Now, lest you think I am just being an alarmist, let me give you a point of reference for the snakes. In the April Conference of 2013 Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk entitled, “These Things I Know.” In that talk he refers to the English ivy that covers a portion of his house. This ivy protects the finches from predators who would destroy their nests and eat their young. Here is an excerpt from his talk.
One day there was a great commotion in the ivy. Desperate cries of distress came as 8 or 10 finches from the surrounding woods came to join in this cry of alarm. I soon saw the source of the commotion. A snake had slid partway down out of the ivy and hung in front of the window just long enough for me to pull it out. The middle part of the snake’s body had two bulges—clear evidence convicting it of taking two fledglings from the nest. Not in the 50 years we had lived in our home had we seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—or so we thought.
A few days later there was another commotion, this time in the vines covering our dog run. We heard the same cries of alarm, the gathering of the neighborhood finches. We knew what the predator was. A grandson climbed onto the run and pulled out another snake that was still holding on tightly to the mother bird it had caught in the nest and killed.
I said to myself, “What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?
There came into my mind the warnings spoken by the prophets. We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings.
Identifying the Culprits
Many years ago a person’s home was a very private place. When you came home it was just you and the family. Almost every meal was eaten within the home, and everyone in the home had their work to do in the upkeep and running of the home. With the advent of modern conveniences people have begun more and more to leave the home to eat, and with fewer resources needed to keep a home running, more time can be spent in pursuit of leisure activities, many of which happen away from the home. Along with these changes, the ushering in of the digital age has introduced mass communication devices into our formerly very private homes. This exposes our homes to the wider world and into everyone else’s homes and places of business. True privacy is almost a thing of the past.
This lack of privacy brings with it some new and hidden risks to our families. Let me say at the outset that there is only one thing on this list that has no redeeming value. Everything else can be used either for good or ill.
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other forms of social media have great ability to influence for good. But just as they can influence for good, if we go to the wrong places or join the wrong groups we start associating with those who would unintentionally or deliberately do us harm. There are many out there, who because they are guaranteed anonymity by the Internet, seek to tear down and destroy values and testimonies. I have seen many examples of those who preach the philosophies of men, often mingled with a touch of scripture in an attempt to lead others astray. And there are an increasing number of people who discount any value taught by religion.
Pornography: There is nothing good that can come from this. Unfortunately, soft porn, pictures of scantily dressed people, are rampant on the Internet. These hidden snakes need to be guarded against, especially when it comes to our children. If they become accustomed to seeing people mostly undressed, and it becomes “normal” then they will be more easily influenced to accept looking at things that are more dangerous to their souls. We should never allow ourselves to become comfortable looking at things that are not virtuous.
Games: Whether they are Facebook games or massive multi-player online games, if they are taking up hours and hours of someone’s time every day, they prove to be a danger to that person. The Lord wants us to be anxiously engaged in good works. If we are wasting our days in front of a TV or a computer screen playing games, we are not doing the Lord’s kingdom any good. As to television in general, the quality and cleanliness of the programming has been declining rapidly from year to year. We need to carefully teach our children to view their programming with a critical eye so they can tell when they are being fed doctrine and teachings that are contrary to what the Lord would have them value.
Smart Phones and Tablets: Both of these items have tremendous potential for doing good. We set appointments, keep contact lists, and access ChurchofJesusChrist.org, church hymns, and scriptures through these devices. We also have complete access to the lewd and profane through the Internet, messaging, and photo and movie sharing. If you have given your children these items, when was the last time you inventoried them to see what has been shared and put on them?
It has been my experience that if we have done our job, and our children are innocent to worldly ways, they often get themselves into trouble or put themselves into dangerous positions without even knowing it. We, as parents, need to keep an eye out to help them learn prudence. Our youngest daughter thought it was wonderful when her cousin came to visit because her cousin had a smart phone. They started taking what they considered to be “glamour” shots. In reality many of these shots were highly provocative. They had no idea. Then we found they were posting these shots out on the Internet.
If we had not been keeping tabs on them and their activities we would not have known what was happening. We had them pull the pictures and replace them with images that were more modest and less provocative. And yes, she fought us on it because she did not see them for what they were. This is where the parents come in to protect their young from themselves.
Securing Our Homes
We all love our children. We have been told by the prophets to protect them from the world as much as we can so they don’t grow up seeing the world as what should be normal. We will only become a Zion society when we can reject the practices of the world and embrace the standards the Lord has set for us. This will take a concerted effort on the part of the parents to perceive when these innocent items and practices begin to turn deadly for our children. If we neglect their instruction and supervision, we risk losing our nestlings to hidden snakes in our personal Eden.
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