What we allow our eyes to see and our minds to dwell on matters. It matters because what we see and hear shapes how we think and act. TV, social media, YouTube, the press, and adverts don’t just reflect what’s happening in society, they actually shape it. And yet, how often do we critically examine what we’re lapping up, often when we’re tired and our guard is down?
What we allow our eyes to see and our minds to dwell on matters.
Many Christians know that we need to be wise about what we’re feeding our minds with (Romans 12:2), but sometimes the safeguards we use are a bit of a blunt tool. Some will only watch films that are rated 12 or below, but that’s not necessarily the best approach.
As a same-sex attracted person, I need to be discerning about what will help me honour Jesus with my sexuality – just as we all do. I’m thankful that porn has never been a temptation for me, but that doesn’t mean that I always choose to watch helpful programmes. For me, a BBC costume drama may be really inappropriate (and often has been). The snooker doesn’t have a rating (if it did, it would definitely be U) but if there’s an attractive female referee that I’m thinking about in an unhelpful way, maybe I shouldn’t be watching it.
The difficulty with objective standards (‘It’s a PG so it’s fine’) is that different people will find different things unhelpful. Indeed, some adverts can lead to difficult temptations for me, with Hallmark, McCain, Renault and Argos all recently featuring lesbians in their marketing. And let’s remember that their purpose isn’t to help us live godly lives, but to cynically tap into the cultural zeitgeist to try and sell us more stuff like chips and cars.
It’s easy for us as Christians to absorb culture’s messaging uncritically so that when we change our minds on big issues like sexuality, it’s actually the culture rather than the Bible that’s done most of the heavy lifting. Or when we fall into sin, we claim that we couldn’t help it, in spite of cultivating very rich soil for it to grow in. We do need to guard against legalism when it comes to what we watch, as endless rules and restrictions aren’t what keep us loving Jesus, but we equally need to guard against swallowing everything that’s going.
Maybe we should be asking ourselves some awkward questions.
Instead of laying down sweeping rules about what rating of material we watch, maybe we should be asking ourselves some awkward questions:
- Why do I really want to watch this? Am I making excuses or trying to justify something I know isn’t helpful?
- Am I trying to justify my choice of media as ‘research’ or to stay culturally relevant?
- Does this help me to find joy in the Bible’s teaching, or is it reinforcing a message that stands opposed to God’s plan for my life?
- Have I prayed about this, and can I watch it with a clear conscience?
- Would I be happy watching this with Jesus sitting next to me and knowing my deepest thoughts?