We have a HUGE problem in our house that is harming our entire family. It is so HUGE that a caring, loving and responsible family would typically take care of that HUGE problem for the good of said family pretty quickly, right? Especially HUGE problems that could hurt and possibly completely derail the followers of Christ in that family. I mean that would be a given…..right? Yet somehow, this HUGE and POISONOUS problem has been allowed to remain…..and what’s worse, is that all of the members in our household actually LOVE and NURTURE that HUGE problem!
If the problem were something physical that would affect our bodies, such as a poisonous snake infestation or toxic mold, then those effected areas would be removed or cut out……immediately and without pity. Who wants slithering snakes that bite and could cause death in the house? And I personally would not be able to sleep at night if my children were breathing in toxic mold! If the problem were something mental, like Satanic worship CD’s that played on a continuous feed through speakers by an evil government in our home (ok, that was a stretch, but I am just trying to prove a point here), then we would slash the speaker wires and burn the speakers. All of these problems would be dealt with the utmost urgency because they are ABNORMAL problems, but our problem is not abnormal……it is a completely NORMAL thing in our house that most people would never consider a problem.
The title of this blog entry has no doubt made you guess that the HUGE problem is the television that we watch and the music that we listen to, and you probably have the same problem in your own home. Maybe you have acknowledged the problem, yet like us, you didn’t know how to get rid of the problem without causing your whole family to go crazy. Or, maybe you don’t think that the shows and movies that we watch don’t affect us if we don’t let them, or that the music we listen to will not eventually penetrate our hearts and attitudes. Whichever stance you take on television, movies and music, the problem is real, its HUGE, and its hard to get rid of.
Here is a candid and truthful list of why my family members and I need to fix our HUGE problem(last time I’m going to say HUGE, I promise):
Me: I love having movies playing while I am cleaning, doing laundry, writing, etc. It is like having someone else in the room with me. I usually watch the same movies over and over again…….Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Coraline, Penelope, just to name a few. The characters become so familiar to me (and my family who also have to listen to them because they are mostly in the room with me!) that they become a welcome presence. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are other staples of mine. There are a few television shows about families, because I love to learn from other people who have the same beliefs that I do…..The Duggars. Strangely, I also like Big Love and Sister Wives, yet I am not a polygamist, have no desire to be a polygamist, and do not even know any polygamists. I guess I just love the faith that they portray…..even if there are a lot of wives? The top of the list are Christian movies which are an inspiration to me……Fireproof, Les Miserables, Courageous, Love Comes Softly, and a new one we just watched last night, Unconditional (awesome movie by the way!).
These all are pretty tame to me (except Coraline and Harry Potter because there is magic involved), but my tastes used to be pretty inappropriate (which I started to correct right about the time I stopped cussing three years ago). However, tame or not, they were still taking me away from spending my time listening to or being with my family. I have a habit of retreating to my bedroom after a long day and losing myself in the life of someone else on TV, instead of actually living my life with my imperfect yet glorious family that God has blessed me with.
My music leans toward hymns and Christian music, and I also like movie theme instrumental songs.
My Husband: I am married to a pretty good egg. He doesn’t watch the yucky stuff, and for that I am grateful. He is not overly into sports, doesn’t even like American football, but he does love European football (soccer). He follows a few television shows…..Pawn Stars (NOTE: I said Pawn, not Porn), Counting Cars, Survivor, and Modern Family. He likes to watch the TV when he gets home from work and besides his tablet, which is mainly for work, it is his main source of entertainment. None of these scream…”I am not a Christian!”, but it does take a lot of his time. He can become so engrossed in his entertainment that he snaps or yells when he is interrupted. The kids have learned not to disturb him if he is watching his shows.
His music choices stem from his younger days…..my kids and I have listened to Alice In Chains until our ears are bleeding! We even named our oldest daughter after the lead singer who eventually overdosed (her middle name is Layne after Layne Staley). The problem with this type of music is the anger involved…..all bands from this genre seem to be pretty mad all of the time. From the beat of the music to the lyrics, they all have some serious bones to pick with other people, society, or the whole world in general. He also likes MercyMe and anything country.
My Oldest Son (age 17): My oldest child was introduced to ‘yucky stuff’ on the internet by his great friends in public school (which was so nice of them to share). Ever since, he struggles with avoiding it. He is doing a great job and he prays continually for the strength from God to overcome the desires, but once it enters the mind it is hard to get rid of. He knows that God wants him to remain pure until he is married, and he is striving to honor that. However, if everything on television and the radio is geared toward sex, it’s even harder to remain unaffected. He follows my husband in his music and television choices, but his movie choices are like his Mama’s…..Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
He is pretty content to watch whatever the family may be watching, without too many negative issues. He is the same with music, leaning toward what everyone else is listening to at the time. However, the true ‘monkey on his back’ is video games. We got rid of all of his military-style ‘killing games’ as I call them, a few years ago. He still has urges to play these games, and is trying to deal with the fact that his cousin and friend are allowed to play them. Whenever I ask him this key question, “Would you ask Jesus to grab the other controller and play along with you?”, he squishes the monkey back in his cage and faces another day without his games. Sad…..but playing a game to kill other people (pretty graphically too) when there is no actual war or serious threat to guard against is not the type of entertainment that we want our young follower of Christ to be partaking in.
My Oldest Daughter: Mama and Daughter have several movies that we could watch everyday all day. The top movie of the moment is Les Miserables. Good gracious we love this movie. The first time we sat down to watch it together, we turned it off half way through….we actually thought it was boring. We started it again because of a small niggling feeling to know what happens in the end. Boy, were we blown away by the ending! We think this movie tops all other Christian films by a landslide….and that’s hard for us to say because we love a lot of Christian movies! She is really hooked on Disney television shows, which have a lot of ‘normal’ teenagers doing ‘normal’ things. Unfortunately, we are trying not to live a ‘normal’ life, so she cannot follow into the character’s version of ‘normal’. On the flip side, she enjoys the Duggars, although less and less lately because she feels that all the Duggars shows are now only about the next great adventure that the family takes instead of about the faith and lives of the family. Modern Family is on the list as well. Her movie choices fall with me again……Harry Potter and her new-found love of Lord of the Rings. Although she loves them dearly, we have had to cut the Twilight movies due to their content. Her music choices are Owl City, One Direction and The Last Bison.
My Two Littlest Ones: Ya know, they like Disney movies, Barney and Dora, BUT……we have to ask them to sit down a zillion times while they are watching them. I think you have to ‘learn’ to love TV at a young age. Sort of like you have to ‘learn’ to love coffee (I am still convinced that you must drink coffee for years before you actually like it….I’m still not there and I am now in my 40’s).
We are going to lay off the televsion with them, and instead listen to children’s Bible versus on CD….which I have a ton of.
So, now that you know what we consider to be our BIG problem (I told you I wouldn’t say H_G_ again!) I will now tell you how we are going to fix it. With a nod to our favorite show, Survivor, we will be having a challenge! A 30-Day Challenge to see if we can only watch things that GLORIFY GOD. Notice, I did not say, we wouldn’t watch anything that was not too bad, or too violent, or too whatever. I said to glorify God. What does that mean? Here are our guidelines:
1. No cussing, sexual content, visually offensive material (like girls parading around in tiny bikinis), violence, magical properties (it says it in the Bible people…..hard to get away from Deuteronomy 18:10-12 ESV There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.), or too much romance (which sets up our teens to think that a person must have certain qualities like a particular eye color or a specific hairstyle in order to be their perfect mate).
2. It MUST glorify God. Even if it passes the test on all of the above criteria….it must have the solitary goal of glorifying God. Sure, some Christian movies might have some sexual or violent references…but they are used to show how a character overcame such problems, etc. You will know if you have to turn the movie off…..just listen to God’s voice (that small, still voice inside you….remember?)
3. It must not take the place of our family devotions. No movie or show, Christian or otherwise, should ever take the place of good old-fashioned family time together…..worshiping, praising and learning about God and His Word. Nothing…..plain and simple.
The other part of our challenge is to see if we can only listen to things that GLORIFY GOD. Same rules as above apply.
There are plenty of old sayings like, “You are what you eat”. Well, I firmly believe that your heart contains all that you see and hear. I don’t want a rotten, old, stinking heart when I get to heaven….and yes, even if I watched and listened to all of the old things that I use to watch and listen to, I will still go to heaven because I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that He died on the cross for my sins (thank you Jesus). Yet, I still want the purest heart that I can possibly have, to try and show the appreciation that I feel for what God and Jesus has done for me…..even though this way is miniscule compared to Calvary. I think the 30-Day Challenge is a great way to see if you can shed the ‘Normal Worldy Ways’ and pick up the cross that you must bear to be a ‘Christian’. After a lot of prayer, I think we can do it.