Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23 NLT).

Many of us express some degree of amazement (if not concern) over what passes for entertainment in this culture. Voyeurism, violence, pornography, lurid sex, foul language — these are standard fare for TV and movies.

No, ours is not the first generation to feature blood, sex, and violence. Greek theater had its tales of sensuality, incest, and even bestiality. The Romans had criminals and slaves fight to the death. Yet modern researchers and professors of history typically related such facts with a hint of moral superiority.

Excuses from the entertainment establishment for what it throws at us are essentially three:

  1. "It's just harmless entertainment."
  2. "It just reflects the realities of our society."
  3. "We're only giving the public what it wants."

Industry habits aren't likely to change soon.
Excuse #1 has very little credibility anymore, and few people can offer it with a straight face. Although agenda-driven studies still claim not to be able to trace a link between pornography and sexual offenses, research continues to pile up about the connection of violence, drug use, and smoking to these same actions in adolescent behaviors. Most people have more common sense than to fall for the notion that what we see glamorized in media has no impact on behavior.

Excuse #2 is a stretch as well. Ask a teen-aged mother living in subsidized housing and shopping with food stamps if her experience as a single mom correlates to the film and TV versions of how glamorous premarital sex is. Ask her if the unmarried, professional, wealthy, single mom of TV fame — with a nanny and hosts of supportive family and friends — parallels her life situation.

Excuse #3 just won't square with facts released by the industry itself. Films that carry an R-rating for sex and violence aren't even good investments. In the summer of 2009, for example, far more family-friendly films made big profits than did their R-rated cousins. Only one rated-R film was in the Top Ten ("The Hangover" was #4), and the next-highest film with an R rating was at #18!

The Oscar nominations for this year include "The Blind Side." It has been a blockbuster hit that has taken in more than $238 million in domestic ticket sales as of the first week in February and is still showing in more than 1,700 theaters.

I have an uneasy feeling about the entertainment industry and the public welfare. Industry habits aren't likely to change soon. But those of us who buy the theater tickets, purchase the premium channels, and order pay-per-view movies can be more discerning in the choices we make.

Hollywood has an agenda and just won't get it — except at the bottom line.