“Good vs. Evil”
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 2 (The Message)
Our daily lives are filled with entertainment distractions. From books to TV programs to movies to cartoons to music videos – and in all other choices – we see the ongoing battle of good vs. evil embedded in some shape or form. This is an age-old story.
“Among the most universal beliefs across all humanity is the concept of ‘good versus evil.’ Every culture in every era has held to some version of this struggle.” (www.gotquestions.org/good-versus-evil.html)
“One of the most common themes in literature is the battle between good and evil. From children’s books to classic historical literature this theme has been seen throughout history. Most works of literature have characters on either side of the battle…” (www.ukessays.com/essays)
Consider the well-known conflict of Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader in Star Wars or Dorothy and the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Clear examples of good and bad, justice and injustice, right and wrong often cause us to root for the side of right in movies such as The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and the James Bond 007 movies. The early TV westerns were clear showdowns between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. Even Disney’s classic animated movies effectively demonstrate this eternal battle.
But what happens when the line between the conflicting sides has blurred or — even worse — the audience or reader starts rooting for the evil side? The Broadway play, Wicked, takes on the case for Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, who we learn is just misunderstood. “…We see a paradigm shift in the way pop culture looks at archetypes and the nature of good and evil.” (http://nybyu.com/pop-culture-analysis/blurred-lines-between-good-and-evil/)
In the movie, Oceans 11, we are hoping the guys pulling off the heist get away with it. Frequently the characters in TV programs and movies are portrayed as “good people” who have merely been mistreated or abandoned or misjudged. The goal of the screenwriter is to entangle us in the complex web of the psychological elements of the villain.
But entertainment is just that — it’s not reality, but a distraction from it. In the lives we live, there are clear distinctions between good and evil.
“According to the Bible, ‘good versus evil’ is not a matter of opinion. Rather, the Bible teaches that good and evil are defined in reference to a perfect and unchanging God. Every person must grapple individually with the presence and temptations of evil. Scripture notes that all evil, without exception, will ultimately be punished and defeated. And it tells us there is an ultimate standard of goodness to which we should aspire — a standard grounded in a person, rather than a theory.” (www.gotquestions.org/good-versus-evil.html)
Consider these scriptures:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Romans 12:9
To summarize: any thought, action, or attitude that is opposed to God or His perfect will for us is evil.
“Jesus experienced evil in its fullness. In His death, He became the only fully innocent victim of evil. And, by resurrecting from the dead, Jesus became the only secure source of hope – hope that evil will indeed be overcome and ultimately defeated.” (The Crisis in Afghanistan and Our Capacity for Evil, John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander, Breakpoint, 8/25/21)
Entertainment media can shape our perceptions of good and evil. But regardless of what is portrayed in books, cartoons, TV shows, and movies, it is necessary to continually discern between what is good and evil in God’s eyes.
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Help teens establish a personal framework from which they will think clearly and make wise decisions in life. Identify it as a “Christian worldview”. The Bible is the “grid of truth” upon which we can depend. Use these discussion starters to help teens develop that framework.
• Share this quote by William Penn: “Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” Discuss what this means in today’s world. Ask, “Have you experienced being the only one who thought something was wrong when others thought it was right? What did you do?”
• Ask teens to define what is good and what is evil and give examples.
• Talk about why clear distinctions between good and evil, as frequently portrayed in entertainment, may not be easily recognized.
• Watch a news program on TV together. Ask teens to share which stories were evidence of the goodness of man and which were evidence of the evil of fallen man.
• Ask, “Can we know for certain what is good and what is evil? If so, how?”
• Ask teens, “Why is there so much controversy about specific topics in our culture, such as abortion, that seem to be obvious?”
• Discuss why everyone doesn’t follow God’s commandments and make good choices.
Continue discussing this topic as “good vs. evil” examples in entertainment are detected.
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a lesson for youth group gatherings.
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Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
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