It's Saturday night and your friends are trying to decide how to spend the evening. Will it be a few games of bowling or a trip to the local pizza place or hamburger joint that's always open past midnight?
"Why don't we go see that movie that just opened?" suggests one of your friends. "You know, the one with the awesome special effects and the creepy plot. I hear it's supposed to be the scariest movie of the year!" A few teens begin to nod in approval.
You stand in your circle of friends, unsure of how to respond. Yes, the movie is supposed to be terrifying—so scary, in fact, that there have been warnings about it in local papers. You even overheard a young couple at church discussing the degrading quality of such popular horror films. Still, somehow the positive response from your peers makes it sound appealing. What should you do?
With each new movie release, Hollywood's quest for more advanced special effects and gorier plots seems to escalate. Movie producers and screenwriters know no limit to the infinite "creative potential" they possess, pushing the envelope a little further with each new film.
How can we be more aware of media influences and respond to less-than-godly ideas and storylines? Satan's power keeps growing in all areas of society, pervading films today in particular. Making a decision as simple as what movie to watch might seem trivial to some, but the main idea of this controversial debate is powerful—what we let into our minds determines what we will think about and dwell on, and shapes our thoughts and actions.
How can we dwell on the crude and horrific images Hollywood offers, when God wants us to meditate and focus on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous and of good report (Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×)?
Few movies produced today reflect any fragment of the beauty God has in store for those who love and follow Him, but thousands exist that constantly tear down His wondrous plan in favor of spiritually damaging, worldly views.
God calls Christians out of the permeating darkness around us to be lights to the world (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
American King James Version×). It's difficult, if not impossible, to be a shining example if we surround ourselves with dark plots, demonic themes and ungodly ideas. We need to "walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8 Ephesians 5:8For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
American King James Version×) and make our body "full of light" (Luke 11:35-36 Luke 11:35-36  Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness.  If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle does give you light.
American King James Version×), traveling on the path of righteousness guided by the godly decisions we make on a daily basis.
We get to choose
Since we have a choice, why choose to fill our minds with demonic images and ungodly themes? In Romans, Paul tells us to not be "conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (12:2).
Every time we buy into the system and compromise our core beliefs and values to see that "hot new movie," we kid ourselves into believing that "just a little can't hurt us." We may justify our behavior, thinking we are strong and know what we believe, but Satan wins another victory over our hearts and minds with each small compromise.
Guarding our minds against the clever schemes that society continually presents to us—in the guise of a hyped-up Hollywood blockbuster—by arming ourselves with the truth and the knowledge of God will ultimately help us along our spiritual journey (Ephesians 6:11-13 Ephesians 6:11-13  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
American King James Version×).
More than movies
However, the endless cycle of choices involved in standing up for what we believe doesn't exist solely in movies. We must also analyze the television shows we watch, the music we listen to, the role models we strive to emulate and, overall, the material we read and the things in which we invest our time.
Choices shape who we are and what we become. If we want to reflect godly principles and standards, then we must be selective and careful when deciding what we watch, listen to and participate in. We must constantly evaluate our lives and behavior so they reflect biblical standards and God's high calling, working to cultivate godly "fruits" that bring us closer to the ultimate goal of being part of God's Kingdom (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×; 7:17-20).
Like the teen mentioned above, I have been in situations where I had to decide whether I should stand up for God's truth or lie low in the background. Who wants to be the one to speak out against popular opinion, especially in a youth group or at school, risking your reputation to uphold certain standards? Nevertheless, won't God be pleased when we rise above the norm, no matter how popular the majority opinion may be? We need to take it upon ourselves to step back from tempting situations and evaluate them in order to come to an unbiased conclusion that honors and respects God's desires for our lives.
Ultimately, we should all be ready and willing to stand up, in a polite and humble way, for what we know is right and what is in our best interest based on godly standards. Not only will this attitude shed a fresh light on the situation, but in the end it can also help us gain respect from our peers. Politely and humbly standing up for a godly principle can lead to a blessing for setting a godly example that others can follow (Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×). GN