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Pastors Speak Out On The Importance of Media Discernment and A Biblical Worldview

Photo courtesy of Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Pastors Speak Out On The Importance of Media Discernment and A Biblical Worldview

By Movieguide® Staff

Pastors across the country are encouraging parents to exercise discernment when it comes to what they and their children consume in the media.

Pastor David Marvin of Dallas’ Watermark Community Church recently encouraged young adults to rely on God’s teaching for dating advice, not Disney or other celebrities.

“You’ve been discipled by Disney from the time that you were 5 years old. It’s true. Messages about fairy tales and love and what to look for in the hero, and they lived happily ever, have been ingrained in your mind and my mind from the very first breath that you took,” Marvin said.

“I love fairy tales. I love a good knight in shining armor. But fairy tales will lie. Fairy tales tell you messages like, ‘Man, if the shoe fits, it’s just going to be perfect.’ ‘You’ll live happily ever after.’ Fairy tales communicate the same storyline. There’s always a damsel in distress. She needs to be rescued, and you’re looking for her and you’re going to be the shining armor,” he added.

However, Marvin said that this view harms relationships rather than helps them.

“In dating relationships and in love, you’re not looking for someone who needs to be rescued,” Marvin said. “You’re not looking to be the savior of somebody. You’re looking for a partner in life, not a project that you’re going to rescue.”

Marvin added that there is constant stream of dating advice from movies, TV, and even music.

“Taylor Swift has probably discipled more people on love in the world than anybody else. Just think about all the ways she has shaped [us]. I mean, ‘I knew you were trouble when you walked in.’ Then, why did you date him? … Every Taylor Swift song communicates the same thing, ‘He’s bad for me, but I still like it,'” Marvin explained.

“And that communicates and begins to make you think, ‘Man, I want to have a relationship where they kind of play the game. They don’t always just honor me and text me back. And they’re just a little mysterious.’ You know what mysterious is? It’s shady. … That’s not a quality to appreciate. But that’s Taylor’s discipling,” he added.

Marvin said that lasting love that leads to marriage has to be built on God’s design, not movies and TV shows.

“Here’s the deal with butterflies— those fade. Butterflies fly away. If you follow and live for that, you’re going to fall in love seven times a day. … ‘Soon after, they got married … and it was happily ever after in the sunset.’ That has never happened in the history of humanity and existence and marriage. Marriage is amazing, but it takes daily work and dying to self,” Marvin said. “Every person who has ever been married, they quickly learn that marriage doesn’t change your loneliness. Marriage will fix your singleness. But it cannot fix your loneliness because that is an internal, soul-level, only-Christ-fixable problem.”

“It is so much better to be single and feel lonely right now and wait for someone who has the criteria that God says to look for than to be married and lonely in the future,” he added.

Movieguide® founder Dr. Ted Baehr talks about the effect of media has on our worldview in his book, ‘The Media-Wise Family’:

No matter how much we condemn the mass media for influencing the behavior of our children, we must admit there are several accomplices in this tragedy. They include churches that don’t instruct parents in how to teach their children discernment and parents who allow their children to watch television, go to movies, play video games, or surf the Internet without adequate supervision or training in the necessary discernment skills.

When was the last time you heard a sermon on what you can do to raise children with a rock solid biblical moral foundation that can withstand modern media influence?

Seek understanding

Understanding why and how the mass media influence children and adults the way it does is an extremely important step in protecting your children and helping them develop the necessary critical thinking skills and discernment.

Many scientists have argued that there’s such a significant body of evidence on the connection between the content of the mass media (such as violence) and behavior (especially aggressive behavior) that researchers should move beyond accumulating further evidence and focus on the processes that are responsible for this relationship. Recent research has focused on developing theories that explain why and how that relationship exists.

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Many of the theories that have developed involve the stages of cognitive development of children. Although there are many factors that are common to all ages of development, there are also unique distinctions between each stage of child development that require different treatment with regard to exposure to and training about the mass media.

Children often see the world and the media quite differently than adults. Parents generally look at television programs semantically (in terms of the meaning of what is said or what is happening). Children see syntactically (in terms of the action and special effects in the program). Thus, with regard to music, a mother will say to her child, “Did you hear the lyrics in that awful song?” The child will respond, “Ah, Mom, I don’t listen to the words. Did you hear how cool it sounds?”

This generation gap was highlighted when a little boy asked Mr. Rogers of MR ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD how he got out of the television set to be with them that day. He said that he was never in the television set and carefully explained how TV worked. Then, he asked the boy if he understood him. He said “Yes, but how are you going to get back into the TV so I can watch you this afternoon?”

Growing pains

Cognitive development is often directly impacted by the mass media. It’s important to understand that cognition is not thinking; rather, thinking is part of cognition, and cognition itself is the process of knowing, which philosophers and theologians call epistemology. Cognitive development is similar to building a house step-by-step from a blueprint, or to adding colors to our mental palette, or to installing an operating system in a computer so that the computer can then do all the tasks, or thinking, that you direct it to do.

A computer is designed with processors and memory chips ready to receive an operating system, the software you wish to add and the files you wish to create using the software. Children are born with a brain ready to receive a worldview and the information necessary to talk, walk, play a piano, or become an artist. A child’s worldview is not downloaded and installed in minutes. They don’t learn to play a piano with a purchase in some app store. Their growth in understanding and abilities involves cognitive development. It is truly a miracle to behold to observe a baby develop the ability to speak a language. It’s more amazing than to watch a seed become a seedling and then mature into a plant producing seeds of its own. Just as a seed goes through stages of growth, so does a child’s mind. Stages can’t be skipped, and there are special needs at every stage. The seedling that will one day need full sunlight, may need some sun protection when it’s young and tender.

Each of the tasks necessary for a child’s development must be done correctly and in the right order, or the result can be a disaster. The human operating system develops over many years in a series of stages. Each stage has unique characteristics and each stage must develop properly.

Once, when I was teaching at an Ivy League graduate school, a woman in the audience shrieked because her toddler had picked up a sharp X-acto type knife and was about to do what every toddler does with whatever they pick up, which is put it in his mouth. After quickly taking the sharp tool away from her toddler, the mother started to lecture him.

After the wave of concern in the room died down, I noted to the mother that toddlers are in the sensation stage of cognitive development, which merely means that they learn through their senses, and that taking the object away from her child was the right thing to do, but lecturing the toddler would have no effect because the toddler was not at the stage of development where he could understand the logic of her arguments. Thus, I noted toddlers have to be protected by their parents and can’t be expected to make wise decisions when they’re presented with dangerous situations. The warning “keep out of reach of children” is very important, even if you try to explain to a child that a pill containing an adult dose of medication is not the same as a piece of candy.

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.