Hello, again! Let's pick up where we left off last week: We bought a U2 DVD and were enjoying it with the kids… then around track 4, Bono lets loose with the "f" word. We immediately took it off the kiddy playlist… but should it come off ours, too?
Ouch! My advice: always preview things unless you are sure you want the kids to see/hear it.
I wish Bono would not use some of the language he does, but God probably wishes I wouldn’t say and do some of the things I say and do, too. I believe this is a situation where parents need to make parental decisions. I would prefer that my young children not be exposed to things like this. Mute buttons come in handy. But there does come a time when our children need to live in a fallen world, face the reality of the world as it is. I wish I could protect mine forever, but I can’t. But I can choose what I show them. When they are with their friends, they will often see and hear things that I would prefer them not experience, but we can and should be intentional about what happens in our home.
This video raises another issue. We ought to think about how different cultures have different social norms and mores. Irish Christianity is different from American Christianity in many ways. I am from the Northeast originally. Evangelical Christianity there is different from here in Dallas. I’ve learned the hard way that certain words are considered very offensive to Christians here, when the same words are not heard the same way elsewhere. In addition, the context is everything.
Cultures (and sub-cultures) have different sensitivities. Cross-cultural ministry is often hindered by the failure to understand those issues. But to get more into the role of culture in theology would take us away from the question you asked, which is whether or not it is acceptable for parents to see and do things that are not acceptable for their children. It all depends. I do not think that it is hypocritical for me to watch movies that I would not want young children to watch. I think adults can and should have the freedom to experience things which are adult in nature. To use a provocative illustration which is intentionally chosen as an extreme example: I do not think that married couples should have sex in front of their children nor should they refrain from having sex because they would not want their teenagers to have sex. Or, less provocatively, just because I send my young children to bed at 8:00 p.m. doesn’t mean I need to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. Just because my five-year-old cannot drive a car doesn’t mean that I should not drive a car. Get the point?
The over-arching guideline is this: I believe that something that cannot be done in faith is sin. If one can watch U2 concert videos in faith, watch them. If one cannot do so, then don’t. Some people cannot hear the f-word without sinning. Those people have a hard time living in a fallen world. Just last night, in a “family” restaurant, the guy next to me was engaged in a drunken profanity-laden conversation on his cell phone. I did not ask to hear that and there really is not much I could do about it. I really wish I had had a mute button!
Some parents have the conviction that they not watch anything their kids shouldn’t watch. I wouldn’t make that prescriptive for all Christian parents, as I don’t see a justification to do so in Scripture. This seems to me then to be another of those gray areas. It also seems to me entirely possible (actually, probable) that most parents have a more solid foundation of belief and practice than their kids, borne out of the experience of life, and are therefore better able than children to sift the good from the bad, the helpful from the useless. So can you watch the Bono video? Sure you can. So long as your conscience permits. But if it bugs you, then don’t. No big deal.
George Harrison wrote a song called "My Sweet Lord." At the end, we find out his "lord" is Hare Krishna. Todd Rundgren wrote a song called "Light of the World." On the cover of the album, he's sitting in a lotus position looking seriously Eastern meditative. Shake the mold off and flash forward to 2007 and there are any number of mainstream rock bands singing songs that could appear to the listener to be pointing to Christ (e.g., Nickelback). If I discern they're talking about someone/thing other than Jesus... in the context even of salvation... does it matter? Do I cut them off my playlist because they're not dispensing the truth... or do I make the message what I want it to be and keep on rocking?
(Photo by dekeiter1160 used by permission. All rights reserved. See http://flickr.com/photos/65221908@N00/155044578/ for more pics.)