. There are fascinating volumes, that portray with all the power of human eloquence the lives of those who have made fame their god. And outnumbering all other productions of the press, like the swarms of locusts that darkened the whole land, comes the flood of novels and romances, to cultivate in the youth a love-sick sentimentalism, to teach them that courtship and marriage are the great object of their existence, and to unfit them for the practical duties of a useful life.” 8
“In the Pacific Press an objectionable class of work has been taken in—novels and story books, which absorbed the minds of those who handled them, diverting their attention from the word of God. Some of the workers have become so infatuated by this cheap literature that they are mentally inebriated. The introduction of this class of matter destroys the spirituality of the office. The Lord has instructed me that the practice of reading many story-books (or watching movies?) means death to spirituality.” 9
“Years ago, reproof was given our editors in regard to advocating the reading of even such books as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Aesop’s Fables,” and “Robinson Crusoe.” Those who begin to read such works usually desire to continue to read novels. Through the reading of enticing stories they rapidly lose their spirituality. This is one of the principal causes of the weak, uncertain spirituality of many of our youth.”10
Question – What should we be reading instead of novels and storybooks?
“I saw that young and old neglect the Bible. They do not make that book their study and their rule of life as they should. Especially are the young guilty of this neglect. Most of them are ready, and find plenty of time, to read almost any other book. But the word that points to life, eternal life, is not perused and daily studied. That precious, important book that is to judge them in the last day is scarcely studied at all. Idle stories have been attentively read, while the Bible has been passed by neglected.”11
“How are you to know that you are accepted of God? Study His word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This Book convinces of sin. It plainly reveals the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through His boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation.” 12
Below is an appeal from Sis White to stop spending time doing things that will give no mental or moral strength.
“Young friends, a knowledge of the Bible will help you to resist temptation. If you have been in the habit of reading storybooks, (or watching movies/tv) will you consider whether it is right to spend your time with these books, which merely occupy your time and amuse you, but give you no mental or moral strength? If you are reading them, and find that they create a morbid craving for exciting novels, if they lead you to dislike the Bible, and cast it aside, if they involve you in darkness and backsliding from God—if this is the influence they have over you, stop right where you are. Do not pursue this course of reading until your imagination is fired, and you become unfitted for the study of the Bible, and the practical duties of real life.” 13
After watching a movie, is it easy to sit down and focus and enjoy listening to a sermon, or study the Bible? Or does it seem too boring?
“Do not spend your time reading magazines and novels. (or watching movies/tv) Read your Bible. You have many temptations to meet and overcome. You have a great truth to proclaim. Only by a constant study of the word of God can you gain the strength needed for this work. Put novel-reading out of your lives. Let not the novels (or movies) appear upon your table or in your bookcase. You have none too much time in which to gain an understanding of what saith the Scriptures. The Lord wants the young men in His cause to stand where they are worthy of being trusted with sacred responsibilities.” 14
“Study the Word. Keep out of your house the miserable magazines; keep out of your house the novels. Take every penny that you would pay for these things to get the truth before the people. . . .” 15
How much does society today spend on media? How much money is wasted on movies, magazines, computer games and books? Not only is our time important, but what have we spent our money on?
“The Lord has shown me the danger of letting our minds be filled with worldly thoughts and cares. I saw that some minds are led away from present truth and a love of the Holy Bible by reading other exciting books; others are filled with perplexity and care for what they shall eat, drink, and wear. Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth, out after the world. In these things I saw great danger; for if the mind is filled with other things, present truth is shut out, and there is no place in our foreheads for the seal of the living God. I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that time can last but a very little longer. What leisure time we have should be spent in searching the Bible, which is to judge us in the last day. “ 16
I truly believe that it is Satan’s plan to keep our mind so full of things that are not important, that we do not even realise how soon Jesus is coming. What are we doing to prepare ourselves? Who gets our thoughts? Can we think of heavenly things while watching / reading things that are only entertaining? Are we thinking of heaven when we are playing computer games? Even Children’s cartoons are dangerous. What morals are they teaching the children? How many children love to sit there and read the Bible after watching a cartoon?
Speaking from experience, I know that it can be hard to give up these things. But I found that when I decided to get rid of all my novels and movies, I actually had to make an effort and throw them out. Then I prayed to God to help me overcome the desire to read and watch things that I shouldn’t. This also applies to music as well. I thank the Lord because He has truly been helping me these past couple of years. I no longer have the desire to watch all the things that I used to. Yes, occasionally, the desire does come back and Satan tries to tempt me, but God is faithful in that when I turn to Him and ask for help, He hears me. And I can honestly say that now I love to study the Bible, read Sis. White’s writings and even watch sermons, which I never used to like before. We, as Christians, need to encourage each other more. I am so thankful because I have a caring husband who is always very encouraging. No one is perfect, and this is just one thing that the Lord has been teaching me.
It is a rule that we become like what we behold. Are we beholding immorality, bad language, violence etc? I pray that we may begin to behold Christ instead, that by beholding Him we will be changed into his image.
Jesus is coming soon. Let’s encourage each other to get ready for His coming. If you really desire help from Him to put away things that are hindering your Christian experience claim the following verse.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 17
I believe that He will help you if you ask Him. Because He has promised it!!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”18
1 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 124.2
2 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 135.1
3 Adventist Home, pp 411.1
4 Messages to Young People, pp 272.1
5 Testimonies vol. 2, pp 236.1
6 Review and Herald Feb. 20, 1866 p22
7 Review and Herald Nov. 9, 1886 p12
8 Signs of the Times May 18, 1882 p25
9 Manuscript Releases vol. 6, pp 276.2
10 Manuscript Releases vol. 6, pp 280.2
11 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 134.3
12 Testimonies vol. 1, pp 163.2
13 Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp 92.2
14 Manuscript Releases, pp 282.3
15 Manuscript Releases, pp 283.2
16 Early Writings, pp 58.1
17 1 John 5:14,15
18 Philippians 4:8