Religious themes. Spiritual insight. Christian message. That speaks to me. I found God in that. I can relate. Pick your cliché, these are just a few of the sample phrases tagged on to the secular world by Christians who look for God in everything except where He is found most clearly, His Word. These phrases are applied to movies, television shows, music, books, in fact in hindsight it most always relates to the entertainment industry. Just recently I read a blog post where one of T.V.’s most abhorrent shows, Dexter, supposedly contains spiritual insights and helps us relate to the “dark side” that Paul speaks of in Romans 7. Not only does a post like that give an endorsement for a show filled with foul language, gruesome murder scenes, and disturbing plot lines, it encourages watching the show for spiritual growth. Another blog post this week, used the themes of the recently released movie True Grit to make a statement about redemption and being rescued from the wrath of God. Additionally, I’ve read Christian blog posts that encourage listening to rapper Eminem because his music speaks to the heart and gives us hope in times of darkness, posts that encourage the music of Michael Jackson, U2 (Bono), and Bob Dylan for their spirituality, just to name a few others. This is constantly done in movies too as it seems we look for any reason to justify watching them. The Book of Eli is one example that comes to mind, and this post doesn’t even address those movies that are blatantly religious, but promote a false message, such as The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons.
Let me be quite frank, God is not found in the unholy. In fact God used nearly the entire book of Leviticus to express to His chosen people the importance of separation from the unholy and the common. For example, his command to Aaron, “You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.” Leviticus 10:10 God is not found in the show Dexter, the music of Eminem, or the hyper-sexualized, foul-mouthed movies that grace theater screens. When we attempt to look for God through religious themes or spirituality in our entertainment what we’re left with is a distorted picture of who God really is. As believer’s in Christ, we are called to be holy and this happens through sanctification, i.e. becoming more like Christ. God does not use the secular to sanctify the holy. He uses His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His children in the lives of believers. “Finding God” in everything, such as our entertainment, music, or books is dangerous because it creates a false image of who God really is. A false image of God equates to idolatry.
Ephesians 5:7 says, “Therefore do not become partners with them.” In context, Paul is exhorting believers to separate themselves from the unclean, the immoral, and the impure. He reminds them that “at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11 Does that exhortation from the Apostle Paul sound like it endorses looking for God in our secular, sinful entertainment? Quite the opposite, because it points towards our separation from the world. God’s message in Leviticus to the Israelites to be holy and separate is the same message for us today, to distinguish the holy from the unholy.
If you choose to watch movies and television shows, view them for what they really are, entertainment. Read books or listen to music if you like, but don’t attempt to look for God through the blurred lens of the secular world. Instead, view your entertainment choices through the crystal clear lens of the Bible and you’ll not only see the true God, but your decisions of what to place before your eyes and ears will become more clear as well.
“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.” Job 14:4