HELLO THERE, FRIEND!
(we'll keep this short & sweet)
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“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
– James 4:4
“But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.”
– 1 Timothy 5:6
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”
– 1 John 2:15-16
A couple of years ago, I was talking with a group of Christian young women who enthusiastically told me that their very favorite movie was the 2004 chick flick The Notebook. They arenʼt the first group of Christian girls to applaud this popular movie. The story portrays a beautiful romance, showcasing a sweet older couple who are at the end of their lives and still passionately in love. It paints a vivid picture of the lifelong love story that we all desire, and shows us a man who is so devoted to the love of his life that he stays by her side, tenderly cherishing her, even when she is struck with Alzheimerʼs and canʼt remember who he is. What girl wouldnʼt get teary-eyed at such a display?
But The Notebook isnʼt just a simple, innocent romance.
As the movie flashes back to this coupleʼs younger days, it implies that this kind of beautiful, lifelong love story can be discovered through shallow, sensual attraction, animalistic pre-marital sex, rebellion against parents, breaking of promises, and betrayal of trust.
Not only are the sex scenes in this movie lengthy and graphic, but they portray a patently false and dangerous message. There is no way to discover Christ-like, lasting love without following Christʼs pattern. Build a relationship the way that couple did, and I guarantee you are going to end up with heartache, bitterness, and misery, not the “happily ever after” ending you see in the movie. But The Notebook makes sin seem so right, so good, and so noble. When sin is so beautifully and artistically portrayed, itʼs easy to allow Hollywood movie-makers to subtly shape our thinking, even on a subconscious level. Look at how well their love story turned out, we start reasoning, and they had sex before marriage. It was so sweet and beautiful; I can’t imagine that it was wrong. They were just following their hearts! Maybe I shouldn’t be so uptight about this whole purity thing after all.
One young woman I talked to, after seeing a handful of movies that portrayed affairs as beautiful and right (rather than selfish and sinful), became convinced that it was okay for people to leave their marriage partner for someone else if they found their “soul mate.”
I canʼt help but wonder why we as Christ-professing young women are so willing to submit our minds and emotions to an industry that openly mocks the purity and righteousness of our Heavenly Prince. Most of us are far more influenced by pop culture than we are by the Word of God. We can quote our favorite lines from 100 different chick flicks, but the only Scripture we know is John 3:16.
And we wonder why Christ feels distant.
But itʼs not just movies and TV that has us in a controlling vice. Itʼs an overall preoccupation with pop culture. Music artists, professional athletes, and movie stars claim far more of our applause and attention than Jesus Christ does.
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” are the closing words that sum up the entire book of first John (see 1 John 5:21). Idols are not just golden statues that people bow down to in ornate temples. An idol is anything that claims our attention and affection above Christ. Most of us verbally declare that Jesus Christ is more important to us than our fetish for music or movies. But what does our life say? Where do we spend the best hours of our day? What do we turn to for enjoyment and comfort?
A man named Tauler wrote, “A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring.”
Pop culture floods our minds and senses with things that are not of God. But for most of us, the glamorized sin that surrounds us is not strange and jarring. Itʼs normal and accepted. In fact, we go out of our way to enjoy and participate in it. We even spend a huge amount of our time and money on it. And we allow it to capture our mind, emotion, and attention.
Many of us have seen pastors or Christian authors rely upon movies (rather than Godʼs Word) to illustrate their point. Because Hollywood can so poignantly and artistically capture human angst and emotion, it is all too easy to “spiritualize” certain movies, blending ungodly messages in with our pursuit of godly Truth. But Godʼs Truth will not be discovered through profane images, no matter how profound Hollywoodʼs messages might seem.
Remember that cult leader who gave his followers Kool-Aid to drink, and they all died? Kool-Aid by itself is harmless enough. Itʼs a sweet, refreshing beverage that can be safely enjoyed even by kids. But when Kool-Aid is mixed with poison, it changes from a harmless beverage into a deadly toxin. In the same way, when Truth is mingled with the poisonous ideas of Hollywood, it brings about death, not life. Paul writes:
“...For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?…” (2 Cor. 6:14-16).
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph 5:11 NIV).
What are the fruitless deeds of darkness? Anything that is NOT of the nature of Jesus Christ. Movies, TV, Internet, music – all of it either brings glory to Christ or distracts us from Him – it is either of light or it is of darkness. As Christ said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
So, at the risk of seeming like a ranting, wild-eyed prophet (smile), I would like to take a few moments to look at some of our most common pop culture preoccupations and weigh them against Godʼs standards:
Countless Christian young women are caught up in the Twilight books and movie craze. If you are one of them, I would like to challenge you with this question – does Twilight bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ? Does it showcase His nature, His character, and His glory? I believe the answer is a resounding “no,” for three reasons:
Vampire stories come from a demonic root. The very first vampire story (Dracula) was originally inspired by the real-life demonic antics of a man named Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian ruler in the 1400s. Wikipedia summarizes:
The atrocities committed by Vlad in the German stories include impaling, torturing, burning, skinning, roasting, and boiling people, cutting off limbs, drowning, and (other methods that are too graphic to mention in this article) . His victims included men, women and children of all ages. Vlad’s Romanian surname Drăculea means "Son of the Dragon" and is derived from his father's title, Vlad the Devil. The word Dracul means "the Devil" in modern Romanian and the suffix "lea" can be translated as "son of." In other words, Vlad, the original vampire, in name and in deed, was “the son of the devil.”
Focus on the Familyʼs Plugged In magazine says:
Occult references and violence build throughout the Twilight books, beginning with the idea of vampires and werewolves existing at all. There is also sacrificial suicide. . . and reference to such devilish creatures as incubi and succubi, as well as body-swapping, shape-shifting, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, the ability to alter someone else's emotion or mental state using mind control, and even causing physical pain via mental aggressiveness.
And another Christian movie review states:
So far every “Christian” review I have seen does not call this movie and book series out for what it is...an introduction to and glamorization of the occult. Twilight makes death look glorious and makes vampirism look like an alternative to physical death....but in reality it’s more than that...it’s a truly spiritual death...being damned to wander the earth drinking blood and seeing humans as prey...It promotes a godless, spiritless culture of death.
What does God say about participating in such things? Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who...practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD…”
In other words – do not engage in any spiritual activity that is not of Godʼs kingdom. Do not meditate upon any spiritual reality other than Godʼs – when we open our minds to the Twilight message, we are doing just that.
Twilight tries to make evil seem noble and good. Here is a comment from Chuck Colsonʼs website, www.breakpoint.org:
Vampires are evil. But in today’s morally relative culture, vampires have taken a kinder, gentler turn. They’ve gone from sinister villains who deserve to have wooden stakes pounded into their chests to tender-hearted friends and lovers who yearn for our compassion. In Twilight , the pouting male protagonist slurps the blood of animals so he doesn’t have to stalk human prey. The fashion-plate vampires of today are undead metrosexuals: sharp-dressed men with sharp teeth...There was a time when we knew a monster when we saw one – and understood that some nasties need to have their heads chopped off and their mouths stuffed with garlic. Nowadays, however, vampirism and its related maladies are just alternative lifestyles.
And Focus on the Familyʼs Plugged In says:
After selling her soul and becoming a vampire, Bella says: "It was like I had been born to be a vampire. The idea made me want to laugh, but it also made me want to sing. I had found my true place in the world, the place I fit, the place I shined.” How did she get there? Pregnant with Edward's half-human, half-vampire baby, Bella dies during childbirth. She's brought back to undead life by Edward, who pumps her heart and limbs full of his venom. And everybody lives happily ever after. Life is therefore revived amid agony. Salvation is found through (spiritual) death. By becoming a blood-thirsty vampire, Bella is beautiful. She’s powerful. She’s in love.
Girls, do you see anything wrong with this picture? Does it sound like God’s pattern? Does it sound like God’s best? First Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (NIV). Anything that delights in and romanticizes darkness or death is the opposite of God – the Giver of life and life abundant.
Twilight perverts true purity and heroism. Here is a great review from a Catholic father:
Some are praising the series. Phrases like “old fashioned morals” are being used to describe the content. Bella and Edward’s relationship has been called a chaste courtship because they do not consummate it until after they are married. But what effort is being made at living chastely when the couple repeatedly place themselves in occasions of sin and then act on their impulses? Edward sneaks into the house without her father’s knowledge and lies in bed with her all night long – every night! Old fashioned? Chaste?
Edward is lauded by many for his self-control because he seems to have a handle on his sexual desire and his blood lust, cutting things off at just the right moment. Repeatedly. This fact is meant to be proof of his love for Bella...but does Edward really demonstrate true love? He constantly tells Bella how bad he is for her and then keeps showing up anyway. If he tells her how bad he is before he gets physical with her, does it somehow make him noble? No. If he was truly a hero, there would be no Twilight saga because he would have left her in peace. But he doesn’t suck Bella’s blood! Isn’t that great? No. He may not kill her with his fangs, but their relationship does cause her death – both physical and spiritual...This is not love and Edward is not a good friend…
And what witness does Bella give? Is she heroic? No. She is a girl who will do what it takes to get what she wants in spite of the cost. She uses and is used. Sometimes she suffers, sometimes she causes others to suffer. Neither is of any consequence to her. That is not heroism, that is selfishness.
Why so many modern Christians see this as harmless truly has me baffled. If you have been tempted to jump on the Twilight bandwagon, I challenge you to measure its subtle and not-so-subtle messages against the holy standards of Jesus. When we stop flirting with darkness, His light can finally be seen in and through our lives.
A few months ago several young women told me they felt comfortable watching Sex and the City, because “it has some great messages about friendship.” They are among countless Christians who have justified their enjoyment of this super-sensual TV series and movie. So letʼs ask the question – is Sex and the City really a great show about friendship? A secular media source writes, “Make no mistake about it, the title of this series says a lot: Sex and the City is about sex – the need for it, the want of it, the pursuit of it.”
You only have to take a quick glance at the premise of this show to realize that Sex and the City does not honor or glorify God; it glamorizes immorality and sensuality. Why so many Christians justify their participation in something so opposite of our Godʼs values is deeply disturbing to me. I am also concerned over the large number of Christian girls who feel completely comfortable watching shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Gossip Girl. Just the descriptions of these shows on parent-guide websites are too graphic to print on this website. Need I say more? Girls, this is not something to take lightly. Toying with these things is not harmless fun or “pure” entertainment. It is deadly, dangerous and sinister – and it has the potential to destroy your spiritual life if you allow it in. God says, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
Whenever there is a show, song, movie, book, or magazine that glorifies evil, sensuality, or selfishness, we are not to enjoy it as entertainment. We are to run from it.
If you have been loving the world, allowing messages of sin and sensuality to captivate your time and attention, there is only one way to respond – repent, turn, and walk the other way. If you are confused about what you should watch or listen to, Godʼs checklist is simple and straightforward.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things (Phil. 4:8).
Ask God to train you how to love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Be willing to ruthlessly remove anything from your life that does not bring Him glory. Truly He is worthy – and no sacrifice is too great for the one who gave everything to rescue us. My prayer today is that we would echo the cry of Davidʼs heart:
For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139: 20-24).*
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