Boundaries

So a certain polarizing film was released this weekend. Plenty of articles have been circulating on social media telling you why you shouldn’t see Fifty Shades of Grey. I agree with what I’ve read; based on what I know, I don’t think you should see it. But I also don’t think the cyber-sphere needs one more article addressing all of that, so that’s not where I’m going with this post.

But the whole craze surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey has prompted a line of questions I’d like to pose to my fellow Christians:

  • As a follower of Jesus, are there certain films or shows you won’t watch?
  • As a follower of Jesus, are there certain books you won’t read?
  • As a follower of Jesus, are there certain songs you won’t listen to?
  • As a follower of Jesus, are there certain video games you won’t play?

You get the idea.

We all have a relationship with certain types of media. This is undeniable and not necessarily a bad thing. After all, I like to think those leather-bound study Bibles are good forms of media. But the overarching media-related question for those of us who follow Jesus should be, “Where are the boundaries?” Does following Jesus have any direct bearing on my media consumption? If we find ourselves engaging certain forms of media each day, how can we reconcile this with Christ’s call that we take up our crosses daily as we seek to follow Him (Luke 9:23)? Does Jesus have anything to say about where the boundaries should be in my life?

I think many Christians suffer from perceived invincibility here. Deep down, we know that engagement with certain forms of media isn’t necessarily good for us, but we also falsely believe we can handle it. Perhaps this line of reasoning is common to you: “Yeah, I know so-and-so is violent or crass or worldly, but it’s just entertainment. I can handle it.” I see this kind of mindset particularly among Christians my age or younger. And I have to concede that it’s at least possible that some of us are able to “handle it.” But I’m afraid that when we do this, we turn a blind eye to the very real danger that many times we simply can’t handle it.

Which prompts another question for my fellow Christians: If you weren’t able to handle it, how would you know? What metric would you use? I think this is a question we need to be able to answer. Discernment here might help us more properly appropriate Christ-focused and Christ-centered boundaries in our lives.

Predictably, Fifty Shades of Grey is a box-office smash ($90 million and counting). It’s up to you to decide whether or not to see the film. But as followers of Jesus, I simply ask that we exercise discernment in establishing the kind of boundaries that help us to live as salt and light — as a contrast community in the world.

This entry was posted in Books, Faith, Jesus, Kingdom Values, Movies, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Boundaries

  1. billclaxton says:

    I was in a bathroom stalls years ago and looked at the wall and read a dirty joke. That joke has been stuck in my head ever since. That is the danger……

  2. I’m not remotely interested in seeing this movie, but I also don’t accept recommendations from the religious (any of ’em) about my potential choices in art and media. I respect recommendations from the religious about prayer practice, daily ethical behavior, and areas in which they have expertise. And artists get to weigh in about the arts. Those who opine outside their credentials waste everyone’s time.

    • Jason says:

      Mikey,
      I understand what you’re saying. And I’m definitely not trying to speak out of turn. My primary emphasis with this article is for those who, like me, are self-professed Christians. In that context, I wanted to pose a few questions for my Christian brothers and sisters to ponder. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mikey.

      • I understand your intent, and I apologize for hijacking your space to bring up a point of my own interest that’s not completely relevant to the article.

        I’m a believer too, but if I’m around and a sermon is presented that contains “advice” about movies, books, TV shows etc. it’s the last time I go to that church. I don’t need religious advice from actors, and I don’t need help from pastors to choose movies.

      • Jason says:

        No apology necessary. I can appreciate your point of view on this. I think the view you’re articulating here is a pretty common one for most believers. I think most people feel that their intelligence / discernment is insulted when a pastor weighs in on these things. But in the name of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I’m a preacher. I hope that doesn’t dissuade you from commenting on the blog more often.

      • Oh I enjoyed reading and likely will again, and in the same sense of full disclosure, I worked in the movie biz for decades, including being a critic on public radio. I’m sure that’s part of my oversensitivity. No one likes having their area of expertise questioned.

      • Jason says:

        As a minister, I think my role is not to tell you what to watch or not to watch as much as it is to ask thought provoking questions…in this case, those questions deal with where the boundaries ought to be in our lives.

  3. jdinbama says:

    Thank you for posting, Jason. Very insightful. It’s tough to know that, because we aren’t working in Hollywood making films about bondage and domination, we have no standing to make recommendations on such “art” and media. But, I guess we’ll have to live with that. God bless.

  4. Karen Stephens says:

    I totally agree with what u have said, Jason. I know myself enough to recognize that my brain is like a computer. What I see, hear, read, etc. is going to be in my mind whether I like it or not. My question to those Christians who think they can “handle it” is “should they even try to handle it?” I also believe they r fooling themselves into thinking they r invincible. Satan is prowling about looking for everyone’s weakness. When I found out what the book and movie were about, I didn’t want to have any part of either one. I kept thinking: “How could this possibly be pleasing to God”? We r told to dwell on what is good and right and acceptable to HIM – not us. If it’s not good enough for HIM then I, as a follower of Christ, should not receive it into my heart and mind either.

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