Most Christian parents have rules on their child’s exposure to certain things:
“You’re not allowed to watch movies rated above PG-13, no explicit songs, and be careful about your social media activity.”
Some are much more lenient than that, and others much more strict.
But what if, instead of out of a heart of family rules or “doing the normal Christian thing”, we actually pursued God and made our boundaries dependent on His will?
That probably made no sense, and I don’t blame you. Allow me to try to elaborate.
You see, if we make rules out of an attempt to please God, it will fail. If we try, out of a heart of works, to be holy, we’ll fail. We can’t be perfect.
And if we hold ourselves to a standard of works, we are held to the standard of the law – no matter how much we claim grace.
(How can we be holy, you ask? Jesus. He died on the cross for our sins, and even became sin, so that we didn’t have to die and go to hell. When we repent of (turn away from) our sins, and apply the blood of Jesus to them, we are viewed as holy in His sight, and are even offered a two-way relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit)
Long story short, it’s not a good idea to make rules just to make rules, for yourself as an adult or for your kids.
After covering the strict side, I’d like now to get to the bulk of my post: how lenient is too lenient?
Now, most every Christian disagrees on this question. The obvious answer is to go the Bible – but you knew that.
If you are expecting me to pull out some kind of list that details what kind of music you should or should not listen to or what kind of social media you should or shouldn’t have, don’t get your hopes up.
And if you expect me to quote a Bible verse that does the above, again – don’t get your hopes up.
How, exactly, can we find the answer to the above question in the Word, you ask?
I totally get that question. After all, it’s not like Jesus had a sermon that doubled as a movie review guide, or a playlist of songs you’re allowed.
(The Holy Spirit becomes that movie and song review guide when we are filled with Him (in a separate work besides salvation), so we never have to be in doubt)
And there’s not a list of criteria that He gives us in the Word… Or is there?
Let’s read the second part of Romans 13:12 in the ASV (it reads practically identical in most other versions, so I went with this one for no particular reason): “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”
What on earth does this have to do with being too lenient?
There is a clear divide between light and dark, and the only way we can sufficiently protect ourselves is by understanding the concept.
Another essential concept to understand is the fact that there is no gray.
There is absolutely no gray, no matter how much you or I wish there was.
Pastors and popular speakers will try to convince us that there is a gray, and it might be tempting to jump on the bandwagon – there’s no gray.
What exactly do I mean by gray?
I mean the “neutral” things of life. The things that aren’t bad… but aren’t necessarily good, either.
They’re a mess of white and black, and, consequently, they are gray.
But gray things do not exist – we’ve been over this.
Here’s a more, well, clarifying way to look at things: God is so, so holy, and therefore, His marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9) is incredibly holy. In terms of colors, it’s the whitest you can get.
If I mix a wee bit of black paint into the whitest paint ever, it contaminates it. It is no longer the whitest paint ever, and is instead, a very light gray.
Because holy cannot be even slightly contaminated and still called holy (because of the nature of the word), our “gray paint”, in a spiritual sense, cannot be called white.
Rather, because holiness cannot stand even a shred of darkness, “neutral” gets lumped in with the blackest of the black.
So when we as Christians say it’s good to be entertained by certain things, we have to ask ourselves if our source of entertainment is of this world.
Romans 12:2 says in the NKJV: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Not only that, we have to ask if the entertainment in question brings glory to Jesus.
Here’s an example:
Our family has not listened to secular music since before I was born. I was raised listening solely to Christian music, and if I had a taste change, it was from genre to genre of Christian music.
This was a family rule of sorts, but I never objected to it. I was staunchly on my parents’ side – so staunch, in fact, that I would enforce it on my parents.
So when my mom started grooving to a secular song in Home Depot, I would promptly scold her for doing so. I would do the same to my dad if he randomly started singing some old love song.
But as I got older and began to come to some of the above realizations, I learned why I was scolding my parents. So I began to preach to my mom every time she would start dancing to music in a store, and lecture my dad (with his own words) every time he started singing an old song that wasn’t Christian.
(By the way, they have gotten better about that. I still have to occasionally scold my mom, who naturally dances to any song with the exception of a couple genres which she detests)
Back to my point – we have to ask ourselves if what we think of as “neutral” really is.
Does it bring glory to Christ?
If not, that’s a good reason to turn it.
With that said, I do believe I’m done here. Pray about it, and let the Holy Spirit convict you personally – without my help.