Honoring Christ in our Media Choices
An Introduction from Leslie Ludy
One of the most convicting statements I’ve ever read is “A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring” (John Tauler, as quoted in God’s Missionary, by Amy Carmichael). As Christians who are set apart for Jesus Christ, the ungodly sights and sounds of our culture should never feel “comfortable” to us. Impure things should not delight us, but disturb us (see 1 Corinthians 13:6). The moment we take a causal attitude toward evil and perversity is the moment our spiritual strength begins to wane and our relationship with Christ becomes strained. God says that we are to dwell upon things that are lovely, pure, and Christ-centered, and turn our eyes away from everything else (see Philippians 4:8 and Psalm 119:37).
In a world where we are constantly bombarded by secular influences, we must be extra vigilant to be wise toward what is good and innocent of evil (see Romans 16:19). In this article, I asked our Set Apart Girl® Team to share specific ways in which they have been personally challenged to honor Christ in their media choices such as movies, novels, music, and magazines. I hope these tidbits will encourage you with practical ways to keep your heart and mind focused on what is lovely and pure, and that the things that are not of God will remain “strange and jarring” instead of “normal and comfortable” in your daily life.
Movies from Jess Schwartz
Modern Christianity is full of the notion that most movies really are okay to watch. As long as they aren’t “too bad” they aren’t going to really negatively affect your life. A little crude humor? That’s alright. Some violent sequences? No way that will stick. A romance scene or two? Psh, as long as they aren’t too provocative there’s no way that will affect the thought life. I used to agree with these myths, quickly turning to movies or TV shows to find entertainment.
As I matured in Christ, however, and He began to point out areas of my life that weren’t glorifying to Him, I started to look at the silver screen with more and more of a guarded perspective. Though much of the Christian culture around me didn’t bat an eye at the latest flicks, I started to notice areas in my life that didn’t line up with how the Bible said to live. When I read Paul’s words in Colossians 3:17 (“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him”), I questioned what all meant? I was pretty sure it meant all — as in everything, the whole kit and caboodle. I noticed sharply that many of the movies I watched couldn’t be watched “in the name of the Lord.” And what about my thoughts and dreams? Was it possible for those areas to come under His authority as well?
Those are a few of the things I pondered as I began to consider nixing most movies. I didn’t approach the situation with a list of rules, but rather with an earnest desire to reflect Christ in my thoughts — whether waking or sleeping. Over the course of about a year, I cut out more and more visual entertainment. At first it was challenging. When a new superhero blockbuster came out, I wasn’t able to laugh with friends about the clever jokes and daring actions because I hadn’t seen the movie. Over time, however, it became easier to avoid the lure of the silver screen. After beginning what started as a bit of an experiment, it was so sweet to notice the fruit of that choice! I’ve seen so much victory in internal areas of my life, such as thoughts and even dreams. On the practical side, as I cut out frivolous flicks, there has been more time to spend cultivating meaningful relationships with those around me. Plus, less screen time means more opportunities to spend in God’s great creation — talk about a 360º visual experience!
Novels from Jasmin Howell
I am a huge book worm. In fact, I generally have three or four books on the go at any given time. When I studied to become a high school English teacher, I had a long list of mandatory reading, particularly fictional novels, for every class. Each novel had a clear message, with each author promoting their own subtle viewpoints through their characters and plots. I can say without hesitation that there is nothing innocent about the “novel,” though there seems to be a perception in Christian culture that movies are the more insidious media for affecting our emotions and our thoughts.
Many Christian women I know read novels without a thought or care, and choose one in half the time they would take to choose a movie. I’ve done the same. There are many, many novels that I had to read in my four-year degree that I wish I could get out of my head. Choosing a novel should be approached with as much discernment as any other form of media. There is just as much worldliness to be found in the novel as in the movie. Words on a page have a different and very powerful effect on the mind, no less impactful than images on a screen and sometimes more so, because they are formed by our own imaginations.
These days, I approach novels with great caution, even those written by Christian authors, as I am concerned primarily with the heart of the author and the intention behind the work. The Bible tells us to focus on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Phil. 4:8 NIV emphasis added). So next time you read a novel in the tub, select one with a story that will lead you to think on those things.
Music from Heather Cofer
I love music! I love listening to it, singing it, playing it on the piano. I enjoy a fairly wide range of genres, but I am a little picky in one regard: my music, besides instrumental, is almost exclusively Christian. Here is why…
I was driving in the car one day and a song came on that I had recently added to my playlist. It was a very catchy secular song, and one that seemed pretty neutral at first listen. But as I sat in the car and payed attention to the lyrics, it hit me … I didn’t agree with anything that the song was saying. Not only that, but if I were to sing along I would feel like a hypocrite because I would be allowing something to come from my own mouth that was totally opposite of a Christian standpoint. The song wasn’t profane or outrightly inappropriate, but I did not feel comfortable singing something that was at odds with what I actually believe to be true.
Music is one of the number one things that helps draw my heart into worship. So whether it be a song that is fun, serious, lyric-filled, or classical, I want it to serve in helping me love Jesus more. My desire is not just to fill my mind with what is technically “okay,” but to use music as another way to point me to my Savior.
I’ve found that a good rule of thumb in determining if a song is accomplishing that is to ask the question: Does this line up with Philippians 4:8? Is the content of this song true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy? If so, then I am able to listen to it wholeheartedly! And what is so wonderful is I know the music I am enjoying is also bringing glory to Jesus.
Magazines from Mandy Saeler
A few years ago, when Prince William and Kate introduced the new royal heir, magazine covers everywhere were plastered with pictures of the lovely Duchess of Cambridge and her new little bundle of blue. Fascinating? I’d say!
I itched with intrigue, but I forewent indulging in the royal baby joy that I was promised to find within the pages of the newsstand magazines and tabloids.
While there isn’t anything wrong with a photo or an informational article about the Duchess and new royal baby, I recognized that beyond a sweet photo on a magazine cover, there was a subtle bait for me to traipse into the foreign territory of secular magazines — a territory riddled with slanderous, sensual, and devious landmines for my soul.
A curious mind and information-hungry heart are two very dangerous things that are stitched into our feminine nature. Without excuse, we must recognize that entertaining curiosity leads to compromise of soul. In Scripture, we plainly are warned against gossip, meddling, and being a busybody (see 1 Peter 4:15; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:11). And as young women seeking after Christ, we must choose to mind our own business — regardless of the alluring cover photo on a gossip-mag — and instead set our minds on the things of Christ (see Colossians 3:1-2).
Apart from newsstand magazines, we must also be wary of celebrity news blogs and websites that lurk on sidebar ads online. All of these outlets (in print and online) offer to divulge trinkets of information about the glamorous people of our day; but the very foundation of these sources is ungodly, and therefore untouchable for the godly woman (see 2 Corinthians 6:17).
As a follower of Christ, we must remember the Holy One we are representing with each magazine we hold in our hands and every scroll and tap of our fingers. Out of pure devotion to Christ, we must decide it in our hearts that we will not be curious after the things of this world or any of the dripping tales that come from the gossiper’s lips.