“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” (ESV)
Growing up, I was taught that this verse is speaking about choosing friends and situations to avoid: those who are wicked, those who are overt sinners. “Don’t hang out with worldly people,” is the short version.
The thought struck me that this should be applied not only to choosing friends, but also to choosing the media I consume. Even though a film, song or show may not be enticing me to overtly sinful behavior, am I being sucked into a world view that is contrary to Scripture?
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul tells us,
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
While there are media choices that are clearly wrong, there are many about which discernment needs to be practiced.
For example, the sin in the Garden is primarily that of valuing self over God, precisely the sin that is lauded in our culture. Put yourself first, have it your way, you deserve the best, control your own destiny; these are some of the messages that come at us every day.
The point of this is not to lay down hard-and-fast rules about what media is safe to consume. The point is that we need to remain vigilant in exercising discernment about which particular media items are harmful. What trips me up might be OK for you and vice versa.
But how do we choose? I think that Paul gives us a clue in Philippians 3:8–11,
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Those media items that cause me to deepen my relationship with Jesus are helpful. The rest are rubbish. It goes without saying that rubbish is not to be consumed.