Televisions, DVD players, and stereos are fixtures in the vast majority of American homes. In fact, their presence and use are so commonplace that it is easy to overlook their impact on the environments in our homes.
Last week we examined how communication can influence the aura—the overall quality or environment—in a home. Today let’s look at the impact of entertainment choices (e.g., music, movies, TV shows).
How entertainment choices impact the aura in a home
- They shape our worldviews. There are assumptions about life that underlie song lyrics and the actions of characters on TV shows and movies. Common assumptions include the belief that right and wrong are determined by the situation at hand and that success is determined by one’s wealth. Whether writers or producers are intentionally trying to promote a given worldview or not, their philosophies will, to some extent, be made evident in their creations. Our worldviews are subtly shaped as we listen to music and view programs that demonstrate these worldly assumptions. Even the television news, which is purported to be objective, is shaded by the perspectives of the reporters and producers.
- They can supplant interactions with family and friends. Even when we watch TV or a movie with family members or friends, we’re not really interacting with them. We’re not engaging in conversation so we get to know one another better or find ways to solve problems. In fact, some families use TV as a distraction to avoid addressing conflicts. If interactions become too scarce, our houses become mere structures that lack the warmth that is characteristic of a “home.”
- They impact our moods. Music is capable of influencing moods and inspiring people to take action. We can see examples of this in Scripture (Psalm 68, Psalm 100, Isaiah 23, Isaiah 27:1-3, James 5:13). We can also see it all around us. Advertisers use jingles to motivate us to purchase products. Movie producers carefully select and time music to make scenes more dramatic. In a similar manner, the music we listen to touches us deep within our hearts and influences our moods and motivation.
- They provide examples for imitation. We tend to imitate the things we see and hear most frequently. For example, when we constantly hear profanity, we grow accustomed to it and are no longer shocked by it. We may even begin hearing it slip from our own mouths! If we surround ourselves with unsavory examples, we run the risk of imitating them.
Given these ways that our entertainment choices impact us, what things can we do to make selections that promote God-honoring auras in our homes?
Considerations when making entertainment choices
- Carefully select movies, TV shows, and music that support our efforts to live as faithful followers of Christ. We should choose shows and movies that help us set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). Likewise, we should select shows and movies that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). A good place to start when evaluating a program or song is by asking “Would Jesus watch/listen to this?”
- Pay careful attention to the lyrics of songs. We cannot listen to songs and be unaffected by their lyrics. Common sense tells us that lyrics easily become etched in our minds. We use song lyrics to teach children the alphabet and advertisers use jingles to sell products (e.g., Oscar Mayer Wiener song, I’m Stuck on Band-Aid Brand song). It’s nearly impossible to remove these songs from our memories! Keep in mind that the lyrics of some “Christian songs” may be problematic, as they may espouse bad theology, questionable doctrine, and self-help principles that aren’t Biblical.
- Find alternatives to TV. I don’t believe that we must separate ourselves from all TV shows, but I do believe that this form of entertainment shouldn’t occupy the bulk of our free time. Reading books, playing games as a family, completing projects and crafts, and going for walks are all activities that provide greater intellectual stimulation than watching TV.
- Limit how many TVs are in the home. Personally, I feel like there is no need to have a TV in the home. If a family chooses to have one (which we do), then I believe it is beneficial to have only one in the home. This helps prevent TV from assuming too big of a role in the family’s life. I also believe it is best for the TV to be located in a common room so that family members can hold one another accountable for what is watched.
- Discuss shows and movies after you’ve watched them. Instead of mindlessly watching program after program, pause and take time to discuss your opinions of what you watched, what you learned from it, how it will influence your faith, etc. My husband and I make a habit of doing this. The most unlikely of programs have sparked some very meaningful discussions.
How do you decide which music, movies, and TV shows belong in your home?