“I don’t want to clean my room! Get out and leave me alone!” The bratty 12-year-old girl slams the door of her room after yelling this remark to her mother.
“Give me a kiss, darling,” the woman whispers. “Your wife isn’t here and she’ll never know.”
“Fine,” hollers a frustrated father to his wife before stomping out of the room. “Do whatever you want. They’re your kids!”
Do these examples sound like the kind of people you want your children to hang out with? The kind you want your children to emulate? To admire? Of course not! But wait a minute, you might say. You don’t think we let our children go around with people like that?
Well, my friends, let me ask the forty dollar question: Do they watch movies?
The three examples listed above are regular fair in movies - even "family friendly" ones. Our family has only ever watched “good, clean” movies. But I can still say that I have never, ever seen a movie that didn’t have at least one, if not several objectionable characters in it. “Objectionable” means someone who habitually disobeys the Bible’s instruction. There were always at least one or two people that were rude or immoral or disrespectful or unkind or …. You fill in the blank. These characters’ actions were not portrayed graphically or overtly, but it was still clear that they were ungodly.
Okay, someone will admit, that’s true. But that’s real life. As long as the movie portrays those people as bad, what’s the harm of my child watching it? After all, we do want to teach our children about good and evil.
Children Aren't Equipped to Discern
Teaching your kids that evil people exist is a good thing. After all, if people were not basically ungodly, there would have been no need to for Christ to die on the cross for us.
However, the harm comes from the fact that, as the Bible says in James, children think like children. They do not have good judgment. When you are reading or telling a story, you can make it clear verbally that the “bad guy (or gal)” is bad. But in a movie, the viewer is usually expected to make that judgment call himself. And children, even teens, are not fully equipped to discern ungodliness, especially if it is subtle. In fact, kids often end up admiring a bad guy because he is good looking, dashing, courageous or cool.
Children have a fleshly nature just like adults and therefore they tend to gravitate toward the ungodly – just like adults do. I remember a friend being chagrined when her darling little 5-year-old ignored all the good songs in Veggie Tales and instead started singing in the grocery store the “Bunny Song” which states things like, “I don’t love my mommy, I don’t love my daddy, I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny…!” (Veggie Tales has since revised the song.)
Even if your kiddos have the discipline to resist emulating an ungodly movie character, they are still filling their minds with the rude remarks, bad language, or mocking gestures of the actors. These behaviors are often then exhibited when the child becomes angry or otherwise lets down his guard. At the least, they can disturb his thoughts and color his attitudes.
Our family can almost always tell the difference between kids who watch movies and kids who don’t. The kids who watch tend to have a sassy, smart-aleck attitude toward adults and expect to be entertained all the time rather than use their own creativity to entertain themselves. The children who don’t watch movies instead exhibit more of the behavior their parents require – politeness, good attitudes, and creativity. Perhaps you have seen the same contrast yourself.
No More Bad Company
So what is the answer? Can a family really completely avoid movies in today’s culture? How can you keep the kids quiet? Why should they miss out on a fun experience that everyone else in America gets to enjoy?
The answer to the first question is, yes. You can completely avoid movies. Our family never watched movies until Raquelle and I were in our mid-late teens. Even now we only watch movies 3-4 times a year. (Yes, I said 3 or 4, not 34!) Simply unplug your TV and DVD player, put them away in a back closet or the basement and don’t get them out.
Your family may go through symptoms of “withdrawal,” but here’s an important thing I’ve learned from my mom: If you take something bad away, replace it with something good. Get your children good books. Get them toys and games that force them to use their own creativity – Legos, dolls, sewing materials, building blocks, Fischer Technik, Lincoln Logs, Scrabble, Pictionary, etc. And give the kids household chores that help them realize they are a working part of the family, not simply a prince or princess on a visit to be entertained!
As for the third question, why should your kids miss a fun experience, let’s remember our priorities. Obeying the Bible’s instructions to avoid ungodly companions (on the screen or in person) is more important than “fun.” In fact, the Bible never, ever mentions fun as an objective. When we obey God’s commands with a good attitude, He gives us joy and peace. And sometimes we have fun doing so. But “fun” is not an entitlement for a Christian or anyone else.
So maybe it’s time for a quick check on your family. Who are your kids hanging out with? Godly companions at home, at church and in good books, or worldly companions on the screen?
Written by Heather Sheen