reflections of Truth

"Can't get through life by just being nice/
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."
~ Dion DiMucci, The Thunderer

Since watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, I have been contemplating something that I want to try to articulate. There was so much in the movie that might be offensive to some Christian parents - magic, a Methuselah-like main character, total occupation with the intrinsic human ability to succeed, in short, the whole "believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything" moral. However, there were many positive aspects of this story from a Christian worldview as well - the intrinsic value of human beings, perseverance, inter-generational relationships, respect, joy, a complete lack of "black" magic. How does a Christian parent decide what is good and wholesome for their children, and what fails to meet the standard? How do we judge secular entertainment, educational materials, literature, etc.?

It strikes me that there are several camps, historically, on this issue. I'm just going to reflect on a few of them here. The Puritanical perspective would justify their position using the verse, "I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil" (Romans 15:19). In current culture, we see these parents choosing only books and movies from the Christian bookstore (wait, is the Christian bookstore even o.k.? It's interdenominational!), reading only the Bible and C.S. Lewis to their kids, singing old hymns because pop Christian music might be a reflection of evil, dressing their kids very modestly, and avoiding dances, plays, and other forms of secular entertainment.

Then there is the traditional evangelical approach. This camp focuses heavily on Christian community and going "out" into the "world" to proselytize, relying on the phrase, "be in the world, but not of the world" (John 17:14-16). I don't want to raise my children completely in this camp either - I think Christian community is important, but I also want to be wholly there for people who don't share my faith. I don't want to just travel out from my camp to teach them, I really want to know them and develop relationships with them and teach my children by that example. I think it is dangerous to exist in a little Christian enclave. I think unbelievers help us keep perspective, and can teach us a lot about life - and it is also of utmost importance to share our faith with them just by involving them in our daily lives, as Jesus did!

A third group is at the most permissive side of the Christian spectrum, and I am not comfortable there, either. I don't know how to label this group I observe. I guess I would say they are liberal. There is no visible difference in how they speak, relate, dress, act, what hobbies they pursue, what entertainment they consume...they are, to the observer, part of the world. I want my family to stand out as a family living for Christ. I want our decisions to attract people to Christianity, not drive them away from it, but I want there to be a visible difference in us.

Here's what I want to communicate to my children:
  • We are set apart in Christ (Psalm 4:3)
  • We have freedom in Christ (I Corinthians 10:23-31)
  • We are responsible to make good decisions, especially with our bodies (I Corinthians 6:19)
  • We should carefully choose our friends (Proverbs 22:24; 27:10)
  • We should carefully choose our entertainment/media consumption (Romans 15:19)
  • We should keep ourselves & our minds pure (Titus 1:15)
  • We cannot 'throw stones' at other sinners as we are sinners, too (John 8:7)
  • We must value our conscience & keep it clean (Acts 24:16)
I think watching movies like Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is important. I want to raise culturally competent, friendly, interesting children who love God and attract people to them so that they can attract those same people to the Gospel. Understanding the world around them is an important piece of that. I also think it's important to teach them to see little pieces of God's Truth reflected in things of this world, for He is, truly, all around us. I see Him in the weirdest places sometimes!

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." I Corinthians 9:22-23