screen time

    Ask This Question Before Turning on the Screen

    My family has an affection for certain shows. Many of you do as well, I’m sure. You don’t simply have a show you watch, but you have shows that are “your shows”. You may not rush home to watch them, like in the days before DVRs and streamed TV, but something has happened culturally where we all gained a possessiveness to our shows. At our house, we like Star Trek of various kinds, Young Indiana Jones, and Sherlock. We get our reality show fix in the form of The Amazing Race. You can probably make your own list. It maybe slightly less nerdy, but I bet you have a list.

    Similarly, many people have their “jam”, or their music play list. They have certain artists and genres they like, an iTunes playlist that leans toward a certain sound, or loyalty to one or two radio stations over others. We’re also more likely to go see a movie that stars a specific actor or actress. We may have celebrities we follow on Twitter. And even if we don’t go crazy with it, we watch a movie and feel a certain connection to the story and to the artists presenting the story, and we want more of that.

    This connection is what makes what we watch so important. We were designed and created for connection by our Creator. We were made to be connected to Him and to others around us. God wrote our story of connection in His Word. Man is given the gift of woman, and they are given the command to be fruitful and multiply, which isn’t just about populating, but also about growing together and caring for one another in family. God designed connection in the command to love our neighbor. He sent Jesus to live among us and to die and rise for us. He sent the Spirit to connect us to the Trinity in our day-to-day lives. Then, He created the Church – His masterpiece of connection.Connection matters; it’s important spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

    My concern with our entertainment choices is not exactly what we watch, but what place we give it in our lives. Are we more connected to Benedict Cumberbatch (no offense, kind sir) or to our actual neighbor? Are we more concerned with getting our show in, or gathering around the table to talk about the day? We can use media as a connecting tool, or we can let it weasel its way in to become the center of our homes. This doesn’t happen overnight. It happens accidentally and unintentionally, and the consequence we can feel, but may not be able to identify, is disconnection to Christ and to one another.

    Philippians 4:7-8 tells us, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (v.8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    We could probably all choose better entertainment most of the time. My husband is good at shutting down a show when it isn’t honorable or worthy of praise because of cursing, sexuality, innuendo, or violence. I’m thankful for that and I’ll be the first to admit that we are imperfect.

    We can also focus our attention on verse seven, rather than just verse eight, and I think we’ll find some insight for our homes.

    Peace, understanding, guarding…

    We are given the gift, as parents and as spouses, of being those who regularly share Christ with one another every single day. We make our homes a safe place from the chaotic world, an unashamed place to be ourselves. When we put shows and music and any kind of entertainment on in our home, we give it a place too. It becomes part of what we share as a family, and we connect over it. We laugh together around it, we cry together around it. When we watch a show we can ask ourselves this one question…

    Does it guard, give understanding, or peace?

    Keeping verse seven in mind will help us as we ask ourselves, does what we are watching or listening to fill our homes and our lives with peace, or anxiety? Can it open a safe place for greater understanding, or are the topics overwhelming, confusing, and too embarrassing to bring up? Is it connecting us to relationships that endure, or to pretend characters that pass away after seven seasons?

    Christ is given first place in our homes. That doesn’t mean we need to cower in law, throw the television and computers out the window, and go underground. It does mean that He is greater and He wants to offer us more than the anxiety and insecurity the world gives. He is better and longer lasting than anything else we could put inside our hearts, our minds, and our homes. He never disappoints; He connects us deeper, and gives us peace, understanding, and the greatest security we can ever imagine.

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      1 Response

      1. Pastor David M. Burge

        I think what is said above is very good, especially how we must make sure that Christ is first and consider how entertainment can or cannot help the connections we have with one another through Him. I do have one question, however. The question: “Can it open a safe place for greater understanding, or are the topics overwhelming, confusing, and too embarrassing to bring up?” My question is this: If we are approaching something, whether a piece of entertainment, a work of art, a philosophical argument, a political idea, a social or scientific theory, or just the daily news, in the peace of Christ, trusting that He will guard us and guide our understanding in appropriate ways, can any topic be “overwhelming, confusing, and too embarrassing to bring up?” Doesn’t this happen only when we are creating and relying on our own systems of right and wrong and appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and appropriate and inappropriate forms of entertainment and artistic expression?

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