In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I’m not a fan of sci-fi. It’s just never been my thing. But I am a fan of young women like you. And since science fiction novels and movies seem to be dominating the affections of the young adult crowd, I wanted to help you think through the good, the bad, and the ugly side of sci-fi.
It is always my preference to avoid telling you what to think and instead equip you to think for yourselves using God’s Word as your ultimate guide. So you won’t find any absolutes in this post. I can’t say exactly what you should and should not read or watch, but I can remind you of some spiritual litmus tests that are wise to take whenever considering your entertainment choices. Before we get there, let me give a crash course in sci-fi.
What is sci-fi?
Sci-fi stands for the genre of science fiction. It blurs back and forth with the category of fantasy. Sci-fi and fantasy are fictional stories that expand on what we already know about the world around us. Common themes include:
- Futuristic science (Think: The Matrix).
- Technology (Think: iRobot).
- Space travel (Think: Star Trek).
- Parallel universes (Think: Avatar).
- Aliens (My personal favorite is E.T. If you haven’t ever seen it, rent it. Like right now).
- Paranormal activities (Think: Harry Potter).
- Post-apocalyptic society (Think: The Hunger Games).
Since the movies on this list are among the most popular movies of all times, clearly many of you love sci-fi/fantasy. Next month the second movie in The Hunger Games series will hit the theaters along with a classic sci-fi plot Ender’s Game. When sci-fi/fantasy movies and books release, should you watch/read them? Here are three questions to help you think that through.
How do stories impact me?
Fictional stories by themselves are not necessarily “bad” or harmful. We see from the parables of Jesus that God is not opposed to something simply because it is a fictional account. But know this—what we watch and listen to does effect us.
For example, I have zero tolerance for anything scary. Even a commercial that is too scary can keep me lying awake at night. Because I know this about myself, I am very careful about exposing myself to media with scary elements.
It is possible for fantasy and sci-fi to have the same negative impact. Get real about the way you are affected, and adjust your media choices if necessary.
Does watching certain kinds of movies impact your mood? How about your dreams? Do you have trouble sleeping after reading or watching something in the sci-fi genre? Does sci-fi or fantasy lead to an overactive fantasy life in your mind, where you eat up a great deal of time daydreaming about what you’ve read or seen?
In Matthew 15:11 Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
In the same way, our media choices can be value neutral, but we need to realize that our minds often work like computers. What we put in is very likely to come out. If watching/reading sci-fi tends to lead to addiction, fear, agitation, or fixation, choose a different genre.
How does this story contradict the Bible?
In Hebrews 5 Paul was talking to Christians when he wrote, “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (vv. 12–14, emphasis added).
Discernment (or the ability to recognize good from evil) is a characteristic of the spiritually mature. It takes practice to see holes in the stories the culture is telling compared to the unshakeable truth presented in God’s Word. Here are some ideas to think through as you process sci-fi.
- How does this story challenge the truth of the gospel?
- This plot assumes that we are the center of the universe. How is this different from what the Bible teaches?
- Sci-fi often champions humanity as the source of salvation. Where does God fit into this equation?
I love how this article on sci-fi puts it:
Ignorance is not our predicament, progress is not redemption, the future is not salvation, and space is not our destiny.
If you’re going to watch/read sci-fi, learn to discern the difference between the little truths that sci-fi often teaches and the big truths only found in God’s Word.
Is this an opportunity for me to live radically?
I’m not a fan of lumping media into the categories of “good” and “bad.” The truth is that there are almost always a lot of gray areas, and our tendency to want to condemn pop culture isn’t very appetizing to the world around us. But we are called to live set apart:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).
As Christians, we are set apart. Our lives should scream that Jesus is better than any movie, any book, any genre. The fact that everyone else is reading or watching something is not a good reason for us to do it, too. Make sure you are always squeezing your media choices through the grid of God’s Word instead of just following the advice of the crowd.
Are you a fan of sci-fi/fantasy? How do you decide what you watch or read? Leave me a comment below to tell me about it.