Yes I’m a Christian and Yes I’m Watching Love Island

 

Growing up, one of my favourite programmes on TV was Grange Hill. For anyone under the age of 30, Grange Hill was a drama series based in a North London secondary school, covering hard-hitting story lines such as drug abuse, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and rape.

During my adolescent years, Grange Hill was the TV show of the moment; everyone was watching it. Whilst I could vaguely relate to the story lines, they were pretty far removed from my sheltered experiences – the very thing that made it so intriguing.

At the time I had a friend who wasn’t allowed to watch Grange Hill. What did she do? Come up to my house to watch it! Even in the days of no internet, only 3 channels to choose from and TV actually going off completely from 11pm on weekdays, we would find a way to watch the programmes that everyone else was watching, the ones that gave us a glimpse into a slightly more dangerous, risqué world.

I remember feeling thankful that my mum was pretty open-minded, that she didn’t assume by watching Grange Hill we would be tainted and immediately go out and copy the characters’ antics. She knew us well enough to know that we wouldn’t and that felt good.

ITV’s Love Island is the modern day equivalent of Grange Hill. Like it or not, it is the world that our teenagers are growing up in and whilst I understand that some people might not want it shoved in their faces every evening for 8 weeks, I have chosen to watch it with my teenagers.

Should a Christian watch Love Island?

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought more than twice about watching Love Island. A lot of it doesn’t sit right with me: promiscuity is rife, all body types are definitely not represented and the message about love being a throw-away commodity is not one I would recommend for anyone, let alone my children (for the record, even if I wasn’t a Christian I am certain I would feel the same way and many of you reading this probably do too).

But those things I don’t like? They are exactly the reasons why I am watching it.

I had to stifle a gasp the other night, when Dani whispered to Jack (the couple that has been together the longest): “Isn’t it funny how we already love each other but we’ve not even had sex yet”.

Off the back of that comment however, I was able to suggest that the fact they haven’t had sex, is exactly the reason why they do love each other – they are taking it slowly and giving their relationship a chance. When Wes dumped Laura, it opened up a conversation around the fact that having sex with someone means the break up will be so much more painful.

Once your children reach the upper teenage years (my girls are 16 and 18, I still wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens) you can’t tell them what they can and can’t watch. You can make suggestions, but they will watch what they want and most likely, the programmes that all their peers are watching. If you ban them, they will find a way – probably upstairs in their bedroom, using your wifi!

I read an article in the week, suggesting that Christians should boycott Love Island  and whilst I don’t disagree with the author’s reasoning, it didn’t persuade me that I’m doing the wrong thing by watching it together. If you’re wondering what my husband thinks, he’s watching it too for the same reasons that I am; in fact we are both a bit hooked!

As a parent of teens, I think the best thing we can do is have an understanding of the world they are living in, not hiding away from it pretending that it’s not happening.

Christian or not, what’s your view of Love Island? Are you watching it with your teenagers? 

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11 Comments

  1. July 5, 2018 / 9:39 am

    I’ve only got a boy teen (so far) and he totally isn’t interested in it but yes I suspect if when the girls are older they are bugging me to let them watch it that I will watch it with them to have the open conversations but truthfully I wish such crap TV wasn’t made at all. Mich x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 2:45 pm

      Thankfully my boy teen isn’t either! I don’t imagine it’s really a boy thing but I don’t think there are many girl teens out there who aren’t begging their parents to let them watch it. I actually think it’s been great for opening up conversations. xx

  2. July 5, 2018 / 9:51 am

    I have to admit to being possibly the only blogger in the country right now not watching Love Island Suzanne! It’s not that I’m against it though, and if I had kids your age who wanted to watch it I would probably watch it with them for similar reasons. I’m not religious (well, that’s the short answer), but I was raised Roman Catholic so I can align with some of the thoughts expressed. It’s funny as I just posted something about watching Dawson’s Creek – which back in the 90’s was also considered quite a risqué teen drama. I think you’re taking a really sensible approach discussing it all with your teenagers. And if you and your husband enjoy it too, where’s the harm? xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 2:54 pm

      If I had kids our age, I wouldn’t be anywhere near it! It’s not really my thing ordinarily and it’s a time waster. But I do think it’s important to watch with teens and I am kind of enjoying it now – it’s very compelling viewing! xx

  3. July 5, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    I’m not watching it purely because I know I’d get sucked in, and because I just dont think that promiscuity should be so blatant BUT I can see the appeal and it’s definitely something under referred to multiple times a day, on and off the Internet. As a Christian my faith wouldn’t stop me watching it if I wanted to though! You could say the same about raunchy books or films too really! Also how good was Grange Hill 😂 loved it!

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 3:18 pm

      It’s the promiscuity that I find gruelling to watch but there is something very addictive about it. It’s opened up some great conversations in our house and that for me, is a win with teenagers. xx

  4. July 5, 2018 / 1:28 pm

    This is SO interesting, I never thought I’d watch it but I got sucked in this year and so did my husband! I understand what you mean about something being so far removed its intriguing. My eldest boy is nearly 7 so we’re far off the teenage years yet but I like to think I’d be quite open to what he’s watching when he’s older, like you said they’ll find a way to watch it anyway. I’m not religious, I was raised Catholic though but I don’t think that matters, I’m still horrified at some of the things in the show, yet I can’t stop watching! There will always be something that people find shocking on TV though, doesn’t mean we’re all going to go out and act like them 🙂 xx

    • Suzanne
      Author
      July 7, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      I think your last point is the one to remember with teenagers. It’s actually quite insulting to assume that they will be so heavily influenced by it that they will start acting that way. I know that my girls wouldn’t and I also know that they understand it’s just a show. But that’s because they are 16 and 18, at 13/14 I think they are a bit more impressionable. Agree though that there is a lot of stuff on there that I am quite horrified by! xx

  5. July 5, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    Suzanne,

    I haven’t been watching “Love Island”, I’m too old to have watched “Grange Hill”, but I did watch a few episodes of “Dawson’s Creek” which Gail mentioned. When a Christian leader’s wife was very open about being a fan of “Friends”, I felt surprised but I didn’t say anything to her. Perhaps I should have?
    In the 1950s, there were Christians who refused to have a TV, and Christians who had a TV but didn’t watch it on Sundays. We’ve come a long way since then…
    Nowadays it’s quite rare that I watch a TV news programme (on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Sky) without encountering value-judgements, overt or implicit, that a Christian might find it difficult to endorse. TV news is very much the voice of the secular centre-left, whose agenda determines not only the way in which things are reported but, even more importantly, what makes the headlines and what isn’t reported at all. Perhaps we should be opening up conversations, as you put it, about that area of TV programming also? (For all I know, you may have been doing this for years!)
    A Jewish writer once described TV as “the sewer that runs through your living-room”. I’m not as hostile to TV as he seems to have been, though it’s clear that some programmes broadcast after the watershed could be a corrupting influence on some younger viewers. But… On the commercial channels, the purpose of most (all?) programmes is to pull in an audience which then can be exposed to advertising. A case can be made that many adverts (not only after the watershed!) are a corrupting influence on people of all ages. Perhaps we should be opening up conversations about the adverts — or simply not watching them even if we do watch “Love Island”?

  6. July 6, 2018 / 8:58 am

    It sounds like you are doing the right thing for your family. I’m pleased to say that nobody in my house has expressed an interest in watching Love Island, but yours is the second post which has persuaded me that there are sound reasons for watching with teenagers, if they choose to watch it. I’m not a Christian, but I strongly disagree with promiscuity, butchiness, wearing swimwear rather than clothes etc etc.

  7. July 12, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    I completely agree with you. It’s a window on a part of our society whether we like it or not. Not just in terms of relationships/ sex but also influencer marketing! I’ve only discovered it this year (where was I?) and am gripped, frankly. I’ve been watching it with my 19 yr old and really wish I’d known when he was younger and watching on his own.

    But I’ve been impressed by the way he and his friends respond to the situations that occur in The Villa. As you say it’s opened some great conversations.

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