Sometimes we ask the wrong questions about entertainment. Although some shows, music, movies, etc. are clearly off-limits due to their racy content, many of our entertainment choices are made according to our convictions. It’s essential that these convictions are founded in the Word of God.
There are given principles to consider when deciding what media to consume. Paul instructs believers to fix their minds on godly and pleasant things (Phil. 4:8), to “hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21), and to “detest what is evil” (Rom. 12:9).
But, God also made us with the need for relaxation and rest. In American society, a large part of “resting” has to do with watching TV, movies, Netflix, or sports. Do we cut out those things completely, or do we learn how to practice godliness with them? I chose the latter.
Here are four ways we can enjoy media without ridding ourselves of it.
- Examine intake through the lenses of relationship with Christ. I know many folks that choose what they watch and listen to based on what makes them feel good about themselves (e.g., “I don’t watch that! It’s bad” or “I can handle the content. I’m mature”). A few questions I like to use are “Does this steal my love for Christ?” and “Does this threaten to redirect my affections for the Lord?” Usually, the answer is a pretty good determiner of whether or not I should go forward.
- Think of your friends. Maybe you don’t struggle with the content in a certain movie, but your friend does. I love my friends more than I love entertainment. If they tell me the movie hit one of their weak spots, I apologize and vow to be more careful. I suggest just asking your friends if the content makes them uncomfortable. Usually they will be straightforward and might even feel relieved. Being proactive is pretty much always better than being reactive.
- Ask whether it might compromise your testimony. Some of my entertainment choices in the past have sent mixed signals to my lost friends. It’s so not worth it. Rarely does it communicate a message of “relativity” or “contemporary.” Christians are set apart, so it makes sense when we look different by not assimilating with everything the world values.
- Be honest with yourself about your fast-forwarding skills. There are some things that I don’t have a problem fast forwarding through. I see them coming, fast-forward, and resume at a later spot in the movie or show. But, that’s not always the case. Know your weakness, be honest, and avoid the temptation altogether. If you’re really dying to see a certain movie or show, have a friend watch it with you. That way you’ll both encourage each other to make the right decision.
I encourage you to avoid legalism in your entertainment choices, but don’t be slack either. By focusing on these four points, we can find sure footing to make a godly choice about amusement that isn’t black and white.