So I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, that I’m capable of ruining a good movie. My natural bent towards defensiveness would like to suggest that it’s not my fault. I have no idea whose fault it is but I maintain that it’s not mine. You can decide for yourself. And tell if me you think it’s my fault, at which point I’ll likely disagree.
The reason I think that charge has been laid at my feet is because I have a restless desire to ensure that our discernment meters are never shut off. Minds should never be checked at the door, including the door of entertainment. One of the aims of entertainment is to amuse, which, if you break the word down, is the opposite of thinking. To muse is to “reflect deeply on a subject.” To be a-mused is the total opposite. Amusement, entertainment, is an invitation to the mind to put its feet up, kick back, and relax for an extended period of time while our senses are overloaded in pleasurably stimulating ways.
Undoubtedly, there are times when such a mental break is a welcome refreshment, just like a physical break is needed when our bodies are tired. However, when our bodies are at rest, our hearts still beat to sustain life. Shutting it off entirely would be ill-advised. The same is true for the mind. We should never turn off the hum of the discernment engine of our mind, which when advocated for can make you the unpopular kid in class.
Whenever we expose our eyes, ears, and minds to words or images through movies, art, books, magazines, music, or any other form of media, we’re being exposed to a worldview. A worldview is the way a person looks at the world; the lenses they see everything through. Whenever we watch or read something we are being invited to consider the world through someone else’s eyes. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: do we even notice if that worldview is consistent or inconsistent with our own? Whether implicitly – we haven’t given it thought – or explicitly – we have given it thought – every human being has beliefs about how the world works. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What’s wrong with the world? How can it be fixed? What happens to us when we die? How should we live?
Now, if you think of the last movie that you watched, how did it answer those questions? What did it say about humanity? What did it say about morality? What did it say about the meaning of life? What did it say about God? What did it say about the afterlife? If you have absolutely no idea, that’s a problem, because you were left entirely vulnerable to accepting a truth claim that is inconsistent with God’s truth. Media is a powerful force for communicating ideas, and ideas have consequences. If we embrace components of a worldview that are inconsistent with a biblical worldview, without even realizing it, that will play out detrimentally in our relationship to God, to others, and in our effectiveness in Kingdom service. Moreover, how are we supposed to thoughtfully engage society with the gospel when we’re unthinking in regards to what people believe?
So I urge that you never dial down your discernment, even when you sit down to watch a movie. I urge you to train yourself, and your kids if you have any, to identify the answers to life’s biggest questions offered in whatever you watch next. Chances are it may well be the new Star Wars movie. If so, check out this article from Peter Jones over at Ligonier before you go. And keep in mind, if reading it happens to ruin your viewing pleasure, don’t blame me.