Respect My Authoritah!
I had an excellent chat via Facebook with my friend Adam. It involved drawing lines in what we watch and otherwise consume and using those lines to tell other people what they should and shouldn’t watch/consume. He wanted to know where I drew the line, why, and if there was a sort of universal line that Christianity tried to draw. Here is my modified and further thought out answer to that question:
Part of the doctrine that I believe in as a Christian is the notion of “total depravity”. That means, while we’re not as bad as we could be, every part of us is touched by sin, including our sense of right/wrong. So while there exists an absolute morality and God has laid it out, our understanding of it is tainted. That gets back to the question, why push away/give up the bad stuff? If it’s because it will make you somehow a better person/more holy not to consume South Park (and in some ways I could argue it would) then I think your motive is wrong. If, on the other hand, you’re watching it to be cool/relevant/to reach your unbelieving friends I think your motive is wrong too.
You have to look at how watching/listening to certain things affects you as a person. If watching violence makes me more violent or desensitizes me to violence I shouldn’t watch it. I like the verse from 1 Corinthains 13 – “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. ” Do the things you know are right (prayer, fellowship, reading the Bible) and as you mature spiritually you lose the taste for things that are childish (bad for you/immature/etc.). That’s a good description (I think) of what “sanctification” means. The process of becoming more holy.
I think a lot of people try and force it, rather than letting their lives bear that fruit naturally. I mean, honestly, when I tell someone, “Don’t watch SP, it’s bad for you!” as an adult what’s their reaction going to be? I think that the rules that are laid out in the Bible are good things and that people will benefit from following them, but you can’t strongarm people into them. It just won’t work. There is a place for you going to a fellow believer and challenging them on their behavior/consumption, but laying down the law to someone who doesn’t have the same spiritual maturity/development as you do without a spirit of love (also to be found in 1 Corinthians 13) is about as effective as Cartman the cop.