It is movie night, one of my all-time favorite events in my household. My family is watching a movie together in my parents’ king size bed, our most common family gathering area (although it is quite crowded with eight people all on it at the same time). As the movie comes to a close, we all sit around for about another hour discussing the worldview of this movie vs. the Bible’s worldview. We take turns discussing what aspects align with Scripture and what do not, and comparing the movie’s overall message with several different verses that we find. Yes, we even do this with seemingly innocent Disney movies. Pocahontas, Finding Nemo, Incredibles, you name it. But I absolutely love this inevitable aspect of our movie watching! Why? Because it teaches my five siblings and me the importance of watching everything with a biblical lens and evaluating our entertainment. It teaches us to not merely be viewers, but analytical viewers. Rather than watching everything for mere pleasure, it shows us to evaluate it. And yes, this also includes rooting out that which causes us to sin, even if it is near and dear to our hearts. If we truly want to seek to glorify the Lord with everything that we do, then we will give Him every single part of our lives, including entertainment. This means that we must examine the affects that entertainment has on our hearts to determine whether it produces sin in our day-to-day lives.
You may think that what you watch simply doesn’t affect you or your heart because sin just doesn’t have the same appeal to you anymore. Now that the Gospel has changed your life, can’t you watch what everyone else watches and not be affected by it? I mean, that’s what most other Christians do, right? Oh, but Satan is such a clever liar! He wants us to simply follow the current of the world without giving it a single thought. Although we may think otherwise, our entertainment does, indeed, affect our hearts in so many ways. Even though it is not what is outside of us that defiles us (Matthew 15:11), entertainment can cause us to sin in many different areas of our lives. Here are just a few.
First, our entertainment can affect our hearts with discontentment. When the main character is portrayed as the perfect, young, handsome guy who gets the girl of his dreams. When the woman on the screen is dressed seductively to catch your attention. When the family has everything they could ever dream of and is living happily ever after. These are just a few ways that Hollywood uses to shower idealism upon us. In seeing these images, although it may happen quite gradually, we become discontent with our normal, mundane lives. We just want the picture perfect life with the picture perfect friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, siblings, material possessions, jobs, etc., but our lives are nowhere near to this perfect picture. Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4:11 to be content. He faced hunger, prison, and persecution, yet he learned to be content in the Lord through each and every circumstance.
Second, our entertainment can affect our hearts with insecurity. When that girl on the screen looks so much better than we could ever look. When her skimpy outfit makes us realize that we must look the way that the world says women should look. This is what Hollywood loves to push upon its viewers. I simply cannot think of many movies that do not portray this image on the screen in our living rooms. As we unconsciously watch movies that portray this, we want to start dressing indecently. We start wanting others to look at us and value us for the way we look. After all, isn’t this the pressure that Hollywood constantly puts upon this? But we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), no matter how we look, and precious in our Father’s sight.
Third, our entertainment can affect our hearts with hardening to sin. When two lovers are currently married but long to be with the “true” love of their lives. When she lies in order to achieve a specific purpose, whether for good or for bad. But it’s okay if it’s just a white lie, right? When there is so much killing in the things that we watch that we no longer shudder at a gory scene. When we are so used to watching adultery, fornication, murder, and lying that we become desensitized to these sins, we no longer see them as God sees them, and this is very dangerous indeed. We no longer abhor sin and consider it as evil the way we used to. Instead, we laugh at it and choose to ignore the fact that it is explicitly prohibited in Scripture. Ephesians 5:11-12 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” If it is shameful to even talk about sin such as adultery and murder, how much more must we be cautious of watching these things! Although I am not telling you explicitly what you should or shouldn’t watch, if it condones sin as right and moral, or begins to harden us to sin, then we, as children of God, must not put this before our eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good movie when I can find one (which is quite rare), and you can too. But when it in turn affects our hearts and produces discontentment, insecurity, and hardening to sin, we must be willing to eradicate this from our lives. Chapter five of Matthew gives the illustrations of tearing out an eye and of cutting off your hand in order to kill the sin in your life. I know that we hold certain movies or shows very dear to us, and I understand that. I do too. But when they interfere with our personal relationship with God in a negative way, we must be able and willing to get rid of this interference. By now you may think, “But it’s just a movie! How can it be so damaging?” Although our culture practically revolves around entertainment, actors, actresses, and celebrities, let’s dare to be different and refuse to let this be said of us. Instead of being shaped by our entertainment, let’s be shaped by the Word of God.
I invite you to join with me in evaluating what we watch and pursuing a closer relationship with God over knowledge of pop culture. I invite you to dare to flow against the current of the culture and ultimately pursue God’s glory in and through your life. I encourage you to repent if what you have set before your eyes has caused you to sin. Jesus wants you to ask of His forgiveness, and His mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). He is such a gracious God!
So, are you with me?