"We take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."
1 Corinthians 10:5
Enjoying Your Shows to the Glory of God
Thinking Biblically about Movies & Television
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Cable television, YouTube. I would suppose that the question is not "Do you use one of these media outlets?," but rather "Which is your preferred entertainment venue?"
Whether it is a daily entertainment fix at the end of a long day or the occasional family movie, it's likely that you and your family will have your eyes fastened on a screen. Studies say that the average American racks up 3 hours a day. One source said that we binged streamed 8 hours a day during the COVID lockdowns.
My guess is that the average Hopewellian is well below the "average American" in these respects. But, let's face it, we're all still getting our regular dosage of screen time.
You may expect me to throw in a quip about how we are "not reading our Bibles that much." I'm not that kind of guy though. I don't think God requires us to get a 1:1 correspondence between how much Bible we read and how much television we watch.
Sure, I'll say that a good motto to live by is "Bible first." It's a healthy practice to make sure you've spent some time in God's Word at some point of the day and not let our entertainments take precedence over it.
However, entertainment is a good thing. It's a blessing from the Lord, and watching "your show" is not something we have to be ashamed of.
After all, "God loves movies." That's what Brian Godawa, an award winning screenwriter, filmmaker, and movie lecturer, says. He explains, "Movies are visually dramatic stories, and in the Bible the dominant means through which God communicates his truth is visually dramatic stories--not systematic theology, catechisms, or rational argument."
Godawa not only notes the value of film, he says that we must beware of two sinful extremes. In his book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment he says we must beware of cultural anorexia and cultural gluttony.
On the one hand you can take a teetotaler perspective and say that movies are a waste of time or merely a dangerous means of escapism. This denies the fact that movies are works of art and a "God-given means of expressing our humanity." Though the art may be flawed, we should recognize that each movie does reflect the creativity of God and an interest in beauty (which itself is God-given).
On the other hand, you can have cultural gluttons. These are the mass consumers who often lack wisdom and discretion. In the name of "just wanting to be entertained" they turn off their brains and are "oblivious" to the messages that the films preach.*
A third and better way is available to us. It is watching these shows with our minds wide open. We can be in the movie, but not of the movie, so to speak. As we enjoy our entertainment, we can still take every thought captive for Christ. That which is beautiful can be extolled, and that which is evil can be condemned. Most of all, the redemption which is portrayed in the movie can be recognized as in some way reflecting God's grand drama of salvation.
Over the next several issues of the Hopewell Weekly, we will be looking at some of the principles Godawa outlines in his book. It will be our goal to help foster a greater discernment (as well as a a greater appreciation!) for the movies, series, and cartoons we watch.
*"Oblivious" may not be the best word to use here. I would suggest that we get the message. It is just whether we do it consciously or not.
American Church History
The American church is a unique thing. Many rivers have combined to form what it is today. Join us on Sunday evenings as we begin to explore the roots of the American church and how it has developed through the ages. From Puritans to big tent revivals to big box churches, we'll see what God hath done among us.
Membership @ Hopewell
Would you like to formally come under the care of the leadership and enjoy the rights and privileges that accompany membership, please let us know. The elders will be setting up interviews with prospective candidates over the next few weeks and publicly welcoming new members in November.