Entertaining Discernment

Do you discriminate? I do? Everyone does. Discriminate means to make a choice, to decide between two options. The second question is do you use discernment when you discriminate? Discernment is to decide between right and wrong.

Today's society is very careful to not use the words "right and wrong" in the same sentence. For implying there is a right and a wrong means that people could be making bad choices or doing bad things. The popular sentiment encourages us to experiment, to see reality from our own perspective. We are regularly told that whatever you do, if it gives you meaning, then it is OK to do it.

Many argue that telling someone "No" harms them, it hinders their personal expression and their growth as a human being. To imply that there is a right and a wrong means that a person could be "wrong" in their choices and that another could be "right" in their choices. A wrong choice means it leads to bad consequences.

Let's examine where discernment should be used, but not in the "big" issues, just what we consider a little or inconsequential issue - entertainment.

Have you ever given much thought to the TV shows or movies you watch? Most people do. They give thought to the quality of entertainment. "I don't like that program or that movie stunk?" Why did it stink? Typically the judgment was based upon the entertainment value: the quality of action, quality of production, sound, excitement, etc., not the moral value.

I challenge you to now start looking at two things in your entertainment: quality in a moral context and quantity, how much time and money do you spend on entertainment.

Using discernment in entertainment takes a moral position and asks "Does the message of this entertainment build up others or tear them down? Does the message of this entertainment promote the good and welfare of another or does the main character use other people to get what he/she wants? Does this entertainment promote violence or peace? Does the entertainment promote a faithful marriage or does it promote promiscuous sex?

Does this entertainment create a better society or create/or reflect a worse society? Does the entertainment show you the long term consequences of the choices made? Typically not, the theme is always on the short term "fun" or feeling of the moment. Rarely shown, if ever, the destroyed marriages, the depressed life, the bankrupt person.

The second issue regarding entertainment is frequency and priority. What priority does entertainment take in your life? How much money or time do you spend entertaining yourself? Do you use entertainment as a way to avoid other things or people in which your really should be engaged? Do you use entertainment to escape responsibility?

Too many people come home and click on the TV and check out of their family. Kids come home and get on the Internet and check out of interacting with Mom or Dad. Husbands come home, sit on the couch and check out instead of talking with their wife, helping get dinner ready or helping kids with their home work. In many cases, the TV and Internet has replaced family communication.

Typically the entertainment we choose is one that requires little to no thinking. It has no purpose except to "amuse" us. One definition of amuse is "to divert the attention so as to deceive." By not engaging your mind, those who create the entertainment are determining what you will think about, what values you will have. We are being deceived.

Entertainment can be like the frog in the kettle. Slowly turn up the heat and the frog will be boiled without ever jumping out.

Many years ago, my wife and I became aware of the impact that entertainment was having on us, our language, our thoughts, even our time spent together. My wife and I started cutting back on TV during the week and started using more discretion in the movies we watched. The shows and movies we do watch, we discuss the theme and purpose of the movie. We don't just "watch" and be entertained. We now try to discern what the writer, producer, actor was trying to communicate. We try to even use entertainment as an opportunity to engage with each other and with the family.

Parents, a great exercise with your kids is to talk about the movies or TV shows they watch and what are the moral or immoral lessons that are being taught. Talk with them about the long term consequences of the actions that the characters are taking. Discuss with them the behaviors of actors in the sitcom. Are they loving their neighbor as themselves or are the tearing another down to make themselves feel good? Are they crude, rude and distasteful? Discuss about the maturity of the actor or actress in the situation. Ask if the actors used good judgment, why or why not?


Proverbs 27:12 "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."

The prudent person is the one who uses discernment. He judges right from wrong. He/she asks the question "Where will my actions, thoughts or attitudes lead me? Will the long term effects be good or bad for me? Will they be good or bad for those around me? The prudent tell themselves, Just because I can do it doesn't make it right to do or wholesome for me to do it."

The prudent evaluate their life regarding entertainment and ask "Do I place too much emphasis on entertainment? Am I putting garbage in my mind? Am I using the opportunity to teach my children moral values? Am I letting myself or family slip backwards in our relationships, moral character, health, finances, etc. because of our entertainment habits?"

The simple don't ask these questions. The simple just follow their habits because, for the moment, it is enjoyable. The simple suffer in the long run.

Colossians 3: 5-8

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."


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