by Jennie Smith, Secondary Principal
We’ve hit the middle of summer vacation here in Arizona and the kids are getting a little antsy. As we look for things to keep our kids occupied, we often defer to the movie theater or the DVD rental box to kill a few hours of the day in a cool environment. The kids are quiet and we as parents can just relax for a few moments.
Sometimes, as we crave the quiet 90 minutes a movie provides, we overlook the danger that movies can be to our children’s spiritual walk. Movies, as well as other entertainment genres, subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) teach our children. When those messages are created by writers who don’t come from an expressly Christian worldview, we run the risk of allowing our children to struggle with contradictions. And, if we are honest, we would have to admit if the message comes in an entertaining, colorful movie and it contradicts the message the black and white pages of Scripture express, our kids may in fact deviate from the teachings we work so diligently to give them.
So, what do we do? If we are to raise our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV), how do we handle this issue? One option is to cut off movies completely (and sometimes I’m tempted). I’ve seen parents do this, and I’m usually impressed at the temperament of their children. However, for most parents, this would come with great difficulty.
Before taking your children to any movie, it’s wise to research the movie first. There are many websites that are helpful in this area, but my favorite is www.kidsinmind.com. The reviewer details the movie in several areas: sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity, and substance abuse. The writer never says “There’s no profanity.” He is very detailed and will include any name calling, anatomical terms, or other verbiage that might be offensive to somebody. They give the movie a rating from 1-10 (10 being very bad) in the first three areas and also detail out the events that occur in the movie that cause them to give that rating.
They also sum up the message of the movie and give some discussion topics that the movie could generate. I always defer to this website when deciding if a movie is appropriate for my children. I can usually walk away with a great understanding of the worldly concepts my children will encounter when viewing a particular movie.
How many times have you heard “Well…Johnny’s parents let him watch it!” This is usually followed by
accusations of being strict or mean. While our kids never see it, we may struggle inside. Am I too strict? Do I limit my children too much? Am I robbing them of harmless joy? It is always better to err on the side of caution. Our prayer for our children should be the same of that of Paul in Philippians 1:9-10: ” And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (ESV). The only way to assist our children in this task is to learn to say “no” to things the world has to offer us.
Don’t Let It Pass
If there is something that comes up in a movie that is in contradiction to the values of Scripture, don’t turn a blind eye and hope that your children didn’t catch on. Make it a topic of conversation. Show them the truth from Scripture. This is an opportunity to teach discernment. There will come a day, too quickly I am learning, that you no longer have the option to teach and guide. Use the opportunity while it is still here – seize the day to turn your children to the truth once again!
What are some of the ways you encourage discernment in your family? I would love to learn from you. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below!