“How much is too much” is one of the worst questions to ask about any pop-cultural Thing.
But how often is it exactly the assumed question behind how we approach stories and media.
My goal is not to create an artificial line, a legalistic rule that we cling to as a mark of purity. Instead, it’s a question of discernment, and that’s why I am left wondering: Is there anything to which we would simply say, “No matter how much artistry may be involved in this film, it uses copious amounts of sewage to get across its point. Stay away, for your own health.”
On Facebook the column received comments within the usual range, from …
Some days other believers drive me so crazy, that I don’t want to be associated with any of them. This article is one of those reasons. More important things to focus on. Seriously.
Compromising. Plain and simple. Holiness is no longer a popular topic. You cannot drink down the things of this world and expect to be mightily used by God.
But I’m a total smashable pagan-rock-music broken record here when I insist that “how much is too much” is the wrong question.
The real question is so absurdly simple that Christians usually gloss over it as if to say: Pshaw, everyone knows that.
We don’t. Of stories and media, we must ask the Ultimate Question. And that Ultimate Question should be:
- What is the chief end of man?
With its pop-culture cousin close behind:
- What is the chief end of story?
That may be half the problem solved right there.
The other half begins to be solved when we find a better answer than those partial-truth responses such as “to educate me,” “to entertain me,” “to morally edify me,” “to be Art For Its Own Sake,” or else all of these answers applied to children.2
Update, Jan. 30. A companion SpecFaith column explores this issue further: No Story Is Safe.
- Christians and Movies: Are We Contextualizing or Compromising? is a sequel to Trevin Wax’s Jan. 6 post Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck. ↩
- My own attempt at the better answer to the Ultimate Question is in Beauty and Truth 4: The Chief End of Story. ↩