I had given a Christian convictions assignment.
I had wanted to include the parents in the discussion.
That turned out to be a mistake.
Students had to address WHY they had accepted certain convictions. They had to substantiate their positions from Scripture. And parental direction is important.
As it turned out, the discussion between one dad and mom became a heated argument. It seemed they didn’t even agree about what was acceptable in their home. Mom thought strict controls were in order. Dad considered the whole issue to be overblown. What did it matter what kids watched?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt answered that question this week on an NPR interview.
We like to think, “Ah, it doesn’t matter what I watch, it’s all just harmless entertainment.” And it’s not entirely true. Especially if you watch it repeatedly. I think that the stuff we watch does matter and it does work its way into the way that we see the world.
Gordon-Levitt’s perspective encompasses all consumed media. NPR‘s title strikes the right cord: “On Life and the Lenses We Look Through.” The actor emphasizes media’s impact on human objectification and its influence on expectations, including commercial advertising.
Naturalistic materialism, antithetic to the biblical view, replaces creation with consumption.
Christian convictions about watching movies should be clear and concise. Here are five of mine.
1. Retell Human Experience Good and bad, rebellion and righteousness are fully illustrated throughout Scripture (Judges, Kings). Clint Eastwood’s movie A Perfect World reflects God’s perspective: humans are shown for what we are, inherently corrupt. The good guys aren’t always so good and the bad guys aren’t always so bad.
2. Enjoy the Creation God’s world is good (1 Tim 4:1-6). Movies like Ridley Scott’s A Good Year remind us what is important in this life.
3. Know Evil Without Participating in Evil Believers must function in the society in which they find themselves (Lev 18:1-5). Stuck between the darkness of Egyptian mythologies and Canaanite deities, a movie like The Mission certainly gives a good example of what we are up against in this world.
4. Defend Truth, Goodness and Beauty Declaring God’s work in all arenas of life is the believer’s responsibility (Ps 145:3-13). People Like Us is a film focused on the goodness of family; and family might not be exactly who or what we expect.
5. Critique Worldviews To expose other systems of thought by Biblical revelation is a necessary component in Christian apologetics (1 John 4:1). M. Night Shyamalan was having a crisis of faith when he wrote Signs. Mel Gibson agreed to play the pastor who had lost his faith. As this scene suggests, everyone has a view of the world.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is right: what we consume in culture impacts how we think, how we live.
It is important for Christians to know why they watch movies. We might not always agree, but we should have established biblical principles that guide our decisions.
I felt bad about those two parents who had a HUGE fight in front of their son about convictions.
But in many ways it was good.
Folks need to understand how important forming convictions about what we watch will impact how we live.
Mark teaches a seven-fold framework for developing Christian convictions from Romans 14. But that is another essay for another time. Dr. Mark Eckel is Professor of Leadership, Education and Discipleship at Capital Bible Seminary, Washington, D.C.