Guarding our heart is a command to carefully monitor what we see and hear, because what we see and hear will effect how we relate to others, how we speak and how we live. It is also a command to guard how we think about what we see and hear. Often we don't get to chose what we see or hear but we always get to chose how we think about those things.
I grew up in a Christian community which seemed to interpret this verse as command to avoid sexual images. Often this was reduced to forbidding all movies and especially R rated movies.
This seems to simplistic. Movies are where my culture tells its stories; stories about who we are and who we should be. Movies inspire us to greatness and warn us about dangers.
Movies also help me relate to the world I live in. It seems to me everybody goes to the movies and they provide stories which I can talk about in almost any setting. Avoiding movies doesn't make a lot of sense and in the last 10 years conservative Christians seem to be allowing more viewing of movies. At lease for adults avoiding R rated movies doesn't make much sense either. I find the most sexually offensive language in lesser rated movies and some of the best stories are embedded in R rated movies.
Although the Christian communities I am familiar with are often worried about sexual images violence doesn't seem to bother them. Cartoons made for little kids are very violent. With all the school shootings violence I would think it would be more of a topic of concern.
All of this brings me to my real problem, NFL football. NFL football seems to be a combination of violence, sex and greed. (The money associated with football is outside the scope of this essay, but all the money that is involved seems immoral on a number of levels.)I wonder what happens in my heart as I view this violent game and all the drama that surrounds it. It is hard to believe good things are occurring.
However, I like watching football. This week we had a football party and there were a number of Christians in my living room until 1 a.m. enjoying the playoff game between Denver and New England. It was a good time of eating with each other and getting to know one another. Being new to Kaiserslautern it seemed like a wonderful event. Having the TV on took the pressure off of always being in conversation and it allowed for a slow pace of relating. It also allowed for opinions to be expressed without being offensive. (When stating an opinion about football or laughing at a beer commercial people don't seem to take much offense.) It was really a good party and I really enjoyed the game.
However, the question seems to remain, is NFL football bad for my heart? Bad for the heart in general to be avoided by anyone taking scripture seriously? Because it isn't condemn by the Christian community I am allowed to watch football without be judged by my brothers and sisters in Christ. For this I am grateful. But I still wonder. For the time being I will comfort myself with the thought I am thinking well about what I put into my heart. As long as I am thinking about it and other Christians aren't condemning me, that should absolve me of any sin.