This year in Roots (high school youth group) we are looking at the various forms of media and how they line up with a Biblical worldview. What is a worldview you might ask? A worldview can be defined as how you see the world, through a “certain” lense. That “certain” lense, for the Christian, would (hopefully) be a Biblical lense. Dan and I have realized that throughout our time in ministry, it is easy for our kids to be caught up in the worldviews of others, without even realizing that they have adopted that worldview. For example: if someone is watching a music video that is promoting lust, sexual promiscuity, and using derogatory language about women, then that person later has a conversation with a friend, using some of the same language that music video is using, that is when you have another “worldview” adopted into your mind, without even realizing it. To me EVERYTHING in this world, is pointing to a certain worldview. That is why it is so important to figure out what message that form of media is trying to portray.
I’m sure you have heard me talking about Walt Mueller. He is someone we really look up to in the youth ministry world. He founded CPYU (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding). He described our consumption of media well – either we are “mindless consumers or mindful critques.” When we watch a piece of media – do we just sit, absorb what it is saying, and just accept it? Or do we pair it up with what we believe the Bible says about that subject and critique it? I know you are probably thinking…what happened to just sitting in front of the tv? That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about – that is PROBLEM! We think that we are just “sitting” in front of the tv and doing nothing – yet our minds and our ears do otherwise. To believe the saying that “it goes in one ear and out the other” is really naive to think, to be quite frank! To assume that even if the show, song, movie is bad, that we can just let it go in one ear out the other, is assuming that we have a dead brain. I would say it’s not that easy.
I have really done a lot of thinking about this. I totally can fall into the category of being a mindless consumer sometimes!! But I have realized over the past couple of years how dangerous that can be. I have really tried to be more of a mindful critique because I’ve realized how much the media can influence my worldview. Something will happen and I will think of a coarse joke to go along with it – well, Kristin, where did you get idea? Did I just mindlessly consume that joke or language from somewhere? Probably!
I know I may have some of you on the edge of your seats because you may be thinking that I am advertising that you can ONLY watch Christian tv or listen to Christian music. That is FAR FROM what I am saying. What I AM saying is that when we DO watch ANY form of media, whether it is Christian or not – doesn’t matter – we need to constantly remember to test it with what we believe to be truth – that is God’s Word. For instance, I enjoy the CSI type shows. Most often someone dies. How they die can be pretty gruesome and ugly. Obviously violence is involved. What I have to do with that tv show then is not just consume it and say, oh well. No, I need to think – no, that isn’t right; that isn’t how a woman or a man should be treated. The Bible clearly states, do not murder. Or if I am watching sports and I see a NFL player (for example) dancing in the endzone pointing to himself and making it all about him. I need to look at that, critique it with my Biblical lense and realize that Christ says to only boast in him. Boast in nothing else, but only in the Lord. It’s not the individual that I am placing judgment on – it’s the action. So next time when something great happens and I want to do a celebration dance, I need to check myself and remember that GOD deserves all the glory.
This is why it is so key to know the Word. To know what God’s “lense” says. If we don’t know what the Bible says, how can we critique media then? So, on Sundays, after we watch or listen to a piece of media in youth group, we break into groups, with Bibles and concordances in hand. We answer a few questions like, what does this say about how we should live? What type of lifestyle is this movie portraying? Where do they think happiness is found? We answer those type of questions based on the media and then pair it up with what the Bible says. Sometimes they match up, sometimes they don’t!
There are what we label as “secular” music videos out there that have VERY redemptive themes in them! There are songs out there on “secular” radio that match right up with what the Bible says about how to treat others. That is why I believe we shouldn’t just write off anything that may be “secular.” Why trust a label? Why not listen to it, but be a mindful critique? If it does not match up with a Biblical worldview, well, then act accordingly; for each person that looks differently. But don’t write something off just because it may be labeled as secular.
Going to a Bible college, the whole “worldview” idea to say it politely, was shoved down our throats :). I say that though with thankfulness in my heart because it really made me think about how I live my life. Do Christ’s words in Scripture come to mind when I see something that is broken? Do I pray for that situation, or do I just say “oh well?” It all leads to God’s redeeming purposes in life. We are ALL instruments in that redeeming process – but in order to be used as an instrument, it is key to know WHAT needs redeeming, what wrongs need to be made right.
As John Stott says “we stand between the Word and the world with consequent obligation to listen to both. We listen to the Word to discover even more the riches of Christ. We listen to the world in order to discern which of Christ’s riches are needed most and how to present them in their best light.”
In conclusion…am I saying you need to stop watching your favorite tv show or listening to your favorite radio station? Absolutely not. If that is what you got out of this, I apologize for any confusion. I surely haven’t stopped watching my CSI shows :). I surely haven’t stopped listening to certain radio stations! If they are starting to make a negative impact on my worldview, I need to make some changes, which for me, may mean stop watching or listening to it. But I will tell you I have started to watch and listen to these all with a different mindset – a mindful critique mindset.
How about you?