by Ali Burckhartt
For most of my life, I’ve been a naïve consumer, only concerned with how entertaining, useful, or satisfying a product or source of entertainment was to me. In my mind, the celebrities I listened to and viewed on television, movies, radio, etc. were inanimate objects, existing only for my entertainment. For example, the main character of The Big Bang Theory is Sheldon Cooper the genius, not Jim Parsons the actor. However deeply wrong this may be, these people were stuck in my brain as such.
In the past year, I have acknowledged that it is nearly impossible (if not impossible), to strive for a life of purity if I am constantly exposing myself to media that either subtly suggests or directly refers to things not edifying or building up my relationship with God (Luke 11:34, Psalm 101:3-4). I combed through my media outlets and collection of music and movies, deleting and cutting out obvious guilty parties. Easy offenders, like vulgarity, violence, and references to sexual impurity were obvious “goners”. I made some exceptions though for my favorite shows, and continued listening to some songs because “I just listen to the beat, not the words”.
However, spiritual conviction has changed my heart and outlook on this issue.
Just as I had always had a very selfish perspective in my consumerism, I had a very self-centered attitude about filtering my media exposure. I had only been concerned with helping myself and my immediate circle avoid stumbling into sin by cutting the “most negative” media from my life. I had never felt convicted to avoid a certain source or artist simply out of concern for the celebrity’s salvation or relationship with God.
As Eric Vaughn of PC4M explains through his spoken word, Oh Really? (below), many celebrities earn fame and fortune through depicting or promoting reckless behavior and beliefs. Our culture glorifies sexual impurity and sinful indulgence in worldly pleasures. It is simple supply and demand. If society demands it, these celebrities will continue their current actions and lifestyles to maintain celebrity status. By consuming some celebrity’s products and buying their songs or viewing their movies/televisions shows, I am contributing to the demand, thus encouraging their lifestyle.
One might think, if I am striving for purity in myself, the blame of a sin doesn’t rest on my shoulders because I’m not the one actually committing it, right? Actually, our Father tells us not to lead others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13, Romans 13:14). In fact, Jesus says it is worse to be the one “through whom [temptation] come[s]!” (Luke 17:1-4). By contributing to the demand for raunchy sit-coms and explicit music (among other things), I am a part of tempting celebrities, marketers, and producers to continue to produce them.
Excluding these things from my life is not to be done in condemnation. As God declares, I am called to love these celebrities just as I love the friends and family members I know personally (1 Corinthians 16:14) I am choosing not to support specific products or decisions with the prayer they will grow in the Lord.
By purchasing products or watching shows that display sinful thoughts or actions, I am paying for entertainment at the celebrity’s expense, and supporting their ultimate downfall (Proverbs 24:17). Next time you’re buying a product or engaging in the media, join me in stopping first to ask,
“Am I receiving entertainment at the expense of sin from another human being made in the image of God, or am I encouraging them to pursue Christ?”
Ali is a 2013 pureJUSTICE intern and Senior at Oklahoma State.