At risk of reproaching fellow Christians, I am continually surprised by how much secular content they consume. From Facebook to TikTok, from Hollywood movies to pop music, I suspect the average Christian is bombarding his soul with several hours of secular content per week. Do they not know that this consumption may be separating them from God and weakening their faith?
When I first returned to God in the spring of 2019, I was wholly immersed in secular culture. I made several Twitter posts a day (usually about politics or the misbehavior of women), listened to popular music, watched movies, consumed all manner of YouTube videos, and read self-help books. I followed dozens of social media accounts, devoured the news, and placed myself in venues of the night to be bombarded with devil music for hours at a stretch. Secular content was normal to me, and I didn’t give my habits a second thought until the growing grace of God within me could not reconcile the spirit from where all this content came. It did not worship God explicitly nor implicitly, and so it was not of God, even if it did not mention a bad word about God. If Satan could package his efforts into a motto, it would be anything but God, which is exactly how we can sum up all secular content.
It is three years going and I’m still tapering myself off secular content—that’s how entwined it was into my life. Even today I use the news as a source of entertainment to relieve natural lulls in the work day and as a means of procrastinating from spiritual duties. I didn’t realize how attached I was to it until I began the weaning process, especially when it came to music.
My Spotify account was loaded with custom playlists of modern music, from folk covers of pop songs to oldies rock. The first thing I’d do when getting in my car is load up a playlist to listen with pleasure, but I began to perceive in my soul that this was wrong, because while listening to these songs, I never once thought of God. I wish I could say that I deleted all my favorite music in one go, but it was a gradual process: first I quit the modern music, rationalizing that “oldies” was okay, but an examination of their woman-idolizing lyrics revealed that oldies wasn’t safe either.
As a Gen X’er, deleting my Red Hot Chili Peppers playlist was challenging indeed, but like any drug, once you abstain for a while, your brain adapts to a healthier new normal. Now, I’m exposed to modern music mainly through passing cars or when I’m shopping in a store, and what strikes me is how I ever considered such a modern cacophony of sounds to be pleasing to my ears. Even better, my concentration has improved, particularly during prayer and long church services. I don’t have snippets of words or tunes bombarding my mind like in the past.
Father Seraphim Rose had a word to say about Orthodox Christians who continue to consume secular content:
Fr. Seraphim saw this “plastic” approach to religion most graphically when a young pilgrim, having spent time at another monastery in America, came to Platina [monastery] talking all about elders, hesychasm, Jesus Prayer, true monasticism, and the ascetic wisdom of the Holy Fathers. One day Fr. Seraphim saw him walking around the monastery singing rock songs, snapping his fingers and bouncing with the rhythm. Surprised, Fr. Seraphim asked him if he didn’t think this might go against all his interest in spirituality, but the young man just shrugged his shoulders and replied: “No, there’s no contradiction. Whenever I want spirituality, I just switch on the Elder” — meaning that he could take out his rock tape and put in a tape of his Elder giving a spiritual discourse. The fact that this young man could compartmentalize his life like this, Fr. Seraphim understood, showed that something was missing in the basic formation of his soul. —His Life and Works (p. 1048). St. Herman Press.
May I ask you why you consume the creations of non-Christians, of those who don’t live by Christ, of those who don’t glorify Him? Why do you subject your eyes and ears to content produced by those who—unless they repent—are at high risk of being condemned by God on the Day of Judgment? Why do you listen to music by artists who you know live degenerate, sordid lives, and whose work is helping millions of youth descend into hell? Why do you watch movies produced and directed by Jews who hate Lord Jesus Christ and view abortion as a sacrament? Why are you not concerned about what the secular content is doing to your mind over the long term, locking it in the realm of fantasy and superficiality, how it is leading you into the abyss in exchange for moments of distraction and sensual pleasure? I ask these questions not just to you but also myself, and I did not have a justifiable answer to them, so I began to force myself to sever this attachment.
I’ve since become highly averse to reading, watching, or listening to anything that is produced by someone who does not have a knowable or visible Christian faith. If I get weak and think such content will edify me, perhaps because the non-Christian is “intelligent,” I ask myself how intelligent are they really if they don’t worship their very own Creator in the Church that He built. Do I really need the “wisdom” of someone who is firmly attached to the material world?
It’s a mistake to believe that Orthodox Christianity is merely a lifestyle add-on that has a slot in your life alongside many other lifestyles. Orthodoxy is the lifestyle. It was called “the way” by early Christians, and it is the only way. Anything that conflicts with it must be looked upon with disdain. Secular content has become so hostile to Christianity, so engineered to distract souls from Christ, that any attachment to it must be likened to a drug addiction. Not only will quitting help you psychologically with anxiety, distraction, and fantasizing, but it will help aid in the salvation of your soul.
To successfully quit secular content, you will have to find something to replace it with. I spend much time reading Orthodox books, but sometimes my ears want to be pleased. In that case, I harness Spotify not to listen to gay disco music but Orthodox hymns and Classical music, made by composers who were not shy about their faith in God. There are also innumerable Orthodox podcasts and YouTube channels, and I hope to never tire of watching bearded Orthodox elders share wisdom in various languages. There are also freely available audio versions of the Bible. Trust me when I say that you’ll find so much wholesome content that you will not have enough time for it all.
Currently, I consume approximately 30-60 minutes of internet news each day, usually from Roosh V Forum, where I know that I’m getting information from a mostly-Christian lens. I do this because, as someone who speaks in the public square, I want my opinions and pronouncements of modern culture to be informed and up-to-date, but even that may only be an excuse, a sign of my worldly attachment. Let the secular world pass away, for it will surely die, and let us focus all our energies on spiritual matters, to get ready for an eternity of the spiritual, where we can all live as one with Lord Jesus Christ.
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