Let us begin by recognizing that an unconverted heart will do one of two things with these principles — the first is that of attempting to put these principles into practice in such a way that God will be placed in your debt, and the second response is to rebel against these principles. Those are the two basic responses to biblical morality that unbelief takes — make a pile of the principles in order to climb up them to Heaven yourself, or to kick at them in order to knock them over. But if you are converted to Christ, truly converted, it is possible to rightly understand and apply what is going to be said here. Jesus said that His sheep recognize His voice (John 10:4). These principles are merely a description of what intelligent love looks like in action.
So first, remember the sabbath principle. This is the idea, established in the Fourth Commandment, that the ratios between work and rest are important. This means that entertainment is lawful (and helpful) if it is relaxation after a day of fruitful, productive work. It is not lawful (and not helpful) if it is a substitute for that work. Scripture has a lot to say about the sluggard, and what happens to him, and these consequences will not be avoided simply because the couch where he wastes away the hours has cords running to it.
Entertainments used in the wrong way are simply helping to make laziness endurable — until poverty comes upon you like an armed thug (Prov. 6:11). It remains the case that the one who excels in his work shall stand before kings (Prov. 22:29), and it remains the case that over time, stupidity is stupid. We are taught that we should pray that we might learn how to number our days, in order that we might conduct ourselves with wisdom (Ps. 90:12). Number your days, number your hours, number your relaxations, with wisdom.
The next thought is that the Bible pronounces a blessing on those who do not sit in the seat of mockers. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1; cf. Jer. 15:17). But for many Christians, that seat is their living room couch. It is there that they are being trained to laugh at the righteous. This leads straight to the next point.
The central concern we should have about our entertainment standards is that stories have a catechetical power; they have a teaching role. Who is the protagonist, and what standards does he live by? Who are you being trained to identify with, and who are you being trained to despise?
Say you are watching a sitcom, and one of the characters takes a jab at another of the characters, a homosexual, and he does it because he is homosexual. What happens next? The sound track, the laugh track, that great cattle prod that tells the American public what direction they should be going, is filled with groans of unbelief. What lesson are you being taught? You are being catechized and taught not to be that guy. When it comes up in real life, you will supply the sound track yourself, and you will think twice before you say anything.
So it is not that there are somehow invisible spiritual cooties that infest you whenever you watch something. You are learning here, in your classes, to evaluate books and literature in accordance with a biblical worldview. This is not being done as a cute literary trick — we want you to learn this so that you can apply it to everything you encounter. “What are they saying? Is it true? How are they expecting me to react, and should I react that way?”
There is no sin called “watching a stupid movie.” There is a sin called being “a stupid person watching a stupid movie.”
And there is another important issue to consider. The more readily you consume the so-called tolerable garbage in public, together with other Christian friends, the more likely it will be that you will be given over privately to the real garbage. Porn slavery starts somewhere, and enticements to unbelief start somewhere. There are belief systems out there — the kind that don’t give a rip about your soul — that will tell you that you can do whatever you want in this area. This kind of apostasy starts by test-driving it in private.
G.K. Chesterton once pointed out that there is a kind of immorality that is the first and most obvious bribe that can be given to a slave. They will let you do certain things because they know that that an immoral people can be easily manipulated.
In conclusion, these principles revolve around three basic virtues — dedication to your vocation and work, loyalty to your God and to your people, and moral integrity.
Please do not think to yourself that Pastor Wilson gave a talk on x, y, and z, and that he told you it was bad to do x, y, and z. The thing that is bad is becoming a loser. Everything you do is a brushstroke that contributes to what the final painting looks like. X, y, and z, are not counters, or entries in a bookeepers’ ledger. They are brushstrokes, and you are the painting.
So the bottom line is not “why do my godly friends and family members dislike those movies?” The real question is why they dislike what you are becoming as a result of having watched a bunch of them.
This is the outline of a talk given to the secondary students at Logos School, April 17, 2012.