Last weekend, I spent an evening curled up on the couch under a blanket, enjoying the peace and quiet of the chilly fall evening. I had a mug of steaming chai tea and a novel from the library, and I was settling in and getting cozy.
As I read, I felt myself being drawn in by the writer's style. Here was a well-written story with a likeable protagonist, an interesting plot, a great conflict, and the promise of romance between a couple of the major characters.
About a hundred pages into the book, I felt a happy little flutter in my heart. After spending most of the novel pretending they weren't attracted to one another, a couple of characters were finally going to get together, finally going to stop denying their feelings for one another, finally going to fall into each others' arms and -
Whoops. These characters weren't married, and they were going to take their relationship somewhere it had no business going. And even though that's against my Christian beliefs, I was feeling all happy about it. Uh-oh.
I closed the book for a moment and shook my head. I'm cheering for the wrong team, I said, a little embarrassed. I sighed, then reopened the book and turned a couple of pages, skipping the love scene and starting again with the next chapter.
It turns out that I didn't miss anything important to the storyline by turning those few pages. It was still a good story, and I could still enjoy it without reading the part where things got out of hand.
My little novel episode reminded me of something important: Even when we're just relaxing and enjoying some entertainment, we have to be careful not to take in ideas that are against what God's Word teaches. One of the things that makes TV, movies, books, and music so powerful is their ability to draw us in - and that can be a good thing when the story has a positive message or when we can learn from the characters' growth and development.
But that same power can be a bad thing if it causes us to cheer for the wrong team - or if it makes us less sensitive to sin.
Another thought: It's not just the sexual sin in popular entertainment that we need to avoid. What about the sitcoms where we're supposed to laugh at a character's constantly negative attitude about life? What about the songs that say fancy cars and jewelry are all life is about? And how about the movies that teach us that violence is funny?
I've decided there are some things I just can't watch, read or listen to - there's just not enough good there. Other times, I can do like I did last weekend and turn a few pages, close my eyes during part of a movie if I'm at the theater, or fast forward if I'm at home watching a video or DVD.
Doing this definitely makes me seem strange - even to some of my Christian friends who aren't sure what the big deal is. But Proverbs 4:23 instructs me to Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. And hey - if that means turning a few pages or looking a little strange to my friends, well, it's worth it to me.
- adapted from LaTonya Taylor, Campus Life Magazine, October 2005.