Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph. 4:17–24
Christians live according to a different standard—God’s standard. They are called to newness of life. Out of the darkness and into the light, the Christian walking with and seeking to glorify God will desire to separate himself from the sinful ways and temptations of the world.
Yes, Christians continue to sin, and no, it is not possible to always avoid every unfavorable situation. One thing that can be controlled quite easily, however, is the television content to which the Christian allows himself to be exposed. The “power” button on the remote control is not often out of reach and thus, when questionable or offensive content appears on the screen, it is quite simple to push this button and prevent one’s eyes—or the eyes of one’s children—from seeing such displays.
One example of such a display of offensive and perverse content is the Super Bowl Halftime Show. This year’s spectacle featured singer Beyoncé, who is known just as much for her provocative dancing and risqué fashion decisions as she is for her music. One would think that the many Christians watching this football game would be quick to refrain from viewing the halftime entertainment, but a brief glance at the Christian Twittersphere last evening proved such an assumption to be false.
It was disappointing to see Christian leaders, men who many look to as godly examples of the faith, commenting on the halftime show as they were watching it. While most of the comments appeared to be negative, and affirmed the inappropriateness of the show, one cannot help but wonder, why were these men watching such a thing at all? If one allows himself to watch something that most would deem as unsuitable material, yet then condemns the content of that thing, does it suddenly redeem the decision to watch it in the first place? To offer a similar example, if a father caught his son watching pornography, but his son turned to him and said, “Dad, that was so disgusting and sinful!” does it suddenly vindicate the son from the sinful act of watching it at all when he knew it to be wrong?
It is true that the Christian has freedom in many areas of life that may be perceived as neutral, neither inherently sinful or inherently godly. But does the act of voluntarily watching a woman dance around a stage while barely dressed fall into this category of liberty? Or would the Christian, especially the Christian man, do better to guard his eyes, and thus his heart, and turn away from such an obvious act of sinful behavior?
One cannot help but think of Job, who made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1), knowing that it is through what one may see with his eyes that the temptation to lust may breed. Sexual purity was of great importance to Job, and it seems that this ancient man was well aware of what Jesus later would teach during His Sermon on the Mount.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt. 5:27–28
To be absolutely clear, this is not meant to imply that those Christian men who willingly chose to view last night’s halftime show found themselves engaged in the sin of lust. At the same time, it would be foolish to attempt to ignore the fact that the type of performance given at this show can and does incite such sin.
The Bible tells the believer to guard his heart (Prov. 4:23). A sin, before it is carried out in action, begins in one’s mind.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Jas. 1:14–15
One’s first course of action against sin, then, is to refuse to allow the mind even to contemplate the sin. For many, this may mean filtering what is heard and watched through television.
Yet, for others, viewing such things on the television screen may not lead to the contemplation of sin. Is this then an issue of Christian liberty? One may argue that it is, but that argument may not stand depending upon who is watching:
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Rom. 14:13
It is one thing if a man who is a Christian leader viewed the halftime show. It becomes another if he announces this to his thousands of Twitter followers. After all, is there not a great possibility that one of those followers struggles with lust and yet, upon seeing his favorite pastor condone the viewing of such material, suddenly begins to take more liberties in his own life? Worse, what does the voluntary viewing of this event say to a man’s young daughter who, if a believer, will spend her entire life struggling against what the world says is beautiful and what God says makes a woman beautiful (1 Pet. 3:4; 1 Tim. 2:9–10)? What does this say to the man’s young son who is just beginning to fight these temptations of lust and who, if a believer, will spend his life struggling against these in-your-face displays of sexuality as he seeks to counter them with what God says he should celebrate about a woman (Prov. 31:10–31)?
The Super Bowl Halftime Show is just one example of the blatant depravity that is on display and celebrated in today’s society. Yet, flagrant displays of moral corruption can be condemned without willingly being witnessed. While Christians do not need to live a life in seclusion and isolation without technology or interaction with the world, it nevertheless is imperative in these days to keep one’s mind ever-focused on the things of the Lord. These things should be the desires of the renewed mind and heart of the Christian.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:1–3