Music, movies, and magazines have a lot in common with mushrooms. For example, they come in countless varieties. Just as some mushrooms are edible and desirable and nutritious, certain kinds of music, movies, and magazines provide nutrition for the soul as they edify, entertain, and uplift.
And just as there are different kinds of poisonous mushrooms, so are there different kinds of music, movies, and magazines that poison the spirits of men and women. Some of these poisons are very much like jack-o’-lantern mushrooms because their impact is so repulsive and objectionable that we immediately reject them.
But there are other kinds of music, movies, and magazines that work very much like the “destroying angel”; that is, at first we have no idea that what we are listening to or watching or reading is slowly and surely poisoning our very souls.
Often we hear people comment on different entertainments, and we will hear something like, “This tape by the Dirty Gym Sox has ten good songs and only two bad ones.” Or, “It was a great movie (or video), with only two or three bad scenes.” Or, “Most of the articles in this magazine are very interesting and insightful.” But in 1988, only a few toxic mushrooms in a whole dishful put five Oregon people in the hospital on the verge of death Just as mushroom hunters develop safety checklists regarding the color, size, and shape of edible and poisonous mushrooms, our loving and protective Heavenly Father has provided us with several checklists to determine whether the things we view, listen to, and read are poisonous or wholesome.
1. The thirteenth article of faith [A of F 1:13]. Just ask yourself, Is this virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy? If so, “seek after these things.”
2. In Doctrine and Covenants 45:32 the Lord says: “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved” [D&C 45:32] (emphasis added). With the music you play, the videos and TV programs you watch, and the magazines you have lying around, is your home a holy place? Would you feel comfortable if the bishop or stake president were to walk into your family room while you were listening to music or watching TV or a video? Would they feel comfortable in your home?
3. In his Sermon on the Mount, the Savior admonishes us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). He did not suggest that we just keep the gospel in the “top ten.” He lovingly encourages us to make the gospel the top priority in our lives.
4. In the very closing verses of the Book of Mormon, Moroni extends the invitation to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32; emphasis added). The real question is not whether heavy metal is worse than hard rock or whether certain TV programs are worse than certain movies. If we wish to avoid being poisoned spiritually, we must ask: Is this music, movie, TV show, or literature ungodly? For example, does it leave me feeling unworthy to approach my Heavenly Father in sincere prayer?
5. The Apostle Paul gave the Thessalonians some great counsel that would protect them, and us, from the poisons of the world. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21–22