According to Nielson TV ratings, “America’s Got Talent” is the most watched program on television. The show, which airs on NBC, is in its 9th season and features various talent acts of all styles, who are judged by a panel of “famous” people.

The most recent season’s judging panel includes the controversial shock radio jockey, Howard Stern, whose vulgar commentary polluted radio airwaves and television for more than a decade. The inclusion of Stern, who is saturated with pornography, represents a new low for this television program, and others like it, that are supposed to be for the whole family to watch.

A recent incident shows Stern has not changed his ways. When a motorcycle stunt team, who presents the Gospel wherever they display their talents, was on the program, Stern said he thought they were affiliated with pornography because the group is called “Real Encounter.” Brad Bennett, a stunt rider and president of the company, meanwhile explained that the group, far from being pornographic, is a Christian ministry.

You see, Stern is so darkened that when he hears of something normal, his mind can only pervert it. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:5) as the Scriptures say.

While Stern is certainly a problem in himself, we have to pity someone so lost in darkness. If only a darkened mind were limited to this one man, we would be well off as a nation. Unfortunately, the mainstream acceptance of a person like Stern is but one indication that we live in a pornography-drenched age.

It is not only on a TV reality show that you will see the effects of this takeover of pornography. You cannot scarcely go anywhere—to the mall, to the grocery store checkout line or a sporting event—without some sort of sexual reference. For those of us raising children or grandchildren in such a rotten society, we may be tempted to despair.

At the same time, we are reminded that First Century Christians lived in immoral times, as well. We also are reminded that darkness is lurking in our own hearts, too.

As the great 20th Century Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Knowing all of this, I firmly believe we could learn how to respond to hard times from the example of Winston Churchill. In the days leading up to the Third Reich’s military conquests in Europe, as the evil of the Nazis spread, Churchill refused to call the days in which they lived “dark days.” He preferred to call them “stern days.”

For us, it is not a totalitarian, murderous regime that makes our days stern. For us, it is rampant immorality, greed and a pleasure-seeking culture embodied in a man like Howard Stern.

To stand firm amid our stern days, Christians must first take the log out of our eyes and take no part in the pornography and immorality.

Only then will we see clearly enough to help a man and a culture so lost. Only then, can we point the way to the only Man who was ever pure.