Christians are commanded by Scripture to not love the world, or the things in the world [1 John 2:15], to be uncontaminated by the world around us [2 Peter 3:14],to live holy lives[1 Peter 1:15] to abstain from fleshly lusts [1 Peter 2:11], to abstain from even the appearance of evil [1 Thessalonians 5:22]. Believers are to jealously guard their thought life to ensure it is approved of God [Philippians 4:8], and bringing captive every thought into obedience to Christ [2 Corinthians 10:]
I’ve been thinking a lot about television and the movies lately. For a long while I cut out a lot of the shows that I used to watch, but now I find myself getting a bit more lax, and the realization has startled me. Thankfully, it also inclines me to return to that place I used to be, and with God’s help I will. For that reason, I thought I would write this out. I used to be an avid watcher myself, but I’ve come to the point where 90% of what I watch and what I see horrifies me and offends me. It seems so disgusting and degrading and such an…abrogation of holiness and purity, that I find myself ashamed at the things I used to watch, and at the realization that I’ve become so jaded and accustomed to certain things that they hardly phase me. What did that old prophet say? “Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain. Yet you had a harlot’s forehead; You refused to be ashamed.” A harlot’s forehead.. refusing to blush with shame. Unable to bring forth redness and embarrassment at the things that my eyes look upon.
Truthfully, I tend to find the typical Christian’s view of television and movies abhorrent. It is so lax and it would appear no deep thought has gone into considering the things we are watching. Let us take a tv show like Friends, which I would imagine most everyone has seen. Does it not cause anyone alarm that everyone is having premarital sex with everyone else? That much of the show depicts sexual conquests and people sleeping with each other? That everyone has had one-night stands, and that there is a character whose persona is that he is very successful at bedding many women? That for at least a few seasons, two of the main characters who are shacking up together, or that oftentimes there are scenes where we see people going to bed, and then waking up topless and with sheets wrapped around them?
Or take a typical PG-13 movie, which has action and violence and killings and few token sex scenes, along with cursing and dripping with sensuality and sexuality. Why am I watching this? A man takes a gun and shoots another person in the head, and we see a blast of blood splashing across the wall; along with residue of brain and bone. Why am I watching this? Answer; because it’s entertaining. But then I ask myself; why am I as a Christian, as a child of God bound and determined to have the heart of Christ and to love expressly through the Holy Spirit, why do I find the murder of a human being, even if it is not real, entertaining? Or a villain takes a gun and shoots down several police officers. Why am I watching this? Why is it good for me to see this? Why is it when I see something brutal and violent, but it is done stylishly and in a way I have never seen before, that I sit transfixed? Or worse yet; I’m not even transfixed; because it doesn’t shock me or offend me or churn my stomach. Because I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, police officers killed on the TV, and I have seen hundreds of ethereal killers use various weapons to kill and cut of the heads and torture unsuspecting men and women who find themselves trapped with that man, and I see the blood and bone and brain and viscera washed across the screen, and that entertains me?
Or a sex scene comes one. They are never married to each other. Oftentimes it is not just fornicating, but adultery. Usually it happens within days or hours of meeting each other. And they give each other that look. And the man pulls off her shirt, exposing her bra and cleavage. And she takes off his, showing his bare chest. And they writhe against each other, entangled, as the woman has her arm strategically and cleverly placed at her side so as she wraps her arm around his head, she is partially concealed. And we watch this. If her breasts are fully exposed, then that is a bit worse, but not much. Many of us though would pale at seeing the nudity-their bodies wracking and rocking against each other under warm lights. And yet just because she is covered up a little bit more, we give the scene a pass. We dismiss it from our minds as a small blip in an otherwise great show. We give the movie a pass? We can watch all sorts of deviant acts in a movie, and tell our friends it was a great movie, and very tame and mild, even though major plotlines of the movie involved people committing sexual and dishonourable acts that break the very heart of God? Why is this?
Or I’ll be watching some tame and arguably neutral show or movie, and they’ll be a woman coming on screen in only her underwear on, or a skimpy bathing suit, and I’ll become so uncomfortable. And I’ve started being angry about this; because what right does some woman on TV have to come into my world, a world where I only want to have eyes for my wife and for my wife’s body, and flaunt herself in her lingerie, and put me in a position where I have to look at that? Only the right that I give her. And it’s wrong. I don’t want to see it. If she were in my house I would run away from her. I would flee. But because it’s not directly in front of me, but rather is being shown from where it is taking place a thousand kilometres away, it is suddenly ok? If I were watching her on a webcam, that would be wrong. But it’s not wrong to watch it on my TV?
I know many Christians who have no problem with seeing nudity in movies, where the woman’s breasts are not covered, or her pubic hair is showing, because they claim it is artistic, or beautifully captured. Or that the rest of the movie is so good that this one little negative thing shouldn’t ruin the entire film. Or they will claim it portrays real life, so it must be ok. I know one person who said that these shows and movies simply represent and portray these things that already exist in our society. Yeah. And these things already in our society are bad. They are immoral. They are perverted and straight out of hell. So why are we watching people portray them? Rape is bad. So why would I watch to watch two actors portray a rape? Murder is bad? So why would I want to watch people act out a murder? And I think to myself; why am I watching this? Why am I watching these things? If I were in the same room as two flesh-and-blood people enacting a sex scene, would I not look away? Would I not be revolted and embarrassed? If I went to the mall and saw two actors in bed, in underwear, rolling around and moaning and giggling, would I stay and watch? Of course not. I’d look away and go home and tell my wife that I’d just seen the most unbelievable thing at the mall. And yet do I run to her and tell her that on my computer screen, in my show, I saw the same thing for seven and a half seconds thirty eight minutes in?
It seems that television and movies as a whole advocate and legitimize and encourage deviant behaviour, such as drug use, premarital sex, drunkenness, homosexuality and glorifies violence, murder, revenge, promiscuity deceitfulness, greed, etc. They cast it in a positive light and make it culturally and morally acceptable. They show it as right and ok and what everyone is doing. But that’s not what we are seeing. Many shows now have the funny homosexual character. And we laugh and are amused at how effeminate they can be, or find ourselves impressed with how dignified and suave they can be. We watch people in movies all the time drinking and having a great time, or getting drunk and being hung-over. And we think it’s funny, and natural, and not showing to be grieved over. We have dozens of shows which have teens hooking up, with the message that if it feels right, do it. Have sex. Sleep around. A kid can spend his whole life with his parents telling him that sex is sacred and holy and that they ought to be chaste and pure until marriage. But what they are seeing on TV tells them diametrically opposite.
And again it comes back to the same thing; we are watching it. We are eating it up. And more importantly, it doesn’t phase us as believers. And there are people who I respect who say that this construct of the world, these unbelievers and heathens spoon-feeding billions of hours of sex and violence and ungodly behaviour to us, these things of the word, has not done humanity great harm; that it has not done our country and it’s people and our consciences great harm. Really? Is that why we can watch a show where a woman is raped and stabbed, and then we see her dismembered body and we are unmoved in our spirits and in our hearts? Where we are not shocked by it?
A few days ago I was perusing the Facebook profile of a local Pastor, and I just happened to catch a bit of information. On the right hand was a list of their favourite shows, and one of them was Family Guy. Family Guy!? Really!? I don’t understand how anyone can watch that show with a clear conscience, much less have it as their favourite. I don’t mean to knock on the Pastor specifically, because I know he’s probably in good company with hundreds of thousands of believers feeling the same way. But what a horrific, miserable excuse for a TV show! I realize that they are cartoons, and not flesh and blood people, but that’s only because these people would [hopefully] never watch it if they watched people do the show. Because what does the show consist of? You have the obscenely degenerate patriarch Peter, the effeminate baby bent on matricide, the mother, Lois, and the kids who are utterly useless and have no redeemable qualities. Then you have the paedophile next door, the hypersexual and perverted friend Quagmire, and a host of other characters who do outrageously offensive things for the sake of getting a laugh. And what sort of themes are expounded here?
Well a few common topics are rape, paedophilia, matricide, nudity, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, drunkeness, drug use, incest, bestiality, racism, sexism, lust, and other deviant behaviour, with Peter, Stewie and the perverted Quagmire being the kings of every outlandish sexual mode. I’m hesitant to give specific examples, mainly because I would probably be just as bad to do so. But the people who watch this show know this is true. Or you could look at how the shows creators and characters regularly make blasphemous comments about our great God and Savior, mocking them and portraying them in a negative light. Or they sexualized aspects of their nature or using them as characters in whatever crude sketch they choose to display, and we are laughing at this? There are Christians who love this show? This castigates and violates everything God calls good and holy and pure, and there are pastors who have this as their favourite TV show? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?
Listen, I am to have the mind of God. I am to emulate Christ, my saviour and redeemer. It is my desire to rejoice at the things that Christ rejoices over, and mourn over the things that He mourns over. I hope we can all safely surmise that Jesus isn’t going to laugh when the extremely predatory Quagmire finds a cheerlessness bound and gagged in a bathroom and exclaims “jackpot!” God’s not going to chuckle when the infant Stewie who is depicted as a homosexual seeks out sexual encounters with men and other children. God’s not going to crack a smile when Lois cheats on her husband with a married man, and then after it shows that her husband slept with that same man. Even a cursory reading of the scriptures would suggest that that sort of thing doesn’t amuse him or sit well with him. And yet we watch that, and we laugh at it, and we laugh at thousands of scenarios like it, and even if we don’t find those parts especially funny, we continue to sit and watch when we know that over the course of the show there’s going to be many more moments like that. Why? Because we are being damnably entertained.
Look-I’m not against every show and program. There are a few good ones, and a few arguably neutral ones. I’m not against every movie, there are some good ones out there. I also understand that the medium as a whole is neutral. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. For every Family Guy television show, there are sports channels, documentaries, biographies, educational programming, 19 kids and Counting, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, whatever. But when we speak of the crux of the matter; there’s not a lot though, no. There are precious few. And I’m not perfect either. I’m not sitting here thinking that I have it made. I watch shows and movies I know I ought not to. I watch shows which portray things I shouldn’t be watching. I also know it’s because I think they won’t affect me. In fact; I know that right now where I am in my Christian walk; I can watch these shows and not think twice about what I see, and go on my merry way.
But that’s what I’m trying to change. I want to think twice about it. And three times. And Four. I don’t want to excuse the good because it contains a bunch of undeniable bad. I still have the ability to “override” my conscience and make excuses for a show or movie, but I’m working on having the Holy Spirit break down that override, and redeem my eyes and my mind and my outlook. The world made these things. The world is trying to sell sex and violence, because they are lost and don’t know better. In 1 John 2;15-17 we find the exhortation “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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” It seems to me that a show like Family Guy, and others, exemplifies the things of the world. It’s all there. It’s chock full of it; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Family Guy through and through is a “thing of the world” and there is such an ominous…threat… associated with loving the world and the things of the world. I imagine it is spiritually damaging in the extreme, as we fill our hearts and minds with the darkness and the decrepitude of the bleak emptiness the world has to offer us, how can it not?
We are the believers. And we were bought at a price. And we ought to start knowing better.And if you are a Pastor who has Family Guy as his favourite show; you REALLY ought to know better.