Should Christians trust the media? The answer to this question is simple and black and white: “Only if it is explicitly Christian”. There are many forms of media nowadays, there are blogs, social media, news networks (such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News), there are news distributions sites (Such as the Drudge Report), there are apps, and emails, and memes… but there is only one kind of media that the follower of Christ has any business consuming, trusting in, or sharing: Christian Media. I will explain this answer more in a second, but first a personal story, maybe one you can relate to.
In November of 2018 news began to break of a crazy American “adventure tourist” who was killed after illegally going to an island of isolated tribes-people known as the Sentinelese. News headlines like “American adventure tourist killed by remote tribe’ (The Independent), “American Reportedly Killed in Flurry of Arrows As Tribe Defends it’s Island” (NPR), “American on ‘misplaced adventure’ killed by hostile tribe on remote island” (USA Today) and “US Man’s death puts spotlights on ‘tribal tourism'” (BBC). These headlines tell a story, a story that I believed.
I first heard of this story when I was reading the Drudge Report. God has continually convicted me not to read the Drudge Report (A highly conservative news distribution site) yet for some reason I from time to time fall back into the sinful (it’s sinful because God told me not to) habit of checking the Drudge Report for news (a sin I am repentant of and now more than ever determined never to go back to). The Drudge Report ran some of these headlines… and the story I believed was that some stupid American tourist went and got himself killed… “this looks so bad for America, what an idiot!” I thought! In thinking so I had just unknowingly slandered a Christian Martyr in my heart (and thus am guilty of murdering him myself! See Matthew 5:21-22 and 1 John 3:15). This sin, the slander of such a mighty man of God, was induced by my consumption of secular (that is, non-Christian) media.
But my sin continued… slowly news media started to paint a picture that the now dead John Chau was a misguided missionary who put the “indigenous tribe’s survival at risk” (National Geographic). There was claims that he was a rouge missionary who was “obsessed with [the] North Sentinelese tribe”(New York Post) and that he had “Lost his mind” (National Post). These stories focused on a few lone facts… yes brother Chau was alone, and yes technically he was illegal trespassing… but they paint a story of a mad man, a lunatic, who didn’t really care about laws or other people. As I read similar headlines I remember thinking “Well this doesn’t look great for Christianity… thanks bro”.
Then lies started pouring out… the biggest one was that he had foolishly introduced western disease to the tribe and could thus wipe it out. Both National Geographic and The Guardian ran stories about how brother Chau had most likely introduced deadly diseases to these people, and how his body must be recovered to save the tribe from this man’s apparent foolishness. Fortunately for me, I had at this point learned the truth from Christian Media sources.
John Allen Chau was an American missionary who died sharing the gospel, he was not an “adventure tourist”
John Allen Chau was an American missionary who died sharing the gospel, he was not an “adventure tourist”. He had spent years preparing for this mission trip and was trained and sent by an international missions organization aptly named “All Nations”, he was not a loan adventure seeker flying by the seat of his paints. He was trained in linguistic, cultural anthropology, and even first aid… he did not go unprepared. He received thirteen immunizations in advance of his trip and was even quarantined before his trip, he did not introduce infectious diseases to the tribe. Brother Chau went alone because he knew the risk and did not want to endanger anyone else… he was prepared to die for Christ. Oh, and in regard to the illegal nature of his trip… I remind you that it was illegal for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to to refuse to bow down to the statue, it was illegal for Daniel to pray to God, and it was illegal for the disciples to preach the gospel (all 12 were sentenced to death, only John survived).Moral of the story? We should strive to follow the laws of man, except when they contradict the law of God.
What is my take away from all of this? I was a fool for trusting again (like a dog returning to his own vomit) in secular media. CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT CONSUME SECULAR MEDIA. We shouldn’t read it, we shouldn’t trust it, we shouldn’t share it. Why? Because secular media is against Christ and Christianity. Period. Regardless of source or political leaning, it is against Christ. All of it. Every drop of secular media is against Christ. How can I say such a thing with such firmness? Because scripture says so, because Jesus said so.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Matthew 12:30 ESV
Make no mistake about it, the secular media exists not to inform you, but rather to make money. The news media doesn’t care about accuracy and truth, they care about investors and profit… and every single source of secular news is biased. Truth is not biased, Christ is not biased, therefore truth and Christ are incompatible with secular media. Whether you prefer CNN or Fox News doesn’t matter, if the source is secular, the information will be secular (or at the very least presented in a secular way).
So what is a politically minded news junky Christ follower like myself supposed to do? First, be very skeptical of any news source that is not explicitly Christian and bears Christian fruit (The measure that Jesus tells us to judge by). Even local news can be problematic. Second, even if a pundit, host, or commentator is a Christian understand that they work for and are edited and published by a secular for-profit company. Finally, get your news from Christian sources. I highly recommend the Christian Daily Reporter as a daily go to for any news hungry Christian. The Christian Daily Reporter is a news distribution site, it doesn’t report the news but simply shows headlines and provides links to many different news organizations. What news is presented, where the news is reported from, and how the news is presented is all done in a Christian way seeking to advance the kingdom of God. Reading from such news organizations will deepen your faith, as opposed to hinder it (While still scratching your itch for news and politics). (There are of course many other Christian news sources out there for you to discover)
Is it a sin to read secular news? No, not explicitly. But it’s not wise either.
Finally, let me close with this. Is it a sin to read secular news? No, not explicitly. But it’s not wise either. Unless God has given you a specific calling to be active in the secular news media scene, I would highly advise against it. It will only stir up ungodly anger, fear, and misunderstanding inside of you.