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Chris writes (in response to my video post):

I see why you like the song. And I understand your reservations about some parts of it. I wrestle with this in regard to music, books and movies quite a bit now that my children are teenagers. I’m glad that people don’t judge me for going to movies, as I hear was once customary. Yet I’m concerned about the number of great films (The Notebook, the Bourne trilogy, The Guardian) where the heroes display such courage, loyalty, commitment, so many good qualities, yet send the message that premarital sex is no problem.

Well, first I would say that with rare exception, American Christians (including me) are too interested in entertainment and would do well to experience less of it, or be more judicious.*

And Yes, rare also is the movie where premarital sex isn’t shown or hinted at. It’s an accepted and expected practice, unfortunately.

One question one can ask is – does this movie cause me to sin? Showing sin (even as an excepted practice) will not necessarily cause me damage. Then the question becomes do I want to support this movie by buy paying for it at the box office or the rental store.

I’m new to your blog, but I’m wondering if you and some of your readers might be willing to share how and why you handle these things in regard to your own choices, and in regard to your kids–if there’s even a difference.

Well, our kids are younger than yours so this is somewhat less of a (but not a nonexistent) problem. We have, for example, watched the original Star Wars trilogy with them, which I feel to be pretty harmless, but not the new trilogy, which is darker and is more morally confused.

We have been fairly liberal in letting the kids watch the Olympics, and they have pointed out that some of the girls outfits are “not modest”. It is good that they are aware of this, but it is possible to be aware of it and still affected negatively by it. We have actually limited the games they watch because of this aspect of the games.

I’ve heard people say that we should watch those things with our kids and talk about the elements that concern us. Many kids will say, stop–you’re spoiling it–when their parents talk about things in movies.

It’s not so hard in some ways. When our kids want to watch something that’s just silly, mindless, and ridiculous, like the Benchwarmers, we just point out that the bad language, risque elements–Jesus died because of those things.

This seems to me a little dangerous – It seems like you could use this to justify watching anything.

It’s easy to say no to that. But with film, drama, lyrics, writing that is more meaningful–where we are watching, listening, or reading not merely for entertainment–to sit back and relax–well, maybe the original intent was to watch for entertainment but then we find that there is really something to chew on, something that changes us because we’ve seen, read, or listened to it. When there’s something in the lyrics that hits home–I’m thinking of a song by Aerosmith–that kind of music has been off my radar for so long–yet for the kids in our church, there’s such a draw. I hope you understand what I’m asking.

I have felt myself drawn to secular entertainment that speaks to where I am or where I have been. But having an insight into the condition of man does not necessarily make it wise to watch. So I am finding myself having to be careful with this defense.

There is always the other good question you can ask (and yes, I am not the first to think of it): If you were to guess what God would say if you asked him if you (or your kids) should experience this entertainment, what do you think He would say? You might not always have a clear answer to this, but you might more often than not.

Thanks for any insight you can share.

Does anyone else have any suggestions or thoughts?

* a good way to do this with movies is to click on the “Screen It” Link on the right side of this page.

This weekend we hosted a backyard party which was a reunion of six couples (and their kids) who met in our college choir (tenors and sopranos).  Our kids had a good time together and we got caught up and talked about past choral triumphs.

Traditional for when we get together is the playing of a game of croquet. And traditional at the beginning of this game is the singing of the National Anthem. If you think that six men who sing well and like to sing, and are skilled at singing parts doesn’t result in a rockin’ great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, think again.

Our wives, 100 feet away, stopped their conversation and listened. And clapped afterward.

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August 2008