Hellfire, Damnation, and Christian Cartoons…

What does hellfire and damnation preaching have in common with many Christian cartoons?

The answer is that often times they implore the same methods to try to get their point across. There are two types of evangelistic preaching. You can either try to scare people on their way to hell with fear and scare them to the gates of heaven. Or you can glorify the Gospel and make much of Christ inviting others to the joy that is found in Jesus Christ. In other words,either focus on the negative in hopes it leads to positive or magnify the positive. Hellfire preaching, with all it sweat, rhythmic yelling, and pointing, tries to illuminate our eyes to all our nefarious ways. In hopes that we run the other way, preferably down an aisle, where someone waits to slap the evil from our foreheads.

Too often that is what our Christian cartoons try to do. They try to teach our children moral lessons by showing them the negative consequences of sinful choices. They may not be trying to scare our children away from the gates of Hell, but entertaining them away from sin is not much better. Cautionary tales have been around since before Hansel and his little sister took a hike in the woods with a bit of bread crumbs. But the difference is Hansel and Gretel was actually scary. Hansel wasn’t trying to change our hearts. He was just trying to get us to watch our step. Its main message was don’t take long walks in a strange forest. Christian cartoons tend to try to teach a deeper lesson, but with better graphics. They do it, however, by focusing on the negative behavior all too often.

I don’t know how many times my children have been introduced to attitudes that they might not have seen in our house (not because I am perfect, I just don’t look a lot like a brightly colored vegetable). Sure, my kids aren’t perfect, but when you spend 30 minutes teaching entertaining my children about the downfalls of lying or sibling strife and resolve it in the last 5, I am not surprised when they don’t remember the positive. It is important to remember that sometimes children learn not the lessons hidden with in our stories, but the stories themselves. We can’t assume that children take away the same message we might hear. Think of it this way, what happens most often when you watch that prime time sitcom A.)You learn a life lesson in the hilarity of bad choices put before you or B.) you laugh at a joke that maybe a little bit inappropriate? What’s to say our children are any different? They don’t sit down in front of the tv to learn. They sit down in front of the tv to be babysat entertained. We don’t scare them out of lying. We teach them that vegetables, planes, bears, and cute computer animated people lie too. Just not very well. And by application if they are going to lie, they better do a better job.

I would love to see more stories that, rather than try to teach about lying, glorify the truth. That instead of showing sibling strife with attitudes and language that can find their ways into our homes, we have stories that show siblings serving one another. There is a big difference between teaching our children to speak the truth in love and teaching them not to lie.

This may have more to do with the ineffectiveness of using entertainment to teach. For all we know Hansel’s cohorts might have simply brought more bread crumbs with them when they took a journey in the deep dark forrest. In the end, my kids, though they may try, still don’t know how to turn on the DVD player, so someone else has to share the blame. And when I find that person tomorrow while looking in the mirror, I will be sure to tell him to read my blog.


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
This entry was posted in gospel, Parenting, tv and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Hellfire, Damnation, and Christian Cartoons…

  1. terry says:

    can you please add me to your newsletter?

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