"Ultra-sexual themes contained in television shows... demonstrate to kids that incessant casual sexual relations are normal and have no negative consequences... Unfortunately, for too many teenagers, this is not the case. The United States has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the industrialized world and the largest rate of sexually transmitted diseases among teens in developed nations" (1)
"Here's the game's basic bit: You're a cocaine dealer, see, and you get ripped off in a drug deal that goes bad. So your mission is to get your drugs and your money back - by committing as many violent, homicidal crimes as you can possibly think up ...You can kill a cop, steal his gun, and then use it to shoot someone else. Or you can pick up a prostitute and have sex with her in the back of your stolen car, then beat her to death - or shoot her, bludgeon her, whatever you want" (Comments on the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) (2)
So what’s the real issue with graphic sex or violence in movies, music, or video games? After all, some critics of Christianity have pointed out that there are many places in the Bible where acts of sex and violence have been recorded. Is there any difference between the reports of sexual activity and acts of violence that we see in the Bible and those that we often see within movies, music or video games that feature violent or sexual themes?
Well generally speaking, there is a big difference and Romans 15:4 explains it like this:
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NIV).
This verse tells us that the difference between the reports of sex and violence that we see in the Scriptures and those that are often seen in the media today is one of intent.
For example, why do you think that there are so many movies, videos, CD’s, mp3’s, and video games with violent or sexual themes available today? Well, a number of possible reasons should quickly come to mind, many of which are not very good.
For instance, an artist may wish to appear to be on the “cutting edge” of his or her art by pushing the sex or violence boundary farther than anyone else ever has. A television or radio program might want to provide a certain audience (that’s you) for an advertiser to promote their products. Or perhaps a movie might feature graphic violence or sexual scenes simply because people will pay money to see them.
These reasons are totally different from the reasons behind the reports of sex and violence that we see in the Scriptures. You see, Romans 15:4 (the Scripture quoted above) tells us that everything found within the Bible has been put there specifically for your help and instruction. This means that when you read something graphically violent in the Bible you should know that it was not put there because God is trying to get you to spend money to buy His book- it was put there on purpose to help you and teach you something important.
Unlike what we often see in the media, the Biblical reports of graphic events find their way into the Scriptures for a number of good reasons. First, the Bible doesn’t “sugar-coat” it’s description of graphic events because they give us an honest and accurate picture of how evil, destructive and hateful human beings can really be if given the chance.
Secondly, the Bible sometimes records graphic acts to show that there are real consequences to people’s actions. In a movie or video game, people can be as violent and crazy and reckless and sexually active as they want to be because movies and video games are “unreality” and no one ever suffers any real consequences for their actions. But in the Biblical accounts we find that real people made real choices in real time that lead to real consequences. These accounts (and their sometimes-graphic consequences) are there to teach us and help us to avoid similar mistakes.
Now of course, some of you may be saying, “Hey, the characters in movies and video games aren’t real- they don’t even represent real people in most cases. They are fictional and imaginary. What’s wrong with a little escapist fantasy?” Well, the problem is that people almost always take on the characteristics of their environment and your choice of entertainment can be a big part of that.
Listen, we’ve all known people whose personalities have changed after they started hanging around with a new group of friends, right? This is because people naturally begin to take on the habits and mannerisms of the people that they spend the most time with. This same thing can also be true when it comes to your choice of entertainment. The more you expose yourself to movies, music and games that feature acts of graphic sex and/or violence, the more desensitized and accepting of those things you become. The Bible talks about this idea in the book of 1 Corinthians…
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character'” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV).
Think for a moment about how movies, music and games with graphic sexual content or violence can desensitize us to things that we would never ordinarily accept or encourage. For instance, are you in favor of murdering lots of people in a painful, horrific manner? Are you in favor of graphic sexual “humor” or sexual acts performed in front of a lot of people? Gentlemen, do you believe that it honors God when guys refer to women in a degrading, disrespectful way? Ladies, do you appreciate being treated or spoken to in a way that demeans or humiliates you? If not, then why would you support those movies, games or CD’s that do?
Remember, people eventually take on the characteristics of the company that they keep. If you feed yourself a steady entertainment diet of graphic sex and violence, it’s bound to negatively impact the way that you get along with others over time. So use good judgment when deciding what movies to see, games to play and music to listen to. Keep in mind that whenever you spend your money on entertainment that doesn’t honor God, you are supporting the people who made that entertainment and telling them that they should produce more of it.
One more thing: as a Christian youth, you should remember that other people are always watching and evaluating what your “Christianity” is all about, including your choice of entertainment. This is especially true of pre-teens who will often watch and try to imitate everything that you do as a teen. So think about what your choice of entertainment is saying to those who look up to you as an example. You see, you represent what a Godly youth should be to those who follow you. The same idea is also true when it comes to people outside the church- you represent Jesus to those people that you come in contact with. Making God-honoring entertainment choices provides the right example for everyone to follow!
So when it comes to making good entertainment choices, keep in mind these wise words from the Scriptures…
“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1b NIV).
(1) NBC’s New Sitcom “Coupling” Makes Recreational Sex the Norm (link no longer active)
(2) Give Back Take-Two: Maker Of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Is Bad News And A Bad Bet (link no longer active)