When I was little, I remember thinking that I could run out in the rain and not get wet. I thought I could look up, track each raindrop as it fell, and dodge out of the way of each of them. I really thought that. I thought I could zig-zag: left, right, left, left, right–like a soldier through enemy fire–and not get hit.
The problem is I still think like that in some ways. I think I can pick up whatever book, watch whatever movie, play whatever video game, and nothing bad about them will rub off on me. In other words, here I am in my sixties and I find myself still thinking that I can run out into a rainstorm and not get wet.
I believe the Apostle Paul is talking about this kind of thing when he says, “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). The “bad company” part is clear enough, even though we may not really believe it in practice. But why does Paul first say, “Do not be deceived?”
I think because we are deceived, constantly. We’re deceived into thinking that we’re grown-up and bullet-proof and nothing bad is going to rub off on us no matter what kind of company we keep. No matter what TV shows we watch, no matter what novels we read (my failing), no matter what video games we play. In our ignorance we assume that we can easily maintain our own, better, higher, individual point-of-view regardless of the electronic, literary, imaginary, and/or physical company we keep.
Did you ever have a friend in school who drifted away from you and started hanging out with a new group of people? Did you notice how your friend started picking up the way that group talked? Started using their slang? Started using their gestures? I think the reason why is that human beings are half sponge. We absorb what’s around us without trying, without even being aware of it, and it changes us. We become like the company we keep. No matter the medium in which we hang out with our new friends. No matter how old we are.
I don’t think there’s any way around this. It’s human nature. So what do we do? I think we need to admit that we’re still little kids in some ways and submit ourselves to the same kinds of safeguards that little kids need, like older-brother Paul said. Make sure we play where it’s safe: on the playground prepared for us, instead of out in the street. Listen to Daddy’s warnings about who to play with. Let Him introduce us to good friends in every medium. Don’t sneak behind His back to watch that scary, nasty stuff on TV. Don’t play electronically at doing things He’s forbidden us to do in reality. That kind of thing.
Sounds boring and ridiculous for adults, doesn’t it? But really, when it comes to this kind of thing, I don’t know many adults. I know for sure that I’m not one. I’m dripping wet.