Choosing Purity in Entertainment

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

Choosing Purity In Entertainment

By Jasmin Patterson 

Full disclosure, this topic is a little triggering for me. I say that in jest, but it’s kind of true. Since I was a kid, the things I’ve loved most in the world have always been Jesus and the arts/entertainment. Today, I’m the kind of person who will confidently watch a sermon and a mystery film, listen to Casting Crowns and Shawn Mendes all in the same day. To get there, though, I’ve walked through many emotional years of trying to discern God’s standard of holiness in entertainment for my life from the pressures and opinions of people. 

My guess is you’ve probably had a similar experience. I get it. You can relax, this isn’t going to be another legalistic lecture to steal your fun and tell you all the things you can’t do as a Christian. But I do want to remind us that God calls His people to be pure and holy in our conduct–to be pleasing to Him, righteous, and set apart from the ways of this world. That standard extends to our entertainment choices, whether that’s music, TV/movies, books, video games, or social media. 

Thankfully, this doesn’t mean Christians have to abstain from secular entertainment altogether (unless you want to or God is specifically calling you to do that), but it does mean we have to learn to engage secular entertainment in a godly way. Here’s what God has taught me on my journey that might help you too.

There are no biblical commands saying it’s sinful for Christians to enjoy or create secular entertainment, and we can’t add standards to God’s Word that He didn’t put there. On the contrary, 1 Timothy 4:3-5 says the good things God created in this world (in this case, art and recreation) are meant to be received with thanks as a blessing from God. 

But just because everything isn’t bad, doesn’t mean everything goes either. We live in a fallen world and sometimes good things God created can be used in sinful ways. In those cases, we’d need to steer clear. Those same verses also tell us to determine what’s acceptable to enjoy through the boundaries of God’s Word and prayer. 

Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, and 1 Corinthians 10 teach us that for areas of life where God hasn’t given a clear commandment that all believers have to follow, we treat them as personal conviction issues. When it comes to the role of secular entertainment in your life, you’re free to seek God’s direction and follow your conscience on the issue, as led by the Holy Spirit. We’re called to respect, not condemn, the conviction God has given others, even if it’s different from our own. 

What about discerning specific songs, games, movies, etc.? You might ask: what does the Bible say about the themes portrayed in the content? If it contains elements you might question or disagree with because of your faith in Jesus, consider this: Is this piece celebrating sin or human brokenness as ideal, and being edgy and provocative just for the sake of being edgy and provocative? Or is it simply portraying the reality of human experience because it’s part of the story? How graphically are things portrayed? For the former, or if something is too graphic, I choose to skip those songs or movies or what have you. For the latter, I’m less likely to reject it.

The “Narrow Way to Broadway” podcast recently released an episode discussing the storyline of the musical, “Waitress,” sharing praises and critiques of the show from a Christian perspective. I’ve also had the chance to see “Waitress,” loved the show as well, and agree with the points the hosts mentioned in their chat. They set a great example of how to process nuance in art in a godly way if you’re just learning how to do this.

Lastly, lean into accountability that comes from the Holy Spirit and godly community. If the Holy Spirit convicts your heart that He’s grieved or that something isn’t beneficial to your life and walk with God, be obedient and lay it down. If trusted believers offer loving feedback to you about some content you choose to partake in, and God confirms to you they’re right, be humble enough to receive correction and make adjustments. (This one is so hard for me! Ask my friends. 🙂 )

You’re probably realizing by now that choosing purity in the way you enjoy entertainment isn’t an exact science; it’s about learning to walk with the Holy Spirit. Trust Him and follow Him however He leads.