In a day when fake news is all the rage, the toxic reality of what I would call "snake news" is every bit as slippery. This enticing serpent slides along the lowest branches of human contemplation. Salacious stories involving celebrities and politicians certainly appeal to the masses. And this explains why snake news is constantly promoted in print, online, and over the airwaves, and why it is downright difficult if not impossible to avoid this slimy creature.
Snake news produces plenty of scandal junkies who long for their daily fix, and who don't even have to go to a street corner in order to get it. Scandal pushers deliver their product for a fee (typically paid by advertisers and subscribers), and addicts in every corner of society eagerly crave their next hit. With that troubling cultural darkness hovering over us at all times, is it really necessary for you and I to consume every scandal that surfaces in snake news reports? Is it worth our time, and more importantly, our attention?
I suppose each one of us answers that question for ourself by the boundaries we set for our thought life. Man's default position has no such boundaries, and few if any filters. And with no boundaries, our tendency is to allow scandalous tidbits to continually flood our heart and mind with filthy descriptions of nasty behavior. This proverb penned by Solomon centuries ago is apropos: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)
No wonder our Creator instructs us to think straight, rather than to fill our mind with endless stories of human depravity. Straight thinking produces straight living, whereas snake news tends to increase man's carnal desire to revel in lascivious narratives. On top of that, it provides plenty of ammunition for those who lustfully long to destroy their political opponents. If we are not careful, we could become like those mentioned in Scripture whose "thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:21,22)
Interestingly, a legislator in Florida recently introduced a bill "recognizing the public health crisis created by pornography." Similarly, snake news does its own number on a person's spiritual and mental vitality. After all, the human mind wasn't designed to be addicted to lewd images and raunchy reports involving the latest dirt on public figures.
Personal boundaries are necessary to resist the ever-present temptation of snake news. Amidst the current storm of scandals, this insight from the apostle Paul is priceless: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Philippians 4:8) The alternative is to wallow in the slime every time a new scandal emerges.
In the Garden of Eden, the serpent seduced two people who allowed their musings to wander into the danger zone of forbidden fruit. Will we learn from that epic seduction, or simply continue popping scandal pills like a junkie on the street enslaved to his addiction? Imagine a world with little if any appetite for the obscene scandals so prevalent these days. Ah, that almost sounds like paradise, right?
You see, once you scale back the appetite, it's as if you cut the head off the snake. And then you are free to concentrate on those things that actually bring peace and purpose to you and your family.
No wonder the author of Hebrews was inspired to write, "Fix your thoughts on Jesus." (Hebrews 3:1) What other approach even begins to provide supernatural power and purity? And apart from faith in Christ, there is of course no forgiveness of sins. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Therefore, wisdom leads a believer to look continually to the Savior who crushed the head of the serpent by His death on the cross. (Colossians 2:15)
What information do you want filling your heart and mind hour-by-hour as you seek to live a righteous and noble life? In the midst of a culture obsessed with snake news, God's Word conveys this magnificent recipe for success: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)