There’s nothing like Netflix after a long day of work. I look forward to evenings when my husband, Josh, and I can sit down and watch a show together. But in the last two years of our marriage, good shows have been harder to come by. There have been many times we’ve started a new one only to shut it off due to extreme violence, excessive language or graphic sex scenes. We’ve often asked ourselves if there is anything worth watching on TV anymore.
That may be a question you’re asking as well. Whether it’s TV, movies or music, the media we consume can draw us closer to God or pull us further away. We have to be discerning about what we consume, not just so we can be an example to others, but so we can glorify God in our time here on earth.
Is this really important? Actually, it is. As Christians, we have been made holy by the blood of Christ, a sacrifice that cost God everything. Because God loves us, He wanted to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him. We couldn’t approach His holiness in our sinful state—so Jesus made a way. When we take our holy status for granted by regularly consuming media that contradicts everything God represents, we aren’t doing justice to God’s great love.
The Bible doesn’t lay out rules for media consumption. But it does say to “be holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16). With this in mind, Josh and I started asking ourselves three questions when choosing what to watch on TV.
1. Does this contradict my values as a Christian?
The grace shown to us through Christ is what motivates us to holy behavior. Because we are made pure by Jesus, we choose sexual purity. Because we know the power of His name, we don’t use it as a curse word. Because we are filled with God’s spirit, we don’t get drunk or high. These values aren’t “rules,” but things we do out of gratitude for grace.
When choosing the media we consume, the same approach is required. A TV show known for sexually explicit humor and/or scenes doesn’t reflect God’s design for relationships. A show where every other word is a curse word contradicts the glory of God’s name. We have to be honest about the media we consume. We must ask ourselves if what we are endorsing with our time and attention is consistent with the values we claim to hold.
2. Am I making excuses for the content I’m consuming?
When Josh and I found a show we really liked, it was hard to be honest about the contents. We found ourselves making excuses to watch the show despite the conviction we felt. After all, we aren’t going to take God’s name in vain! After all, we aren’t going to have an affair! But whether or not we intend to do those things doesn’t change the fact we were standing by, watching them play out in front of us. We were making excuses, and we had to stop.
Certainly it was hard. Many shows start out clean but progressively grow sexually explicit or violent. Choosing holiness is usually the harder route at first, but it provides the rewards of peace with God and clarity of worldview. Those are things that last for the long run.
3. If I knew this would desensitize me to extramarital sex, cursing and violence, would I still be watching it?
We tend to believe that watching sinful behaviors doesn’t affect us. Because we aren’t physically engaged in the behavior, we figure it doesn’t hurt to watch it. But as we continually expose ourselves to the things contrary to God’s nature, we become desensitized to God’s ways. We begin to think that the world’s ways are “normal.” We not only make excuses—we start accepting what we see as truth.
This is why Paul warned us to guard our minds:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
What we put into our minds—through media and music—is what we think about. We must stand guard over our minds with vigilance. No, this isn’t legalistic! It’s about walking in the Spirit of God, asking for His guidance, and obeying the conviction we feel in our hearts. By choosing holiness at every opportunity, we keep ourselves in mental and spiritual readiness to accomplish the will of God.