This is a question and answer from a reader to Leslie Ludy regarding the areas of books, music, and movies in the life of a set-apart young person. Her response and suggested prayers to the Lord and questions to ask ourself personally were most insightful (as was the information in a previous post “Laying Down Idols” if you have not had a chance to read it).
“I’m reading Set-Apart Femininity and God has challenged me to do some serious housecleaning and get rid of things that hinder me denying self and letting the Lord increase in my life. As a big fan of romance, this has meant letting go of certain movies, certain romance novels, and many music artists. But do you think I should absolutely never read a book, listen to music or look a movie that is not Christian? I also love to sing a variety of music from gospel to r&b, which is my favorite. I want to be pleasing to the Lord and give him the rightful place as Lord of my life, and I’m not sure how much of this I should allow and how much I should not allow. I would love to hear your take on this.”
When it comes to offering our bodies as living sacrifices to Christ, I don’t believe there is any such thing as being too extreme. Just as Christ laid down everything for us, we are called to lay down everything for Him. As Amy Carmichael said, “Ours should not be the love that asks, ‘how little?’ but ‘how much?’; the love that pours out its all and revels in the joy of having anything to pour on the feet of its Beloved.”
I believe that the area of pop-culture media (movies, T.V., magazines, books, music) is a tremendous blind spot for most Christians today. We allow shocking amounts of ungodly attitudes and influences into our daily lives under the banner of artistic expression and “harmless entertainment.” And as I said in my book, these things have even become idols for many of us. God has done a tremendous work in this area of my own life, convicting me of allowing compromise into my soul through media channels, and walking me through a process of purging everything that dishonors Him and distracts me from Him. I believe this is something that every young woman who truly desires to be set-apart for Christ must seriously evaluate before God, being wiling to go to whatever “extreme” is necessary to be completely separate from the world in heart, mind, and body.
That being said, I also believe that there is a danger in making broad-sweeping rules for our lives as an effort to live righteously in our own strength. Rather than relying on self-made rules (such as never watching another movie or listening to another secular song) to protect your intimate relationship with Christ, it’s far better to rely on His Spirit – letting Him gently guide you, convict you, and direct you in these decisions. When you are attempting to decide how much or little of these things to participate in, here are some questions to prayerfully take before your King, allowing His Spirit to search your heart and motives:
Will this activity (movie, book, or song) truly bring glory to the name of Christ?
Does it promote (even subtly) any kind of ungodly attitude?
Does it create any kind of temptation to my flesh (i.e. music that causes me to sound or behave sensually, movies that create unhealthy romantic fantasies in my mind, etc.)
Does it draw me away from Christ, or closer to Him?
If you answer these questions honestly and build your choices accordingly, you will make Christ-honoring decisions in this area of your life. And if you are going to err, err on the side of caution. If you are ever unsure about the effect that something will have on your spiritual life, it’s best to avoid it – even though the decision might seem ridiculous to others. Though we must guard against self-made righteousness, we must also guard against allowing compromise and mediocrity into our lives through channels such as movies, books and music. In our media-saturated culture, it’s all too easy for this to become an avenue for selfishness and ungodliness to creep into our lives and hearts.
You can be assured that no sacrifice you make for His sake will be wasted – and even if you must give up things that currently bring you delight, such as your music, you will soon discover that unhindered intimacy with Him brings an even greater pleasure into your life than those things ever could. As the Psalmist said, “In His presence is fullness of joy!”