Christians, Holiness, and Popular Entertainment
Our society produces a staggering quantity of television programming, music disks and cassettes, and reading materials. Only a brief glance at TV Guide or a few minutes in Borders Bookstore is enough to convince any person that there are literally thousands of options available for personal entertainment. Just a few decades ago, our present variety of choices would have seemed unimaginable.
Certainly, our options are innumerable, but, quite honestly, they are also troubling. We must be sensitive, on the one hand, to the demands of godliness, and, on the other, to the dangers of the ungodly nature of so much that is produced by the American media. Therefore, we ask: “Is there any standard that will enable us to determine what is acceptable to watch, listen, and read?”
The answer is yes!
Our great need of the day is for thoughtful Christians who will soberly and biblically evaluate the entertainment choices our society presents. How our times demand Christians who will exercise personal responsibility for distinguishing between what is sinful and what is righteous! Few areas of life call for more discernment than our confrontation with the products of American television, music, and literature.
What then is the standard that should govern our response to media productions that seek to entertain viewers by amusing them with ungodly behavior? One of my seminary professors pointed out a very unsatisfactory solution that, unfortunately, is adopted by many Christians. These Christians argue that every believer should decide just “how much he or she can take.” In other words, it is acceptable to view profanity, violence, and sexually explicit material just so long as it does not induce you to imitate such behavior.
However, this approach is hopelessly misguided.
- First, it fails to provide an objective standard of judgment.
- Second, and just as dangerous, it also places enormous trust in the human heart, which the Bible describes as “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9).
How easy it is, in the face of intense temptation, to find reasons to “justify” our sinful behavior. We may deceive ourselves through moral carelessness, but never will we deceive our God!
No, a purely subjective decision about “how much we can take” will never honor the Lord. Instead, my wise professor argued that we must shun any book or movie that presents what God declares sinful as acceptable, attractive, or commendable.
“Indeed,” he writes, “it may be said that God's people, who by definition have a thirst for the holiness of God as well as for their holiness of life, will through the power of the Holy Spirit shun them, vexed as they are about every and any sin.” Dr. Henry Krabbendam, unpublished lecture notes
As Christians we are never to entertain ourselves by delighting in evil. It's that simple!
Let us redouble our efforts to pursue the holiness of mind, heart, and behavior that pleases God. May these solemn words of Scripture never be far from our thoughts:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God, Matthew 5:8
and “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
The need of the hour is for discerning Christians who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, strive to live a life of purity. My prayer is that we will confront the temptations of our present age with the resolve to maintain a Christian mind and life. Christian sisters and brothers, may our choices of entertainment never drive us from the Lord, but refresh us for renewed devotion to him and service to his church.