GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Discernment using Scripture

on March 22, 2012

I’m going to write on a touchy subject and I’m sure some, even Christians, will disagree with me, so I’m going to start by saying this is my opinion and whatever you decide is going to have to be between you and God.

I’m not going to mention any book series by name but I’m sure those who know me or follow my blog will know which series’ I’m discussing in writing this today.  I was recently encouraged by a 12 year old to read a certain series’ she told me that her and her mom are reading and they are so good.  Well since she goes to Awana I thought, what could hurt?  So I asked her more about this series – when she told me about it, I was appalled.  Killing, the endorsement of killing and the allusion to eating other humans?  Really?  This is what passes for ‘good’ literature these days?  My 10 year sat quietly nearby (she had heard of this series already, but thankfully has a spirit of discernment and knew she wouldn’t read them) just watching.  When the other girl left the room my daughter looked at me and said those books are terrible mom, there is no way I’d read them.  Praise the Lord!

Some would say that we aren’t supposed to protect our children from everything in the world or that we should let them read things that are from Satan or that are un-Godly so that we can teach them discernment.  This to me, sounds like a cop out so that you can assuage yourself that it’s okay to read these things.  Discernment is a gift from the Holy Spirit and while we can teach it to our children, I don’t think we need to teach it to them by exposing them to material that would allow Satan any kind of entrance to their lives.

As I think about what, we, as Christians should be taking in – whether it’s books, T.V. show, movies, music, etc I think back to Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think on these things.”

or what about Romans 12:9?

“Let love be without dissimulation.  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

or how about Galatians 5:20-25

” Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

How do certain books stack up against God’s Word?  That is what we should be most concerned about – what God says.  If we aren’t supposed to be partaking in the things that God would see as evil, why would we want any part of it?  I have to say when I see people reading certain books I do question how strong they are in their walk – if I know they are identifying themselves as Christian.

Would you doubt my walk if I was reading a book about Wicca, even if I claimed it was only for research?  I would hope so – why would I need to read something to be able to discern that it’s bad and goes against God’s Word?  Can’t I just take His Word for it?  He is God, He Created the world, He sent His Son – who died for us – that doesn’t mean we can run rampant and do what we want and then think “well the Bible doesn’t say I shouldn’t read it, so it must be okay.” or “I’ll just repent later.”  If you repent of these things then you shouldn’t go back to it – just because the Bible is silent on the issue of abortion doesn’t mean that it’s okay – it falls under murder.

Reading books or other forms of entertainment that put ideas in our minds (and eventually will come out in our lives) should not be a part of a Christian’s life.  I’m not saying you’re going to go to Hell or anything like that, I’m simply encouraging you, if you’re a Christian and currently reading books that have themes of murder, occultism, etc to look at them in light of Scripture and then pray over it.  We should strive for Matthew 5:48 which says “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.”

If you’d run into Jesus on the street today would He be pleased to see one of His children reading, watching or listening to these popular things in the guise of learning to discern?

Now, so that my readers don’t think I’m ganging up on them – recently I’ve come under conviction of the Holy Spirit – because of the books I read.  As a book reviewer this is hard.  As a fan of Christian fiction, this is hard.  Is it any harder though than what Christ went through on the Cross?  My flesh says yes, but in reality giving up certain book genre’s for my Lord will have it’s own blessings.  I’ve decided that once I fulfill my obligations for the Christian fiction I already have, I won’t be requesting anymore.  Especially in regards to romance.

Things that bring discontentment in our lives – like when I read about the perfect man and perfect woman having the perfect marriage and he does everything perfect, tends to give me discontentment towards my own husband.  Is this something that I need?  No.  Something I should want?  No.  I can’t say I won’t fail and won’t request a book – but as such I’m going to be much more discerning in what I review from now on – I’m going to seek the Lord and see if He would want me to read this Amish fiction book or if He’d rather me read the Christian suspense book or choose none.  I’m going to let Him lead me in the direction He’d take me in regards of what goes into my mind.

 

ETA:  A friend on Facebook also pointed out this Scripture which is also fantastic for thinking about what we allow into our lives:

 

Psalm 101:3 “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes:  I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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20 responses to “Discernment using Scripture

  1. Ha ha ha. I was just researching Christian thoughts on the series I assume you are talking about…couldn’t find too much. Hugs.

  2. Well put! Thanks for sharing!

  3. themrs says:

    great post Sarah! as you know, i have read this series myself. However, I love to speak freely on my blog and respect you doing the same! I will pray for you as you seek to glorify the Lord in this area.. you pray for me too! love ya! 🙂

    • ohiosarah says:

      Thank you for your words 🙂 I don’t usually open up so much because I don’t like having tomatoes thrown – but this is near and dear to my heart. Will do 😀

  4. I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you for reminding me of all of the scriptures that pertain to the subject of discernment in what we take into our brains- I am going to get my notebook now and write those down so that I can remember them and be able to quote them for my teens. I feel the same way about the books you mentioned, but is there a reason why we can’t say the title? Well, you and I know what this book is called. My feelings harken back to the way I felt about the Twilight series. I never understood why Christians would read those books or allow their children to read them. Why is it so hard for people to think on good things? This is an important reminder why we should.

    • ohiosarah says:

      Jennifer, thank you for your comments. I can’t take credit as I think it was the Lord who was leading me to write this. I chose not to say the title as I don’t want to be accused of defamation should someone take issue with my post. I think enough people know of the books and if they don’t I’d be happy to tell them titles in a private email 😀

  5. Lynne Young says:

    Wonderful blog! Although my children are grown, I remember going through this with my daughter when the Harry Potter books came out. We so did not want her to read them but since children are so influenced by their peers we assumed she would, behind our backs. Well, God intervened and when she was given one of the books as a present, she said “donate it, I’m not going to read it”. We were so proud of her, and relieved.

    • ohiosarah says:

      That is awesome Lynne. The Lord truly works when we allow Him to do so. I read the HP series and got rid of them all after the Lord laid it on my heart, I don’t think I even read the last two. I love hearing stories of our children who have that discernment 😀

  6. I am not sure which series you are referring to, but I do know this. If you think your daughter should not be reading it, then she shouldn’t. As far as reading questionable books, I avoid them if I can. Sometimes I can’t. You wouldn’t believe the number of Christian books that have some questionable content. I have enough sin of my own to repent of without having to pay good money for a book that will have me repenting after I read it. No, I don’t need any helps sinning. I do just fine all by myself. Thanks for this, Sarah.

    • ohiosarah says:

      I just PMed you on FB Keiki. That is so true, I read a ‘Christian’ book one time but couldn’t get past the first couple chapters. I wrote a review telling readers that I couldn’t finish it for certain reasons, etc but there was no way I could finish it. I like what you said about not needing helps in sinning – it’s so true – anymore I can’t stand to watch what used to be my favorite T.V. shows or even the news.

  7. hiddenhill says:

    What about murder, adultery, and other horrors in the Bible? For that matter, what about horrors in history (should we not teach historical horrors because it isn’t “good” or “lovely”?) Just because such things are in a book doesn’t mean it’s glorified. I haven’t read the series in question (assuming it’s The Hunger Games), but I’m certain we read books that you wouldn’t approve of. We read a lot of fantasy involving the classic good triumphing over evil theme, and we believe that’s a good message for the whole family 🙂 I read Twilight to see what all the fuss was about, and determined that I wouldn’t let my kids touch it with a ten foot pole, because of its awful messages – it might as well be a handbook on how young girls can mess up their lives (i.e. focusing their entire lives to the exclusion of all else, on a dangerous boyfriend). Yes, discernment is important, but we have to each choose for our own families what is acceptable, and I believe reading a book first to see what it’s really about is a good method.

    • ohiosarah says:

      I appreciate your opinion – however I don’t believe one needs to read something just to find out what it’s about. I can simply look at the back cover or for that matter read a review from a trusted source, such as Focus on the Family (although I’m not sure how they got someone to agree to read it for a review, but I’ll digress). There are many books out there that are good without having to result to the things contained in certain popular books. I do allow fantasy, but it’s Christian fantasy and done from a Biblical stand point. Not everything where good triumphs evil is meant for our minds. I believe I stressed that is my conviction, I’m not trying to force my opinion down anyone’s throat – it’s going to ultimately be between you and the Lord – I’m merely giving my opinion and my convictions based on Scripture. One day my children will learn the horrors of the Holocaust, the Civil War, genocide, etc but should they not learn it from me instead of from some secular viewpoint and because of this why would I want to heap more horror on my children’s minds? Yes the Bible is filled with sins – aren’t all our lives filled with it? For me the Bible represents what happens when one overcomes their sin or dies in their sin – but just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean that I need to teach my 5 year old, my 7 year old or my 10 year old about it right now. If we begin letting our children read books that contain murder that is glorified or occultism we are indeed opening the doors to something evil (I know this first hand) and we are also setting them up to becoming desensitized. I want my children to be horrified, to be saddened, broken hearted over evil in the world – I don’t want them to become so used to murder, witch craft, wars,adultery, abortion etc that they’ll see it through a hard hearted mind. Overall, if you feel you need to read a book to know that it’s not good then by all means do so, however by using discernment on what is filling the pages of a book and weighing them against Scripture we can then determine if it’s something we really need to read, or listen to, or watch, etc. I have found those who disagree vehemently with my convictions are often those who are coming under conviction as well but don’t want to listen to that. Again this post was regarding our families views of certain popular books and my convictions.

  8. Micki says:

    Well said! I appreciate you posting about a topic that could ruffle a few feathers but you were led by the Holy Spirit. Someone out there will feel conviction and choose the right path based upon this post and the Holy Spirit leading THEM.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    And lean not on your own understanding;
    In all your ways acknowledge Him,
    And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

    May you be blessed.

  9. Laraba says:

    I appreciate your post as I have just had some email traffic about this set of books. Since you didn’t name it, I won’t either. I will say this…those who are interested might want to check out the Focus on the Family review of the first book. You can google it.

    I completely agree about being VERY cautious about what we read. Having said that, I will probably read the first one of these books at some point to evaluate it. I do think that grim stories can be useful and even profitable IF they help us realize how a society can go wrong, how living without Christ can result in anarchy and sorrow, etc. I am not sure about these books so am probably going to read the first one. I have no doubts at all about the Twilight books (obsessive love with a v**p**re does not sound remotely healthy) so I won’t even bother with those.

    I know these books are not Ok for our kids now — they are not old enough. I can see letting them read them, MAYBE, when they are older. There are other books out there that have grim themes but show the sorrow of living apart from God’s ways. One prime example is the Pearl S. Buck classic, The Good Earth. There are so many sad things about the society presented and the relationships and difficulties show how paganism and a wrong view of women and men and marriage can cause such grief for everyone.

    I let my eldest read “The Giver” by Lois Lowry — a fascinating (in my view) book about a “utopian” society which has apparently done away with all sorrow and pain. As the book progresses, it turns out many things are missing — like true love and compassion for others — and there are some very dark undercurrents. It is not a graphic book but it is incredibly thought provoking. We had some good discussions about it.

    Again, I totally agree with careful discernment. I have some red flag issues — sexually immoral behavior that is celebrated, “kids are smart, adults are stupid”, and so on. I’m not sure about these books yet. But I completely applaud being super careful with our kids. They, and we, are influenced so easily.

    (We’re also crazy careful about media — we don’t let them watch any TV without it being previewed. I almost think TV can be worse because it is SO visual. Of course, I realize husband and wife may not be in complete agreement about what is Ok, and that is understandable.)

    • ohiosarah says:

      While I see your point, I think we can just look at newspapers and history to show us what happens when society rejects God and His morals – wars, abortion, marriage between those of the same gender, etc. I used to be heavily into the vampire books of Anne Rice (Praise the Lord is now a Christian!) and was becoming so entrenched into the occult including reading tarot cards, etc. Once that door is opened it’s hard to close.

      I’ve never heard of The Good Earth. My thing is telling of gruesome murders in detail, romance between unmarried people, etc. If a book can write about society’s downward spiral without being gruesome then okay – I know books such as things about the Holocaust or wars are not going to be able to avoid that and they have their place but a work of fiction does not need to graphically detail murders that are watched and glorified. I’ve been considering reading that along with Hannah and she wants to read Animal Farm by Orwell – I read the one in high school and it was a decent book such as you described above. I have a struggle with books like Lord of the Flies even though it’s a ‘classic’. Eventually they will need to read books that have more difficult subject matter and I’m not opposed to that, I’m only issuing a caution that books (and anything else that we call entertainment) needs to be carefully viewed through Scripture – I do this even with our curricula.

      My thing is when I read fiction (and I find my oldest is like this as well) I become wrapped up in the characters and their life – if you’ve read some of my reviews there are some that I’ve felt that I am literally there with them, I can feel the dust of the Western town, I can smell the manure, etc. I get very wrapped up in the books I read.

      That is one area in our house that is a issue of contention, what I think the children shouldn’t watch or listen to my hubby doesn’t agree (he thinks it’s okay for the children to listen to Kiss, I disagree) there are times when the only thing one can do is cover their child with prayer and let the Lord move in His protection of them.

  10. Sister Lori says:

    Blessings!
    I have felt this way for several years now and when I started reviewing the books I have found it very difficult to find a book I am willing to read. Which made me wonder if doing the book reviews was a good idea afterall 😛 BUT, I still think it is and I”ve been able to find some books that are worth reading. I am a real skeptic when it comes to Christian Fiction since I tend to stay away from the romance stuff, although I have found a couple of them that had a far different message in them than I had thought (which was a good thing) 🙂

    On the other hand, there are quite a few books out there that are sold as Christian books but, in fact, have absolutely NO Christian content in them! There was a series of books, a few years ago, that our daughter wanted to read. We tend to read first and approve before books can be read. Anyway, I read through the first book and found that, aside from the family praying at the meal table twice, there was absolutely no other indication that this was a Christian story! It was filled with abduction, satanic events, occult spiritists etc. And this was a TEEN READER! I was so appalled that I wrote directly to the author who wrote me back a diatribe on how his books were definitely Christian because he prayed before writing each chapter! AND that not all Christian books had to be sappy God/Jesus stories! Needless to say, no one read the books in THIS house and that book was burned. (Yep I have no problem burning a book that is truly against scripture…why would I want to pass it around by donating it to a second chance shoppe?

    Having said that, I do agree with you. It’s hard enough with the onslaught of anti Christian, anti God/Jesus rhetoric in the written word these days, without willing inviting it into our God honoring lives. Just sayin’ 🙂

  11. […] even more feathers my selection for E is Entertainment.  You may have seen my post regarding Discernment using Scripture which while I wasn’t specific regarding the book series’ I was thinking of, it […]

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