Attending a strongly conservative church and Christian homeschool groups has afforded me some unique perspectives. I learned very quickly that the norm in the Christian community seemed to be one of cutting out all things secular from our lives: no TV, no radio (unless it was the Christian station), no non-Christian friends… I knew countless fellow church-goers who would not allow their children to read the Harry Potter books, let alone watch the movies. Before I became a Christian, I worked with a man who would not associate with me because I did not yet know God.
The Bible tells us that we must keep our minds on Higher things, like our Savior and loving our brothers and neighbors. Yet, let’s be real: the apostle Paul didn’t have rap music and “The Walking Dead” in his time. So how do we reconcile these two worlds? I don’t know how others would answer. I’m sure some of my Christian family would say that I have compromised godly values for more worldly things, but I’d like to defend how we have chosen to live.
First of all, my non-Christian or agnostic friends know that when they need Prayer Warriors on their side, they can come to me. My family and I will approach God on their behalf and we are happy to do it. If I were to disassociate myself from all non-Christians as my coworker did to me so many years ago, I would not only miss out on some of the best friendships of my life, but I would also remove the opportunity for bringing some of these friends to Christ.
I understand that as Christians, we must not be of the world, yet I cannot help being in the world. As a parent–and as someone who tries to work out her own salvation with “fear and trembling”–I try to be careful about what we listen to and watch in the house. I allow the kids to listen to pop music on the radio, within reason. If lyrics come on about bumping and grinding in a club after popping open a bottle of cris, I will change the station. But we know who Adele and Bruno Mars are.
As for Harry Potter and the like, I allow my children to read the books and watch the movies. First of all, the books are brilliant. Second, watching Harry Potter has not made us want to chant spells and curse each other. I like to watch coming of age movies with my kiddos so that we can discuss what we see: Is it okay to sleep around? Is it okay to have premarital sex? Is it okay to experiment with cigarettes or drugs? What about underage drinking? Some of the movies allow me to hit the pause button so we can discuss the girl in the movie who is passed out, opening herself up to the potential dangers of date rape, etc. We all know that teens can be volatile, and without love, instruction, and patience, volatile kids can turn into volatile adults. I like to watch movies that show red flags in teenage behavior that might be very undesirable in adults.
With my younger kids, I like watching shows that show the dynamic between different age groups/cultures. We can talk about acceptance, dress codes, and relationship/social issues.
I firmly believe that unless my children plan to live their lives out in a monastery or convent, I am doing more harm than good in completely sheltering them from all things ungodly. The best thing I can do is educate them to be responsible, discerning and godly young adults in a world that is not always pleasant and kind.
CJ Heath: Parent. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Survivor of public school and Harry Potter series.