Yesterday, Kevin DeYoung kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest when he wrote a post titled, “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones.” That post was swiftly met with a tirade of social media attacks, such as, “The Bible has many, many more violent and lewd scenes than Game of Thrones…know your Bible, Kevin,” “[you] shouldn’t expect consciences to be the same” and “Bad idea denouncing what you have no experience with…” Honestly, it was painful to read through the emotionally charged, biblically weak and grammatically poor responses to DeYoung’s encouragement for professing believers to pursue holiness in regard to what we set before our eyes on television.
Before saying anything else, I want to confess that, over the years, I have watched television shows and movies that I ought not to have watched–entertainment that I did not watch to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). While I have not watched Game of Thrones, I have watched a litany of other shows that are subject to similar criticisms as those raised by Piper and DeYoung. Those which I have watched have had enough sexual content and innuendos in them to fall into a category similar to that of Game of Thrones. While I have fast forwarded through as many of those scenes as I could whenever they appeared, I now confess that I should not have watched the show in the first place. I am no more like Christ and no more fruitful in the work of His Kingdom for having watched them. I have asked the Lord to forgive me for having watched things that I shouldn’t have watched and that I did not watch to His glory. I say this to confess my own sinfulness at the outset.
To continue reading Nick Batzig’s article, click here.
“But,” says one, “are we not to have amusements?” Yes, such amusements as you can take in the fear of God. Do what Jesus would have done.” —Charles Spurgeon
We live in an unprecedented age of entertainment. The average American spends over ten hours per day in front of a screen.
Never before have we had so many options of TV shows, movies, music, blogs, social media, and books available through so many different mediums (TV, internet, Netflix, etc.). How can we make sure we faithfully follow Christ in this new entertainment age?
Discerning media consumption needs more than a litmus test of saying we shouldn’t watch excessive violence and sexuality (which is true). We need to understand the complex and often subtle effects of media on our lives.
Let me be the first to say that I love all sorts of digital media, and get much spiritual benefit from thinking through them in light of Scripture. My goal with this simple list is to help you think more Christianly about what you consume. As you read, ask the Lord how He may want you to change to make the most of your short life.
I once read a memoir by a man who, as a teen, had been a Shabbos goy. A Shabbos goy is a non-Jew who performs some of the Sabbath-day functions that that are forbidden to the devout. Traditionally, a Shabbos goy would extinguish candles and lights, or he would stoke up a fire on a cold Sabbath morning, all actions considered work by strict interpretations of Jewish law. But since those regulations pertain only to Jews, some would hire Gentiles as a means of circumventing the law. The primary task of this young man was to sit in an elevator and push the buttons. Pushing buttons involves closing an electrical circuit and this was considered a violation of the Sabbath within that community. They outsourced the work to him.
Christians quickly identify this as hypocrisy, an adherence to the letter of the law that violates the spirit of the law. It’s hard to find an ethical difference between actually pushing a button and hiring someone else to do it. And, in fact, many Jews see it this way as well and most communities have dropped the very notion of the Shabbos goy. However, I think some Christians may have picked it up, or something like it at least. Our concern is not Sabbath-day functions, though. Our concern is enjoying entertainment, and to enjoy entertainment we need to hire people who disregard the law. We let them violate the law so we can enjoy the benefits.
I want you to imagine a scenario with me. A good friend of yours has begun to make a splash in Hollywood. She’s been in a few minor productions in the past, but has just finished filming her breakout role. She is one of your closest friends, she is a member of your church, and she is married with a couple of young children.
Our media-driven culture has redefined the pursuit of happiness. The American Dream—which used to consist of a loving family, a nice house, a white picket fence—now includes instant fame, endless riches, easy romance, and the blank-check promise that anyone can achieve his or her dreams. Reality television and the rise of the Internet are perhaps somewhat to blame for this phenomenon. But ultimately the problem lies in the human heart.
We were created to long for satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy, and those desires are good in and of themselves. But our fallen world tries to meet those desires through money, romance, fame, and other earthly pleasures. Yet temporal things can never bring lasting satisfaction to a heart that was created to find its ultimate joy in God.
King Solomon learned that lesson the hard way. After experimenting with everything the world could offer, Solomon finally concluded it was all vanity, and that without God, no one can have true enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:25-26, 11:9, 12:13-14).
Christians should not allow entertainment to define their understanding of happiness, romance, modesty, masculinity, success, fulfillment, justice, or anything else. The Word and the Spirit should shape our worldview, not Hollywood.
Sadly, however, many Christians today are more affected by the movies they watch than the sermons they hear. They show more enthusiasm for video games or televised sporting events than they do for pursuing Christlikeness. They fill their minds with the sounds of talk radio or the latest hit songs rather than letting the Word of God richly dwell within them. Deep down, they enjoy exploring the pleasures of the world—even if only vicariously—as they watch actors play out scenes in which sinful pursuits are seemingly fulfilled with little or no consequences. The irony is, of course, that in real life those same actors are just as miserable as everyone else—a sobering reality that keeps supermarket tabloids in business.