Entertainment is riddled with controversy and ethical questions. From Cardi B’s “WAP” to Hillsong’s “Oceans,” there is a wide spectrum of content with a wider scope of messages. These content choices leave the modern consumer with the moral question: What should I consume?
Dr. Greg Cochran, director of applied theology, speaks to this morally ambiguous dilemma.
“Christianity offers us something that the tribalism of our world dismisses outright, namely, the ability to interact with other human beings on the basis of being created in the image of God,” Cochran said.
This means that as Christians we can look past controversial media and see it simply as the imperfect creation of a fellow fallen human in need of saving.
“We should have our guard up and we should learn how to think critically about what we take in and recognize that even though it may be emotionally or intellectually moving, it is not necessarily true,” said Noah Gauderman, sophomore applied theology major.
Gauderman explains that regardless of what content is being consumed when one looks at something critically, they can categorize parts of it as good and redeemable and other parts as bad and unredeemable.
The consensus that Gauderman and Cochran came to is that every thought should be taken captive and seen through the lens of Scripture. This necessarily means that there is no intrinsic ethical precedent on what should or should not be consumed in the realm of mainstream media.
“If my mind belongs to Christ then I do not need to be threatened by ideas contrary to Christ,” Cochran said. “I know that Christ reigns and rules over all heaven and earth, so whatever these other people are singing, painting or writing, they are not dethroning Jesus, even if they desire to do so. I’m not dethroning Jesus when I am listening to other human beings who are created in his image.”
While there is clear freedom in Christ that allows us to consume all manner of things, this does not validate all media consumption in Cochran’s eyes.
“The thing Christians should not do is listen to anything including ‘Christian music’ if they are doing so uncritically,” Cochran said.
“What I think is not allowed in Christianity is an unengaged mind or unengaged affections. Frankly, if you think that you are going into things neutrally and imbibing in them for some neutral entertainment value, then you are doing wrong because then you are unwittingly giving yourself over to something and you don’t even know what it is. You are supposed to be taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ, and you are not doing that if you are passively letting other people shape your thoughts and affections.”
While these are all important things to consider when making a decision, it is crucial to understand that every ethical decision is the responsibility of the individual. This reality is exemplified by Pablo Leiva, senior architecture major, as he describes his personal approach to entertainment ethics.
“Everything we take in is a conversation of greater truth and through that language, we understand God,” Leiva said. “So to put it plainly we should set ourselves up with a good vocabulary.”
When we are in “conversation” with anything, it is more beneficial to engage with God.