Ratings are relative. In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code prohibited “scenes of theft,” “excessive kissing,” and “profanity” (this included the words, God, Lord, Jesus, Christ – unless used reverently). Today, people laugh at these standards that most think “belong in museums.” Just 20 years ago, the Motion Picture Production Association revised their ethics and ratings system again for a “modern America.” So, if producers and ratings cannot be trusted, how can you as a Christian teen evaluate visual entertainment?
The Test of Sanctity: Does it keep you pure?
Getting your shoes dusty while walking outside is one thing, but choosing to walk in a mud puddle is another. One is inevitable; the other is intentional.
Everyday, you are bombarded with defilement from many sources such as billboards, radio announcers, news stories, discussions in school, and graffiti. You get defiled because you don’t know it is coming. If you did, you would avoid it, right?
In the days before Nike and Doc Martin’s, people wore sandals. Dust on the feet was inevitable. One day, the Lord Jesus took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet to show them that they were going to need His daily cleansing ministry. The Savior was recognizing that we would inadvertently be contaminated spiritually by living in this world. He is presently ministering to keep us clean. Even though the “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin,” “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8). Therefore, when a child of God becomes aware of defilement, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Usually, though, watching a video or DVD is your choice regardless of peer pressure. So, ask yourself, “By the time the credits roll, will this film make me less pure?” Sometimes even unsaved film critics recognize this possibility and give it a rating to warn you. Inevitable dust on your feet does not give you license to stomp in mud puddles. To watch something that will stir up lust or put improper thoughts inside you, is to jump in the mud intentionally. The Bible gives us the Test of Sanctity when it says, “… “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”” (Romans 13:14).
The Test of Satisfaction: What do you enjoy?
“Sure there are people living together in the film who aren’t married, but that doesn’t mean I approve of it!” Yes, but are you enjoying others committing the sin of fornication? You are against murder, but do you enjoy watching people “eliminate” enemies? It is easy to justify because, “they aren’t really dead” and “they don’t live together in real life.” However, are you taking pleasure in the sinful portrayals of others?
Romans 1 gives a solemn commentary on human nature. If left to itself, the nature within us will not lead us toward holiness. Au contraire! In the chapter, people want to live apart from God and His influence in their lives. So, God gives them what they want. It starts with rejecting God as Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe (Can you hear these people saying they believe in the “theory of evolution?”). Since they have no moral compass of right and wrong, they degenerate spiritually, socially, and emotionally until God “gives them up” to reap the consequences of their sin.
Their final condemnation is, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32). Their condemnation is not just for doing these things, but having pleasure in others committing sin. Therefore, make every video pass the “Test of Satisfaction.” What will you be enjoying in this video?
The Test of Sensitivity: Is it making you less sensitive to sin?
You walk into a dark room. At first, you can’t see anything. But with time, your eyes adjust and you get “used” to very little light. Put a frog in hot water and he’ll jump out. Put him in cold water and slowly heat it up and he’ll never notice until he is cooked and ready for supper.
Does watching people in sinful relationships, actors immodestly clothed, or gross violence affect us?” All sin is progressive. It numbs our sensitivity and makes us want more and worse. That is why Paul warned of men who would become so desensitized to right and wrong that they would have “their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). So how will that video affect you?
The Test of Stewardship: Is it a good use of your time, mind, energy, and money?
Every dollar and every moment counts! The Bible says we should be, “Redeeming the time for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). That is, we should be seeking the best use for everything God has given us including our time, money, families, and energy. Yes, the human mind does need change and diversion. However, our choices must pass the Test of Stewardship.
The Bible says, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1). So, consider the stewardship of your mind. Will watching that video this Friday night be the best use of your mind? Will it help you think rightly and holily? Will it fill your memory with positive images or images you will later want to forget?
Also, you are responsible in part for the communication in your family. Put a group of people or a family in a room. While watching a video, there is no communication between them except for requests for the bag of chips or to adjust the volume. Contrast that with other activities where people face each other and truly communicate. So in every situation you must consider your responsibility for all God has given you.
Videos and DVD’s are a major part of education and entertainment. Although, not watching any would be the best preservative, if you choose to watch one, run it through the tests of Satisfaction, Sanctity, Sensitivity, and Stewardship. But how is one to know whether a video would pass the tests without watching it? If worldly ratings by unsaved people warn you, you likely have your answer. If in doubt, seek a good on-line review. Now the challenge and choice is yours with the videos you watch!