Guidelines to help you to analyze the impact of movies and electronic media on your life.
Modern electronic media can be described as the power tools of influence. Below are some things to consider as you and your children interact with our culture in the arena of entertainment. As Christians we must always ask ourselves, “How have I been influenced?” When you watch a movie you are in close company with people who are specialists in the field of influence. When you watch a movie you enter a world where skilled professionals excel at manipulating thoughts and emotions. If you do not guard your heart diligently when viewing movies, you make yourself vulnerable to those who are masters of influence. You are, in effect, giving people with immense manipulative power a front row seat into the theater of your mind and your heart. Remember, bad company corrupts good character! (I Corinthians 15:33)
Here are a few questions and guidelines to help you to analyze the impact of movies and electronic media on your life. These guidelines are not exhaustive, just suggestive of how to begin thinking about the influence of electronic media.
What is the message, theme or main point of the movie?
How was this message most powerfully conveyed to you?
Was the message carried primarily through the actors, the plot, the cinematography, the special effects, the music, the editing, or some combination of these?
What is the movie’s view of God?
Ways you can determine this —
- What is the view of creation of the earth?
- What is the view of sexuality?
- What is the view of authority?
- What is the view of the weather, or other examples of providence?
- What is the response of the actors to fearful situations?
- What other ways can you discern the movie’s stance toward God?
How did the movie impact you?
Attempt to analyze why you were happy, sad, tempted to sin, angry, or cynical toward something portrayed in the movie. For example, did you come away with a strong sense of needing to write a wrong that was portrayed in the movie?
How did the use of humor impact you?
Were humorous situations occasions for you to laugh when God and His laws were openly mocked? Even wicked situations can be humorous. What is important is that the humor does not make you more approving of that which is wrong.
How prominent is the appeal to sensuality—for example, a rush of fear & suspense (Eph. 4:17-19)?
In other words, does a chase scene or horror sequence create such a sense of excitement that you want to watch just to experience the physical rush? If this is the case, then you will also be tempted to accept the morality of the rush scene just so you can experience the thrill of the rush. And as Ephesians 4:19 teaches, you will soon look for an even more dramatic scene to satisfy the cravings set in motion by viewing the initial rush.
Was godly sexuality assaulted by the movie?
- Were you influenced to think that homosexuality is just another way of expressing sexual desire and is not really wrong?
- Were you relieved that only heterosexual sin was shown in the movie? In other words, are you less disturbed at heterosexual sin than homosexual sin? If so, you have made a different moral judgment than the Scriptures make!
- Were modesty and purity mocked?
- Was virginity portrayed as a social liability or a personality disorder?
- Were there occasions where you were tempted to envy and lust?
- Were you tempted to see fear as something that can be overcome without the power of God?
- Did the movie make you see your own home situation less sympathetically?
- If the movie was historically based, was the historical representation accurate?
- Do you find yourself wanting to be like one of the characters portrayed in the movie? Why?
Parents, these are just some of the factors that influence you and your children you are in the audio-visual entertainment media. Talk with your children about these things. Help them to understand that people are attempting to influence them through this form of entertainment. No, you don’t have to stop watching. But you do need to be aware of the influences behind the scenes, so to speak, and use wise judgment.
One illustration of this behind the scenes agenda is George Lucas’ purpose for the Star Wars movies. He wanted to use Star Wars as a platform to introduce Buddhism to America. The “Force” represents the impersonal god of eastern mysticism. You don’t necessarily have to ban Star Wars, but you and your children should be aware of its agenda. You should be able to articulate how using “the force” is different from how the Holy Spirit works in the life of God’s people.
Movies and other elements of the new media also present opportunities to talk to others about Christ and his gospel. This is a great way to help your children see the difference it makes to be a Christian in this world. Movies represent a wonderful opportunity to talk about the gospel.
Let me know your thoughts. Don’t let your children or yourselves be taken captive.