We in God’s Church strive to think biblically about any given topic—to keep our brains turned on and “tuned in” to what the Bible has to say. But what about entertainment?
Entertainment is usually designed to help us stop thinking. When I consider some of the entertainment I enjoy, I know that part of the reason I enjoy it is because it’s not mentally taxing. There’s a danger in this, as you might expect: When we stop thinking, we are still taking in information. For example, Star Wars is my favorite film franchise—but can I just turn my brain off and mindlessly take it in?
There were a few items I realized I needed to filter out of my mindset after being raised on Star Wars. First, it sugarcoats war. Most PG or PG-13 movies do this—characters just scream and fall over when they die, and good guys can mow down legions of bad guys, rarely getting hurt themselves. As a result, I grew up thinking that even though war sounded bad, it was probably something I could survive. I was thankfully able to grow out of that mindset as I got a better idea of what war is really like. Needless to say, God never sugarcoats war, and He is looking forward to doing away with it entirely (Matthew 5:9; Isaiah 2:2–4).
Secondly, Star Wars usually makes its bad guys faceless; stormtroopers are just evil and deserve to be shot for their crimes against the galaxy. In some ways, it’s no different from stories that employ orcs or killer robots—enemies that neither give nor deserve mercy. But when we apply that thinking to human beings, it takes us to places in our history like the Holocaust and other instances of genocide. We have to keep in mind that every human being is created in God’s image and that God’s master plan includes resurrection for all who have died. When God resurrects Nazis (see Matthew 12:41), do we think we’ll just gun them back down? Or, are we called to learn how to help them repent of their evil deeds? Some of the Nazis were literally called stormtroopers—and, despite all their evil in this age, they were still human beings made in God’s image and will have their opportunity to repent.
One more lesson, though there are surely others: In Star Wars, the rebels are the good guys. The rebels are not the good guys in the Bible—they include Korah, Absalom, Nimrod, and Satan himself. A quick word study will show that the vast majority of biblical references to rebel, rebels, rebellion, and rebellious refer to the Israelites’ attitudes and actions toward God and His ways! While there are times when we cannot obey men because of our greater responsibility to God (Acts 5:29), it’s clear that we should be trying to obey humanly constituted government as much as possible. David is a great example of someone who stuck to this—he had every reason to rebel against King Saul, but he waited for God to handle the situation. It’s a big topic, but the main point is that the Bible tells us to try as hard as possible to be obedient, while Star Wars celebrates the mindset of rebellion.
And, for all that, I still like Star Wars. But I try to remind myself to never turn off a biblical mindset. We have to make sure we use the Bible to filter the world and its entertainment, or the world will quickly start to influence us more than the Bible does. Don’t let the world slip in subtle messages through movies and other entertainment—keep your brain turned on.