“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, May 1994, 17
Questions and Answers
Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
My good friend is decorating his room with pictures that are not very uplifting. How can I help him understand the bad influence these pictures can have?
You are caught in a dilemma. Although you can see clearly that these pictures are not uplifting, apparently it is not clear to your friend. If you say something about the pictures, he may find it difficult to take criticism from a good friend. But if you don’t say anything, he’ll think you approve of or at least tolerate his choices.
It sounds like you don’t want to give your approval by silence, so you must tell your friend what you think.
We don’t really need to define specifically what we mean by inappropriate pictures. Anything that represents bad choices, evil thoughts, or the dark things of the world could qualify. What you choose to surround yourself with, especially in your own room, will affect your thoughts. And as you think in your heart, so you are (see Prov. 23:7).
You may want to ask your friend what he plans for his future. Will the things he has hanging on his wall help him live the kind of life he should to reach the future he plans? If he’s a member of the Church, ask him if what he has on his wall will help someone who wants to go to the temple or a prospective missionary. If he is a nonmember, you can point out that his choice of pictures can influence his whole outlook on life.
Your friend may be hanging such things on his walls because he thinks it makes him seem more grown-up and worldly-wise. He may be trying to declare in his own way that he is no longer naive. But by being repeatedly exposed to posters that depict shocking or irreverent things, he is making himself less sensitive to spiritual things.
You may want to explain that feeling the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit in his life is one of the greatest experiences a person can have. Why do anything to get in the way of or stop those feelings?
What he chooses to hang on his wall can be inappropriate and embarrassing to his family and friends. It’s making you uncomfortable being around such pictures. And it’s a cause for worry because it seems to reflect his acceptance of things he should not have in his life.
Your friend may defend his choice of pictures by saying he enjoys the technical merit of the photo or the artistic value of the poster. But there are many other fine examples of art and photography that are perfectly appropriate to hang on his walls. For his next birthday or other special occasion, buy him a poster that is a good example of what he could have on his wall. (Maybe you could send him a set of Mormonad posters!)
There is an old story that tells of a young boy raised in a home where, over the fireplace, hung a beautiful painting of a sailing ship with all its sails unfurled against the blue of the sea and sky. The boy saw the picture every day, and when he was old enough to leave home, he became a sailor. Although there certainly is nothing wrong with becoming a sailor, the point of the story shows that we are affected by the things we see everyday.
The truth is that we are all affected by the things we see. If we are exposed to pictures that are shocking or titillating, we can become desensitized. In other words, they no longer shock us, and they start to seem normal and acceptable to us.
It’s good to be able to recognize when evil is being portrayed. We need to stay sensitive and sensible. We need to surround ourselves with good and noble things.
I walked into one of my friend’s room for the first time and saw a picture of a girl in an immodest bathing suit. I explained to my friend that this picture was disrespectful and inappropriate, especially displayed in front of female company. When I returned to his house the next time, the picture was gone.
Rachel Smith, 18
El Paso, Texas
The kinds of pictures you have hanging on your walls reflect the type of person you want to become. If you want to become more Christlike, then have a picture of him. Don’t hang up pictures that might chase the Spirit out of your room.
Zak Harrison, 16
Rochester, New York
Many of today’s crimes and sins start with the little things that seem harmless.
Elder Clete Norman Finch, 19
South Dakota Rapid City Mission
We had a Young Women’s conference, and a sister talked about this very subject. She had us walk into a messy room with pictures that were not uplifting. Then she took us into another room that was organized and had uplifting pictures and sayings. The difference in atmosphere and feeling in each room was amazing. A clean, organized room can bring the Spirit of the Lord.
Heather Holmes, 15
Milan, New Mexico
Set a good example for your friend by having uplifting and spiritual pictures on your walls. Mormonads are a great source of inspiration to have on my walls.
Danni-Marie Lawrence, 13
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Every day we are faced with the evils of the world. We need a place to escape to, a haven, to bring our minds and hearts back to the right perspective and spirit. Welcome Christ to your room.
Kristen E. Jones, 15
Camp Verde, Arizona
I used to be one of those kids with the non-uplifting decorations, and I knew the bad influence they had. Be a good influence to him. If your friend doesn’t understand the negative nature of the pictures, then maybe all you can do is pray for him.
Matthew Falkner, 16