We’re young here at Covenant College, and entertainment is a popular topic. We’re always discussing the latest songs and movies with each other -- so much so, that we term a certain selection of these “pop culture.” Writing to the Philippians, Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Here at Covenant College, we focus on these qualities. We’re always looking for common grace insights. No matter how awful the song is, no matter how dreadful the movie, we can always point to some hint of meaning that indicates good to a mind disposed to look for it. We look carefully for excellence and truth and loveliness. This is praiseworthy.
However, I think we find the needle in the haystack when we approach popular culture this way. Does God really want us to search so hard for these things, when other modes of entertainment offer more? Why watch “The Walking Dead” when “Peter Pan” is also available? Shouldn’t we—as Christians—desire to dwell on the thing that is more cheerful, more desirable, more pleasant and praiseworthy? Shouldn’t we feed our minds with happy things, lovely things? No doubt a bright, shiny needle of excellence lies in “The Walking Dead” and other such shows, and no doubt it can be found. But one needle does not “redeem” the entire, filthy haystack!
There may be reasons for watching and listening to things that disregard Christian values. Perhaps it will give you understanding into the ways of non-Christians and make you a wiser person. If you must watch such movies and listen to such songs, find all the needles you can in the haystack! But always try to pick the haystack with the most needles and reduce the number of haystacks you search as much as possible.
Common grace and redemptive qualities are all very well. But let’s not get carried away! God wants us to dwell on what is good and holy (even in the midst of such sad books as Joshua, Judges, and Leviticus), so it stands to reason we should look for as many of the good and holy things as possible. He does not ask us to confine ourselves to exclusively Christian entertainment, but He does want us to avoid what is evil. Watching loads of zombies and listening to crude, sexist popular songs is going to have its effect on us. The common grace is doubtless there, but the quantity is greatly outweighed by the evil, and needles don’t redeem a common, dirty haystack. Though we are called to find the little good even in such a thing, we would surely be better occupied in contemplating the good in entertainment that was meant to be good and wholesome.