Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reflecting Christ in What I Watch

"Finally, brothers, 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." - Paul

Sometimes I wonder about how being a Christ follower should affect what movies I watch. It should affect it right? I have read polls that show that the lifestyle/media choices of the average Christian aren't any different than the average non-Christian. My first reaction to these polls is that something is wrong, "My brothers, this should not be!" But if we are to be different, what should that look like? I find this to be a difficult question.

In choosing what one should watch, should one go by the ratings? G (shudder), PG, and PG-13 are OK and anything else is not? The problem with this is that some movies rated R are more uplifting (at least to me) then some PG or PG-13 movies. Should one base the movie's acceptability based on the storyline or theme? Or how about the final message that the movie leaves with us? If the final message is inspiring does that mean that "contextual" elements such as sex, violence, profanity, coarse joking, occult/witchcraft, etc are OK? Or do these elements (or some of them) automatically make them unacceptable?

One of my favorite professors at Bible College (Carl Hinderager) was a very wise and holy man. One day in Spiritual Formation class he asked us a very difficult question "Is it OK to be entertained by sin?" Oh, how that question has haunted me! I remember putting it to my youth group in Mennville and watching them squirm. How would you answer this question?

I think that this is a question we need to ask ourselves every so often. Our consciences are malable, that is they can become more sensitive or densensitized over time. As North American Christians, we believe that we can watch whatever we want (as long as we don't do anything bad). The problem is that what we watch does affect us. Most insidious are the subtle things that we don't pick up on. For instance, over time, prolonged watching of sin (ex sexual sin) has the effect of "normalizing" it for us. So although we believe in our minds that it is still wrong, we lose some (or all) of our negative reaction to it . . .

Another problem with watching movies is that by choosing to watch something we are (at the least) passively endorsing it. Endorse means "to give approval of or support to." Try explaining to an 11 year old that you chose to watch American Pie or Sin City but that you don't endorse what happens in it. They won't buy it.

I don't want to come across as holier-than-thou. The reason I'm asking these questions though is that recently I have caught myself thinking "why am I watching this?" or "maybe I shouldn't be watching this." Something within me was stirred. I worry that in my desire to be entertained I have hardened my conscience to some things. And I worry that contrary to what I want to believe, it is indeed affecting me. My desire is to enjoy the arts (and to be inspired by them) yet balance this with discernment.

May Light increase!

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