David said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” Ps 101:3 and also prayed that God would ‘turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things’ Ps 119:37. I have long believed that it is really important we are careful what we watch, read and listen to because it all has an influence on our thoughts. If we can keep the wrong things from entering our minds then it is so much easier to think the right thoughts, which lead to speech, and actions. Greg Laurie said ‘How does temptation come? Primarily through the doorway of the mind’.
I think a really big way that we can guard our hearts is by actively thinking about which films and TV programs we watch. Here are some guidelines I use:
1. Look at the rating
Kind of obvious, but very useful! I have a personal rule that I won’t watch anything above a PG though there are occasional exceptions. This has come from getting fed up of walking out in the middle! Most stuff above that is either violent, scary, sexual or has cursing, none of which are very helpful. The back of the DVD, if you have it, also usually has the reasons why it is rated that way which gives you an idea of the content.
2. Look at the storyline
The film might be a Universal rating, but be all about two people who are already married falling in love with someone else and sleeping with them, or the story of a criminal that makes him look good. Often the storyline is not really pure and God-honouring. I just read a statistic that said ‘89% of all sex on TV occurs outside of marriage’!
3. Look at a good review
Most times when I’m considering watching a film now I go to Plugged In Online – a really cool website of Focus On The Family. Some brave reviewer watches all the films that come out and then reviews them with a summary of its positive and negative elements to help us make informed decisions. This has put me off watching quite a few films which otherwise I might have watched and then regretted or walked out of!
4. Think Biblically
‘Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ Col 3:23. I sometimes think if Jesus came back and I was sitting watching this film would he be pleased? And is what I’m doing glorifying God?
Even more convicting is Phil 4:8 ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.’ This verse has led me to set aside an awful lot of things I might otherwise have watched, and I now tend to watch things that people would call ‘wholesome’ as they more often go along with this verse.
5. Know what you struggle with
Everyone has different temptations that are worse for them than for others, so while I believe we need to be careful of all these areas, some we need to be particularly careful in! If you’re struggling with cursing then films with curse words in will probably make it worse. And the same with other temptations.
6. Be OK with walking out
It’s better to walk out of a bad film and put up with what your friends say than live with it haunting you or affecting you in ways you may not even be aware of. And if necessary you can shut your eyes – here is a great promise: ‘He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off.’ Isaiah 33:15-17