Here’s something to think about: as a Christian committed to a life of holiness, how should one deal with the ugliness of this world, particularly as pictured in the arts? Speaking as a Christian, this is a difficult question to wrestle with. In the last five years of my life, I’ve transitioned out of a fundamentalistic refusal to watch movies to a posture of cautious openness to viewing all types of movies.
I believe that this openness represents some type of maturation on my part, because it’s somewhat naïve to think that one can avoid ugliness altogether in this life. Additionally, accepting the Reformed teaching that all truth is God’s truth, and that Christians are separate from the world but must study and engage it, I am comfortable interacting with the arts—secular music, movies, literature, and artwork. I can do so because I don’t believe it’s a sin simply to see or hear ugliness, but that the key issue is how such material affects one. In other words, if watching a movie with profanity causes me to curse more, I should be very careful about watching it. Or take sex—if a film has explicit sexual content and that causes me to sin, I’m going to need to choose whether or not I watch that video by careful discernment. One does as a believer not to check off little righteousness boxes, but to care for one’s soul, to keep it healthy and fresh and Godward.
That said, the title question is by no means answered. The pieces this week will continue to explore this important question. Christians are here in this world. The question is this: how will we be here? Saying we are salt and light is one thing. Being it is another.