“Am I becoming an over-protective parent?” is the question that I am faced with time and time again. This question is not posed to me from outside sources, but from within my own mind. It seems that I am constantly censoring children’s movies and cartoons from coming into my home. Time and time again I am amazed by the amount of children stories and movies that lack a plot, but have some sort of hidden subtext leading me to believe that the intent of the movie was not at all to tell a cute story , but rather to push an agenda. In many cases even the soundtrack to the movie has lyrics that are full of ungodly sentiment, yet because the ones singing the songs are packaged in a cute princess dress or in a handsome hero outfit, my objectivity at times has gone out the window. It wasn’t until recently that through the counsel of my wife, I began to consider the Biblical principals behind our view of children’s media.
When I watch a movie with my kids, I filter it through the following passage:
Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV)
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Now admittedly this passage is not referring specifically to rearing children. But what it does suggest to me is that everything matters. I want to make sure that I am not placing my kids under “the counsel of the ungodly,” in the “path of sinners,” or on “ the seat of the scornful.”
Lets look at this phrase “counsel of the ungodly.” This phrase denotes following the pattern of those who do not concern themselves with God.
Our children’s minds are still developing. This means they are not capable of discerning what is good on their own. For instance, our culture suggests that to be truly “Christian,” one must love everyone. Then culture goes on to define “love.” Here is where children can become confused. Our culture defines “love” as mutual acceptance of all actions and lifestyles. In other words, they define “love” as never pointing out error or sin. Today’s children hear loud and clear the message of love your neighbor and they believe in it. However, without a proper Biblical understanding of “love,” they will naturally attach themselves to society’s definition. This is why so many Christians struggle with proclaiming God’s Word on issues such as homosexuality, because our culture has redefined love in a non-biblical way. Scripture tells us that we need to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Culture tells us that love = acceptance. These days, people are defining themselves by their sin. When a person does not attain their identity in Christ, they define themselves by their own actions often sinful ones such as “gay.” A biblical view of this issue would be “you are a heterosexual person made in God’s image who happens to struggle or have given in to a carnal desire for sexual perversion(more on that for another day).”
In media (especially in children’s movies) we will see this issue of acceptance being regurgitated in different ways over and over again. In essence, programming our children to view love not as God defines it, but rather how culture defines it. As parents, part of our job is to guide them in developing a pattern of right thinking through the Word of God. If we are to establish the right pattern, we must remove the wrong pattern from their formative minds. Obviously media is not the only source, but it is a major source.
I’m sure that many of you were like me and simply state that our “kids are too young to pick up on it” and at their current lifestage, this may be true, but answer this question. At what age does your child pick up on the hidden meanings and subtext in movies? If you cannot give a definitive answer to that question, how do you really know what information your child is able to process and at what age? And if you do not know what your child is absorbing, how do you know that your are adequately combating the thought pattern already developing in your child’s mind. This is a frightening thought. Children watch more TV and movies than ever before. If we are not vigilant in even the subtle things our children watch, it is possible and very likely probable that over the years of viewing media they are being conditioned to view the world in a way that is opposite of Scripture.
Scripture tells us that there is a war on for our minds and that war most definitely extends to our children. If Satan is then waging a war, shouldn’t one expect that his attacks would be well planned out and subtle? The more sublte the attack, the more likely we are to overlook it and label it as “no big deal.” If we believe that Satan has an agenda, then we must believe it is one that is systematic and thoughtful. Media is powerful because it is memorable and evokes emotions. Often times, our children are being emotionally manipulated by media into feeling sympathetic for those who are wicked in their actions and attitudes. I do not have to remind you that children are emotional creatures and are most of the time guided by the way that they feel. If Satan can evoke a emotional response in your child toward the wrong things through media, then he has already begun to affect the way your child will think in the future. Do not be deceived into believing that your children can watch movie after movie with hidden agendas and not be affected by it.
Galatians 6:7-10 (HCSB)
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
I think that many of you, like me, are afraid of “sheltering” your children and your minds immediately race back to that one frumpy looking home-school girl with no make-up, long hair to the floor adorning blue pleated culottes, who was never allowed to go to youth group events because there might be boys there. (I have nothing against homeschooling. My son will be home schooled this fall.) We are afraid of making our kids weirdos by keeping them from “culture.” This is not about locking up your kids so that they never come in contact with worldly people or attitudes, but it is about firmly establishing them in Christ while they are young not so they can hide from culture, but rather have a biblical understanding of it and be able to rightly engage it. Build up their minds in Christ while they are young so that when they are older and face issues they have the right pattern of thinking and are able to be discerning.
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.