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Has the Bible Changed What You Watch?
As a young married couple, my husband and I got in the habit of watching a particular TV show. Almost every week we tuned in to laugh at the antics of its characters for a half hour. We watched it without any conviction or qualms. At that time, it was simply a funny show.
Fast forward about fifteen years when this same show started to air again in re-runs. But now we were a little wiser. We were more grounded in Scripture. And we were more discerning. And so when we tuned in a few times for old times’ sake, we were most uncomfortable. We finally realized that the fornication and other sin that we were subjecting ourselves to for a few laughs was most definitely an offense to our Holy God. We turned it off and haven’t watched it since.
The same thing happened with a very popular 80’s movie. We had fond memories of watching it ourselves as teenagers and so one Sunday afternoon we turned it on for our kids. A few minutes into it–after listening to the characters take our precious Savior’s name in vain with appalling regularity– my husband turned it off.
This is a great example of how the Bible has changed us and what we watch. Has the Bible changed you and what you allow to enter your heart and mind through your television or the movie theater?
There has been a kind of strange dynamic over the past thirty or forty years with Christians and entertainment. This is probably due to a number of factors, including biblical illiteracy and our deep love for the world. But whatever the reason, most Christians have grown extremely comfortable watching sin on a screen with horrifying regularity.
If anyone dares to mention this trend as troublesome, they are immediately labeled a legalist. But is this legalism? Is the gray area of entertainment as gray as we would like to believe?
The more we study the Word, the more we understand that it is truly our grid for all of life. While we often focus on it being the grid through which we run pastors and Christian authors, it should also be what we use to evaluate all things worldly, as well.
God has made it clear in His word what is sinful. Passages like Galatians 5:19-21 help us to understand what God hates—
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If God hates these things, why do we think it is okay to watch things that are filled with them? Sexual immorality and sorcery are two of the most popular things on TV and in movies today and yet many Christians enthusiastically watch them, claiming no conviction in this area.
But if we know God hates it, shouldn’t we hate it, too? Is our claim of having no conviction an honest one?
Inevitably, when this topic of entertainment comes up, the idea of Christian freedom comes up with it. And, yes, how wonderful it is that we are free in Christ! But Paul shows us what this freedom really means in I Corinthians 10:23—
All things are lawful for me,but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
So just because we can do something does not mean we should do it. Is it helpful? Will it edify? These are important questions to ask ourselves regarding entertainment.
And in Romans 6:1-4, Paul explains this idea of Christian freedom for us even further-
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Grace means we walk in new life! Bound to sin no longer, we long to live a life that is pleasing to God.
This is not about a set of rules (legalism) but rather about how we go about pleasing the Lord with the choices we make every day. I Corinthians 10:31 gives us some insight—
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
And Colossians 3:17 says something very similar—
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Whatever we do. All things. Do you notice there is no exception for entertainment? Even our entertainment is to bring God glory.
And so these verses cause us to ask: Are we pleasing the Lord with the things we are watching?
If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that much of what passes as acceptable entertainment for Christians today does not fit under these guidelines.
The more I have studied the Word of God, the more I have come to understand how the Gospel affects all of my life. If we are approaching our Bible Study with a submissive heart and a desire to obey what we read, it should be changing us in a myriad of ways–including our entertainment choices.
While we do have great freedom under Christ, it is not the freedom to sin but instead it’s the freedom to break the chains of sin and to live a life of holiness. Why, as believers, do we long to keep this close contact with the sin that ensnares by putting it in front of our eyes and participating in it vicariously?
This is not a popular topic to write about and I confess that I don’t always like it myself. Honoring God with our entertainment is difficult in this day and age. But it can be done with some careful research of shows and movies before we watch them–along with the fortitude to turn the TV off or to walk out of the movie theater when we should.
May we have boldness and a heart to please God as we seek to honor Him with what we watch!
Leslie has been married to Eric for 29 years. They have four grown kids, three in-law kids, and are now enjoying being grandparents. Leslie’s desire is to develop a love for the Word of God in her readers, along with teaching them to run all of life’s experiences, challenges, and choices through its grid. You will find her at Growing4Life.net.