I’ve grown increasingly aware of the fact that whenever people consider committing a sin, they imagine themselves committing the sin in a world without the natural consequences of that sin. I’m shelving the eternal consequences of sin for a moment, just talking about what will happen to you in this world if you sin. For example, the man who wants to have an affair imagines himself in a world in which that affair will not break his marriage, will not fill him with guilt every time he is with his wife, and will not change him into the type of person that he would have-before he committed the sin himself-condemned.
The man who looks at pornography imagines himself in a world where the actors he watches are not real people, with hopes and goals that are thousands of miles away from what they are currently doing. He imagines himself in a world where the pornography will not slowly twist him into the type of man he hates-one who does not value women and has a rating system for every woman he meets.
The man who tells lies imagines himself in a world where honesty is not valued. He imagines that he will, in all likelihood, not be found out. He imagines the world is the sort of place where his family and friends will not look at him differently, and that it will not take years to regain their trust. He imagines that this lie will not put him on a road to many more lies, any of which could destroy his reputation.
If we ever think that God is not good, it is because we are out of touch with reality. We think that sin will lead to the good life, when in reality it more often leaves us broken and miserable. We rail at God for not allowing us to sin because we do not think of the consequences of sin. And God, in his mercy, still bears with us and corrects us, like a father keeping his toddler from the bleach. This is why media intake is so important. We often stay away from gratuitous sex and violence in media-and that is good. But the more subtle danger is that we watch things that portray a distorted picture of the world. Which means that when we think about watching, reading, or listening to something, maybe the best question is not whether the material has sin, but whether the material accurately portrays both the sin and its consequences. Because if we have a distorted picture of the world, we will have a distorted picture of the wisdom of God.