The post heading is from a children’s song we used to sing in Sunday School. If you are not familiar with it you can learn about it here. The song teaches children basic Christian discernment while also teaching them anatomy by pointing to the parts of their body they need to be careful with, such as ears, eyes, and mind. As I was thinking about the words to the song, it occurred to me just how deep they really go. We are to be careful with what we hear, see, think about and so forth. But do we carry it too far, or not far enough?
I was prompted theologically to write this post based on some past comments presented on this blog. I have also petitioned some of my fellow bloggers and church elders concerning this subject matter. Since I write about music as much as anything else culturally on this blog, I will focus on that medium in this post. In past discussions I have participated in with other Christians concerning the secular medium of connecting culturally, the basis of discernment has surrounded Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.(ESV)
But are we using this verse correctly? We have a tendency as Christians to want to create a list of dos and don’ts. Much like filling in the gray area not covered by the Ten Commandments. Like a fellow believing blogger, I would say the scope of this verse and context is much broader. Is Paul instructing us to only consume the medium labeled “Christian” as many folks have thought? Should we not watch sporting events like football of hockey then? Should we only listen to hymns and Contemporary Christian music? Should we only read Christian publications? I don’t think Paul is instructing us this way. I believe, as do many others I petitioned, that Phil. 4:8 is more of a list of exhortations rather than a list of things to avoid. But there are other passages in scripture that do deal with what we consume.
1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.(ESV)