The Gentleman Adventurer on Entertainment: A Retrospect

Posted on February 15, 2010 by

4


First of all, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has followed this series and engaged in discussion in the form of comments on each of the essays. If I have caused even one person to stop and prayerfully consider their choices on entertainment, then these posts have been worth their time and trouble. I don’t insist that the whole world conform to my beliefs on any subject – but I do have a burden to see the Church of Jesus Christ apply His Word to every area of their lives. I realize that God works with each of us in His own time and in His own way. It brings me great joy to know that God is not done working with or in any of us yet.

I will say that there were some comments that I took the liberty of moderating out. In those isolated instances it was because they were comments that I did not feel were helpful to the discussion at hand, or because they were (unfortunately) not in a Christ-like spirit and showed that the person in question had not actually read the essay in its entirety before commenting. Let me be clear right now: I want nothing more than to see Christ glorified in this new and growing community – and for that we need to make sure that we are unified. As I responded to one such commentator:

“I wanted to let you know that I removed your last comment on today’s blog entry. I would like to tell you why in the hopes that you will understand my reasons and not bear any ill-feelings toward me for it – especially since this site is just getting off to a start. What a victory it would be for the Enemy if he could sow division amongst this community before it had even begun to flourish!”

I say this to be clear; I do not wish to stifle debate, nor do I want to discourage people from commenting on this or future blog posts. But when such comments are made, I hope that they will be made in a Christ-like spirit, that they will have Scripture as their basis, and that those leaving comments will do so only after having carefully read the post upon which they wish to comment. The first two are essential to our unity as Christians; the latter item is only due courtesy.

With those items addressed, I’d like to move on now to a summary of the conclusions of each of the three essays, and along the way, answer some of the questions that have been posed.

Essay 1

The premise of this essay was that as human beings we are affected by our entertainment. This is based off of 1 Corinthians 15:33, where Paul states that to think that evil communication will not corrupt “good manners” is to be deceived. In the end it challenges the reader to resolve, as the Psalmist did, to set “no wicked thing” before his eyes (Psalm 101:3).

JibeNow member brianfactor responded with several passages in the New Testament dealing with clean and unclean food. He seeks to apply these same passages to deal with entertainment, and argues that all entertainment is acceptable for a Christian’s viewing, however not all entertainment is profitable.

But there is a problem with this. As I have stated in discussions on previous blog posts, I do not believe you cannot take a passage discussing freedom in Christ regarding a morally neutral object (food) and apply it to entertainment. Entertainment is not a morally neutral subject by any means. Or if those passages do apply, they apply in circumstances where a particular movie or book is completely acceptable according to the standards set forth in Scripture, but partaking of it would offend a fellow brother or sister in Christ. But to say that all entertainment is acceptable is fraught with problems.

That said, let’s assume for a moment that those passages to apply to things that are otherwise wrong. I have used the example of pornography because it is somewhat extreme and helps to get my point across. According to what brianfactor has said, all pornography is acceptable, but it is not all profitable. He has stated that looking at it would be fine if you could do so without lusting. This does not take into account the fact that pornography by its very nature and whether or not anyone is looking at it is an affront against God’s design for sex, it is the ultimate cheapening and debasing of womanhood, and Scripture explicitly prohibits against uncovering the nakedness of another (Leviticus 18). Even if there is no one there to look at it, God is grieved by its very existence.

But we can’t stop at entertainment. If we are to take “all things” as referring to all things, rather than all things within the context of the Scripture passage, all murder is acceptable, but it is not all profitable. All theft is acceptable, but it is not all profitable. All rape is acceptable, but it is not all profitable. All witchcraft is acceptable, but it is not all profitable.

There are two obvious problems with this:

1)      God strongly warns against any who would use the Grace of God as license to sin (Romans 6:1, Hebrews 10:29).

2)      This makes God into a liar and would mean that Scripture would have to contradict itself, because of the many passages in Scripture denouncing the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-20), and even any thought that is contrary to the nature of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The danger here is evident: we must interpret Scripture in light of the context in which it was originally intended. To fail to do so will skew our ideas of God and morality.

Scripture is clear that there are “evil” things that we can set before our eyes, but that there are also “good” things that we are to dwell on (Philippians 4:8). This idea of “good, but not profitable” things is not found in Scripture outside the context of food.

Essay 2

This essay simply works off the foundation established by the first. It challenges the reader to see that Jesus Christ is glorified in every area of our lives – entertainment and fantasy settings included.

This is not to say that I am demanding or even expecting that every fictional setting or piece of media or entertainment should be perfect. The fact is that nothing produced by sinful men will be perfect. The point of this essay is more that Scripture rejects a fantasy setting (or any other fictional setting) which by its very nature is contrary to the Law of God. I would include two categories in this:

1)      Evil is portrayed as favorable and/or rewarded

2)      The laws of morality are not the same as those in Scripture

So I do not expect perfection, and I am not bothered by the portrayal in media of certain sins (though some should be avoided for other reasons, these are the topic of another post for another day), as long as those sins or those qualities are not portrayed as being favorable or rewarded.

Again, most of the really good debate came from brianfactor, but his points have been elsewhere addressed. Thanks, Brian!

Essay 3

This last one is more of a personal testimony than anything else and elicited very little response from the JibeNow community. Even if you cannot agree with my application, I pray that you will see it in the spirit in which it was intended – I am zealous to see Christ get the glory in every part of my life. Sometimes that is painful, but in the end I can say without a doubt that the rewards are greater than the things you have to give up.

In Closing

Finally, let me caution against something that I for one find it all too easy to do. Let’s assume you’ve read through these essays and decide that, yes, you need to re-examine your entertainment choices. Do not just sit down and try to make a list of good things and bad things and expect that to be enough. God is not impressed just because you decided not to watch a movie. He wants to see a heart that is zealous to please Him. If you have that, regardless of whatever else we do or don’t agree upon, all the other will come in His own time.

In fact, you would probably be much better off if you quit reading my essays and spent some time with Him now.

Again, many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion – and especially to Brian. I pray that it has been edifying for all those involved.

Advertisements
Posted in: food for thought