“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” – John 17:14-16
I like to call this passage the “in the world, not of the world” principle. It’s not exactly original to me, but I use the term anyway. This principle should remind us of our sanctification; that is that should be, must be different in order to be pleasing to God. If the world was pleasing to God the way it is, Jesus never would have had to come. As a matter of fact, this blog probably wouldn’t exist if the world was fine, because the world has no place for God. That’s why we’re called to be different. Unfortunately, we forget that sometimes.
One of the places we forget that is in our analysis of entertainment. I’ve written before on how we evaluate media (which you can find here), but right now I want to talk about how we discuss our opinions. The world of entertainment critique is a dark and nasty place. There’s talk of directors ruining stories, actors who are abysmal, musicians who should go back to their day jobs, and books that just plain suck. Since Christians are also consumers of entertainment (although hopefully our entertainment choices are different), we sometimes have conversations of a similar topic. My question for you is, how do you talk about these things?
This issue became even more apparent recently with the announcement of Ben Affleck as the new Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel. Twitter exploded, with users using the hashtag #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck. For the record, I’m not too crazy about Ben Affleck being chosen as the new Batman. I don’t believe it was the wisest choice; but is it Christian to say that the old lady at Wal-Mart would be a better Batman? (Yes, somebody actually said that. You find a full list of the insults on the USA Today article).
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-25a
Does the attitude presented in these passages align with the attitudes we see in ourselves when discussing these things? Often we don’t think about that when we’re talking about entertainment. That’s because we have separated entertainment and Christianity as two separate compartments of our lives. We’ve got to break that. If Christ truly is our life (Colossians 3:4), then everything we do in our life ought to be done through the eyeglass of Christianity. It should be a lens through which we interpret everything in the world (thus the term “worldview”).
When we instead speak with disrespect and arrogance, we are being unchristian in two senses: first, it is not respectful to the people we are talking with. It is not uncommon at all for there to be dissenting opinions in these matters. As a matter of fact, I would be so bold as to say it is uncommon for there not to be dissenting opinions. So when we arrogantly state our opinion that, no matter what you say about that actor, I say they suck, am I acting in a Christian manner? Secondly, and even more directly, it is a horrible mistreatment of the people whose work we are insulting. Actors, directors, musicians, and writers are not abstract figures. They are people, just like you and me. Let’s say you’re a civil engineer and you designed a bridge. You weren’t lazy when you designed the bridge and you know it may not be the best bridge in the world, but you did your job the best way you know how. Then you hear a group of friends gathered around it pointing out every reason why it’s the worst bridge they’ve ever seen in your life.
Indeed, these kinds of discussions may be the among the boldest disregards for the golden rule in our generation.