For most of our children’s childhood, we didn’t have a TV or anyway of receiving programs. And during the years we did have one, we practiced caution and careful selection in what we watched.
In fact, we had a sign with the above graphic taped over the screen. An indispensable tool, because careful judgement over what we watch is not only extremely important, but also difficult. Having to flip it to the top of the TV helped us remember that the Lord was sitting there with us. And that everything we watch leaves an indelible imprint on our minds and hearts.
We didn’t always use great wisdom in our judgements.
And with that in mind, I’d like to share with you what we’ve learned about evaluating our TV/computer use since then. Maybe it will help you navigate these rough waters a little more prepared.
First, in saying we didn’t always use wisdom, let me say that we generally erred on the “No” side. We outlawed more than we allowed. Although, in looking back, we still feel that was probably wise. Young minds are much more impressionable. And children remember things with astonishing ability. But they often lack the logic and reasoning ability needed to see crux issues.
Our idea was, and still is, young minds need careful protection and nutrition.
We often excluded things simply based on bad language or violent scenes. Not that we go for such DVDs even now (we are once again TV-free). But we watch and appreciate films with some of these in them. Appreciate, not necessarily enjoy. Films like Schindler’s List or Amazing Grace. We don’t watch such films for enjoyment. But to learn, become aware, and hopefully avoid mistakes of the past.
So we don’t condemn films simply because they contain negative elements. Rather we use a deeper set of criteria that we’ve developed by listening to people like D.A. Carson and reading authors like Kevin De Young.
Our criteria for TV viewing and internet use:
- Does it show evil as evil, and good as good?
- Or does it make evil seem OK, or even positive and desirable?
- Does it mock or downplay goodness, righteousness, and holiness — making them seem abnormal, or something to avoid?
- Will it deaden my conscience toward sin, or make me more aware of its dangers?
- Would I watch something like it in life? (Like sex scenes or murder?)
- And could I invite the Lord (if he were here) to sit down and watch it with me?
Movies like those above, and many others, often depict sin. It’s almost absurd to think of making movies without sin or at least the concept of it. It’s a part of life on earth and human experience. The question is “How does the film treat it?”
It’s possible to show sin’s evil without becoming too graphic. And in fact, it’s really necessary to do so. Because our minds store scenes away like photographs. And what we keep in them can affect our purity.
I’m not sure how such films could even be made without showing sin in its evil. But the thought I walk away with after watching them is that we must defeat evil and keep it from our hearts and lives. And that good will always triumph over evil. God will always have the last word.
We can learn from such films.
And if we’re to avoid the mistakes and sins of the past, we must learn from them. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit down and watch films or play video games with killing, just for the sake of killing. Or steamy sex scenes for no good reason at all.
Nor does it mean that we would have allowed our young children to watch films like those listed above. Rather we’d wait until the time comes that they are ready to handle their hard messages, and reason their way through them, with our guidance.
So for us at least, the question becomes, “What would Jesus do?” And if we can’t have him watch it with us, we’ll find something more wholesome to watch or do.
Because we want to honor him in all that we do, don’t you?
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