Over the past two years Iíve discovered that nothing quite limits your entertainment options quite as effectively as having children. When theyíre very little, thereís not much you can take them to. And, when you do find that particular concert or movie you really want to go to, the cost of baby-sitting at ten dollars an hour makes everything seem expensive. My wife and I donít even think of going to movies anymore. Waiting until the DVD is released and buying it is much cheaper than going to the theater when all the costs are factored in. With rental DVDís becoming more and more available, Iím amazed theaters stay in business.
Before my wife and I had children I thought that once we did I would never have any time to myself ever again. Well, I was both right and wrong at the same time. What having children really meant was that my wife goes to sleep around 8:00pm because sheís burned out from watching the kids since 6:00am. Iím more the night-owl who has a hard time getting to sleep before 10:00pm. So, I watched my first son into the late hours of the night and now that he on a bedtime schedule I have a second son to watch into the late hours of the night. So, in a way, I have a lot of time to myself without having many options as to what to do with the time. I canít to anything that requires long term concentration or deep thought. Itís hard to even read books.
Thankfully Iíve had the cable TV, the VCR, and the DVD player to give me all kinds of cheap entertainment to occupy my mind during countless hours of infant watching. Iíve watched many of the great classic movies, countless documentaries, and Iíve even rediscovered some of the sitcoms I used to watch as a child. Not too many years ago I had a choice of what to do when I got home from work. Now my choice is what to watch on TV, since I already know when Iím going to do.
And "what to watch" really is an interesting question. As a Christian, how much responsibility should I take for what gets pumped into my head? Is it OK with God if I watch anything I want to? Is it OK to be entertained by watching people sin (or at least simulate sin) as long as I donít commit those sins myself?
How important is the context? It is OK to watch the "bad guys" sin if theyíre sinning because theyíre the "bad guys" and we know the "good guys" will win in the end? Is simulated sin OK to watch as long as itís really really important to the development of the story? Is sex, violence, obscenity, and profanity OK to watch in a movie as long as it isnít "gratuitous" sex, violence, obscenity and profanity?
How much is too much? One obscenity? One profanity? One simulated sex scene? One of each? Several of each? Should I sit through a movie where the main characters use the "f word" two or three times in every sentence throughout the length of the film?
I donít have an exact answer for this, but I remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:11-12
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
Now, if it is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret, how much of what the "disobedient do" should you pay to have pumped into you head? I work with computers for a living, and in one respect the are very much like the human mind: if you put garbage in, youíll get garbage out.
I donít have a precise list of rules to share concerning what TV and movies to watch, what music to listen to, etc. I donít believe that rule-making is the answer anyway. The one thing I am certain of is that if someone claims to be a Christian and gladly sucks into their mind anything and everything Hollywood dishes out, thereís a problem there somewhere.