In the land of bountiful, we Americans have access to many possibilities and desires. Success in America is often described as comfort, being free of worry, and obtaining all of our dreams. Accordingly, opulence at this level leads to pushing God away and delighting, for a time, within our own realities. We are certainly the “rulers” of our personal kingdoms.
Perhaps one notable entitlement for Americans is possession of entertainment 24/7. Being entertained is now more accessible than ever before. Streaming services, theaters with alcohol and food service, VR headsets, and video games…you name it, we have it. Americans can escape the realities of real life via countless venues.
In terms of production quality, technology now places entertainment at the level of our greatest fantasies. Multi-billion-dollar empires like Disney can achieve the once impossible with visual effects. Secular story lines abound within CGI and escapism that become more real with each passing year. For Americans, popular entertainment is like candy…consuming the next new flavor is enticing.
Beyond providing fantasy realism, entertainment giants have been “gaslighting” the American public for many decades. What was considered morality just 20 years ago is now brushed to the side as ignorance. A “new morality” is embraced with each passing suggestion and innuendo that the industry offers. Anyone watching enough popular culture entertainment will begin to question their own moral compass. Steady consumption drives worldview and changes perceptions of creation. In short, entertainment is winning the war of the mind.
Often, pop culture amusement re-affirms evolution, greed, debauchery, self-worship, and other alternative gods. Most recently, the LGBTQ agenda has gained immense ground. Disney, itself, installed an openly gay character, LeFou, in its “live-action version” of Beauty and the Beast. During one scene, the gay character exposed a bite mark on his stomach. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much public response to this shocking display as parents flocked to the theaters with their children to absorb the event movie. In the latest Star Wars release, Disney and Lucasfilm determined that it was necessary to install two women in a romantic kiss at the end of the film. Likewise, Disney-Pixar promoted the LGBTQ agenda directly to young children by creating an openly gay character in the animated film, Onward. Hollywood has deemed that children will be mentally conditioned through its blockbuster events.
Pop culture entertainment, of course, is not confined to theaters. Streaming services and premium outlets offer a menu of possibilities. As an example, HBO’s Game of Thrones brought brutal carnality to all paying households. Although the series depicted rape and other forms of debauchery, many were enthralled by the pornography which was wrapped in fantasy plot and CGI. Story lines and high production budgets made viewing the content digestible for many. It was not until after the series was over that its main actress, Emilia Clarke, stated that she was very uncomfortable during sex scenes. Many self-professed Christians engaged in active viewing of the series. Although concern was raised about the content by a few voices, those viewpoints were quickly dismissed as judgemental and legalistic.
For its part, Cultural Christianity is front and center in the theater of pop culture. Many cultural Christians hold to a worldly and distorted view of grace in justifying their consumption of this secular diet. However, scripture is very clear that our minds are to be guarded. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul describes our bodies as living sacrifices to God, and he warns about being conformed to the world’s patterns. Using hyperbole, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:29 to pluck out an eye if it causes us to sin. In the world's constant war for the mind and soul, the Christ follower must be vigilant.
Of course, in this human experience, it is appropriate to seek entertainment and enjoyment. However, true Christ followers must use discernment when navigating the options. First and foremost, God should be glorified in all that we do. God will give us opportunities for delighting in Him and His works. His joy far outlasts any addictive or carnal outlet that the world can create.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
“No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”