Guest Post from Tim Nowell. You can catch part 1 HERE.
We can’t sterilize life
Most of the time Christians avoid certain content because they deem it inappropriate and that’s a perfectly acceptable filter. However, we must ask ourselves why we have deemed that content inappropriate.
Is it inappropriate because it makes us think or do something that goes against God’s word? Does it drive us to live contrary to the way that God wants us to? Does it desensitize to the point that we think certain sinful behavior is acceptable? Or does it simply contain content that is of a certain sexual or violent nature and those things are bad because they are bad.
Many of the students at our church have read all or at least some (even my 10-year-old daughter) of the Harry Potter books. Not one of them, that I’m aware of, is trying sorcery to get through life. They’ll also tell you that black magic or the dark arts – whatever you’d like to call it is not real and/or is wrong – I am not suggesting that anything is fair game. The issue I’m driving at is whether not it influences us to act in an unbiblical manner.
Jesus didn’t avoid questionable content. He called the woman at the well out on her husbands and boyfriend. He was close to tax collectors and sinners. His disciples weren’t exactly a band of morally clean superheroes of the day.
We don’t always consider why we avoid content. Are we avoiding content because it is going to drive us to think or do something that would be sinful? If we are, that’s not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. However, if we are avoiding such content that will keep us from talking about issues we need to address, we probably need to reconsider the avoidance.
My wife can’t stand the sight of a needle going into a skin or a surgeon’s knife opening a sterilized area. Those things don’t bother me in the least. Certain content will give nightmares to one and another won’t have a second thought about it. In this, we need to consider knowing ourselves well enough to know what will affect us and what won’t.
Part of that is an accurate filter for our kids. I don’t want my 7-year-old hearing certain stories on the news. She can’t handle it. As she gets older she needs to know how to handle it because that’s the world around us.
We can become desensitized. I understand that. We can reach the point where we think something is acceptable simply because we have seen it so many times. We have seen that many times with Christians and many cultural agendas. We must continue to align ourselves with God’s truth, but we shouldn’t expect the world around us to do so.
Our students and many of us are surrounded by this stuff every day. Are they entertained by it? Does it drive us to want to do it ourselves, does it desensitize us to the point that we condone or even approve or is it just a reflection of what is?
Some other adults
I tell students all the time that Google doesn’t have all the right answers. I also remind them that their friends are full of bad advice as well. It’s not because their friends don’t mean well, it’s because they are mostly ignorant.
Many students are uncomfortable and/or unwilling to bring hard subjects to their parents. I have no real statistics to back it up, but anecdotally this has been proven true over and over again in my experience. This is definitely depicted in books, TV and film as well. This is an accurate depiction. I experienced it myself and talked to many people that lived it as well.
I understand wanting to be your kid’s go-to, but wouldn’t you like a back-up in the event they chose to go another way. I know I do. Who in the life of your kid can they go to not named mom or dad? Who are they comfortable going to? Are they passionately pursuing Christ? Can they offer Biblical advice? Will they? Can they handle the situation well, no matter how difficult?
This might be the conversation you have with your kid(s). Don’t ask them to spill the beans. Ask them who else they’d be willing to go to. Ask them if they’d feel comfortable opening up to that individual? Then ask yourself if that’s a God-honoring person.
It might be a chance to take it one step further. Encourage that individual to ask hard questions and to follow up with your kid. Ask the other adult to let you know of anything serious.
How would we react to a real life situation?
The one thing I keep thinking as I’ve watched episodes of 13 Reasons Why is that there is no hope. I keep wondering how one believer in Jesus that understands how to talk about these
issues could change a lot of what happens. How would he or she handle certain conversations and situations?
I wonder how the learning lab of a TV series instead of real life helps train us for the reality that exists outside our doors. In other words, how do they know how to act? Many different industries have real world training opportunities. Why can’t believers in Christ, have something similar for tackling all of life even if it has some f-bombs (spoiler: so do their school hallways).
Don’t flip out
Perhaps you need to view some content to see some things through your kids eyes. They want to be adults. They want to act like adults. They want to be involved in adult situations. Part of this is a good thing because, surprisingly, they will eventually be adults. How are you preparing them for that?
It is not outside the realm of possibility that when your student says that everything is fine, everything is indeed fine. Not every moment is a crisis. Not every day is filled with life-changing drama. Chances are pretty good that today was just another day and this week was just another week. I’ve also noticed that the nuclear meltdown of today is really no big deal after a good night’s sleep or a healthy meal.
Be proactive, not reactive, but we can’t control everything. Your kids will eventually do what they are going to do. As you well know you can do everything right as a parent – whatever that is – and still have a kid go off the deep end. Eventually, they are responsible for their choices.
So I don’t have any hard and fast ways to handle all of this. What you (may have) just read is only what’s been on my mind. I guess in summary, I wonder if 13 Reasons Why is just another in a long line of neutral entities, like social media, the internet, music and movies, that are neither holy nor evil, but are what we make of them. So then, how will we use these things to make ourselves more like Jesus and bring others closer to Him as well?