What and Who you surround yourself with affects you.

I hope it is safe to say that most people would agree that what we listen to affects us emotionally. For example, this study shows that music affects our mood (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=400748).

In a similar way, what we surround ourselves with affects us intellectually. This study shows that playing violent games causes people to be more violent (http://www.christianpost.com/article/20081104/landmark-study-on-violent-games-strongly-suggests-reducing-exposure.htm). This study shows that  teens who watch TV shows that have sexual content are twice as likely to get pregnant or impregnate someone than those who do not (http://us.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/11/03/teen.pregnancy/). This study shows that kids “learn by observing, imitating, and making behaviors their own” and so media influences children (http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2212/Media-Influence-on-Children.html). Indeed, the media can affect how the public perceives an infectious disease (http://www.app.com/article/20081104/LIFE11/811040309/0/LIFE). This study shows that models, magazines and TV shows influence eating patterns, including eating disorders (http://www.ur.umich.edu/9798/Oct22_97/media.htm). 

In a similar way, the friends we surround ourselves with affect us. This study shows that if we have friends who are obese, we are almost 60% more likely to become overweight (http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/357/4/370). This study suggested that kids who hang out with aggressive friends become aggressive themselves (http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/02/25/bullying-psychology.html). This study shows that teens who have friends who have had sex are more likely to have sex than those who have fewer such friends (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118556801/abstract). 

Each person is responsible for his own choices. But who and what we surround ourselves with affects us, good or bad. Plenty of studies have shown this.

Businesses know that advertisements work, otherwise they would not spend billions trying to convince people they need what the companies are selling. Of COURSE what people read, and watch, and listen to, affects them. If they are exposed to what God calls good, they are more likely to be affected for the good. If they are exposed to what God calls evil, they are more likely to be affected for the bad. 

Scripture tells us this same principle.

Proverbs 13:20

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 22:24-25

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

Proverbs 24:21-22

21 Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, 22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?…

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Although people who love and trust God, through faith in Christ, are not under supervision of the Law, it still tells us what sin is.

Romans 3:20

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Our music, TV shows, movies, magazines, and even friends can lead us towards sin. They can influence our thinking to believe what God calls sin is good, and vice versa.

But we are to be aware of what the world teaches and reject it.

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

As Christians we have to resist people who are wicked.
Proverbs 28:4

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.

Romans 14:16

Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.

James 4:4

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

We are to rid ourselves of all moral filth and evil.
James 1:21

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Even if our friends do not make us think that what God called good is evil and vice versa, the things and people we surround ourselves with can be used to tempt us to sin. Even Christ said,

Matthew 18:6-7

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!

And Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 10:32

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God

We are called to be holy, because God is holy.

Leviticus 19:2

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

So we have to be careful with what we listen to, what we watch, what we read, and even with whom we surround ourselves. But even more importantly, we need to love God, trust God, resist evil, choose to not sin – and pray, for ourselves, our family, our friends, our society.

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4 Responses

  1. Your post makes me glad I read power of the praying parent and started praying more for my children. I do try to watch their friends.

  2. I was re-reading this post and your comment, and thought to say that television shows and music also affect our kids in such a way as to turn them towards sin and way from God. We must monitor their games and other forms of entertainment, and help them think through the various things the world calls good, so they will be prepared when they are in the world without us parents beside them.

  3. [...] Some would ask why care about anything in politics? Why not just do your job and not worry about what the government does? I’ve addressed this question in different ways also. See Why do Christians care about any particular sin? and What and who you surround yourself with affects you. [...]

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