One thing that often galls me about the church today is the spread of Pharisaic thinking among Christians. Specifically, I refer to the Pharisaic thinking condemned by Christ in Matthew 23:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! [Emphasis added.]
I have met a large number of nominally Christian parents who refuse to allow their children to watch certain television shows, play certain (or any) video games, and listen to certain types of music, all in the name of preventing their children from being influenced by the world. Yet these same parents send their children to public school. Many of these parents also heavily rely on the church to provide spiritual training for their children.
To me, this is a very peculiar way of thinking, which I generally refer to as marginal Christianity, for its practitioners seem to believe that Christianity takes place at the margins. Thus, it is acceptable for Christians to send their children to public school, in which the spiritual dregs of society are compelled to attend, but it is unacceptable for Christians to allow their children to watch a television show that has a character say “bitch” or play a video game wherein one is expected to kill imaginary opponents.
Not all Christian parents are like this, of course. I have met many materialistic Christians who were consistent about their embrace of things of the world, and I have met some conscientious Christian parents who not only forbid their children from consuming modern media, but also homeschool in order to shield them from the various unsavory aspects of worldly behavior. However, most Christian parents I’ve met seem to be perfectly fine with allowing their children to face an enormous amount of pressure from evil influences in public school (for 6+ hours a day, five days a week, 36+ weeks a year) while simultaneously balking at the idea of allowing their child to watch an NBC comedy.
This strikes me as completely backwards.*
To me, it seems better to take care of the weightier matters of the law, like keeping your child away from the evil influences of their generally degraded peers than to focus on marginal things, like media consumption. Yes, media consumption can be an incredibly negative influence but this is very much a marginal concern. The evil that is seen on TV, heard in music, and simulated in video games often pales in comparison to the evil that is daily present in public schools. Thus, if parents are so concerned about their children’s spiritual well-being, it is far more effective to homeschool them than to forbid them from watching TV and playing video games.
* Please note that I am not saying Christians should consume popular media. There is much in popular media worthy of moral condemnation, and thus avoidance.