Media is everywhere. From movie theaters to cell phones, from the news playing on a restaurant TV to a hot new song on Spotify, in today’s digital age there is no escaping media. Smart decisions on what is allowed to pass the eyes and ears are a must, but how can these decisions be made well?
First of all, there is no hard and fast rule in media consumption. The Bible has no specific verses that say, “You shall not listen to music with explicit tags,” or “Films featuring any kind of nudity are always wrong.” However, reading between the lines is always important: “Your eye is the key to your body. When the eye is healthy, the whole body is healthy; but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness (Luke 11:34). Discretion is always important: What will keep the eye and thus the body healthy?
Also consider this: What is allowed to enter the heart through the eyes and the ears will be tolerated, and what is tolerated has a much greater chance of later being endorsed. If the Christian allows filth to infiltrate his private life, he will, in the end, discover that he is not as opposed to it as he once was. If a Christian really believes something like language or homosexuality is wrong, he must be careful not to let the influence and thus promotion of that wrong seep through the cracks.
Thirdly, Scripture tells us, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Before Christians hit download on that song, they must decide: “Does my listening to this bring glory to God?” Before they buy tickets to that movie: “Would I be proud of this if Jesus appeared in the flesh and sat down beside me?” Our God loves purity and holiness, and to see his people walk humbly before him. Media choices must reflect a knowledge of, and, more than that, a desire to imitate God’s nature.
From this, it can clearly be concluded that standards and boundaries concerning the media are a necessity for Christians. The question arises from that: what should those boundaries be and how are they chosen?
The points made above must always be brought up when decisions are being made about movies. Again, there is no hard and fast rule. A war movie, for instance, may feature nudity and extensive swearing, but carry a message of hope and an accurate depiction of the human nature. In this case, a decision must be made to weigh the pros and cons: will this film lead to sin? Will there be more harm than benefit derived from watching it?
The biggest question of all will always be whether we bring glory to God through the media consumption. And of course, if it isn’t, get rid of it. Skip the song. Turn off the television. Go to a different movie.
Installing a phone filter is a good way to keep obviously immoral things from slipping through the cracks; however, this only works for things we might not be planning to look at anyway. It’s harder to set standards on the things that filters don’t pick up on but that as individuals we believe are wrong–yet it’s still incredibly important.
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In the days when media is “ingested” and “consumed,” the metaphor is appropriate. Taking in media or creating it–no matter what the interaction with media, it must be for the glory of God. If it isn’t going to glorify God, turn it off.
But if it does glorify God—if beauty and purity shine through, if redemption and a godly view are prevalent—go for it. See all things through the lens of what God wants. We have the righteousness of God—now let us live it out.