What is art? Certainly, that question has been asked and answered in a number of different ways throughout history.
But for Christian parents, that question must be answered by looking at various forms of art with a Christian worldview. Evaluating art in this manner will lead us to true beauty and keep us away from the twisted “art” that Satan and our sinful culture would have us consume.
How Looking at Art with a Christian Worldview Glorifies the Ultimate Artist
People may say that exercising restraint and boundaries in art—particularly film and music—will stunt creativity and expression. I think just the opposite is true. When sinful man has no boundaries to his sinful imagination, his creativity will always come full circle and return to dung and/or chaos. Why? Because dung and/or chaos is the logical end of a dirty, selfish, and sinful mind. But when a loving, beautiful, and eternal God is the standard for excellence, beauty, and creativity, God works His masterpieces through man—whether that man is a believer or not.
Our kids should know these things. Are we teaching them these things? Or are we unwittingly promoting worldly ideologies and appetites in our kids by the things we regularly allow into our own homes by way of entertainment? Remember, our kids are watching and learning.
All man has to do is to submit to the creative spark God has put in him and something good and beautiful will result. Nobody questions the beauty in the classics of art, film, and music. Nobody questions the beauty of a unique sunset, the ocean, the night sky, mountains, or other works of “Nature.” Why? Because all of these things are intrinsically wired into us by God, the Grand Master—the Ultimate Scientist and Artist. In the case of nature, God’s work is done directly through His own making. In the case of art, God works through His created beings—mankind.
Are You Being Tempted to Stop Viewing Art With a Christian Worldview?
The problem lies in the fact that many people think their creative genius comes from within themselves. But, the truly honest artists will tell you it comes from somewhere outside themselves. Many don’t know whether it’s good or bad. Others don’t care. All they know is that they are inspired. It is most often the child of God who recognizes where these inspirations come from.
God works through the vessels He chooses to work through, as they allow Him to work through them—whether they acknowledge God or not. And though God’s people don’t produce all the good art in the world, they do recognize God’s work when it is produced—whether through them or through someone else. Remember, if God could use a jackass to rebuke a true prophet of God (Balaam), then He could certainly use a garden variety heathen to produce something beautiful, good, and useful to others. Either way, all true beauty ultimately comes from God. And our kids should know this too.
And though the devil can produce what appears appetizing and beautiful, it’s like we are hungry fish and sin is like a tasty worm. Satan is the fisherman and his tasty worms have hooks in them. As the devil entices us with his beautiful and tasty worms, he pulls them from our mouths only to return them just a little less delicious—though delicious nonetheless. Time and time again, Satan does this to help bring us to a fuller experience of what we are now craving. We trust that he will return it again and again for our enjoyment. Had he allowed us to nibble too long and too deeply at first, we would have tasted the bitter and poisonous under-layers of the worm and perhaps even noticed the hook, revealing what that superficial beauty and taste was really a cover for.
But by now, we’ve acquired not only a curiosity, but a greater appetite for the bait that Satan has been putting out. It’s a similar curiosity, appetite, and bait that the masses have been talking about and producing for so long in the form of art and entertainment. Some of us feed on that bait long enough and actually start enjoying the under-layers more than we enjoyed the superficial beauty and tasty exterior. Or at least we think we do. Either way, we’ve acquired a taste for it. And we’ve acquired a taste for each layer that gets more and more bitter as we get closer to the hook.
This is much like an alcoholic who starts out enjoying beer and wine and then often progresses to harder drinks. Before you know it, he’s enjoying pure grain alcohol. Just like gnawing through the layers of the worm, there is a time when you will be hooked. For some of us, Satan jerks the line when we nibble too long. For others, we eventually bite down too hard on our own in an attempt to reach greater satisfaction. Either way, we’ve been hooked. We’ve been had. Those curiosities have become indulgences. The indulgences have fueled our appetites. Those appetites have formed habits. And our habits have now morphed into addictions—something God’s Word has already defined as idolatry. Addiction is simply something we need, or think we need, beyond our desire for God Himself. We also need to make our kids aware of this truth, because they are Satan’s prime targets for this devilish declension.
How Seeing Art With a Christian Worldview Reveals True Beauty
The same is true with art and film and particularly music. We enjoy truly good works. Then a slow seduction takes us to a place of no return. Art used to be an expression of reality. But our current obsession and addiction with the art forms of film and music have brought us to a place where we instead draw much of our reality from the art we consume. Young people in particular act, talk, dress, and behave in ways that their favorite actors and rock and rap stars do.
Most contemporary music is marketed to kids. Movies are marketed similarly. Why? Because kids are the easiest to influence and are the greatest consumers of these products. They are consumers fueled by impulse—a marketer’s dream. What they’re consuming has helped shape their worldview. It has shaped their appetites, habits, cravings, and addictions. This is why parents need to know and expose these things and take them all back for the glory of God. With respect to music, even Bach said, “All music should be for the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit.”
One of the greatest inaccuracies ever told and universally accepted without question is that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But God is the ultimate judge. He’s the ultimate art, movie, and music critic—not Roger Ebert. If God says it’s good, then it’s good. If God says it’s beautiful, then it’s beautiful. So when we’re watching a movie, listening to a song, or capturing any other aesthetic to assess, before we label it good, bad, beautiful, or ugly, we would do well to grasp God’s viewpoint on the matter before coming to a conclusion.
We also have a tendency to appreciate movies, a song or other forms of “entertainment” for the talent it took to produce it; yet we must remember that it takes talent to produce the perfect murder or bank heist. One could say that these too were planned and/or executed with genius and beauty. The devil is a beautiful genius! Because when we begin appreciating that which is not appreciated by God—no matter what the subject may be—we begin to lose touch of how things actually are. What we want them to be, or think they are, becomes the benchmark. In doing this, we’ve messed with God’s ecosystem. That is the very beginning of all strife and chaos. And we know that doesn’t end well.
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