Edification: What is it?
Okay, that’s all fine and good. Oftentimes, Christians can quickly identify what is right (edifying) and what is wrong (not edifying). This is an essential part of the “obedience of faith,” to use Paul’s potent summation of the Christian life. We are to train our minds to identify the good and evil in this world. Read 1 John. John sternly assures us that failure to do so consigns us to a dark and terrible way. On the other hand, success in this enterprise means we sight the narrow path those on the broad path to destruction cannot see. This is clearly a high-stakes affair. Our very soul is at stake.
But this is all easily applied when we are faced with the desire to watch pornography or not. Never, no, and not even. It’s not an option. So with slandering another person. Always wrong. And stealing music? Not a chance. These are easily sighted as immoral. They do not edify. But what about watching a movie that has some bad elements—language and some heated passion?
Well, speaking personally, I can’t say that I find these things edifying. I don’t. But what if the movie is engaging, enlightening, or even just entertaining? How do I weigh its relative edification factor? Or what if I go to an art gallery and there’s a bunch of cool art but there’s some funky stuff that pushes my moral categories? Some of the art, let’s say, makes me think about the nature of existence. That would seem to be edifying. Some of it displays the lewdness of sin. That is not edifying. Or take fiction. Let’s say I’m reading a powerful drama that tackles the great philosophical questions of life. That’s cool, and it builds me up as it causes me to consider the world God has made. But then there are some naughty passages. Well, the philosophy is cool and the naughtiness ain’t. What am I to do as a Christian seeking edification in my life? More on this tomorrow.