When is it okay for a believer in Christ to participate in something that isn’t labeled as “Christian”?
Scripture tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12) Temptations are different for every person because we’re all unique individuals. We must decide where to draw the line based on where we’re at in our spiritual journey.
Where the line is drawn will be different for every person and family.
Just because an item isn’t labeled “Christian” doesn’t mean we have to stay away from it. We certainly want to be about our Father’s business, but we must also make time to rest and relax.
Yet we must be careful how much garbage we put into our minds, because one day we will have to give an account for our actions. Being constantly exposed to sinful behaviors does wear us down, making us numb and eventually more likely to participate in those activities. The enemy is subtle and can use items that seem harmless to draw us away from our faith.
How many times have we used the phrase “It’s not that bad”?
Sometimes it’s easy to identify things that are detrimental and stay away from them, such as films rated ‘R’. I personally prefer to only read novels from Christian publishers because I like to avoid all that ‘sensual’ stuff.
But at other times, making a decision can be hard because there are so many factors involved, especially when setting boundaries for our children. We must understand our childrens’ personalities and weaknesses so we don’t let them into situations that are too tempting for them. For example, when it comes to novels, I buy more Christian titles for my kids than secular. And sometimes I watch shows with them just to teach lessons, such as how the entertainment industry seems to dumb down dads and make moms overbearing.
Here is a helpful checklist when trying to decide on participating in secular entertainment.
1) Everything may be permissible, but is participating in this activity beneficial? Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? (Phil 4:8)
2) Will it cause me or someone around me to stumble in the faith because of a weakness?
3) Am I spending more time on activities that don’t glorify God than participating in church activities or my personal quiet time?
4) Have I prayed about it to see what God thinks on the subject?
We must pause and think it over before we dive in. I love programs like “Plugged-In” from Focus on the Family that can help parents make more informed decisions.
Sometimes we will have to say ‘no’ to something that really looks appealing. Our integrity and our witness to others is very important to God. Isn’t it better to ere on the side of caution?
Yet we must be careful not to judge others for their choices. Just because it seems bad to us doesn’t mean it’s detrimental for that person or their family. Too many believers become like a Pharisee, setting strict rules about what ‘good Christians’ can participate in. Remember, you don’t know for certain where others are on their faith journey. If you’re really concerned, ask God to show you if you’re being too critical.
Or the other way – if it seems good to us but others think it’s going too far, we must allow them freedom to be a little more conservative.
On one occasion when I read a series about vampires, a well-meaning friend decided to inform me that I was giving my money to the devil’s work and supporting entertainment that draws people away from God. What she didn’t know is that I had prayed before picking up the book and knew the stories wouldn’t affect my faith. I believe they helped me become a better writer. Since God doesn’t like needless arguments and He is my Defender, I decided not to make excuses to my friend, but to simply listen to her opinion that day.
What are some ways you protect yourself and your family from the negative influence of the entertainment industry? What tools do you use to draw boundaries?