Welcome back to our series on Christianity and entertainment. If you're landing here for the first time, you may want to scroll down several posts to the picture of the CD where this series begins. In today's post, theologians Dr. Glenn Kreider and John Adair address "safety" as it relates to entertainment. Our series concludes on Wednesday with a peek at what's playing on Dr. Kreider's I-Pod and John Adair's DVD player!
I heard someone say: "You better guard what you view with your eyes and put into your minds... or else you'll never get those bad images out." Isn't it safer to just immerse ourselves in Christian media?
Safer? Yes. Safe? Not likely to be possible. We live in a fallen world. We cannot completely protect ourselves from what is there. That doesn’t mean we ought to slop around in the perversion, make our home in the midst of sinners, hang out with them and spend time where they are, listen to them talk about their lives and struggles, go to their parties and celebrations . . . or maybe we should. (Jesus seemed to do that and was sometimes criticized for doing so.)
My pastor says that if the standard is “safe for the whole family” then we are in trouble, because God is not very safe and neither is much of the Bible.
I believe the case can be made that bad theology coming from Christians is more dangerous than non-Christian perspectives. It is worse to hang out with professing Christians who deny the resurrection than with non-believers who do what non-believers do (1 Cor 15:33). At least that seems to be the implication of this passage.
Jesus (John 17) and Paul (1 Cor 5) seem clearly to teach that our job is to be immersed in the lives of people who do not know Jesus, that we should be Jesus to them. It is hard to be accused of being a “friend of sinners” (as Jesus was) if one is not hanging out with sinners. If one hangs out with sinners one sees and hears disturbing things. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we need to take off the blinders and put on glasses so that we are able to see. Isn’t this dangerous? Of course it is, which is the reason why Jesus prayed for our protection. It is also the reason we are in community. We do not live this life alone, we do not engage in culture alone. We do so as people in community.
I agree. No, it isn’t safer. Christians err. We make mistakes. To take just one issue, divorce, it appears we make at least as many mistakes as our non-Christian counterparts. Thus, simply immersing ourselves in “Christian” media seems to get us no further from fallen humanity, and therefore no further from error and impurity.
Second, whenever I hear the word “safe” invoked as a desire we should have as Christians, I cannot help but wonder where that comes from. I’m afraid I can’t see in Scripture where it says we are to create a “safe” community that isn’t touched by the outside world. Not only does the life of Jesus seem to indicate the opposite (look at who he spent time with – tax collectors and sinners, while being scoffed at by the Pharisees), but the Psalms repeatedly invoke God as our refuge and strong tower. It is to Him that we are to run for safety, not to the little bubbles of our own creation out in the world.
When my son was in first grade, he came home from school one day and told us about the "dark and scary" video he watched. It was The Nutcracker! Todd and I had a good laugh... then questioned whether or not we were wise to shelter our children to this degree. On the flip side, if you turn on the Disney Channel, you'll get an eye full of little girls in lipstick dancing suggestively to some pretty mature songs. I've heard people say Christian parents should shelter their kids from "secular" media as long as they can. I know other people believe in serving up reality early on. Any thoughts on this?
Our series concludes on Wednesday with the answer to this question and more...
(Photo by Magannie; see http://flickr.com/photos/magannie/362035370/ for restrictions.)
Dr. Glenn Kreider is a professor of theology at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and John Adair is pursuing his doctorate in historical theology.
Heard "Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley on the radio yesterday... interesting message about forgiveness from a "secular" artist...