Warning: Sensitive Christians Should Not Read This Post

CautionSo, I’m assuming if you’ve clicked on this post that you either a) don’t consider yourself a sensitive Christian,b) didn’t read the title before clicking,or c) you’re sensitive but your curiosity won out over your fear of being offended (good luck with that. From here on, you are officially on your own!)I’ve been thinking lately about sensitivity and offensibility (yes, I made up that last word.)

I remember years ago talking with someone about the TV show M.A.S.H. She shook her head as I was talking and finally held up her hand saying, “Oh, I can’t watch that show because I’m so sensitive to sin.”

Huh?

Not being stupid, I did understand that the implication of her statement (backed up by her facial expression) was that I was somehow calloused to sin and perhaps should check myself that I was able to tolerate this assault on my Christian sensitivities without taking offense.

My first thought was, “Lighten up, lady.”

My second thought was, “Man, she’s right. I’m such a sinner. What’s wrong with me that I’m not offended by M.A.S.H? I need to read my Bible more.

My third thought was, “I don’t want to give up watching M.A.S.H! I love Hawkeye.”

My fourth thought was, “From now on, I won’t talk about M.A.S.H. with other Christians. There, that should settle it.”

Have you ever gone through a similar thought process? (Remember, if you’re a sensitive Christian, you shouldn’t even have read this far in this post!)

Exchanges like that make me want to check my conscience and always be sure that I haven’t grown insensitive to the things that offend God.

But then . . .

Not long ago, I was sitting with a group of writers, trying to explain some of the parameters of Christian fiction.

No cursing. No graphic violence. No sex scenes.

None of these writers wrote for the Christian market and they were fascinated with these challenges but also wary. One of them finally asked me, “How fragile are these people, anyway?”

Another one said, “Are you sure you really want to write for Christians? It seems like it doesn’t take anything to offend them!”

Now, first of all, let me assure you I have no burning desire to write sex scenes or characters who curse.

The fiction I write does usually contain a few battle scenes so the violence is hard to avoid but let me assure you that no one is ever naked or swearing when they run someone through with a sword!

But, it does bother me that Christians are often known as “those people who are easy to offend.”

I don’t see that in Jesus. It doesn’t seem as though He walked around gasping and averting His eyes at every corner and if anyone was ever sensitive to sin, well, He would be THE one, right?


By now you should realize that I’m not writing a post about an issue I’ve settled in my mind but one with which I wrestle regularly.

We live in a culture that has forgotten God and cares little about the things He loves. So, we can’t walk out our front doors without seeing something that is contrary to His will (or turn on the computer or TV or radio.)

While I don’t think I should spend the lion’s share of my time soaking in images of sin or reading about sinful acts, I’m also not ready to spend my day’s reading Amish fiction and watching movies produced before 1940.

Not long ago, I watched a train wreck happen during a sermon when a pastor who prides himself on being “unaware of popular culture” repeatedly used the phrase “Here’s your sign” to make his point. He grew continually more upset when large segments of the congregation burst into laughter whenever he said the line rather than take it as the dire warning he intended. A little cultural awareness would have gone a long way that Sunday!

I don’t want to cause other Christians to “stumble” or to be tempted to judge me but I also don’t find everything sinful that other people find sinful. I don’t need them to agree with me or join in with me but I do want to live with them in peace.

This is where I find James 1:19-20 NIV comes in handy, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I don’t get angry with sensitive Christians because I know they love God and seek to please Him. Often, sensitive Christians have helped set my train back on the right track before I followed my insensitivity right off a cliff.

My uncomfortable experiences have taught me to listen to others first and be aware of what they might find offensive so I don’t start talking about the themes in The Matrix with someone who only watches reruns of The Waltons.

Watching The Matrix (which is rated R) doesn’t cause me to sin, and in fact, makes me consider some deeply spiritual truths about Christ but I wouldn’t invite anyone else to watch it with me if they found the rating or the costumes or the violence offensive.

Here is where context is key.

Some young men do watch The Matrix because of the costumes and it does lead them to sin so then, they should knock it off.

Other context examples: I don’t enjoy movies where there is a lot of cursing but if a young teen I’m counseling swears, I barely notice it because I’m so focused on what he or she is trying to express. There are some romance movies, though, with no cursing, rated PG, that drive me CRAZY because the lead character lies to everyone before coming out with the truth in the end! That’s my particular sensitivity but I don’t impose it on others.

I really do believe that it is not what goes INTO the body that makes us unclean but what comes from within and we must all sort these things out with God. Thank God for the sensitive believers who remind us of God’s holiness and thank God for people who can wade through popular culture without stumbling so they can reach out to the lost using the language of the times.

I’ve no conclusion to this post because I want to start a discussion. How do you sort through these issues? What is your insight into this problem? What can you say that’s of help here? Am I alone in wrestling with this? Let’s talk.


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56 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. I started my Christian life with a “Navy” vocabulary. I once went to my pastor, concerned that I still cursed when I got mad. His response? “I can’t help you, I’ve never cursed since I became a Christian.” After I oozed under his office door I resolved to NEVER open my heart to him again. Too bad.

  2. Cyn Rogalski says:

    My previous church (the one we were attending for 15 years) was a very conservative, ‘proper’ church. For instance, the Pastor and his wife would never consider going to the local hotel to hear the jazz player, claiming “he couldn’t risk having one of his congregation see him going in or coming out of such a place”. Our present pastor mentioned, in passing–during one of his sermons, that he and his wife (also a Pastor) had done that very thing…and had a ball. The difference? Our present church has a vibrant outreach ministry–going into downtown every week, sharing the gospel, coats, donuts, whatever they have–and people are hearing the gospel and being introduced to Jesus Christ. Every week.

    You can’t give ’em what you ain’t got.

    We have asked God to send us the least, the last and the lost…and He is blessing our request.

    Our walk with Jesus is personal. As a saved sinner, I know the depths from which I’ve been raised. I know what I was. I pray I never forget what He’s done for me.

  3. Don, my husband had that experience when someone told him that the moment he became a Christian, he was cured of smoking to he couldn’t imagine how anyone could be a Christian and still smoke. I respected his experience of complete freedom from smoking but others have a different struggle. We can’t understand every experience another believer is facing but I believe we can learn to keep the doors of the conversation open.

  4. It’s tricky, isn’t it, Cyn? I always have to watch that I don’t fall into thinking “I’m so glad I’m not judgmental like THOSE people.” I’m glad you’ve found a church home that you feel can be a base for outreach.

  5. Felicia says:

    Lori, I struggle with this too. It is so easy for me to fall into legalism. I like having nice clean rules that I can obey – and then feel good about myself when I do. But that is the opposite of the gospel. The truth is that even if I perfectly obey all of these ‘rules’ about what to watch, do, or listen to, I will not have grown one inch closer to God if I am not acting out of a personal relationship with Him through His Holy Spirit. The tough part is God and I are the only ones who know whether, when I sit down with my family to watch ’24’ on Netflix, I have prayed about it and have peace, or I am acting in defiance of God’s standards. Only God and I know when I switch the channel from watching ‘The Batchelor’ if I am acting out of personal conviction of the Holy Spirit or Pharisaical zeal for my own ‘law’. Praying for both of us for discernment from the Holy Spirit, and eagerness to be sensitive to His leading above all. Love you!

  6. There must be something in the air. I posted on this topic in regards to Christian writers on Novel Rocket this past Saturday, and I was responding to posts on a couple of other blogs. The debate grew long and heated in the comments sections. People feel very strongly about these things, apparently.

  7. YES! That’s it EXACTLY, Felicia! Jesus spent hours with God and that’s how He was able to interact in such a sinful society and yet, be without sin. Having an ongoing conversation with the Lord is part of the key here! Thanks for being transparent.

  8. Sally, Sometimes it takes a little heat to distill the truth, yes? Strong feels are good. Better than lukewarm.

  9. Edie Melson says:

    Lori, you expressed this dilemma so well. I’ve run up against it a lot and was always left feeling…well…lessened somehow. And very wary of whom I say what to. In the past few years I’ve tried to push past that inadequate feeling and continue the conversation, and it’s usually been worth the effort. Not because anyone was convinced or their mind was changed, that wasn’t the point, but because the dialogue gave us both more understanding and respect. Thanks my friend, for sharing your heart and your wisdom! Blessings, E

  10. We’re all just fumbling along with this issue so it’s good if a few of us find the courage to fumble out loud. Glad you’ve stepped out into the light, too, Edie! We can just embrace the awkwardness together.

  11. Mid Stutsman says:

    Hey, Sweetie! Great post, and I have to agree with all you wrote, even the non conclusion!! 🙂 We sinners, saved by grace, live in a sinful world, but we are called to Holiness, and becoming more like Jesus is the key to responding as He did in order to lift Him up so He can draw others unto Himself. Though my sensitivities may be assaulted by the vulgar, the display of ungodliness, the language, I try to see or seek out the hidden truths. (I think, though, there are limits, and perhaps a daredevil attitude we might be wise to avoid.) I don’t do it for the sake of doing it so I can say I’m not a fuddy duddy…but if I find myself in that kind of situation, I try to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow…wherever that may lead. Hopefully to His Glory.
    lvya, Lori!

  12. I really love that point, Mid, that we shouldn’t be cavalier or do something just because “we’re free to or to prove that Christians are cool.” I was attending Christian college during the time of “toga parties.” I still remember our college’s lame attempt at that one (Student-driven, mind you.) No drinking and fully clothed beneath our sheets just to prove that Christians could be fun, too. (It wasn’t.) Love what you’ve added to the discussion -thoughtful as usual!

  13. Thanks so much for this post, Lori. I’ve also been struggling with this a bit–I’m glad I’m not alone. There’s that fuzzy gray line between living AS Christ IN the world, and dwelling on what is pure and lovely.

    Enjoyed reading your post and the comments. Thanks!

  14. Great post! Thank you. A constant struggle for me. I believe there are Christains who love others deeply–who live their faith–but have a beer now and then, curse when infuriated, and probably had sex before they married. We aren’t all alike. We are all sinners but faith should be based on far more than, “Christians don’t dance?” Are we so fragile that the least thing will shake our faith?

  15. Amen! Christians ought to be like Christ, and how did Christ respond to sinners?

    But also, how did He respond to sin? He hated it so much that He went to Calvary to deal with it.

    And He loved sinners so much that He went to Calvary to save them.

    Such a hard thing…to try to figure out how to walk like He did. And we can’t “lay down the law” for others…at least not flippantly. Paul read the riot act to Peter once…but that was to a believer who was failing to live in Gospel grace, NOT to a believer who was playing cards.

    Forgive my rambling…I’m still thinking through these things.

    I do see a tremendous difference between “not freaking out” at sinners, and choosing to entertain ourselves with sin. To entertain ourselves with sin is sinful, period.

    But to entertain ourselves with a show that contains sin…well, what show doesn’t contain sin? What trip to Walmart doesn’t contain sin? Do I refuse to go out in public because people sin there?

    One of my favorite movies in the whole wide world is “Dear Frankie,” a Scottish production with gorgeous, understated acting and a beautiful story. It also features constant use of Jesus’ name in vain. As much as I love the movie (and I do!), I don’t feel free to recommend it on my Facebook page. Too many of my more conservative friends would be offended, and would think less of me. Sigh.

    Am I entertaining myself with the blasphemy in that movie? Absolutely not. I am loving the movie despite the blasphemy. And when I turn the movie off, it’s not the blasphemy that sticks pleasurably in my mind. If it did…if it changed my vocabulary, I’d have to reconsider watching it.

    Other than the blasphemy, it could be considered a great movie for Christians. The theme is so beautiful, and there’s no nudity or sex. There is one very restrained kiss at the end. So, if it weren’t for the blasphemy…

    And yet, this movie is one I DO have to guard my heart against (and have chosen not to own), because it incites lust in me, even though there’s no sex in the movie. I find myself wanting the two of them to “get together,” and imagining what it would be like if they did. There’s no sexual sin in the movie, but there is in my heart.

    It’s my heart that’s the issue, isn’t it? Many Christians would also enjoy the movie if it had no blasphemy (and would feel free to watch it and lust wildly because there was no overt sexual sin in the movie.)

    The problem with legalism isn’t just what it hates, but what it allows. And as Jesus constantly pointed out, legalism allows ALL sin that is hidden from public eye and/or acceptable within our own circles.

    I think we must be willing to cut off hands and pluck out eyes…but only our own. And we DO need to deal with sin in others, but only through the wisdom of Gospel Grace, which loves, redeems, and desires reconciliation to God and man.

  16. I think one of the great mistakes we easily fall into as new Christians is to think that God works in others’ lives exactly the same way He works in our own. Unfortunately, even long-time Christians and pastors continue to hold this belief and operate their lives and ministries as if it were true.

    “God called me to something that was totally outside my giftings and skills so that I had to rely totally on Him. So if you want to find God’s purpose in your life, don’t look at what you’re good at. He will always call you to something that demands you rely totally on Him.” Um, no. Not always.

    “God delivered me from smoking in an instant and if you want to be free from smoking, you need to ask for Him to do the same for you. Until He delivers you, you won’t be able to shake the habit.” Um, well, yeah, sort of. But it’s not always instantaneous. Sometimes it’s a process of continual leaning on Him for strength day by day.

    My relationships with others were fabulously transformed the day I realized that God works with each person individually in unique ways. Yes, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That doesn’t mean He DOES the same thing yesterday, today and forever. It means that He will ALWAYS enjoy variety and operate in a variety of ways.

    We have stories of Jesus healing several blind people, and He didn’t do it the same way each time. In today’s Christian culture we often see a whole ministry built around one experience. “God will cure your blindness if you wash in the pool of Siloam like I did!”

    Hopefully you can see how this applies to your topic. I try to be sensitive to what God is doing in me and not rely on someone else’s measuring stick to determine whether I’m obeying God or not. I try to be sensitive to what God is doing in someone else’s conscience and not cause them to stumble by what I have freedom to do in Christ.

    It’s refreshing to have found a community of folks on your blog who are in a similar place of understanding. It’s not always easy to explain this perspective to people who are married to the rules-based or experience-based approach.

  17. Heidi, you’re so not alone!

    Jane, I hear you!

  18. Betsy, LOVE that guideline that we shouldn’t “entertain ourselves” with sin. Beautifully put. I’ll be thinking about that today. Thank you, also, for you courageous transparency!

  19. Teddi, it took me a lot of years to understand what you’ve learned. I finally have stopped recommending books that have deeply affected me to others without praying about it first. I can see more clearly, now, that God works with all of us in His own way and time. Staying in regular conversation with Him is key for me in all of this!

  20. Megan says:

    I agree with you Lori. It trips me up as to how some can be so prim and proper. “Don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls that do.” I used to be in a church like that, but not anymore. You are right, Christ never was like that! He hung out with the sinners, never partaking in sin Himself. Such divisions in the Body of Christ. Its such a shame. Jesus said we would influence the world when we love one another. If we are too busy bickering, then the rest of the world loses out big time. So sad.

  21. Well I do not know where to start. I guess with MASH. My Mom past away 1 June 2007, not 2006 like her tombstone says. Long story. Anyhow when I was going through her Bible case I came across the laminated obituary for our family doctor. One of the nicest easy going and likable people you could ever meet. Anyhow he was one of the Doctors who set up the very first MASH unit in Korea. So I am a bit biased on that one. The best standard is to decide if you would feel comfortable doing what ever your doing if Jesus was doing it with you. I am a truth fanatic. To the point I through away an Army career cause I would not lie to get along. Another long story. However my wife is right when she says I sometimes use the truth like a club to beat people with. So I have short comings in this area that is for sure. I used to think the WWJD thing was a bit corny, but it is also a way to stay on safe ground. Here is a funny for you to lighten this up a little, maybe. Sometimes when I do something good and am instantly blessed in a way I had no idea would happen it scares me. Is God keeping the tables even so He does not owe me anything at the end. How is that for weird, but I have those thoughts. However I am blessed daily to many times to count. Read he testimony in the story Further Down The Path, on my blog to see what I mean. God is awesome and the more we walk with him the easier it gets. Maybe we get to lazy to sin as we get older. I do not know, but I do not think God is setting in heaven with a chalkboard making good checks and bad checks for us. It is about what we feel comfortable doing. Was Paul right in jumping on Peter’s case. I mean when Jesus tipped over the money changers tables in the temple. I do not sensed it was done in love. When he called them whited sepulchers that was not exactly a compliment, but it made a point. Which is something I have learned over the years. Thanks to my wife. Sometimes the nicest thing we can say is nothing at all. If it is really important make sure we are walking in the light of the truth in our own lives. That will say more than many lectures. My wife used to do that to our daughters. She would give the two to three hour moral lecture. I could see the girls tune our five minutes into the conversation. However she set an good example for all of us to follow. In the end it will not be what we said so much as what we did that will hold us accountable before God. Sometimes it will not be our actions that judge us, but our lack of action. Could we have fed that poor beggar with the sign if we chose to. Not if we wanted to meet our friends after church and share fellowship over a blessed meal. I know I fall short on this one, but I also know I will be blessed because of it if nothing else I have done in my life. I like the line from the Kris Kristofferson song. “He is a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction” Kind of fits most of us to some degree. Another line of that song says, “Doing the best that he can.” Which if we are doing that, only the Lord knows if we are doing good or bad. I don’t know if this helped any but I enjoyed reading it and he comments and love the dialogue. That may help more than we will ever know. This has helped me to commit to write a blog about an experience I had years ago. Thanks for that.

  22. Megan, I used to think we’d be better off without the “sensitive” Christians but I’ve grown to value their perspective and to believe that as long as we aren’t venturing into Phariseeism, God will build His kingdom through all of us. Peace in the valley, peace on the mountain, too (as an old Noel Paul Stookey song used to say.)

  23. Happy to have inspired you to write, Turtle. God bless! Lori

  24. Sorry for all the typos in the comment. Guess I should have reread it before posting. Thanks again for your post if helped me make a decision I had been pondering for a while. Turtle <><

  25. For everyone commenting, I certainly don’t want to make it sound as though I don’t need to check my own sensitivities. I always need to exercise more caution than I do with what I watch on TV or read. I need the kind words of more sensitive Christians to help me in my walk. Judgement is never good, nor is legalism but honest, loving confrontation should always be welcomed by every believer!

  26. Hi Lori, I found you from Edie Melson’s tweet and I’m SO glad I did — I LOVE THIS POST! Holy schmoley is THIS a relevant topic.

    I’m reworking a piece I wrote a while back about a family friend taking offense at a SKIRT I wore to a picnic! He thought it was inappropriate because it was knee-length (gasp!) and brightly colored. And said somebody my age (mid-40s) should wear something more “mature.” Whatever THAT meant. Sheesh.

    Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to following you!
    Hugs from VA!!
    Susan

  27. Glad you came by, Susan! Hope you’ll become a regular here! Sorry about the skirt comment – wow! “someone your age?” Sometimes, you just have to laugh!

  28. Cathy Baker says:

    You are not alone in the struggle, Lori. Lots to ponder here…thank you.

  29. Lots of replies here. I’ll add one more and I’m talking off the cuff. First of all, I thought you would resolve the issue for all of us….but I see you didn’t. My office relocated to the NC Baptist Convention office so if you have one of them as fans I may be in trouble.

    Since the office is in a different town than our previous location I’ve been exploring the area for lunch etc. I lived here 25 years ago and things have changed. On one of my outings at a local shopping center, I stopped at the Asian grocery store which had a cafe that was not too appealing for dining.

    Next I wondered down the sidewalk to a bar style restaurant, mostly drawn by the two lab dogs that were in an outdoor eating area that was enclosed and not open for seating. I can’t resist a furry animal and when I got closer one dog started barking till the owners were alerted and came out to check on them. We spoke briefly and I noticed the wife was obviously pregnant and we engaged in conversation.

    Wanting to be friendly and patronize the local businesses, I saw their menu on the door and decided I’d get something to go. Once I stepped in I was very uncomfortable because I realized it wasn’t really a restaurant but much more a bar!

    Large u-shaped bar, black walls & ceiling, dart board competition area, video gambling type machines and what looked like a small dance floor and small round tables about the room. My first thought was I could remember a time when it would not have bothered me too much to be in a place like that. Of course usually it would be with lots of people,loud music, alcohol and darkness. Amazing how unappealing a place can be when ‘Light’ is shed on it. That was my first impression.

    And my second thought was that in this place were real people who needed the Lord like I did 40 years ago. And they probably would not set foot in a place that I would feel comfortable…a church. But I felt compassion because I had walked where they walked. I thought of the times Jesus reached out to sinners where they were and didn’t worry about what people thought but was more concerned about their heart.

    As I nervously sat at a table some distance from the bar I smiled while the bartender hunted for a menu that apparently was not used often. I was glad that I didn’t feel comfortable but my compassion did bring me to lift a prayer for the few individuals that were there and a generous tip for the bartender who took my order.

    And then I grinned, almost chuckled at the thought that if someone from the Baptist office saw me walk out I’d have some ‘splaining’ to do as they say in the South. I will say it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

    So, I guess our conviction should be our guide. And I pray that God keeps convicting me and pointing out my sin and I’ll let others worry about their own sin. Cheers…I mean Prayers for all.

    Thanks Lori for the thought provoking post.

  30. Thanks, Cathy. It’s good not to be alone.

  31. Lots of replies here. I’ll add one more and I’m talking off the cuff. First of all, I thought you would resolve the issue for all of us….but I see you didn’t. My office relocated to the NC Baptist Convention office so if you have one of them as fans I may be in trouble.

    Since the office is in a different town than our previous location I’ve been exploring the area for lunch etc. I lived here 25 years ago and things have changed. On one of my outings at a local shopping center, I stopped at the Asian grocery store which had a cafe that was not too appealing for dining.

    Next I wondered down the sidewalk to a bar style restaurant, mostly drawn by the two lab dogs that were in an outdoor eating area that was enclosed and not open for seating. I can’t resist a furry animal and when I got closer one dog started barking till the owners were alerted and came out to check on them. We spoke briefly and I noticed the wife was obviously pregnant and we engaged in conversation.

    Wanting to be friendly and patronize the local businesses, I saw their menu on the door and decided I’d get something to go. Once I stepped in I was very uncomfortable because I realized it wasn’t really a restaurant but much more a bar!

    Large u-shaped bar, black walls & ceiling, dart board competition area, video gambling type machines and what looked like a small dance floor and small round tables about the room. My first thought was I could remember a time when it would not have bothered me too much to be in a place like that. Of course usually it would be with lots of people,loud music, alcohol and darkness. Amazing how unappealing a place can be when ‘Light’ is shed on it. That was my first impression.

    And my second thought was that in this place were real people who needed the Lord like I did 40 years ago. And they probably would not set foot in a place that I would feel comfortable…a church. But I felt compassion because I had walked where they walked. I thought of the times Jesus reached out to sinners where they were and didn’t worry about what people thought but was more concerned about their heart.

    As I nervously sat at a table some distance from the bar I smiled while the bartender hunted for a menu that apparently was not used often. I was glad that I didn’t feel comfortable but my compassion did bring me to lift a prayer for the few individuals that were there and a generous tip for the bartender who took my order.

    And then I grinned, almost chuckled at the thought that if someone from the Baptist office saw me walk out I’d have some ‘splaining’ to do as they say in the South. I will say it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

    So, I guess our conviction should be our guide. And I pray that God keeps convicting me and pointing out my sin and I’ll let others worry about their own sin. Cheers…I mean Prayers for all.

    Thanks Lori for the thought provoking post.

  32. Daphne, your story makes me laugh. How many of us, like you, accidentally wandered into a mission field? We fumble on for Jesus! Thanks for your thoughts and I won’t tell anyone from your NC office.

  33. Erynn says:

    Love this post AND all the great comments. I especially love the spirit in which everyone commenting is seeking to honor the Lord.
    So encouraging. Lori, your “I’m so glad I’m not judgmental like THOSE people.” made me laugh, and then really check my heart.
    Thanks for never shying away from the hard stuff.

  34. I always hoped that one consolation of aging would be the courage to speak my mind. Haven’t really felt the courage but at fifty-one, I’ve waited too long not to just speak the truth as I know it. Glad I made you laugh and praying constantly for a loving, freedom of spirit on this blog space!

  35. Heather says:

    This is a very complicated issue, and one that I have to face often in the performing arts. Just today I turned down a job as a pianist for a musical that I felt contained immorality for “shock value”. Other musicals have contained immorality, but also an element of truth. But I turned down this particularl musical because I cannot recommend it to ANY of my music students or other people that I lead, regardless of age. My name is permamently on the record of the production of any show that I participate in (in the program), and whatever I do, I am directly or indirectly recommending it.

    Am I judging others because I choose not to have my name linked with a show? Would Jesus contribute to the production of this show, or not? Does the creator of a piece of work have more responsibility than the consumer of a piece of work? If you think it’s OK for a Christian to intake a work, do you also think it’s OK for a Christian to MAKE it? If it’s not OK for a Christian to MAKE it, is it OK for you to watch/read, etc.?

    If I make or do something, I need to be able to, in good conscience, say to one that I lead, “Here, read (or watch)this. I helped make it.” In some ways, Christians are like doctors. We make recommendations on how to live. We may have to wade through a bunch of stuff to see if it is good or not. But we have to be careful that we recommend only what is good. Romans 6:13 came up today in my life. But I also think of Phil. 4:8-9, and Ephesians 5:16 in regards to this topic. We have a limited amount of time. How do we best use it?

    I am sorry for the rambling of this post. I have so many thoughts that jumble together, and it would be so much easier to hash this out in a face to face conversation.

  36. Your decision doesn’t sound judgemental at all but wise. I don’t believe that exercising discernment or discretion are forms of judgement. I face this often as a writer. I make daily decisions about what I will include in my work and, also, what works I will read for better understanding. There are times to make a personal choice that a work of art or entertainment, in your thinking, has no redeeming value so you won’t participate with it in any way. I was initially intrigued by the HBO series, Weeds, but quickly decided it mostly offered a celebration of sin, sort of constant wink that whatever we do, it’s okay. There are other shows that include characters who do sinful acts but I find they illustrate some important aspect of the human condition. Someone else may be able to sort through Weeds and find a way to use it to have a conversation with others. I won’t watch the show but I wouldn’t judge someone who found a way to use it to communicate the truth of Christ.

    Your post wasn’t rambling at all, Heather, but added a layer of depth to our conversation. Thank you for offering a musician’s perspective. I once decided that even though I absolutely loved the musical arrangement of a song by the Indigo girls, it was such a celebration of what is contrary to Christ, I couldn’t listen to it again and it was really hard because the music appealed to me on such a deep level but I also knew that music would be the doorway for a heretical message to infiltrate my thinking! Tough stuff sometimes.

  37. Oh. My. Goodness. How many times have I agreed with you. Family members, Christian Friends, even certain Secular friends have told me things they cannot watch that don’t bother me at all. And I’ve read wonderful stories with violence in them, even the forbidden “s” word, and that didn’t bother me at all. But others could not understand that it wasn’t I was being insensitive or callus to sin, but I could look past it at the story and learn something. I don’t understand Amish fiction. I cannot read Janette Oke. However, I am as grateful as you to those people who remind me of the reflection Christ shows from my life.

  38. (This ended up being really long, so I’m pasting it in two parts. I hope you don’t mind.)

    Okay, I may be stepping into a minefield here, but I hope you’ll hear my heart. This isn’t written to argue, but to share a journey God took me on. Many years ago, He dealt with me about things I allowed into my heart & my mind.

    First He showed me that a movie I had watched was now permanently emblazoned in my mind & it could pop into my head & show itself at will-usually at a most inopportune time. I know it’s my job to keep it out but if I’d never watched it, it wouldn’t have been there in the first place. I’m not talking about porn or x-rated movies. I’m talking about generally-accepted, generally-approved sources, like Academy Award winners. Many contain scenes that I don’t want filed in my heart & mind. Scenes that would have been shown in sleazy movie houses years ago are now a standard part of blockbuster movies. God could miraculously remove it from my mind if He wanted to, but so far He hasn’t, now I have to deal with it whenever it shows itself.

    Then one day my mother pointed out that a book I had read & praised had used the Lord’s name in vain multiple times in the 1st chapter. How did I not notice? They took my Lord’s name in vain, the One who suffered & died for me. & I didn’t notice? God’s chosen people wouldn’t even utter the name Yahweh because it was so sacred; Jesus works miracles in His Great Name. How could I approve of using His name in vain? The shock value was gone. Suppose there was a well-written book that cursed my husband & made fun of my children? Could I support it? Could I hand my money or my library card over to support it financially? God talks in Deut about not having anything despicable in our homes or He can’t bless it. (I know He was talking about idols at that time, but the principle still applies) I went through my books & threw away lots of bestsellers.

    Music: I was in the car with my precious 10yo & 7yo daughters; easy-listening radio was on. No nasty stuff, just easy listening. For the first time, I really listened to the words going into my innocent little girls’ ears: “Tonight’s the night. It’s gonna be alright. Spread your wings & let me come inside. Ain’t nobody gonna stop us now.” I got physically sick & almost threw up. The singer was praising intimacy with a little girl & I had allowed it & the vision it brings not only into my heart & mind, but also into the hearts & minds of my little girls. I prayed protection over them & immediately changed the channel. I’m much more careful with music now.

    During this time, He also took me through evaluations of my speech & my motivations…& revealed my need for cleaning them up as well.

    But now that I felt He was telling me I needed to change, I struggled with what was acceptable for me. What crossed this line I felt He was laying out for me?

  39. God gave me some passages: 1 Thess 4 talks about living to please God. Verse 7 says we are not called to be impure, but to live holy lives & since holy means set apart, I felt He was telling me that we couldn’t use the same standards the world uses. Our standards must be higher, cleaner, separate from the world.

    Then I struggled with what to do with this insight & how to make it work in my life. He took me to Phil 4:8: “Finally, brothers, 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.” Suddenly I had a filter! Something to help me gauge what I can allow into my heart, my mind, & my spirit. Now I imagine this umbrella filter over my head. Can that movie or book or music or play get through the filter of Phil 4:8? If so–for me–it’s acceptable.

    Now, does that mean I can never watch a movie or read a book with a story line about drugs or promiscuous sex or lying or cheating or adultery or gossip or jealousy or lust? No. It’s all in the presentation & the resolution. I don’t need to see intimate, detailed scenes that stir those thoughts & feelings. What’s the take away of the story? Is it redemptive? Does it glorify sin or does it show the natural consequences of it? Even cursing can be faithful to a character without using the Lord’s name in vain.

    Please know I’m not saying everybody has to get saved in the end. Ugh! I once threw a book written by a VERY well known author across the room because I was sick of the pat answers & unrealistic characters who always did what God wanted. Of course everything was tied up in a nice pink bow at the end.

    But a good story, whether a it’s a movie, book, play, or song is a great way to show the creativity God put in us. Even the story most filled with sin can be presented in a way that can honor Him.

    I hope you understand I’m not saying anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. All I know is this is a journey God took me on & I’m thankful He did. And it has nothing to do with where we eat or whether a knee-length skirt is age-appropriate! My goodness! People are dying & going to hell & we’re arguing about whether someone has a glass of wine with dinner or worships on Saturday or carries one version of the Bible over another. No wonder the world doesn’t want to follow us.

    Jesus also had a lot to say about traditions & opinions & pointing out sin when our own temple is a mess. His most pointed accusations were to the church. But He also calls us to be set apart, to be light in a dark, dark world.

    Someone mentioned in a comment about “winking at sin.” That was actually a vision I feel God gave me as He was taking me on this journey.

    Am I-are we-winking at sin? I know Jesus isn’t.

    I love you, my dear brothers & sisters & love being in partnership with you for His sake. Thank you, Lori, for opening this door to heartfelt, honest conversation. Grace and peace…

  40. Vonda, Thank you for adding your insight and your journey. I think it’s very instructive in that you took your considerations before the Lord and made your decision based on prayer and scripture. We should all seek the Lord and be convinced in ourselves of His leading for what we view and what we hear.

    I remember picking up Bridges of Madison County at a video store when it first came out. I read the back cover and placed it back on the rack. The store owner commented, “Are you afraid you’d be offended by a story about adultery?” I responded, “Not really. But with a husband who travels for weeks on end, I’m more afraid of a movie that makes adultery look beautiful or appealing.” This opened up a discussion with the owner who went on to comment about the hypocrisy she noticed in the viewing habits of many local church leaders. It was a great reminder to me that we are always influencing others whether we’re conscious of it or not!

    I am always someone who needs reminders to “tighten up the reins” and there are brothers and sisters who need to “lighten up a little.” But we need to be careful to accept one another and work together on this issue with intelligent thinking and peaceful hearts!

  41. Chana Keefer says:

    Lori,
    Great post. And great question. I’ve come to the conclusion in the past few years that God’s love in and through us covers a multitude of sin and it’s His grace looking through our eyes and loving a sinner that touches their heart and opens them to Christ. When we judge and reject, it makes others think that’s God’s opinion too. No. Jesus was kindest and most full of grace toward those judged and rejected in His day. I don’t have to be “defensive” toward sin because God’s power and love, when overflowing, eclipses it.

    Thanks so much for addressing this tricky subject. This is vital and can be very divisive among Christians and toward those who watch us from the outside.

  42. Thomas says:

    This certainly deserves a rousing AMEN.

  43. What a great conversation! And Lori, I think this is one of the most balanced, gracious posts on this topic I’ve ever read. Loved it, and loved the Spirit of the discussion around it. Great way to start my morning!

  44. Chana, good thought to keep in mind that we always represent our Father’s house in every conversation!

    Thomas, thank you for the rousing Amen!

  45. Deb, your kind words have given a lift to my day! Thank you for dropping in!

  46. I, too, love the spirit in which you wrote this. I have been involved in several discussions about this and have a couple of thoughts.

    I am not a head-in-the-sand prude, but I do believe God does call us to standards of holiness. How that plays out in each individual’s life can vary, as Paul demonstrated in his discussions about grace and liberty and eating meat offered to idols. But he was also quick to point out that while he was free to eat that meat, he would never eat meat again if it would keep someone else from stumbling. (I Cor. 8:13) In fact, he went so far as to say he would give up his own salvation for his Jewish brothers! (Romans 9:3) So focusing on what we are “free” to do puts the focus on us, which is not where it should be.

    Secondly, yes, Jesus engaged the culture and was not offended by sin. He dined with tax collectors and loved and ministered to prostitutes. (But his inner circle was his disciples.) But while He extended grace to them, He was pretty hard on the sinners within the “church”, as cited in a comment above where He threw out the moneychangers and in other interactions with the Pharisees. And later in the N.T., Paul calls for someone to be ejected from the church for sleeping with his father’s wife. He tells us not to judge the world but to judge those in the church (albeit with love).

    Finally, I find it a separate issue how one responds to the world around us vs. advocating for the Christian publishing industry as a whole to set standards for their books. If “anything goes”, what is the point? And where is one to go who would like to read something and not have his/her mind bombarded with images and words they don’t wish to bring into their home? As it was said above, you can’t “unsee” something once it’s in your mind.

    Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in!

  47. Deep discussion, here, Lori. Love it! Very honest from all who posted, and that’s what I like. We are all different, and are affected in different ways by certain sins we encounter around us. And, as someone pointed out, the key is to try and discern how Jesus would handle each situation as it arises. Of course, if we’re walking in love, the answer probably isn’t far off.

  48. Welcome, Deborah! Glad you appreciate the discussion. I have an amazing group of readers. Inspire me everyday!

  49. Holly says:

    I enjoy reading what everyone has written and personally have much in common with Vonda. I heard a story once that made a huge impression on me and my entertainment choices. A man’s children wanted to see a movie that they said was really good and had a great story line but had a little violence and a little language but the great story line made up for that other stuff! The dad said he wanted a day to think about it and they gathered the next day to discuss it. The dad had made brownies for the kids to enjoy while they talked and they smelled and looked delicious. He told them (before they ate any!) that he used the freshest, best ingredients he could find but there was a teaspoon of poop from their dog in them but the other great ingredients made up for that! Obviously they were horrified at the thought of eating the brownies and understood what their dad was teaching them—it doesn’t matter how good something is if it’s got a little bit of poop in it!!
    A lot of people mentioned the places Jesus went as validation for places we go but the question would be why we’re going there—if it’s for entertainment then it’s totally different than reaching out to the lost.
    Thank you for keeping us thinking about what we do and why we do it!
    Holly

  50. Wonderful article.

    I used to get easily offended by those who got offended. Crazy huh? I’ve grown some. I’m not that easily offended any more.

    I do remind myself from time to time that Jesus hung out with sinners. Of course His purpose was to uplift any situation. But I kinda think at the wedding in Cana when he turned water into wine, He was well aware those folks who’d already drunk a lot were gonna drink more. He was not adverse to having a good time.

  51. D Callahan says:

    What an awesome post!

    I just wanted to let you know about a novel I just read on the recommendation from a friend, because I feel strongly that it’s something the church should be warned about. This book, called Time Up by Justin McLachlan, a young Christian I used to know (he attended Taylor University, worked for Child Evangelism Fellowship), is borderline blasphemous. I know it’s science fiction, but it’s very clear that the human race is created by aliens and not God, and it prominently features a homosexual romance. This is probably not something any true Christian should read. Those who point this out to him are mocked on his personal blog and Facebook page.

    • LJ says:

      Lori, Your posts are like a blast of fresh air. Some movies are so watered down, it’s like a weak cup of coffee–tasteless and bland! I have gained so much from movies that might offend, but convict me, educate me, shake me and cause repentance. It wasn’t the intent of the movie, but God used ’em to speak to me. So… I guess that I can agree that we don’t want to keep ourselves apart and freak out with what the world has to offer. We’re supposed to be salt and light and the salt needs to be out in the world to be effective. You don’t just hide the light, but we should BE the light. Thanks for making me think about these things.

  52. Rick says:

    I have the same delima; but musically* I play gospel and rock. When I sing for our Lord, it’s a spiritual experience, a connection with our father* to help someone feel the connection I feel is indescribable* I play rock, rap, country and top 40’s for a vibe or money. I learn from the the other genres how to connect. My spiritual music revives and refreshes* the others keep me practiced and fresh. The battle is in your mind/soul* not in what people precieve you as* God Bless

  53. Cierra Crane says:

    no you are not alone in this topic. I am a christian and I love to watch MASH i didn’t know that mash considered bad to some Christian tell last night. I believe that we shouldn’t judge and others and I think that certain tv shows like that can help you grow through Chirst. I have had a lot of conflict with my family about the difference in the way we believe. But what i have learned is it don’t matter what others thinks of you it only matters what God thinks of you. For example I believe that I as a girl should wear skirts and dress’s because I feel that is what told me to do personally. I believe that God tells people different things but one thing that we all must do is obey him ( Jesus ). The right thing to do if you are a christian saved and born again. That means to ask Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you of all your sins and for him Jesus to be Lord of your life and to have a relationship with him. So when something like this comes up first thing to do is pray about and read the word the bible and ask Jesus ( God) what he wants you to do. Ask the Holy spirit to help you and lead you in the way you should go. It is time for the church to stop judging others and fighting with each other. Because we are all trying to get to Heaven. We are to help each other not bring them down. God Bless I hope this helps remember Jesus is always the answer.