All the water in the world,
No matter how it tried,
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it got inside.
All the evil of the world,
And every kind of sin,
Can never harm a human soul
Unless we let it in.
This simple poem is one of my favorites because it teaches a powerful principle.
Remember the account of the Jaredite barges in the Book of Mormon? The Lord commanded the Brother of Jared, and his people, to build barges to carry their families across the ocean to the promised land. In Ether 2:17 we read a description of these barges:
“And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.”
I don’t think it is an accident that “tight like unto a dish” is used so many times in this verse. It helps make the point of how very essential it was that the barges were watertight. That was the only way they were able to survive the journey across the sea, as they were driven deep under the water many times. In Ether 6:7 it says:
“And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish. . . therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.”
I love the phrase, “there was no water that could hurt them.” No matter what torrents and waves were beating on them from the outside, they were safe inside their barges because they had made them according to the Lord’s specifications. The Lord also blessed the Jaredites with light in their barges, so they did not have to cross the sea in darkness.
There are several ways these scriptures can be applied, but recently my husband and I have tried to apply these scriptures to our home. Is our home spiritually “tight like unto a dish?” Or are there cracks where Satan has a chance to get in? What can we do to make our home a greater haven of safety from the evils of the world? What more can we do keep the Holy Spirit in our home?
These are questions we have been prayerfully pondering lately. And we have found areas that we need to improve, little things we need to change, so that our family can be better protected from Satan’s influence and have the Spirit in more abundance.
Building a home of spiritual safety and security is just as essential for us, as having a watertight barge was for the Jaredites as they crossed the ocean.
Safety ultimately comes from the Lord. He has laid out a divine plan for us to follow. We have the scriptures, the words of modern prophets, and the Holy Ghost to give us specific instructions as to what our children need. As long as we are prayerfully striving to build a home according to His specifications, He will magnify our efforts and fill us with His Spirit. We are never alone in our stewardship as parents!
The Adversary is doing everything in his power to destroy the home and the family. He is not complacent in his attacks, be they blatant or subtle. And we cannot afford to be complacent in our stewardship as guardians of our home. We must be diligent in sealing up the cracks in our home where Satan is getting in to influence our family.
We also must involve our children in making our home a place of safety. They need to know that we depend on them to do their part to not let evil enter here. Mistakes will be made, but we can work through them together as we are united in doing the best we can to follow the Lord. It is important also that we keep the lines of communication open, so that our children can come to us whenever they are confronted with evil influences and get the help they need to overcome.
One of the most obvious cracks (sometimes it can seem like a gaping hole) in our home can be the media. Internet, movies, television, video games, music, magazines, and books can be uplifting, enlightening and entertaining. But the Adversary can also use them for his purposes. It is essential for us to be continually watchful and extremely careful in our choices. Making wise media decisions is not always easy or convenient and it often involves sacrifice on our part, but it is eternally worth it! We must set the example for our children, and teach them through word and deed to choose the right.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland did not mince words when he said in General Conference,
“Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever. . .
“Along with filters on computers and a lock on affections, remember that the only real control in life is self-control. Exercise more control over even the marginal moments that confront you. If a TV show is indecent, turn it off. If a movie is crude, walk out. If an improper relationship is developing, sever it. Many of these influences, at least initially, may not technically be evil, but they can blunt our judgment, dull our spirituality, and lead to something that could be evil. An old proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step.” (Place No More For the Enemy of My Soul, April 2010)
We need not fear the tide of evil that threatens everywhere, we just need to make sure we are diligently striving to seal up the cracks in our home to keep our families safe. The Lord will bless us in our efforts! I love the scripture in D&C 123:17,
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”
Here are some resources that have helped us guard against inappropriate media in our home, and have helped us teach our children to make wise decisions. I would love to hear about any resources that have helped you as well, so please share!
- Safety Kids – Protect Their Minds by Janeen Brady
I LOVE the Safety Kids series! My parents had the first two tapes and booklets when I was little, (Personal Safety and Stay Safe from Drugs) and I have always remembered the songs and principles taught. The third volume, Protect Their Minds, came out after I was grown and I was excited to use it with my children. I am impressed with how well this volume treats the subject of pornography. The songs are catchy and the principles are taught in a tasteful and memorable way. The target audience is K–3 grades, but even though my oldest is 12, we all still listen to the story and the songs occasionally as a refresher . It makes a great family home evening lesson. I highly recommend Safety Kids! The Protect Their Minds mp3 story with songs and the PDF songbook are available for immediate download at the BriteMusic.com website.
We have used this ClearPlay DVD player for years now, it is the only way we watch movies rated higher than G. After downloading the ClearPlay website’s filters onto a flash drive and then inserting the flash drive into our DVD player, we can watch our movie without the profanity (including the Lord’s name in vain), violence, immorality, etc. Basically the ClearPlay DVD player will alter the playback of our DVD, like someone was sitting next to us and muting (profanity) or skipping the parts we don’t want to see. The filter settings can be changed according to our preferences. We even found a setting called “mushiness” that would filter out all kissing if we wanted it to. Sometimes ClearPlay can’t filter out things without compromising the plot, like a woman wearing a really immodest dress throughout part of the movie. When situations like that happen, a content warning will appear and tell us what couldn’t be filtered out so we can decide if we still want to watch the movie. ClearPlay does require a monthly or yearly subscription, but it has been worth it because it has taken the frustration out of our family movie nights. (I’ve heard of filters and parental controls for TV watching, but I don’t know much about them because we don’t have cable or network TV. Maybe someone could share what works for them in guarding from inappropriate TV content.)
- K9 Web Protection
We recently started using this internet content filter and we really like it so far. K9 has some great features, they even figured out how to block Google image searches without blocking all of Google’s other pages. Every other free internet filter we have tried hasn’t been able to do that. K9 is free, it doesn’t slow down our internet, it’s easy to install on the computer, and it is also available for the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. This is amazing, because cell phones and mobile devices are generally very hard to protect from inappropriate internet content. (Incidentally, my husband and I have decided that we will not give our children cell phones with internet access. As Bishop, he has seen too many instances where youth have gone down a dangerous path involving pornography viewed on their cell phone via the internet. Every parent needs to do what they feel is right for their children, this is just our decision.)
- Windows Live Family Safety (or Mac OS X Parental Controls)
We use the free program available from Windows Live Family Safety, that works with our computer’s operating system, to set up separate user accounts for us and for our children. The settings for each user are customizable. For instance, my husband and I are the administrators and have password protected accounts, and the children’s user can be blocked entirely from the internet except for websites we allow. There are also time limits that can be put into effect and we can monitor the kids’ computer activity. This also comes in handy in making sure that when the kids are on the computer for school work, they don’t have access to games that would distract them. We set up two user accounts for the children on the computer. One is for school work: it is available 24/7, does not have any access to the games on the computer, and the internet will only take them to the educational websites that they need for school. The other kids’ user has a time limit on it, so it is only available from 3pm until 8pm, and it has access to the computer games and the fun websites that we have allowed. If they need to research something that will use more websites than I want to allow, I will let them use my user account while I am sitting nearby reading or doing my work. Right now this works well, in combination with a general internet content filter for the computer (see above). Similar safety features are available on Apple’s Mac operating system as well, but I am not as familiar with those.
- “Fighting Internet Filth”
Aug 2005 Ensign article: “You may already be familiar with these helpful suggestions: Place computers in high-traffic rooms in your home, ensure that a responsible adult is nearby when your children are using the Internet, and teach your children to immediately log off whenever they see questionable material. What follows are more techniques to help you further protect your family members as they use the Internet.”
- Internet Filtering – tech.LDS.org
I was looking for advice on the different internet filters available and I found this great article from the LDS Tech website. It discusses the different types of filters available and gives advice on choosing a filter. An important warning from the article: “One of the unfortunate side-effects of installing a filter is the false sense of security that it provides. Most teenagers can get around just about any filter if they really want to, and parents need to know how this is done so they can watch for the warning signs. Also be sure to use the tools that the filter provides, such as usage reports, blocked site reports, etc. A filter is not a silver bullet, and it is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution.”
- “Things as They Really Are”
If you didn’t read this Ensign article last year, I highly recommend reading it. It is powerful! Elder David A. Bednar teaches fundamental truths about our minds and bodies, and the ways that Satan tries to distract us and prevent us from reaching our eternal destiny. He says, “I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls.” (I know Xbox and other gaming systems have parental controls, so it would be a good idea to be familiar with them and use them to their fullest extent.)
- FHE: Pornography – AmericaJaneSpeaks.net
This family home evening lesson was recommended awhile ago here on Latter-Day Homeschooling. The lesson includes a wonderful analogy to teach the principle of bridling passions. She also talks about some things she learned from an LDS Family Services counselor who came and taught a lesson at one of their monthly Relief Society meetings. This was very enlightening for me, I learned things I had not known about the draw to pornography, the cycle of Satan’s temptations, the shame that follows, and the emotional and mental traps that it causes. If you haven’t read through this FHE lesson yet, please do. My husband and I have used this lesson with our family, we have had subsequent discussions about it, and I think it has really helped our children to understand.
- A Parent’s Guide
This wonderful guide is put out by the LDS Church. It is a great help for parents on teaching children about intimacy. It goes through specific age groups and what to teach children in that particular stage of growth. We have referred to this booklet many times through the years. It is SO very important for parents to teach their children about intimacy in an environment of love and the Spirit, before they hear it about it from the world!
- “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments”
Originally a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, given in 1988 while he was the President of BYU, this made an indelible impression on me when my parents shared this with me as a teenager. The talk is available in book or ebook form or as an mp3. There is also a DVD of Elder Holland discussing the principles of his talk with a small group of teenagers. This is a beautiful and powerful treatment of the subject of intimacy and personal purity. I haven’t yet used this resource with my own children, but I will when the right time comes.
- “Beware of the Evil Behind the Smiling Eyes”
Elder Neil L. Andersen addressed the young men directly in this excellent talk, given in the Priesthood session of General Conference, in April 2005. He counsels youth (and all of us) on how to discern the good from the evil, despite Satan’s subtle ways.
Marcina and her husband, Aaron, have five children with another due in November. This is her third year of homeschooling and she is grateful for the opportunity to teach her children at home. It continues to be both a challenge and a delight! In her spare moments she enjoys family history, gardening, reading, singing, listening to beautiful music, and learning new things.