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March 31, 2015

Making Wise Media Choices

A few months ago, I published a post titled 3 Reasons Why I Refuse to Watch Mommy Porn. This post explained why I had no intention of going to see 50 Shades of Grey. The post was widely shared across social media and featured on For Every Mom's website. While I was unable to read all of the comments that come through in response, I was fascinated by the variation of responses that I read. The ones that most caught my attention were the explanations from women who claimed to be Christians - dismissals of concerns over the movie, rationalizations for why they were looking forward to seeing it, rebukes directed toward those who were intolerant of the movie, and that is just the beginning.

I could not help but question: Why doesn't the popularity of this book/movie concern these women? Why do they feel justified in their participation of its promotion? Why are they so enthusiastic about supporting media that is so blatantly opposed to God's definition of life, and love, and living? 

And I quickly came to this conclusion...

...I am convinced that the reason 50 Shades of Grey wasn't all that shocking for many Christian women is because it really isn't all that different from what they were already reading...and watching.

We have become so desensitized by our culture and their cries for tolerance that we have lost our ability to discern wisely; and today, I want to chat about making wise media choices for ourselves - as well as our families.

Wise Media Choices

While I have spoken directly about the 50 Shades Phenomenon, I will tell you that it is not my intention for this post to address any other specific books, theatrical productions, tv series, movies, etc. If your desire is to please God with your entertainment choices, I know that He will speak directly to your heart about your personal decisions. What I would like to do is provide you with a few guidelines that have been helpful to me in navigating what can oftentimes feel like somewhat of a gray area - making wise media choices. 

When I was in high school, I had an English Literature teacher who shared great wisdom regarding this topic. When it comes to showing discernment in this realm, she challenged us to ask this question: "As I read this book, or watch this show, or entertain myself with this movie, do I find myself desiring the characters to make right choices...or wrong ones?" I have never forgotten this!

Girls, have you ever found yourself wanting the main character in a story line to leave her husband "because the guy is such a jerk"....or feel like it would be the natural thing for the main characters to "move to the next level"...even though they just met....even though they're cheating on their spouses...never mind that they're not married...never mind that they may be homosexual.

This is just one example of how we are so easily moved by an intriguing story line, great acting, emotionally-charged music...I would mention one popular romance author that comes to mind for me, but maybe you've already thought of one...or two...that have had this impact on you.

Philippians 4:8: "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."

When we desire something that goes against what is right...we are allowing someone/something other than the Holy Spirit control over our heart and mind. Yes, I realize that following this guideline eliminates much of what is currently considered entertainment; but as a Christ-follower, can you disagree?

You see, grace does not give us the freedom to do whatever want, watch whatever we want, go wherever we want...God's grace gives us the freedom to make the right choices.

As a daughter of the King, I wholeheartedly desire to have the mind of Christ...seeking to please Him with my choices. Is this an area where we all struggle? Of course! But my passion is to honor Him, and I want to share in His attitude...His thoughts...His perspective...wisdom and discernment that comes from Him alone. 

The entertainment industry continues to:
disrespect the father in the home...if a father present
humorize homosexual behavior
promote inappropriate speech
objectify human beings
diminish the impact of premarital sex
negate the value of life in all of its beautiful stages

Will you choose to join me in saying: No, these things are not okay. My family will not laugh at or approve these things. We will stand against them...even if we feel alone in our commitment.

Questions to ask about Media:

1. What is the overall theme(s) that the author/producer is wanting to communicate?

2. In the end, what wins? Good or evil?

3. How is this book/show/movie impacting the way I feel? think? act?

4. Is this form of entertainment causing me to desire something that I know goes against what is right?

This doesn't mean you can only read books that have come from the Christian book store...or watch movies that have been endorsed by Kirk Cameron...but it does mean that you will be limited in your options. You will have less to choose from than someone who does not consider Christ when they make choices about what they allow in to their heart and mind.

Matthew 13:16: "Blessed are those whose eyes have the ability to see."

This approach to media will seem weird...foreign...dogmatic...close-minded...and intolerant to those who do not share your faith values; but that is no surprise. In the Scriptures, we are told time and time again that...

only spiritually-minded people will understand a call to live differently...
only spiritually-minded people will have a desire to turn from what is considered normal and embrace what is pure...

In order to make wise decisions in any area of our life, our heart must be aligned with the Savior's....this means we are actively involved in a relationship with Him that includes meditating on His word and communicating relationally with Him in prayer. His truth can not effect our choices unless we allow it to do so~

Romans 2:14-15: "Our lives will demonstrate that God has written His Words on our hearts."

Helpful Resources:

Common Sense: If the synopsis or preview includes [insert highly problematic content], then you can pretty must assume that the book/show/movie is not worth giving a chance...no matter how interesting it may seem...no matter how curious you might be...no matter how popular it is at the time.

Good media discernment is about guarding our eyes and hearts before we watch or listen. It's also about grappling with the entertainment we do see or hear. - Focus on the Family

TV/Movie Ratings: These can definitely be a help in weeding out the inappropriate. I wouldn't suggest using these as your only guide, but they can be helpful.

Plugged In: This is a great resource from Focus on the Family! This website provides reviews on all the latest music, videos, movies, tv, and games. If you're unsure about something, do a little research! Educate yourself - especially when it comes to guiding your children through these confusing waters.

Safeguards: I know a lot of families have chosen to password protect their technology, utilize tools such as TV Guardian or Net Nanny, etc. Some families have chosen to keep all televisions, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. out of their kids' bedrooms - promoting family time and accountability. Whatever choices you make in this area, may I encourage you to: Be informed! Be aware! Be engaged! Be unashamedly passionate regarding your ministry as a parent - remembering that we are in a war - battling for the hearts and minds of our children. Do not sit back and allow the enemy to win. It is worth the fight.

As your children grow in their maturity, I would suggest providing them with guided opportunities to practice discernment. Talk to them about what and why...Expose them to the existence of evil and how the Gospel can change lives....Help them understand current events, controversial issues...Guide them - answering any questions they might have along the way. Teach them to ask questions, and give them the freedom to ask the tough questions. 

As you travel down this road with your children, be willing to tell them no - even if it makes them angry...even if they stand out as the weird one among their peers. You are not called to be your child's friend. You are called to be their spiritual guardian, and - especially in today's culture - training them to make appropriate choices about entertainment [while modeling good choices yourself] is a huge piece of that responsibility!

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