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
Do you choose the entertainment you consume carefully? When choosing what entertainment to consume, whether it is a movie, television show, song, novel, video game, or any other type of entertainment, there are at least six reasons for Christians to carefully choose the entertainment they consume and hold all entertainment to a Biblical standard.
Reason #1: To Please God
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. -- Romans 8:5-6
Watching a funny TV show or a hero stopping a bad guy in a movie, listening to a song about love, reading a book about kids going on an adventure, or playing a video game where the world is saved from monsters can please God. Watching the sleazy uncle chase women or the anti-hero blasting the bad guy’s brains across a car windshield, listening to a song about promiscuous sex, reading a book about kids who use the “f” word in every sentence, or playing a video game with an elven brothel does not please God.
The entertainment we consume shows who we want to please: The Spirit that blesses heroics, love, and adventure, or the sinful nature that is thrilled by graphic content and immorality. Entertainment, like every other area of our life, is either going to please or displease God, depending on what we choose.
Reason #2: To Avoid Corruption
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. -- Ephesians 4:22-24
If the entertainment we consume is filled with content and messages that corrupt, we will become corrupted. You are what you watch, listen to, read, and play. You cannot consume corruption without it having an affect upon your heart, mind, and spirit. You are replacing faith, character, and responsibility with lust, darkness, and filth.
Even when certain content is portrayed as negative, if it is too graphic it is almost always robbed of redeeming value. The sin that is being condemned is, in the same instance, glorified. This glorification is usually intentional, to thrill while pretending to be righteous. However, often the corruption is so obvious that there is not even a pretense of morality while sin is glorified.
Reason #3: To Avoid Corrupting Children
If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. -- Jesus, Matthew 18:6
When consuming entertainment, it is important to keep children in mind--your own children, or younger siblings, or other children you would want to protect. While sometimes a certain amount of content is truly needed to get a point across, enough content that children shouldn’t see it, it should not be so much content that a child who stumbled upon it would be harmed by it. Corrupting themes are to be avoided entirely, since they have no value at all.
Even if children are shielded from such things, it does little good if their parents are not protecting themselves from corruption. Such behavior sends mixed messages to their children and has the potential to expose them to the corrupting entertainment. Many parents raise their children to be pure, while explaining that certain corrupting entertainment can be consumed when “they’re old enough”. But adults protecting themselves and being good examples is part of protecting children. No one is ever “old enough” for corrupting content.
Reason #4: To Avoid Corrupting Others
Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! -- Jesus, Matthew 18:7
Many professing Christians loudly announce how hilarious the latest comedy about a cool criminal was, how catchy the new hit song with the “d” word in the title was, how fascinating the bestselling novel about a well-intentioned serial killer was, or how fun it was to illegally street race in a popular video game.
Then other Christians, who similarly lack discernment, see them endorse such things, and go and consume the same corrupting entertainment, or else feel justified for already having consumed it, since “other Christians” approve of it. Corrupting entertainment is spread from one Christian to the next like a disease, and the few with enough discernment to not swallow it like everyone else are derided as old-fashioned.
Reason #5: To Avoid Being a Hypocrite
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. -- Matthew 23:25-26
If you believe certain things are wrong, why would you view entertainment that not only endorses but glorifies such behavior? Certainly, we live in a fallen world, and there will never be perfect entertainment. But Christians should give themselves Biblical guidelines to protect against corruption as well as to keep from being hypocritical in their entertainment choices.
It is common for Christians to endorse films with content and messages that they view as immoral and offensive in real life, but seem to love in entertainment. If you are consuming and supporting the same corrupting entertainment that everyone else does as if there is nothing wrong with it, then as far as anyone can tell, you love the same immorality that the world does.
Reason #6: To Avoid Supporting Corruption
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. -- Ephesians 5:6-7
Whenever you consume corrupting entertainment, you are supporting it, often by paying money to consume the entertainment. Not only have you allowed the corruption into your own life, but you are telling the makers of the immoral entertainment that you want more of it, and likely giving money to the creators so that they can afford to make more such entertainment and get rich in the process.
If all professing Christians stopped supporting corrupting entertainment, much of it would vanish almost overnight. The sad fact is that much immoral entertainment relies on professing Christians as a sizable chunk of their consumers, and many Christians are quite happy to give time and money to people who are equally happy to further corrupt them in return.
You Have A Choice
Many professing Christians can see nothing wrong with watching the latest slasher film or raunchy sit-com, listening to the latest hit song about staying perpetually drunk, reading the latest bestseller about an adulterer, or playing the latest video game where you can use bonus points to tip a stripper.
But the entertainment you choose to consume reflects your heart. The content and messages contained within the entertainment is going into you, and if you are choosing corrupting entertainment, it means one of two things: Either you are foolishly letting yourself be corrupted, or you are already corrupted and no longer care about godliness.
What are you going to choose?
*All Bible verses are from the NIV.
(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner