Using Discernment with Entertainment — John MacArthur

Posted: 16 Mar 2014 05:31 PM PDT

“Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” — Ephesians 5:3

John MacArthur small“Those two verses alone rule out much of what passes as entertainment in our world today—sexual immorality and impurity, dirty jokes and silly talk, and anything that promotes greed or undermines the giving of thanks. That list is a pretty good summary of what is wrong with much of contemporary American media.

Movies, for example, are usually rated according to language, violence, sexual content, and thematic elements. Many of them are not just non-Christian, they are anti-Christian. I don’t mean that they openly attack the Christian faith. But at least in some cases they might as well. They employ filthy language and lewd humor (Colossians 3:8; Titus 2:6-8); they glorify violence rather than peace (Titus 1:7; 1 John 4:7-8); they glamorize lust and immorality rather than holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 1 Peter 1:16); they instill feelings of discontentment and desire rather than thankfulness (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Timothy 6:6); and they promote worldviews that are antithetical to biblical Christianity (2 Corinthians 10:5). Does that mean a Christian should never watch movies? Not necessarily. But we must be discriminating about the things we allow into our minds. We are called to renew our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:16). When we continually fill our minds with the filth of this world, we do ourselves a great spiritual disservice. . .

. . .Movies, television, radio, video games, MP3s, and the Internet— these and other forms of mass media pervade our world. In and of themselves, these technologies are not inherently sinful. Most other forms of leisure and recreation are not inherently sinful either. In fact, fun, happiness, and joy are gifts from God.

But before we wholeheartedly embrace the media-driven entertainment of our culture, we must not forget that we are Christians. Our identity is defined by Jesus Christ, not by the society around us. That distinction should be reflected in everything we think, say, and do. We live in a world carried along by ungodly lusts and entertained by sin. Yet we are called to walk in thankful holiness. Though we are in this world, we are not of this world (John 17:14-16). That means we can’t watch every movie, laugh at every joke on television, download every new music album, click on every online video, or visit every Internet page. Taking a stand for righteousness in your own life and family is not being legalistic. It’s being Christian.”

MacArthur, John, et al. Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Controversial Issues. Eugene: Harvest House, 2009. pp. 24-25, 28.