There are more objectionable elements in modern entertainment than there are movie titles, but none of them are as disturbing and destructive as this one practically invisible plot line.
For the purposes of this post, “Hollywood” will represent the companies, individuals, and organizations that create the stuff Americans are daily stuffing into their ears and eyes. Nearly all of the movies, shows (both TV & internet), books, and music that fill iTunes are the topic of this conversation. Of course, Hollywood (and the American entertainment culture as a whole) are by no means the only culprits. The most destructive force in entertainment today is the same in every living room, culture, and hemisphere.
Normal Wicked Stuff
God-passionate believers react pretty aggressively to the obvious filth pervading modern entertainment. And they should.
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Psalm 101:3
And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that things are just getting worse. When I was a child, I watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids on TV and was saved the horror of hearing Ron Thompson say “We’re all the size of boogers!” because our beloved edited-for-tv-man substituted the word “bugs” instead.
Whew. Close call.
But just click on your favorite TV app, and you’ll see that profanity, flagrant rebelliousness, and aberrant sexuality are written into practically every script.
This is no surprise, and undoubtedly, you’re being tempted to stop reading right this minute because I’ve said nothing you don’t know.
But I contest that these and other equally vile elements of modern entertainment are not nearly as dangerous as what most God-desiring Christians let into their house nearly every single day.
Pick a movie or show. Pick a book or song.
It doesn’t matter if they’re catching criminals, saving animals, or battling extraterrestrials. The story could be about wizards, wimpy kids, or wushu. The song may warble-on about work, romance, or politics. Perhaps the episode features children, or maybe it’s about adults, or potentially it’s a cartoon that you thought was about kids, but is definitely for adults.
It doesn’t matter.
Nearly every one – rated G, R, or X – has this one common narrative thread.
Stop for a minute.
I want you to think about what that means.
Some stories encompass the events of a day, others display a lifetime. Most shows feature people, aliens, or animals making decisions that will change the course of their own lives or the future of a nation. Whether they’re waging war against dragons and orcs, or they’re simply trying to navigate the halls of a new school, the characters live their lives for all of us to enjoy with baited breath and buttery fingers.
And they do it all without a single thought of God.
Not a cell of gray matter is given to His will. Not a consideration is spent on Him. Sure, at some point in the climax or denouement some pray (George Bailey) or visit a church (Superman, The Godfather), but think with me how many screen-lives you’ve seen lived without a moment’s contemplation of God, His commands, or His desires.
God doesn’t even exist in most of the worlds Hollywood creates. Granted, more and more “Christian movies” are coming out, and despite the frequent bad theology (Heaven is for Real) and generally bad acting (all of the early Left Behind movies), they often do a fine job showing how Christians should live in this world.
But take the total number of Christian movies you’ve watched recently and divide that number by the total number of movies you’ve watched in that same time period. See what I mean.
How We Live
How did you learn to talk?
Being a professional communicator and speech teacher, I can tell you that every one of us (barring significant effort to the contrary) talks like our parents. And it wasn’t because our parents sat down to teach us grammar or diction. All we did was hear them discuss, and our own speech patterns were subconsciously formed. It didn’t even matter that our high school English teacher told us to say “whom” when used as an adverb or to use the subjunctive case if we were to state a hypothetical . . . we still talk like our parents.
This daily talking/listening directed the course of our communication, and some of us won’t veer from it until we pass through the waters encircling the Celestial City. So consider with me for a moment the impact that daily watching people (experiencing every conceivable conflict) make decisions with absolutely no care for God and His revealed truth will have on a life.
Thanks to Google I learned that,
“The average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television, says a new Nielsen report — plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.”
That’s 40 hours of being trained how to make it through life without God!
And we think this won’t have an effect on how we make our own choices? We don’t believe this will play itself out in how we fight our own battles? We reject the idea that as long as no one is swearing or having sex that this godless version of life will impact how we live?
I said earlier that your average objectionable content (nudity, profanity) is wicked and should have no place in a Christian’s life. And yet as we strive to find those “good” shows, we still miss the fact that what’s flooding over our senses is a godless existence.
Every vampire, pony, superhero, and politician ignores Him. Every student, police officer, and parent gets along just fine without His Word. Every sibling, contestant, and guy-in-a-pickup-truck manages to resolve their conflicts, achieve their goals, or save their universes without God’s help.
And Christians are okay with that because no one used the “F” word while doing it.
In fact, because of our obsessive amusement (a = no, muse = thinking) we’ve been programmed to believe that’s how life works. No objectionable content = good (even if it teaches me I don’t need God).
And we wonder why there’s this staggering dichotomy between the sacred and the secular in the lives of Christians.
Combat the Invisible Influence
My son and I were watching Turbo (the story of a snail who wants to be a NASCAR driver). It was somewhere in the first ten minutes that this conversation took place:
Micah – “Dad, is it okay for Turbo to want to be fast?”
Me – “Yes. We should always want to do our very best for God. If we can be faster, we should want to be. But do you think it’s okay to be mad or sad if our best isn’t as good as we want?”
Micah – “No. God wants us to be content with what He’s given us.”
Me – “Do you think Turbo is sinning?”
Micah – “Yes. Let’s see if he’ll change.”
Unfortunately, when the end of the movie came, Turbo had made many choices and learned many lessons . . . but not one of them acknowledged his Creator. Right behavior for wrong motivations is as sinful as wrong behavior for wrong motivations.
Please understand that I’m not saying we should never watch or read any story that isn’t deliberately “Christian.” I believe there’s much that can be learned from godless sources, but such material must be ingested with wisdom and discretion that few young people and many old people possess.
So here’s a good place to start:
- Watch/read/listen with discernment. Biblical discernment is comparing and contrasting the material pouring over my face with God’s absolute truth. Discernment is judging whether or not the movie glorifies God and being aware of the possible consequences of watching said movie.
- Be wise. Wisdom is taking the conclusions that biblically informed discernment provided and making the right decision with them.
- Realize that your children are not going to watch/read/listen with discernment or wisdom unless you teach them. We need to guide their thinking. I realize this is time-consuming, but I guarantee that explaining and applying God’s truth to what was just watched will not take nearly as much time as watching everyone in the show live a godless life. I remember my mom telling me that the movie Bambi wanted us to think that hunters were bad because they kill helpless, cuddly, talking animals and set forests on fire. She went on to observe what God’s Word says about the proper stewardship of animals and nature. I have never forgotten that conversation. Teaching your children to think in line with God is much easier than trying to rectify a worldview that’s been taught to ignore God unless it’s in church.
- Curb your intake of evil. The fool says, “There is no God,” and the almost-a-fool happily watches him do it. As I mentioned before, you don’t have to throw your devices out the nearest window . . . but I guarantee that the more filth you delete from your life, the cleaner you can live. Whether that filth is obvious impurity or hidden godlessness, it will all affect us. The less of it you have in your diet, the healthier you can be.
- Spread the word. Maybe this is the first time you’ve considered the insidious infiltration Satan has drilled into our lives via “good movies.” I must admit that I only recently realized the subconscious dangers of watching “good people” live a godless life. A few days ago my son was watching an old 80’s show called Ghost Writer. My wife had introduced him to one of her favorite shows as a kid. It was only a few weeks earlier that I showed my kids Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood. But as I looked over Micah’s shoulder at the story unfolding before him, I realized he was spending his time with kids and a ghost (or a nice gentleman and his puppets) that managed to make new friends, complete assignments, learn how stuff works, and save the day – every day – without once even caring that a loving God had created them, died for them, and had a plan for them. I might as well let my kid spend his entire day being taught by an atheist that God doesn’t exist. I believe most God-desirous believers would never sign up for a class to learn how to live a godless life, and yet on a daily basis that’s exactly what they do. So share this article with a friend.
Pornography, drug abuse, and sinful worldviews are desperately hazardous to people, even when we experience it vicariously through “entertainment.” But let us not deceive ourselves into the spiritually insane belief that the “good” movies are okay. We must be on guard. Satan is a lion who wants to make a mess of your life, but he doesn’t always leap off the screen with claws swinging. More often than not, he inoculates us to godlessness as children and reinforces the benefits of a Christless life with every frame.