Dear readers, let me tell you the stories of two young girls.
Sydney was “Christian” at home under the watchful eye of her parents. But her choice of books reflected a desire to fit in with current trends. She could easily follow a conversation about the latest horror and erotica publications. She could even contribute. If only her parents knew… she didn’t want to think about it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chelsea had built up around her a web of rules. “No swearing”, “no hint of romance”, “If it doesn’t mention God in the first 30 pages, ditch it”. Sorting through the potentials to find something that fit her tiny mold sucked all the passion out of a girl who had once loved to read.
I first want to establish that neither of the above approaches to media consumption – whether books, movies or anything else – is good. Neither is thriving in God’s beautiful design for our lives. Sydney’s way shows a lack of sincere desire to surrender her whole life to God, while Chelsea was void of love, joy and peace.
Media is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. Its impact on our lives depends on our use of it and our attitude towards it. I hope you’ll understand that I don’t know where the perfect balance is. Furthermore, I don’t want to set any rules for you that aren’t in the Bible and risk taking Chelsea’s approach.
Instead, let me leave you with one simple thought and some questions to reflect on.
What do you feed your heart and soul?
Whenever we read something, we’re allowing its values and ideas into our susceptible hearts and souls. We are very easily influenced by what we read – sometimes more than we know or want to admit. The things that we take in determine what we put out – that is, what we think, say and do. Jesus said it himself:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
And how does that store of good (or evil) get into our hearts? At least part of it is by the media we consume.
Think about this
Instead of looking for rigid self-assigned rules to govern your media consumption, consider the questions below. Reflect on them honestly to help you determine what sort of attitude you should foster.
- Do the romance stories I read rouse in my heart discontentment or longing for something I don’t have?
- Do these stories evoke fear for the sake of feeling afraid and neglect to assert that God is in control? Do I have nightmares inspired by these books? Do they cause me to doubt God’s sovereignty?
- Is the language in these books appropriate for a child of God? Are there swear words? Do they use God’s name mockingly?
- Do these books put me in a bad mood? Do they make me impatient and irritable? Does my mood honor God while I’m reading these books?
- Would I want my parents to read this? Alternatively, would I let a God-honoring mentor to read this?
- Does this book make me think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? (These are the types of things that God wants us to think about, based on Philippians 4:8)
- Does this book advocate the truth?
Feel free to share your reflections via a comment below.
Are there other questions you have asked yourself?