What do you think about media like when a song is played backwards and reveals satanic lyrics?  Should we stop listening to those songs even if they're from Christian artists?

                Media is either a positive or negative influence to us, depending on the song or show or product or news.  In the case of the song you mentioned, I think it's not too difficult to figure out. If the song said, "I rape children," would you still listen to it? I'm hoping not. If you know the song celebrates something that God does not, would you celebrate it too? If you do, there's an apparent love for something ungodly which we're called to repent of and overcome. So, yes, stop listening to music or watching shows that glorify ungodliness.

                If it wasn't intended by the people who produced the music, then it's the result of someone's colorful imagination. I'd ignore it. 
People tried to apply the same gematria-like technique to biblical manuscripts, examining patterns of what the letters numerically added up to, or would spell when read in diagonals, or the first letter of every other word, or other ridiculous ideas. If the author didn't intend it, the pattern is not meaningful. If the artist didn't intend it, playing the song in reverse was not what the artist intended for anyone to hear. That's not the song. The song is played forward. That's what you should scrutinize.


Are believers allowed to listen to secular music?  What if the lyrics conflict with the teachings of Christ?

                Not all Christian music is good. Not all secular music is bad.  "Happy Birthday" is not a Christian song, per se, so that would make it secular. Is it a sin to sing it? No.  "Yankee Doodle?" "The Star-Spangled Banner?" The theme song to "COPS?"

                If the song celebrates good values, then it's a good song. Feel free to sing it. If the song celebrates poor values, then avoid it.  It doesn't mean every song has to be happy (over half the Psalms are sad or angry songs!).  It doesn't meant every song has to be about faith.
                And just because someone is a Christian artist doesn't mean every song he/she makes is a Christian song. If you watch Veggie Tales, you'll find that a lot of their songs have nothing to do with anything ("The Hairbrush Song"). That removes them from the category of Christian songs, but they're not bad.  Use your conscience in deciding what music to listen to. Wisdom is the better part of law.

                If you know the lyrics conflict with the teachings of Christ, then avoid it.  If I hear a song with a great melody, but the lyrics called my wife a whore, I wouldn't listen to them. If I like the beat of a song that glorifies child molestation, that doesn't make it okay for me. Evil might seem entertaining, but it is what it is: evil.  If I love Christ above all things, that comes at a sacrifice of whatever love competes for my allegiance to Him. If you're a follower of Christ, then follow Him. Like Lot in Genesis 19, sometimes following God's instruction means not looking back at what you leave behind.


Is dancing to secular music bad, even if I'm on a dance team and I don't have bad intentions?

                Dance to your heart's content. Get really good at it. Excel in that gift because it's one of the many ways that you can worship God. Be a good steward of that gift by not using it for self-glorification and take every precaution not to tempt or stumble someone else. Resolve to dance to music that upholds the values that you would want to proclaim in the presence of the King. Not all Christian music is proper, and not all secular music is evil. Use your discernment with the lyrics.

                Then come and share that gift with God's people. Perform it and/or teach it to your church. Be an agent that doesn't just reflect culture, but that creates it. The Church has forgotten how to worship with dance. Bring that back. Show us how it's done. Then teach me how to moonwalk.




Is it wrong to watch movies like Avatar because of the weird religion in the movie?

                It's just a movie. Sure, there are pretty overt tones of pantheism and animism, but I don't think anyone walks away from watching that movie believing that Earth is our mother goddess--the collection of all the souls that have ever died, combined into a single collective consciousness that can be accessed by trance-meditation to miraculously transfer the "ousia" (essence) of life from a natural body to an artificially generated one. That's partly why it's called science FICTION.

                Be discerning. Not everyone reacts to movies the same way. If violent movies breed a habit of anger or irritability in you, stay away from them. If scary movies make you afraid at night, they're not really a good idea. If a movie persuades you to sympathize with worldly values that you know are unbiblical, don't go into that. And of course, if a movie has scenes that foster lust or other unhealthy desires that will stay in your mind, don't watch it.

                In every case, don't watch any movie that will have power over you. Don't let entertainment media have any ounce of control over your thoughts or emotions or values. If you can watch a movie and find inspiration in the heroics, but are able to separate the fiction from deceiving you, then great. Watch a Superman movie, love the noble hero's heart, but don't end up believing in super-powered aliens.


What's the Christian approach to violence in media today?

                Violence, if glorified for the sake of enjoying hurting people, isn't really a healthy desire--especially for anyone who has trouble with his/her temper.  Violence, though, is often a medium to tell a story. Even the Bible has plenty of narrative material that talks about war or fighting.

                What's important in entertainment is to really inspect what you're entertained by.  For instance, some violent movies (like horror films) are just plain gory, and that's their main appeal to audiences. Other movies might be displaying honor, nobility, virtue, sacrifice, true love, and other good themes that might entail violence in their telling.

                Think about this: If you're describing the movie to your friend, what do you end up talking about? If it's about guts flying or limbs getting chopped off, it's probably not the most wholesome film to expose yourself to. If you end up talking about how a messed up guy found redemption in dedicating his life to saving a people he thought were his enemies (Last Samurai), then maybe the violence is more a storytelling element instead of an unhealthy ingredient. But that's really just a maybe. Figure out what the movie glorifies. If you can stand by that as a Christian, and if it doesn't have material that would bring your testimony under suspect or compromise godliness in your attitude and affections, then it sounds like it's a good movie to watch.




Is it wrong to play violent shooting games?  What about games where there is no blood?

                Really, I don't think it matters what games you play.  If you have an unhealthy addiction to games (where it replaces your greater priorities or causes you to disobey your parents), or an unhealthy delight from real violence (deriving satisfaction from killing or maiming, or using games to vent out anger against a real person), that's where the sin issue is.

                But if you're just playing a game to have fun, and it's not taking the time/energy you need for other things and it's not disobedient to your parents' intentions...then go ahead and play. And win. If you bother to make sure you're playing the game with right motives and things, make sure you don't end up sucking at the game for all the effort you put in to play it.