How Do You Answer This Question?

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A student once asked me, “Hey Chris, have you seen The Hangover?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer that…I mean the truth is yeah…but is it okay to admit to a teen that I saw a movie that I would deem inappropriate for him?  No, but what if he then asked if I thought it was funny…which I thought it was…but is that okay, considering the humor in the film is based off of excessiveness?
What if a student asks me what music do I listen to?  Should I just name the bands that we use on our programs playlist, the songs that our worship band plays or should I let them know I’ve got a little place for Eddie Vedder in my heart?  What’s your take?
Do you hate that situation?  Do you feel a little guilty for admitting that you like certain music and movies.  Do you do your best to wear only Christian t-shirts, play only Christian music out loud, surround your desk with only Christian paraphernalia (and pics of the family)?  Or do you hide what you really like?  How would you feel if a student stumbled upon your playlist or movie collection?  How would you react?

Maybe you don’t mind the situation, maybe you’ve settled in your mind that you can see the R movies because you are over 17.  You don’t need to avoid parental advisory, because you yourself are a parent or at least independent of one.  In fact you embrace the situation because it gives you reason to talk to them about the secular world and how we need to be in it, just not of it.  You don’t mind because you have control over the boundaries of what’s sinful and what’s not.  So what side of the coin do you fall on…or are you indifferent?
Take the Poll and Share your Comments.

Is it okay for us to openly enjoy things (i.e. music, movies) that are considered secular?

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  • Paul says:

    As awkward as it might be, I don’t think there can be any other answer besides the truth. An explanation may be in order, or maybe a lifestyle change if you think it is inappropriate to admit to it.

  • Paul, I think you are right about the truth and it seems that people are either indifferent or okay with secular entertainment, but I’m wondering if there is anyone out there strongly opposed…or better yet, I want to know where some people draw the line…like when do we realize what we like is inappropriate?

  • Brian Kirk says:

    Part of the challenge has to be that what might be appropriate for me to watch/listen to as an adult is not necessarily appropriate for a teenager. So though I might admit to seeing a certain movie, I might question the teen as to whether or not it as appropriate for them to see it.

  • Jason Moye says:

    How about if it is not good for them then it is not good for you. Don’t expose yourself to Crap and Crap wont come out. It never ceases to amaze me at the youth leaders that should not be leaders. Wow! Lead by example… dont live 2 lives. Wow just wow!!!

  • Brian, I agree that the challenge comes from deeming what is appropriate for us vs what’s appropriate for them, but someone has to hold us accountable. So how do people seek accountability in the media that they enjoy?

    Jason, I agree that if you expose yourself to the wrong things, you risk it flowing out of you; however, how do you define what’s evil and what’s just imperfect?

  • Joe says:

    I’m kind of with Jason on this one. I’ve been thinking about media – especially TV and movies. There is so much worthless junk/crap available to watch. I find most of it to not only have little to no value but also be huge distraction to the things of value. I also find myself thinking about how I tell my 10 yr old that the movie I rented is for Mom and Dad and not appropriate for her. I want to lead by example. To answer the question, answer honestly – and don’t try to justify or rationalize why it is OK for you (us). I find our students are a good source of accountability for us as leaders.

  • Justin says:

    All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. We must be honest with our students, but know that we are the best example some of them have. Sure we need accountability. We also need discernment of what is appropriate: wise as serpents and innocent as doves. If the question arises and we feel the pressure of guilt, it is a truly teachable moment for all involved.

  • Great conversation everyone. I know that when it comes to certain movies (i.e. the Super Bad) there’s just a bunch of raunchy, childish humor, but what about when we hit movies that have a powerful message but maybe a few inappropriate scenes (i.e. sex scene or killing)?

  • Rev. Russ says:

    Man this is a great question, I think it’s a balancing act because while the students know that I listen or hear other music they also know that I support and push them to be more consumed with the things of God, so music and movies they know I listen to because to be honest I use them as teaching points in our session but they also know that it’s about what they allow in them, so they need to allow more of God in them than they do the things of the world….

    Again man great question and thought, be blessed homie…

  • Rev Russ,
    Thanks for the feedback, it is great to see people chime in. Again I think it’s easy to draw lines with certain media, but I know for me it’s definitely a balancing act of what would be a good teaching point, what am I exposing myself too, how does it affect me, am I being overly sensitive?
    Another area I would like to hear from is gaming. I’m not into video games, but I know there is a lot of discussion on Halo, and Call of Duty…what are people’s thoughts about those games…should we be playing them? If you have games at your programs which ones do you allow?

  • Paul says:

    @ Jason, I wonder though if there are things that aren’t appropriate for younger teens that might be appropriate for older people. That’s not the way the question is asked, but that is what I think the spirit of the question is.

    I wouldn’t show Hotel Rwanda to my Jr. High group, but probably would my Sr. High group. Just a thought.

  • Ashley says:

    I believe we need to be honest and open with our students. If we are not and we put on a facade of spirituality.. it will only teach them the wrong things. I would rather be open and honest with my students about seeing a movie or listening to certain music and why those things are or are not appropriate than to see my students turn into cookie cutter spiritual robots than know nothing of grace just the thou shalt nots. I think the honest conversations with students might turn into something really neat and refreshing. It would be cool talk about why the line from Lady Antebellum “I’m a little drunk and I need you now” has been changed on even most radio stations or how movies on TBS change the words in movies for the appropriate audience. Be honest above all. And yet maybe with us.. God is using our students to convict (like Joe said). 🙂

  • Brian Kirk says:

    I don’t think anyone here is saying this, but I think it’s worth stating that God and issues of faith can be found beyond the culture of Christian music and movies. In fact, I often find that secular films and music speak much more profoundly on the issues of love, sex, violence, family, friendship, life etc. and challenge us to consider where God is in the all the junk we deal with in our daily living. If we close ourselves off to secular entertainment and live like monks, do we realistically have the expectation that our youth will do the same? For me, I draw the line at consuming material that I deem celebrates violence (as so many video games do) or which demeans other people or the nature of human relationships. Using that criteria, I would still go see an rated R movie that I wouldn’t necessarily think my teens were ready developmentally to see yet.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have no problem letting my students know what I listen to or watch. We are human as well. I openly draw on my experiences with being in a fraternity in college to teach and minister to my students. It is only when we experience the same things that they experience do we truly get to know our students and really know how to speak to them. That is EXACTLY why God sent Jesus to us….so that God could be human, in the flesh, one of us, to experience things they way we experience them, to listen to what we listen to, to see what we see.

    Acknowledging to your students that you have the new Lil Wayne album on repeat on your ipod or that you recently saw the new Saw movie installment is one thing….to actually show rateded R movies and songs is another.

    We should get to know our students, not hold ourselves up on a pedestal for them to look at

  • Julie says:

    While I agree with the “Crap in, crap out” mentality, I also know that my students are going to be engaging the culture in a way I might not be comfortable with. I try to stay up on what is popular without necessarily approving of what I’m seeing. Sometimes I’ll watch something just because a group of teens have told me it’s cool, and I’ll be sick to my stomach not even 15 minutes in. We need to know what we’re up against. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Kids are not going to make all of their decisions based on the opinion of their YMs. And if we don’t know what they’re talking about, we can’t step in.

    Yeah, I saw the Hangover. I thought it was ridiculous and outlandish, and I would never even consider marrying (or dating!) a man who would put himself in those sorts of situations.

  • Julie,
    Awesome insight, thanks for sharing. I admit staying up on what we’re up against is a real battle, because there is so much out there. I know another challenge that comes to having these conversations with our teenagers is empowering them to ingest the good, guard their hearts from the bad without pushing them away. I know I try to do that by having one on one conversations with the students, trying to guide them to the answer, but I would love to hear what others are doing.