The entertainment industry has offered us much that is good over the decades. Yet today, as never before, films, television, magazines, and books expose people to offensive images and seamy subjects. Of course, people view things from different perspectives, and what to one person is offensive might touch another deeply, even turn his life in a more constructive direction. The motive and tone of thought behind a project have a great deal to do with its merit. And our own motive behind what we watch and read is vitally important.
So the issue of what's appropriate for our consumption isn't cut and dried. But that doesn't mean we're without a moral standard that can be applied in a practical way to entertainment. The Bible gives us definite guidance on this subject. Paul said, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." n1
n1 Philippians 4:8
We can view Paul's words not so much as imposing restrictions on us as alerting us to the wisest mental standpoint. Thinking on "these things" and living them, we align ourselves with the power and goodness of God and defend ourselves from the mental images that tend to foster discord in our lives.
Does this mean we should ignore the violence and immorality depicted on the screen and in literature? No. If we're going to help ourselves and others we have to recognize and strive to heal humanity's troubles, following Christ Jesus' example. But Jesus' teachings remind us of the need also to cultivate a purer, deeper sense of life, to become better acquainted with God. "Blessed are the pure in heart," the Master said, "for they shall see God." n2 How can we see God, how can we begin to understand Him and feel the good He imparts, if our consciousness is perpetually clouded by the opposite of Him, if we allow ourselves to be fascinated by the sordid aspects of existence presented for public consumption?
n2 Matthew 5:8
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: "We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind?" She asks further: "Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually." And she says, "We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives." n3
n3 Science and Helath with Key to the Scripturesm , p. 248.
Today's viewing and reading can lead to inspiring ideas or better acquaint us with problems that need attention. However, we do need to watch that we're not unconsciously adopting a distorted view of life. Too often these days we're offered (or bombarded with) evidence that evil is a fascinating, universal force , that man is nothing more than an animal, motivated by sensuality and selfishness.
But this is a false view of man, whose true being is infinitely above the perverted concept that often fascinates human thought. In reality, man expresses the nature of his creator, God. He is therefore pure, intelligent, satisfied. Because God is Spirit, man is totally spiritual, indestructible, even though the physical senses insist he is just the opposite.
Because this is the liberating truth of our being, we might often ask ourselves if what we're taking in is obscuring our natural sense of man as the upright image of God. If it is, then perhaps we need to be either more discriminating in our choice of entertainment or more active in disputing what we see and hear.
It's important that we be alert to the images we entertain. As we form those perfect models and live in accord with them, we'll not only help ourselves. We'll contribute to a mental atmosphere that fosters quality in entertainment and in every other area of human endeavor. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Straighway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. . . . When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit . . . . And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead . . . . But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. Mark 9:20, 25-27