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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.

What’s your view of Love Island? Are you watching it with your teenagers? 

Inside, Outside & Beyond

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18 COMMENTS

  • michelle twin mum

    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

      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

  • Gail

    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

      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

  • Lauren Scrapbook Blog

    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

      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

  • 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

      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

  • BLEKE

    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”?

    • Suzanne W
      AUTHOR

      I think TV is a VERY powerful influence and we need to always question whether it’s healthy for us to watch. On my own, I probably wouldn’t choose to watch Love Island but my children don’t want to be outcasts at school and because of that, I think it’s better to compromise and keep an open dialogue on these things.

  • 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.

    • Suzanne W
      AUTHOR

      Yes I know exactly what you mean and I knew there would be lots of parents on the same page as me. Love Island isn’t the only programme that I think could be a negative influence but it’s one that our teens seem drawn to. The worst thing we can do, in my opinion, is bury our heads in the sand and refuse to engage.

  • Nancy | MapandFamily

    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.

    • Suzanne W
      AUTHOR

      Yes this is what I think. My youngest daughter and I have had some great conversations about it and honestly, I’ve been impressed that her views aren’t dissimilar to mine! They just don’t want to be ‘out of the loop’ and I respect that.

  • Kaz

    100% wrong. Sex is something that should be between a man and a woman who are married to each other. Sex before marriage is wrong and casual sex is wrong. All is wrong in the eyes of the almighty God who created it…for the sole purpose of procreation. I have and never will see the program. Disgusting. I have no TV, as it is full of the same. Young people are being fed a lie. They are being told that this revolting behaviour and lack of morals is a good and healthy way to live and it is the opposite. It brings down the moral and causes nothing but low self esteem and depression. Jesus said: ‘If you even look at a woman and lust for her you have already committed adultery with her in your heart’. That is how serious God takes this behaviour. Anybody acting like this and anybody watching this program have no morals at all. It’s basically glorified porn. Do not call yourself a true Christ follower and then claim that watching this disgusting filth is alright with God…it is not. I would suggest reading the bible with your daughters instead of allowing (And joining in) them to watch such mindless trash. Jesus said what your eyes see you will become. I will pray for you and your family and others like you, that you will all repent and turn to Christ and be born again. God tells us to ashore what is evil and cling to what is pure and good…not sit and toggle over naked bodies and watch people acting out sexually. You are not a true christian.

    • Suzanne W
      AUTHOR

      Thank you for reading my post and taking the time to comment. Your view point is clearly very different to mine but I respect it all the same, which I think is part of being a ‘proper’ Christian. I think watching Love Island (or any other programme that might not necessarily have christian morals) is a moral choice and God has designed us to make choices for ourselves. My daughters want to watch it and at their age (19 and 18), I believe that refusing to allow them to do this would be more detrimental in the long run to their view of Christianity and also my relationship with them as their mother. I believe they have respect for me and do listen to my opinions while we are watching it. Rather than forcing them to go by a set of rules and regulations (which they may well see christianity as, if I go about quoting the bible in a judgmental way as you have done) I want them to make a decision for themselves and to develop their own personal relationship with Jesus. I can see from your comment that you have never watched Love Island and don’t watch TV at all. I think it’s very short-sighted to comment on something when you haven’t even watched it for yourself. But as I say, that’s your choice and this is mine.

  • kaz

    I’m actually sorry I did read your post, as it only served to remind me of how many false christians are in the world today. A true christian would do everything to honour God and never do anything to disrespect Him. What you are doing and saying here is nothing but disobedience towards God. I have never murdered anybody, but I don’t need to have to know what it is. I have never taken drugs, but I also do not need to to be able to know the harm it does. I do not need to watch TV or Love Island to know anything about it. God said to bring up your children as they mean to go on and they will not depart from it. he did not say it is good or ok to allow them to watch filth. If you are a christian, in the true sense of the Word, you should not be encouraging your children, or indeed partaking in, to be worldly. You are making your brother stumble and that in itself is wrong. you claim you are hooked and that your husband watches with you. He is looking at other women naked bodies (Or near naked) and watching them having sex, etc, etc. I honestly do not understand why you call yourself a christian at all. Are you born again? What church do you attend, if any? I am not at all judging you as a person, but the bible tells all true believers to judge righteously those who claim the gospel and that is what I am doing here. You are not truly saved and your fruits clearly show it. I urge you to repent, turn from what you are doing and follow Jesus properly and He will give you and your daughters such great joy that you will no longer be able to watch Love Island with the same eyes. I promise you. I truly hope you listen to what God is saying to you in His Word, before it is too late.

    • Suzanne W
      AUTHOR

      Just for the record – no one has sex on Love Island (I felt the need to correct you on that). Also, my tongue in cheek comment about my husband and I being ‘hooked’ is just humour. As I said before, you’re entitled to your opinion and if I believe that God is prompting me to do or not do anything, then I will listen to Him, not a stranger on the internet. We are called to be ‘in the world but not of the world’ and that’s open to everyone’s interpretation. I would not be doing the things that the people on Love Island are doing but my children live in a world where most people are. Burying our hands in the sand to what is going on around us is unhelpful for our children and for other people who we may one day hope to lead to Christ. I’m glad that you are following the path that you believe God wants for you and that you’re happy in knowing that. I wish you all the best but would politely ask you not to keep commenting on this blog post as you’ve made your view point very clear.

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