Dr. Chuck Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, is known as “Dr. Germ” because of the extensive research he has conducted on the contamination of surfaces with which you and I come into regular contact. One particular study he performed revealed that there can potentially be 10 times more germs on the typical work desk than on the average toilet seat (“Job Spot” 1). One of the areas of highest contamination is the office telephone receiver which was shown to be covered with 25,127 germs per square inch (2). Fortunately for those eating lunch at their desk, it was shown that the level of viruses and bacteria increase as the day goes on, reaching their highest levels after lunch (3). According to Dr. Gerba, 80% of the infections that we get are through the environment. And certain illnesses transmitted by sneezing or coughing can survive on a surface for up to 72 hours (4).
What is a person to do? Most of us are surrounded by germs and most likely do not even realize it. Dr. Gerba states that an active adult, on average, will touch 300 different surfaces in a half hour (Roach 1). Thus, the number of germs with which we will come into daily contact easily numbers into the billions. It should become obvious, then, that we will never be able to completely sanitize the world that is around us. We can, however, take steps to cut down on the amount of infections that we contract from our environment. Dr. Paul S. Horowitz suggests that individuals take the following steps:
- Use warm, soapy water to wash the hands, rubbing them together vigorously for at least 20 seconds.
- Use disinfecting wipes regularly on the surfaces with which you come into the most contact.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth since these areas will more readily introduce these germs into the body after coming into contact with the contaminated surfaces (“Back”? 1).
As disturbing as the thought of coming into contact with billions of germs may be, it is not nearly as scary as the amount of contaminants to which our immortal spirits are exposed. We are literally bombarded by filth from many sources around us. Allow me to share a few disturbing statistics.
- On December 10, 2003, the Fox Network failed to censor the “f” and “s” word during its broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards. 20% of the viewing audience, well over 2 million viewers, was between 2 and 17 years of age.
- In January 2005, Nielsen reported that the most popular broadcast television network program among children ages 9 – 12 was ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”
- In 2005, the top television shows amongst females 12 – 17 years old were: “American Idol,” “The O.C.,” “Will & Grace,” and “One Tree Hill.”
- In 2005, the top television shows amongst males 12 – 17 years old were: “The Simpson’s,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” and “The O.C.” (“Facts” 1).
I share these statistics about youth because they are the most susceptible to the vulgarity that is broadcast over the air via television. (Brethren, notice that I didn’t even address the potential wickedness of cable television or the vulgarity that is transmitted over the radio waves.) This does not mean, though, that adults are not equally impacted by such lewdness. We may not see in adults the increase in violence and sexual immorality as we do children from their exposure to these ungodly elements, but we can certainly see callousness upon faces that no longer blush (Cf. Jeremiah 6:15; 8:12). Indeed, we may not know how much we have been exposed to until such sources have been eliminated or censored.
I recently purchased the TV Guardian from Wal-Mart. I liked the idea of having a device that could be programmed to mute the offensive language that is often included in television programs and movies. I decided to set it on its strictest setting. In so doing, I am able to remove profanity, sexual innuendo, and vain references to God. I am also able to remove what many consider to be the “lesser cuss words” of the four-lettered variety. I don’t watch an inordinate amount of television but I often have it on in the background as I do various tasks. As reruns of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” have aired, I have noticed the occasional audible silence resulting from the TV Guardian’s efforts to protect my television. Now, I have always considered “Star Trek” to be relatively innocuous. Even so, I was being exposed to the aforementioned “lesser cuss words.” And, I had always thought that I was doing a better job of protecting myself by setting a “ratings threshold” regarding those shows and movies that I am willing to view.
Now, I am not advocating that Christians must purchase devices like the TV Guardian. I am, however, suggesting that we do need to be more diligent in insulating ourselves from the filth in our environment. Just as we can impact the number of infections that we contract from taking a few moments to practice good hygiene, we can likewise lessen our temptation as well as the occurrence of spiritual sickness by practicing good “spiritual hygiene.”? We need to “wash” daily in the blood of Christ by walking in the light (1 John 1:7). We must “disinfect” the “surfaces” with which we come into frequent contact by scouring them with our salt and “bathing” them in our light (Matthew 5:13-16). And, we need to avoid activities that will allow the impurities of sin to enter into us. As Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB). Certainly television, books, music, etc can be our “companions” in life and they will certainly corrupt our good morals if they are sinful.
Just as with germs, Satan will see to it that temptation and sin is so numerous that we cannot completely rid our environment of it. But, you and I can still take those measures to prevent the impact of that temptation and sin upon us and those that we love. How clean is your environment?
“The Clorox Company|Company Information.” Back To School Spells “G-E-R-M-S.” The Clorox Company. 9 October 2006.
“Sex, Violence, and Profanity in the Media Fact Sheet, TV Statistics.” Facts and TV Statistics: It’s Just Harmless Entertainment. Oh Really?. Parents Television Council. 10 October 2006.