What was not acceptable 100 years ago or even 50 years ago has slowly shifted over time. For instance, ladies dressed more modestly, speech was wholesome in public areas, and more people went to church. In 2020 some women and men wear revealing clothes in public, we hear people openly cussing, and many people think going to church is a waste of a good Sunday. Times and culture have changed, and a good question is, how have we gotten to this point of moral decline?
During the Fellow’s class taught by John Stonestreet on culture, he tackled this question. One big point he brought up in his lecture was that entertainment leads culture. He explained that the entertainment industry seeds the culture with ideas. Hollywood movies and sitcoms have slowly over the years allowed more provocative and crude content. Love scenes in today’s movies have become much more graphic and show a lot more skin than they did 50 years ago. Movies have slowly over the years continued to push the limit for what is allowed based on the movie rating. If you compare a PG-rated movie in 1980 verses a PG movie in 2020, you would see a big difference in what they are currently allowed to show and even how people talk.
John Stonestreet quoted C.S. Lewis in saying, “The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” The entertainment industry has slowly added more decadence into movies and shows so as a result, now culture views sex scenes and cussing as just normal and totally acceptable. C.S. Lewis is right, no one now argues about what is allowed in movies and they are just assumed okay the way they are. The entertainment industry has slowly normalized this type of behavior in society so there is only a small voice raising the question of whether this is acceptable.
John Stonestreet shared with us four questions to ask when we as Christians are trying to form culture.
- What is good that we can protect, celebrate, and promote?
- What is missing that we can contribute?
- What is evil that must stop?
- What is broken that we can restore?
The Kendrick Brothers and Lifeway Films have taken to heart the above questions that John Stonestreet asked about how we as Christians can influence culture and make a change. Over the last 10 years, Lifeway Films and the Kendrick Brothers have made mainstream movies that focus on core Christian values that have played in movie theatres across the country. They are trying to give society wholesome, relevant movies and tackle real-life issues using a biblical perspective which are different from many Hollywood movies. Movies such as Overcomer, War Room, Courageous, Fireproof , and Facing the Giants deal with cultural topics such as alcoholism, economic challenges, death, marriage and family issues, pornography addiction, and infidelity just to name a few. These Christian movies are slowly influencing our culture and showing audiences the biblical way to tackle these cultural issues. These films show society how to protect and promote good morals and values. By giving a Christian perspective on how to deal with life’s issues, they are showing what other Hollywood movies and sitcoms are missing. These Christian themes highlight the evil our world has and culture portrays as okay that must stop. All of these films focus on how the brokenness in the world can be restored through God’s grace, His help, and the body of Christ.
John Stonestreet also asked another very important question to us as Christians, “What is your salvation for?” He said we are not saved by Jesus so we can escape culture and go straight to heaven, but rather we are saved so that we can exist on Earth to make a difference and impact our culture for Christ. Our faith has everything to do with where we are living now and where God has placed us in time. The culture would say we are here by chance and to live for ourselves during our lifetime. Christians know that we are not here by accident; God orchestrated everyone’s appointed place in time for a reason. Just like the apostle Paul in Acts chapter 12: he seized the opportunity to talk about Christ while he waited for his companions to join him in Athens to continue his ministry. Paul saw the lack of God in the culture of Greece and was given the opportunity to present the gospel to many leading Greek philosophers. He creatively engaged them using some of their own literature and asking relevant questions. He did not shy away from this opportunity and actively used his time instead of waiting quietly for his friends to arrive. This is a great reminder for us as Fellows to use the information we have learned this year to be ready and willing to be used by God in college over the next several years and wherever God places us after that.