Art is very powerful. Music moves our souls. Movies capture our emotions. Books direct our thoughts. Some people call this all entertainment, but it's more than that.
Art is a major part of our culture and culture is said to be "religion externalized." (quote by Henry Van Til) Most of us don't fully realize this though. We go to the movie rental place, looking for something to entertain us, to just give something to do for a night. We listen to CDs of the radio just to sometimes tune our the rest of the world, to have something to fill up the silence in the car, or maybe to have a catchy rhythm to dance to. Although reading books is becoming more rare, magazines and web pages are looked at constantly. We don't think much about these either. We idly click links that catch our attention of mindlessly browse periodicals in the doctor's office or at the grocery store checkout stand.
As Americans, we're rather passive about our media choices. We let the general public dictate what consume in that area. We just wait for the next trendy thing to drop into our laps. And there are always people around to shove their beliefs at us in the form of "mindless entertainment."
I think we really need to wake up and recognize the voices we're listening to.
God's word tells us to "take every thought captive." (2 Corinthians 10:5) This definitely includes what we watch, read and listen to. It is other people telling us things and if we listen, it is in our thoughts. We must realize this and examine whether the media we generally consume contains thoughts that are God-honoring.
In Philippians 4:8 it says, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." This is a basic standard for evaluating our media. A lot of times, this may limit us from watching violent films. It should make us think twice about the cheap, low quality books and web sites we read from. I would even go as far as to say that there are certain harsh styles of music, with yelling and discord, that we shouldn't listen to, as Christians, because they are not lovely.
There a couple questions I think we need to ask before we watch, read or listen to anything:
Does this make sin look good?
It is really important that we are not always letting stuff enter our minds that oppose our standards. Aside from a select group of our Christian friends, people are not going to support our Christian walk. The last thing we need to do is to willingly invite more things into our lives that are prone to discouraging us in that way.
Does this glorify God?
A lot of times, people think that movies are good because they don't have "bad stuff" in them, such as drinking, swearing, violence or inappropriate sexual situations. But we often overlook the movie as a whole. There are even some rated-G movies that I won't watch because the overall message isn't something that would please God.
Does this help or hinder me?
There are some things that certain Christians can read in good conscience that they really learn from. Some Christians could read the same thing though, and would actually have it stunt their growth. We need to be aware of what our weaknesses are and really be honest to ourselves about this. It may seem silly avoiding these things sometimes, but it will be worth it. I know of some Christians who can't listen to rock music, even Christian, without being reminded of the drug and party scene they were a part of before their conversion.
On a final note, I would like to add that not everything labeled Christian is something that Christians should watch, read, or listen to. There are many Christians producing art that know very little about real Bible doctrine and Christian living. This problem seems especially prevalent in "Christian" novels and music. It may be created by Christians, but that doesn't mean that it's uplifting to Christians.
It may be hard to really engage our minds and proactively make media choices that honor Christ. But this is what we're supposed to do as rebelutionaries. Media items, after all, are a form of companions. It may be awkward when you have to turn down trips to the movies with your youthgroup and frustrating when you are trying to find music that actually helps you in your walk with the Lord, but it will be worth it!