“I would like to talk to you about the topic of media choices as a disciple of Christ. Is watching secular TV show that’s popular like ‘Stranger Things’ sinful? I’m rather confused over what is acceptable for Christians. ”
This was a question that was asked by a dear brother in Christ last week. I had to think about it for a moment and prayed over this.
This is the reality; Our culture loves entertainment. On-demand streaming, live television, video-sharing websites, and social media are all at your fingertips.
Today living in the 21st century, we live in a culture where it is no surprise that all entertainment platform is encouraged and empower their users to allow any filthy language, nudity, violence, and other mature content from movies and TV series.
Hollywood is saturated with nudity, violence, and profanity, making it impossible for children to view films without being exposed to content that is not fitting for them.
As a pastor and a father of two beautiful daughters, I tremendous struggle at times picking movies that are above reproach, so I am still growing in this area as well.
Let me try to approach this with few things in mind
I struggle with that question. That seems, to me, to be a very different approach than the way the New Testament approaches questions of right and wrong.
The right or wrong question seems to be believing in the legalistic gospel; a hyper conservative fundamentalist religion.
John Piper put it well,
“I always get the impression that the question “What’s wrong with it?” is rising from a heart that is basically governed by a desire to minimize wrong rather than maximize holiness or faith or spiritual power or worship or zeal for the lost or missions or justice. Basically, what I’m going to do, in answer to this question, is try to simply reorient our minds about what we should think and feel when it comes to entertainment.”
The right-or-wrong question doesn’t stem deep down to the inner core of who we are. It ends up as joyless legalism and lifeless moralism of bunch of rules. That is far from the gospel.
My question will be perhaps, “What is your greatest desire within your heart?”
For the fruit of your lives reveal the root of your heart.
Does that cause you to love Christ more? Are you longing for greater desire for His holiness? Do you hate the very things that God hates? Are you desiring for witness more to the lost dying world? Are you wanting to be found more equipped and used for His kingdom save for making disciples?
Are these the questions you think about? Are these your thoughts as you lay your head on the pillow? Are you troubled by the fact that people have not heard the gospel of their salvation and lose sleep over?
For Christian, it is not simply asking the question, but is the exercise of finding to ask the right questions.
David Platt said it well,
“We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead, we will wish we had given more to ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.”
God is not interested in simply tweaking your behavior or stepping up your morality. He is all about radically transforming your entire life.
TV shows can take up too much of your time. When we even think about the basic meaning of the word entertainment is “to hold.” It’s a term for maintaining interest. To entertain is to capture and hold one’s attention. It is distracting our focus from Christ and His mission.
However, anything here on earth just as much as food can, health can, clothe can, cars can, friends can, sports can, family can, work can and every single hobby under the sun can…. etc
John Piper in his recent podcast Episode 1116 Nov 6, 2017 titled, “How Do I Love God More Than My Entertainment?” said it well,
“People who would counsel Craig by simply saying, ‘Lighten up. Good grief, you sound like a legalist. Just go ahead. Relax and enjoy the entertainments that feel like they are a threat to your holiness. You are perfect in Jesus, you know, because you have your justification. It doesn’t matter what movies you watch or how much time you spend with TV or video games or Facebook or Twitter. It doesn’t matter. Just lighten up and enjoy your freedom in Jesus.’”
The real problem here is we all know that there is excess that dishonors God in lesser matters, and we should spot that and avoid it, get rid of it. I’m afraid when we speak of right-or-wrong, we have a checklist and begin to live lives as we did as the Pharisees did during Christ incarnational period.
As we answer this very question, we must always see from a Christo-centeric lens that are theologically driven, scripturally based and with a proper biblical framework. So as we struggle through with this very question such as, “Is Video Gaming sinful?” we must answer one of the questions that has not been yet asked here;
What are the implication of 1 Corinthians 6:12? “All things are lawful for me, (that includes video games as well) not all things are helpful”
I believe the apostles Paul is speaking here saying, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” the word here in the original langue in Greek, ἐξουσιασθήσομαι (ESV: be mastered) is a strong word means that nothing will have authority over me. I believe this is the key to everything, all things in life.
This reminds us the words of Christ on earth as he ascendent to heaven, “All authority on earth and in heaven has been given me, go make disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20) which means, call every people under the alien authority because we have Christ authority and we call people under His authority as Lord Jesus is the strongest supreme authority on the planet and in the universe. We call people from demonic oppression, horrific false religions, and nothing on earth ought to be enslaving even most subtle things on earth. That could be marriages, academia, television shows, video games, reading books and the list goes on.
The Christian life is not just a call to forgiveness, profession of our faith but to experience Christ as the one who is all authority who breaks every power that holds us captive. This is a serious thing to be held in bondage but Christ. So actually, books too can be an idol and Christ abhors anythings that takes captive one’s heart as equal to video games. We’ve been all bought by the blood of Christ for freedom he has set us free.
We ought not to sell ourselves for any yoke upon this earth that is of bondage in light of Christ who set us free by the cross. We disown everything that comes in competition with Jesus Christ our Lord.
What’s wrong with the question at the end of the day? If our lives ought to be nothing but Christ, but live not for His glory, what’s the point of talking about Television shows being right or wrong?
Does this weaken my faith?
Does this equip me for greater witness?
Spend your time on heavenly things that matter for eternity. Think through how your downtime would be pure and not a contradiction of the basis of Christ holiness.
No more pursuit of earthly frail kinds of longings of this earth.
No more being a nominal, minimalist, “get by,” cultural Christianity that is far from the Biblical Christianity.
A disciple who is God focus, Christ centered, spirit empowered, biblically saturated, cross cherishing, joy filled disciple of Christ by grace through faith in Christ alone who are authentic, passionate, and earnest to carry out the Great Commission that is empowering the people of God of any color, any race, any background, any creed, any socio-economic status, with the Spirit of God by be wielding the Word of God for the ministry of God and for the glory of God to change the world.
That’s my response to the question of whether a person should watch any particular show or movie or TV show programs such as Stranger Things or Superhero movies.
Our calling here on earth is only one thing, to make Christ great and myself less.
To spread here on earth the passion of this world is no longer our priority, but the kingdom of His world and the supremacy of Christ to surpass all our desires. The world will see the joy that is only found in Christ and all men and woman will be drawn to King Jesus. “To make disciples of all nations”.
There’s no greater calling for us as disciples of Christ. I’m after the kind of passion that people will turn and say, “It is absolutely worth if for His glory and His Name.” for Christ supremacy in everything that functions as a radical litmus test on what we find amusing and entertaining in media.