Thursday, March 29, 2012
Finding Godly Entertainment
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
I believe that, as Christians, we should choose Godly entertainment, and this article is a sequel to my article on that subject. If you agree, then the next step is finding Godly entertainment. But how do we do that?
Reviews are the easiest and best way, if the review contains a content overview to let you know exactly what is in the movie, television show, book, musical album, or video game. Such reviews are not 100% accurate, but in most cases they can provide the information you need to choose wisely. (For these types of resources, see my post Resources for Finding Godly Entertainment.)
Family, friends, and acquaintances can be another good way to find Godly entertainment, if they are trustworthy in what they recommend. Do you they share your values, or are they likely to overlook content and moral issues? If you aren’t sure, read a review as well, if possible. It’s even a good idea to read a review in addition to a recommendation from a trusted person to be doubly sure, since some people don’t have good memories or are less bothered by certain issues.
The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. -- Proverbs 18:15
What if you find an interesting movie or television show or book or CD or video game of which no content reviews are available and which no one you trust knows about? You can still try them; it just takes discernment and care on your part.
If it’s a film, check the rating. If it’s rated R, then it’s probably not worth trying without a content review. An R-rated film’s brief rating description may not mention that the MPAA thought the sex scene was too “mild” to note, or that the fifty “s” words didn’t require a mention of language since there was only one “f” word. Violence can mean anything from a few battle scenes to every detail of a serial killer’s numerous mutilations of his victims. Some PG-13 and PG films can have R-level content in them, and some G-rated films can have PG and PG-13 level content in them. Noting other things, like if the storyline has a potential for issues, and if the director, actor, or other person involved with the making of the film is known for making immoral entertainment can also help in choosing whether to try the film. If anything looks off, skip the movie. If you really want to try it, then just be prepared to turn it off if necessary. Old movies, from when there was a production code, are usually fairly safe, but even this is not entirely reliable since not all films followed the code.
If it’s a television show, check the rating. If it’s rated TV-MA, it’s pretty much guaranteed to not be worth your time, since television shows that are the equivalent of an R-rating are often even worse than the average R-rated film. TV-14, TV-PG, and TV-G are even more inaccurate than film ratings, so noting other things, like if the storyline has a potential for issues, and if the director, actor, or other person involved with the making of the show is known for making immoral entertainment can also help in choosing whether to try the show. If anything looks off, skip the television show. If you really want to try it, then just be prepared to change the channel or turn it off if necessary. Old television shows (early 1960s and before) are usually fairly safe, but even this is not entirely reliable.
If it’s a book, note if the story has potential for issues and the author’s reputation. If that isn’t enough, then flip through it thoroughly. A book that has a lot of swearing will usually have swearing on several of the pages you flip to, and other content is likely to be evident as well. If you see an issue, skip the book. If you don’t see an issue or warning sign and want to try it, then just be prepared to stop reading if necessary.
If it’s a music album, whether digital or in CD form, and you want to try it or have heard a wholesome song by the artist, then check the other song titles for any warning signs and look into the artist’s reputation. After that, look up the lyrics online, which will help to prevent you from receiving any surprises in the songs, though some songs have parts that are not listed in the lyrics, and the possibility of bad content in the album art will still remain. If you don’t see an issue or warning sign and want to try it, then just be prepared to toss it out if necessary.
If it’s a video game, the rating and rating description, like with movies and television shows, may or may not be accurate. The story of the game, the art for the game, and the type of game it is will help show what it is probably like. You can also rent it or try it if someone you know has it. Scanning over peoples’ online comments about the game may help too, if they happen to mention bad content positively, such as “how cool” it is that the “hero” can rip out evil minions’ hearts and eat them to get extra health. If you don’t see an issue or warning sign and want to try it, then just be prepared to stop playing if necessary.
For all entertainment, even reading regular reviews with no content overviews can be helpful, since they may positively or negatively reference immoral content that you would want to stay away from. It may seem like a lot of effort, but the world is filled with corruption, and you should protect yourself and your family and friends from it when possible.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. -- 1 Peter 5:8
There is only so much you can do in some cases to protect against corrupting entertainment, and sometimes you may decide just to try it if there are no warning signs. That’s fine, though only if you have the determination to stop and walk away, no matter how entertaining it is, should the content or worldview require it. If you cannot commit to this course of action, then it’s better if you only choose entertainment that is unlikely to have any content issues, such as that which has a content review available that vouches for it.
And there is another side of finding Godly entertainment: Peer pressure. You may know for sure something is bad, or be able to make an educated guess that it is, and yet have your friend or cousin or co-worker telling you that it’s so mind-bogglingly awesome you have to see it. Maybe millions of people love it and you supposedly haven’t truly experienced life until you’ve tried it. But whatever may be said by reviewers or peers about entertainment, know what is best for you from a spiritual perspective and never waver from it.
When you’re in heaven, which are you going to regret: That you were careful to find entertainment that was pleasing to God, or that you watched entertainment that the world adored and God hated? If you ask yourself that before you consume any entertainment, the choice may not always be easy, but it should always be clear.
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
Are you going to make the effort to search for Godly entertainment?
If you have already begun searching for Godly entertainment, how do you find it? Do you have any tips that others can use?
All Bible verses are from the NIV.
(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner