Seeking Purity in What I Watch
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Lately, God has really been challenging me in what I fill my mind with, to the point where I can’t enjoy most music, shows, and movies. I feel him asking me why Christians are so OK with filling our minds with immorality. The common themes in entertainment today are sexual immorality, mockery of God and religion, drunkenness, depression, drug use, corruption, anger, hatred, fighting, foul language, idolatry of romance/romantic relationships and the list goes on. We can try to pretend like seeing or hearing this stuff doesn’t matter, but in reality what we fill our mind with can and does effect us. We can also try to pretend like all of these things are unavoidable in society today so its just part of entertainment, but I don’t think that defense will hold up when it comes to facing judgment. We are called to submit every part of our lives to him, which includes entertainment, but I’m blown away by how much of my entertainment conflicts with scripture.
So many of us blindly enter movie theaters only to find that a movie is rampant with immorality. Ten minutes into one movie I saw, a girl ripped open her blouse into full frontal nudity, which was followed by a graphic sex scene. I sat there covering my eyes, to the amusement of my friends, uncomfortable and frustrated that I put myself in this situation. Thankfully, I have since discovered websites like imdb.com, movieguide.org, pluggedin.com, and commonsensemedia.org. On these sites you can search the movie (also TV shows on commonsensemedia) and read the content review, so you can determine beforehand what kinds of things will be in it. I often check all 3 sites, because things can be overlooked. It may seem like a hassle just to watch something, and yeah, there are honestly a lot of things that I don’t watch now, because in reality most movies and TV shows these days when examined in light of scripture are not pure. It’s another way we can submit to Christ, and naturally, it involves sacrifice.
It’s so common for movies to pointlessly throw in sensuality, nudity, language, and even full-blown sex scenes. Even kids movies can sneak in some of these themes. Most of us would never go to a strip club (hopefully), and we would avert our eyes (hopefully) if we saw someone changing or having sex, but somehow we’ve accepted watching this stuff on a screen. I know as a woman all of these trigger feelings and urges to varying degrees. For men, these images definitely do the same, and can even pop into their heads at later times and trigger even more battles. Sex within marriage is great (so I hear) and is the only time sexuality is pure. I’m becoming convinced that we need to flee from any other forms of sexual stimulation.
Here’s one area I think about that I’m sure will push some buttons: sports! Hockey has ice girls; basketball and football have cheerleaders. Now, I genuinely don’t know if men struggle with looking at these women lustfully, but if they do, do they look away from the screen? And if the struggle continued, would they stop watching the sport? I can guess the response. They’re invested in their team, and sports are a big part of the social life of many men.
If we are surprised by things in movies, sports, TV shows, and commercials that spark wrongful desires in us, do we look away, change the channel, fast forward, or even decide to no longer watch that? We can keep watching and pretend nothing is happening inside of us, and if anyone is watching with us we can hide it from them. I’ve done it. We may try to fool ourselves and others, but not God, who we’ll answer to. I’ve seen men casually flip through channels and pause on sensual game shows or exercise channels. I’ve watched movies that indulge different desires, but it’s just a movie so no one will know, right? I can almost imagine God just shaking his head.
Have we given God control of every area of our life and do we truly live set apart from the rest of culture? It can be tough. Family and friends might not get it, and it can complicate picking something to watch. But now that I better understand my convictions, I’m going to explain to those around me when it comes up and flee from any shame or criticism that I’m surrendering every part of my life for God. It’s not simple or quick, and sometimes I’m not as on my guard as I should be, but I’m making the commitment and will continue to let God shape my decisions and life.
To decide on a movie or show, I look at the content that will be in the movie and compare it to scripture. I also think about questions like this: What kinds of thoughts and desires will this put in my mind? Would it be uncomfortable to watch with my pastor or in church? Would I let little kids watch it with me? (We don’t let kids watch or do certain things because we want their minds to be innocently and purely shaped, but it’s OK for us?) Would I watch it with Jesus if he was sitting next to me in the flesh? Jesus didn’t live a compartmentalized life. He didn’t have the attitude of allowing certain things because that was his free time. Every second he was mindful of God and the kingdom, and we are called to follow that example. Man, I know I sure fall short of that. I’m doing what I can to actually submit every part of my life, every second of my day. I have a ways to go, but I’m not going to let my failure or the fact that I’ll never be perfect slow me down from improving.
I can already hear some of the responses. She’s turning into one of those. She’s getting a little too radical. We don’t have to take temptation and sin that seriously. God still wants us to enjoy life. Ok so the last one is true, but its also true that entertainment can be kept pure. And if people think I’m weird for how seriously I take my faith and choices, then I take that as a good sign. My compass should be God and his word, not the world!
The content of this article is actually really solid, despite the old-fashioned, pushy vibe:
Another good one: