We all need to relax our brains sometimes—but can we afford to turn them off?
One of the most important principles that anyone aspiring to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ can apply is to think biblically about any given topic—to keep our brains turned on and “tuned in” to what the Bible has to say. And one very important area of life where this principle can be applied is our entertainment.
In today’s world, this can be a special challenge, since entertainment is usually designed to help us stop thinking. When I consider some of the entertainment I enjoy, I know that part of the reason I enjoy it is because it’s not mentally taxing—I can transport myself to a happy, fictional place where superheroes defeat villains and good triumphs over evil.
Sometimes, wrong messages in movies or other entertainment are so blatant that they immediately trigger our mental filters. But what about entertainment that we like, of which we are not as prone to be critical? For example, Star Wars is my favorite film franchise—but can I just mindlessly take it in?
There were a few points I realized I needed to filter out of my mindset after being raised on Star Wars. First, it sugarcoats war. Most PG or PG-13 movies do this—characters just scream and fall over when they die, and good guys can mow down legions of bad guys, rarely getting hurt themselves. As a result, I grew up thinking that even though war sounded bad, it was probably something I could survive. I was thankfully able to grow out of that mindset as I got a better idea of what war is really like. Needless to say, God never sugarcoats war, and He is looking forward to doing away with it entirely (Matthew 5:9; Isaiah 2:2–4).
Secondly, Star Wars usually makes its bad guys faceless; stormtroopers are just evil and deserve to be shot for their crimes against the galaxy, neither giving nor receiving mercy. But when we apply that thinking to real human beings, it takes us to examples in history like the Holocaust and other instances of genocide. We have to keep in mind that every human being is created in God’s image and that God’s master plan includes resurrection for all who have died. When God resurrects Nazis (see Matthew 12:41), do we think He’ll just have them gunned back down? Or will we encourage them to repent of their evil deeds? Some Nazi soldiers were literally called stormtroopers—yet, despite all their evil in this age, they were still human beings made in God’s image who will, in the resurrection, finally be open to Christ’s message and have their opportunity to repent.
Also, consider that in Star Wars, the rebels are the good guys. In the Bible, rebels are not the good guys—they include Korah, Absalom, Nimrod, and Satan himself. The vast majority of biblical references to rebel, rebels, rebellion, and rebellious refer to the ancient Israelites’ attitudes and actions against God and His ways! Though we must sometimes disobey men because of our greater responsibility to God (Acts 5:29), it’s clear that we should be trying to obey humanly constituted government as much as possible. David the son of Jesse is a great example to us—he had every reason to rebel against King Saul, but he waited for God to handle the situation. The Bible tells us to try as hard as possible to be obedient, while Star Wars celebrates the mindset of rebellion.
And, for all that, I still like Star Wars, along with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other franchises. But I try to remind myself never to neglect a biblical mindset. We must make sure we use the Bible to filter the world and its entertainment, or the world will quickly start to influence us more than the Bible does. Don’t let the world slip in subtle messages through movies and other entertainment—keep your brain turned on.