It’s interesting to see what people crave in entertainment. It’s even more interesting to see what professing Christians hunger and thirst for and will pay for. The Bible clearly tells us to be in the world but not of it. Today, we as Christians are called to be salt and light. Instead, we’re often so much like the world, it’s hard to tell us apart.
According to George Barna’s latest research, the divorce rate among Christians and non-Christians is running neck and neck in a dead heat (32-32% respectively)–not something to brag about. Further research shockingly indicates that Christians suffer with addictions to drugs and pornography at an alarming rate (50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography according to ChristiaNet Poll Aug. 7, 2006). If we’re to be the transformers living in a “toxic culture”, then we must be different. Our lives must provide a clear alternative.
Our society has barely survived the culture revolutions that occurred in the 1960s and 70s–the drug revolution and the sexual revolution. American plunged into the depths of darkness when we began to see drugs and sex as entertainment. In the last decade we’ve added a new revolution–violence. We’ve stooped to a new all-time low of craving to see violence as entertainment. And why not add a splash of romance with a vampire. I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing echoes of the Old Roman Empire–a once powerful kingdom that fell from within. Do we resemble those who went to the coliseum to be entertained by watching lions devour humans? What’s next on our plate to appease our appetites?
Arnold Toynbee, a British historian studied the 23 distinct civilizations in history, analyzing their strengths and the eventual collapse of most of them. He said, “Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the US is in now.” Just the possibility encourages me to suppress my appetite.
Recently, I perused my Facebook page and marveled at the fever pitch excitement about a new movie called Hunger Games. Several of my friends have educated me as to its many merits (although it’s definitely not for children and should be seen and discussed with teens). This obsession reminded me of the Twilight Vampire series craze that Christians couldn’t stop raving about. The same weekend a movie which celebrates the value and beauty of each God-given life, called October Baby, was also premiered. My heart was immediately drawn to the movie that honors what God celebrates.
Most educators who work on the front lines of our culture can tell you the price our country has paid by watching the hearts and souls of our children who are being raised in this toxic culture. There’s no doubt too many children are getting their values from TV and movies at a time when 75% of them contain some act of verbal, mental or physical violence. If you desire to raise a healthy, happy child today, these are one of many hurdles you must face. Will our children see sex as God intended it, or will they see it as entertainment? Will our children succumb to the lures of alcohol and drugs and fall prey to their snares which can end in death? Will our children crave to watch violence as entertainment and accept it as a normal way of life?
In the 1980s, Chuck Colson’s soul was burdened about the changes in our culture. I’ll never forget what he told me years ago. It grieved him to see what the media was showing on TV and its effects on mainstream America. He boldly set up a meeting with the president of one of the major TV Networks. “Mr. President,” he stated, “the violence, sexual promiscuity, disrespect and immorality, as shown on these TV shows, is having a profound impact on this country. The evangelicals in America are concerned.”
That network president looked him straight in the eye and responded, “Mr. Colson, I appreciate your concerns, but we market what people want and I have the research and polls right here that prove that your evangelicals are watching everything you’ve just described to me in record numbers!” (In quotes paraphrased from my memory) It was a humbling moment for Chuck Colson to realize the very people he was going to bat for, were batting 500 in hypocrisy.
The Barna Group’s research (November 19, 2007) also shows that most Christian parents are not content with the content of media-related products, yet they spend one billion dollars on DVD’s, CD’s and video games despite their misgivings. George Barna feels the reason is parents want to appear relevant in their children’s eyes and give their children gifts so they can fit in with society, even though those gifts conflict with the moral precepts of their Christian faith.
As our culture continues to deteriorate, bold Christians like Colson continue to stand for what is right. I’m privileged to know many Christian actors, actresses, screen writers, and movie producers who are just as concerned about our culture as my husband and I. I may not have their talents, but I can take a stand, and be a part of what God is doing through them by supporting and promoting their ministries. Their burning desire and calling is to produce TV programs and movies that entertain while teaching the wholesome values of faith, family and Christian virtues. They don’t do it for the money or for fame, but for a chance to change lives, and for the hope of turning this toxic culture around before it’s too late.
Movies such as Through the Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear were hits in 2005 and 2006 bringing the heart of God, missions, to the forefront. Sherwood Baptist in Albany, Georgia is known as the church who sprouted a ministry in producing movies. Their success has proved phenomenal. They started with Fly Wheel and Facing the Giants. In the past few years they have summoned the attention of Hollywood with their box office block-busters, Fireproof and Courageous. Even Hollywood is getting a profound message, “Cater to family values with a heartwarming story that builds character and we’re in!” Blindside and Soul Surfer were Hollywood’s response. I’m not a big supporter of Hollywood, but when they make movies that are family friendly, and free from violence, sex, and the lures of this world, I’ll throw them a buck or two.
Christian independent film companies are continuing to venture out in an effort to reclaim our culture through the mountain of arts and entertainment. If a culture is to be changed, arts and entertainment just one of seven mountains that impact the entire culture. Oh, the movies to come are worthy of your support and time. October Baby, as I mentioned earlier, just hit the theaters and an adaptation of Francine River’s best-selling book, Redeeming Love, is soon to come. Eric Metaxas recently told me that his book, Bonhoeffer, is in the talks for a movie.
Yes, I admit I’ve watched some movies and afterwards asked myself if that was the best use of my time? Did that movie made me better or more like the poison of this world? We’ve all been there and done that. My desire is to challenge us all to be transformers, believers who talk the talk and walk the walk in what we do and what we promote.
I Corinthians 10:31 clearly commands us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. In light of this verse, I’d like to challenge us to look at our entertainment in several ways:
1) Does it promote and build the institution of the family?
2) Does its message conflict with what the Bible teaches?
3) Does this program cause our culture to improve or decline?
4) Is the message honoring to God? (Would you want Him watching with you?)
If you’re fed up with the current selection of media movies and shows for your family to watch–hold on, a whole line-up of wholesome, family movies are on the way. And you can thank those who are sticking their necks out to do it! As Christians who desire to make a difference in this world, let’s enthusiastically support and promote those quality movies that pay honor to our faith and what it teaches. In this way, we as the body of Christ, can transform this world and hit a homerun in His name. May furthering His kingdom be the craving and desires of our hearts and our most magnificent obsession.