First John 4:1 calls us to “test the spirits” because not everything is from God. First Thessalonians 5:21-22 tells us to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good [and] abstain from every form of evil.”
Despite the fact that there are some things that are wholesome, most of the media today is produced today with an ungodly agenda (Eph. 5:16) in an attempt to get us to believe lies as truth. So unless we decide to discard our televisions, avoid the theater, eliminate all our DVDs, and never download another song, various media sources will always be present. Therefore if we engage in these forms of entertainment it is our responsibility as Christians to not conform to the world (Rom. 12:2), but examine all content with what we know from the Word of God. The call is for prudence with proper discernment (Heb. 5:14).
So with that in mind, here are some things to consider when you make your media selections:
1. Does it Mock Christianity?
For the most part, the networks mock no other faith but Christianity, and they do it often without fear of reprisal. We will never stay excited about church and Bible reading when it’s either ripped to shreds or totally ignored in the media choices we make.
1 Timothy 1:18-19, “Fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.”
2. What is the Primary Message of the Episode?
Even when everything else appears to meet your approval, perhaps the greatest danger is the message that is pumped into your minds through great persuasiveness. The power of media can make the lies very believable.
Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
3. Does it Glamorize Rebellion?
Does the show focus on rebellion to any type of authority, such as parents, police, teachers, government, etc. Personally, this is why even many Disney movies never made it into our home.
1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”
4. Does it Glorify Controlled Substances?
Does the show make drugs and alcohol more respectable? And by all means also keep a close eye on the commercials! Young people view approximately 20,000 advertisements each year, of which nearly 2,000 are for beer and wine. For every “just say no” or “know when to say when” public service announcement, teens will view 25 to 50 beer and wine commercials.
Ephesians 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
5. Does the Program Push Evolution as a Fact?
When programs are aired which show a clash between Christianity and Evolution, the Christians are always portrayed as religious idiots while the evolutionists are shown to be intelligent, scientific and logically minded. Rarely if ever is Creationism even given a fair shake as an acceptable alternative.
Romans 1:25, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”
6. Are there Occultic Overtones?
If the program contains subtle or blatant endorsements of psychics, new age themes, mediums, or portrays witches as good moral people (a big one nowadays), there is a satanic attempt to get you to accept the occultic activities.
Ephesians 5:11, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”
7. Are there Sexual Suggestions?
Are unbiblical sexual scenes portrayed as acceptable? Are images placed in the mind that are not wholesome? Is the show using inappropriate sexual innuendos or immodest physical exposure? It’s interesting how Hollywood inundates this unbiblical material into nearly all their productions, but rarely presents the often experienced and painful consequences of these actions.
Ephesians 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity…must not even be named among you.”
8. Is Violence Glorified?
The number of murders seen on TV alone by the time an average child finishes elementary school is 8,000. The number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18 is 200,000. Can we expect this to not have an influence?
Proverbs 3:31, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”
9. Is Vulgarity a Part of the Script?
Is there foul language used? Moreover, is God’s name taken in vain? That’s not just His name followed by the “d-word,” it’s His name used in a way simply as an expression such as the popular “Oh my…”
Matthew 6:9, “Hallowed be Your name.”
Do we as Christians consider these factors or are we just blending in with the world? When it comes to the media, how often do we initially ask, “Who’s in the movie?” or “How well is it doing at the box office?” as compared to the items listed above? Better, we should ask ourselves this overarching question, “Would I feel comfortable watching that show if Jesus were personally sitting by my side?” Or here is another good question to ask, “Will we allow ourselves to be entertained by something that put our Savior on the cross?”
Much of this material is adapted from Ken Matto’s excellent work available on the Internet, “The Dangers of Television.”