I recently spoke to a dear friend of mine who challenged another brother about his consumption of the salacious series Games of Thrones. There are a lot of gray areas in the Christian life, but I do not aim to dive into “you should watch that” or “don’t watch this”, as it all-too-often borders on legalism. What I am obliged to do is describe the practice of discernment. I think about this a lot. My bride and I have four kids, and they are incessantly inundated with images, advertisements, language, and various worldviews.
But what is discernment? Walt Mueller defines discernment as “the practice of looking more closely at what you discovered, and distinguishing those things God says are good, true, healthy, and right, from those things God says are evil, false, dangerous, and wrong.”
Ok, we should be discerning. Got it. But is there a grid to work through? Questions to ask? I’m sure there are (I’d work through Philippians 4:8-9 as a starting point), but in this post, I simply want to define two approaches concerning the consumption of media. Simply put, a Christian should have the disposition of mindful critique, rather than mindless consumption.
Mindless consumption is defined as someone who listens, views, and plays anything and everything without ever thinking consciously or critically about the worldview expressed in the song, video, artwork, lifestyle of the musician, game, film, ad, or TV show.
Mindful critique is the contrast of the former approach, in that there is a conscious decision to think more deeply, critically, and carefully. This approach also understands that media will shape what we think, value, believe, etc., and rather than being a passive agent allowing media to shape you, this individual is proactive in practicing discernment.
A Christian should regularly ask themselves, “how have I been using media today?”