The Videos You Watch

Ratings are relative. In 1930, the Motion Picture Production Code prohibited "scenes of theft," "excessive kissing," and "profanity" (this included the words Lord, God, Jesus, Christ - unless used reverently). Today, people laugh at these standards and most think they belong in a museum. About 30 years ago, the Motion Picture Production Association revised their ethics and ratings system again for a "modern America." So, if producers and ratings cannot be trusted, how can you as a Christian teen evaluate visual entertainment?

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"If you choose to watch something, run it through the tests of Satisfaction, Sanctity, Sensitivity, and Stewardship."

The Test of Sanctity: Does it keep you pure?

Getting your shoes dusty while walking outside is one thing, but choosing to walk in a mud puddle is another. One is inevitable; the other is intentional.

Every day, you are bombarded with defilement from many sources such as billboards, Facebook and Snapchat posts, pop-up ads, news stories, discussions in school, and graffiti. You get defiled because you don’t know it is coming. If you did, you would avoid it, right?

In the days before Nike and Dr. Martens, people wore sandals. Dust on the feet was inevitable. One day, the Lord Jesus took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet to show them that they were going to need His daily cleansing ministry. The Savior was recognizing that inadvertently we would be contaminated spiritually by living in this world. Thankfully, though, he is presently ministering to keep us clean as "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7). So, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1: 8). Therefore, when we become aware of defilement, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Usually, watching a YouTube video or a movie is your choice regardless of peer pressure. So, ask yourself, "By the time the credits roll, will this film make me less pure?" Sometimes even unsaved film critics recognize this possibility and give it a rating to warn you. Inevitable dust on your feet does not give you license to stomp in mud puddles. To watch something that will stir up lust or put improper thoughts inside you, is to jump in the mud intentionally. The Bible gives us the Test of Sanctity when it says, "make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14).

The Test of Satisfaction: What do you enjoy?

"Sure there are people living together in the film who aren’t married, but that doesn’t mean I approve of it!" Yes, but are you enjoying others committing the sin of fornication? You are against murder, but do you enjoy watching people "eliminate" enemies? It is easy to justify because, "they aren’t really dead," "they don’t live together in real life" or “it is based on a true story.” However, are you taking pleasure in the sinful portrayals of others?

Romans 1 gives a solemn commentary on human nature. If left to itself, the nature within us will not lead us toward holiness. Au contraire! In this chapter of Romans, people want to live apart from God and His influence in their lives. So, God gives them what they want. It starts with rejecting God as Creator and Sovereign Lord of the universe (Can you hear these people saying they believe in the "theory of evolution?"). Since they have no moral compass of right and wrong, they degenerate spiritually, socially, and emotionally until God "gives them up" to reap the consequences of their sin.

Their final condemnation is, "though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:32). Their condemnation is not just for having done these things, but for having enjoyed watch others commit sin. Therefore, make every video pass the Test of Satisfaction: What will you be enjoying in this video?

The Test of Sensitivity: Is it making you less sensitive to sin?

You walk into a dark room. At first, you can’t see anything. But with time, your eyes adjust and you get used to very little light. Put a frog in hot water and he’ll jump out. Put him in cold water and slowly heat it up and he’ll never notice until he is cooked and ready for supper.

Does watching people in sinful relationships, actors immodestly clothed, or gross violence affect us? All sin is progressive. It numbs our sensitivity and makes us want more and worse. That is why Paul warned of men who would become so desensitized to right and wrong that they would have "their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2, KJV).

So how will that video affect you? Will it clear the Test of Sensitivity?

The Test of Stewardship: Is it a good use of your time, mind, energy, and money?

Every dollar and every moment counts! The Bible says we should be, "Making the best of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). That is, we should be seeking the best use for everything God has given us including our time, money, families, and energy. Yes, the human mind does need change and diversion. However, our choices must pass the Test of Stewardship.

The Bible says, "Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy”(1 Corinthians 4:1). So, consider the stewardship of your mind. Will watching that video this Friday night be the best use of your mind? Will it help you think in a pure and Biblical way? Will it fill your memory with positive images or images you wish you could forget?

Also, you are responsible in part for the communication in your family. Put a group of people or a family in a room. While watching a video, there is no communication between them except for requests for the bag of chips or to adjust the volume. Contrast that with other activities where people face each other and truly communicate. So, in every situation you must consider your responsibility for all God has given you.

Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube stand ready to provide visual material for education and entertainment. So, if you choose to watch something, run it through the tests of Satisfaction, Sanctity, Sensitivity, and Stewardship. But how is one to know whether a video would pass the tests without watching it? If worldly ratings by unsaved people warn you, you likely have your answer. If in doubt, seek a good online Christian review. Now the challenge and choice is yours with the videos you watch!