Monday, July 7, 2008

Personal Limitations: Mentors Part 2

Today, I will only briefly touch on how a mentor should limit their fiction habits, for this is part of a larger and broader topic on fiction responsibility, which I’ll be addressing later.

However, since this is a personal limitation (it varies from person to person), I want to offer two basic principles for people who are being watched by others:

1) The closer the relationship, the more caution will be necessary. A parent will usually have more impact on children than a teacher they have for a year or two. Why? Because children spend more time around parents and see not only what the parents agree they can read—but also the adult literature the parents indulge in that’s forbidden to them. Likewise, a respected mentor will be more closely observed than a passerby.

2) The younger the watcher, the likelier imitation will occur. This youthfulness applies both physically as well a spiritually. For a child or young Christian will be more influenced by how you handle fiction than an adult with their own, already established ideas.

Does this mean that you can never read a steamy romance or watch your favorite horror movie? No. But neither do you need to advertise your freedom to read and watch these things, which could cause another stumble. “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (I Corinthians 8:13)

Rather, restrict the frequency, time and place of enjoyment, watching your step when among others.


Mark Goodyear said...

Uh oh. I'm in trouble on this one because I love horror and all kinds of other works of fiction that could make people stumble.

My answer is to just be careful what I talk about in various contexts. The challenge though is how social media allows anyone to meet me in the public sphere at my blog... where I link to stuff like the new animated Dante's Inferno. (I'm totally renting that.)

So, my mentioning the video. Does that mean I'm causing someone to stumble? At what point do we hold people responsible for not having being able to discern when something is specifically unhealthy for him or her?

Chawna Schroeder said...

Good comments, Mark. Challenging comments. And while I'd like to spout off some easy response, I suspect the answer is anything but. Something about this pertaining to personal limitations. However, here are some of my initial thoughts:

As I pointed out in the post, closer relationships require more caution. Blogging is not what I would term "a close relationship," at least not the same way you might have a close relationship with a friend or family member or even someone you correspond with regularly by email. Therefore, the responsibility is not as great.

However, the bigger your readership, the more responsibility you will have because of the number of people who are listening to your words. So more people will increase your responsibility.

Finally, the point we hold others responsible--this is very tender ground we tread. I can only point back to the principles found in Ezekiel 3:18-21. Have you provided the necessary information so others can discern (and therefore wholly responsible, unable to say, "I didn't know")?

For example, when I've done book reviews, I have noted that people under a certain age or readers of particular limitations should stay away from a book, even if it is well written with great content. I have provided them the warning; if they choose to ignore that warning, they are responsible for their choice. I am cleared of my responsibility.

I hope that helps some, and if you would like to contact me (my email is under my profile), I'd love hear further thoughts from you.

Chawna Schroeder