A Christian’s Movie Standards: Joe’s Thoughts

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I think this is a challenging question for many Christians. Is there certain material that as a Christian we just shouldn’t watch? I guess for some it’s not challenging at all because they just see whatever movie they want. I’m a straight shooter. I find total honesty makes my life easier. So here it is, my honest, raw perspective. This has been a cathartic process of writing down my thoughts, I realize how complicated this issue truly is. My goal is not to confuse you further, but hopefully you will organize your thoughts on this issue as well. Don’t justify yourself by my actions, your standard-bearer is Christ.  Seek Him and His righteousness. But without further ado, here are my thoughts.

 

Murder

Is it okay to watch murder take place on screen? Obviously we’re not talking about watching a snuff film, we know we are dealing with acting, red dyed corn syrup, and green screens. So what’s the big deal? Even the Bible has a lot of murder/death/kills. Do we not want to make bible-based movies like Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, or Left Behind? (Ok, maybe those were absolutely terrible choices) Should we only watch things with moral premises in which the hero won’t kill? Like Batman pre-Ben Afflec? But let’s not pretend any character in any movie is moral or good (except Jesus in The Passion). They’re all motivated by revenge, or lusting after some hottie, or breaking the speed limit(!!!) This can be pushed to some extreme limits. Pretty soon, the line between the protagonist and antagonist are blurred. In fact, I think in many movies the “good guy” is the foil to the “bad guy” we’re rooting for. So what do we do with Isaiah 5:20 that says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” I would agree, woe to those people. Woe!!! I personally wouldn’t make a movie that blurs light and darkness, but I’m essentially supporting the filmmakers to make more such movies by watching their movie, aren’t I?

Joe’s Thoughts: Do I watch movies that have murder and other such violence. Yes, but I have never personally been compromised by the shifting of morality that often occurs in films. There are times where I want the hero to kill the bad guy, but I immediately recognize that’s not what I would do in real life. I would stop and share the Gospel with them. However, I do get that other people can be affected by such shifty morality. I want to be able to point others to Biblical truths. Honestly, watching films where the filmmakers try to confuse the issues keeps me sharp in pointing out the truth. You can probably guess that’s not the reason why I watch such movies. The truth is, there was a cool movie trailer that made me interested in watching it. But I do love being able to interact with others on the issues it raises.

But What About You: Quickly identify in your minds when a character does or says something that’s wrong – not when the bad guys does something bad, but when the good guy does. If you find yourself confused by the morality presented in film verses the morality presented in Scripture, you need to dedicate time to truly understanding the truths found in the Bible. It is truth. Everything else is just opinion.

 

Horror/Scary

Should Christians watch movies where the intent is to frighten the watcher? 2 Timothy 2:17 says, “God does not give us a spirit of fear.” So why should we watch something that does? Obviously, not every movie affects every watcher the same way. For instance, Arachnophobia caused me considerable psychological trauma. It’s the most frightening movie ever, because that stuff is real. That movie watches like a documentary. But if you look on IMDB it lists the movie as a “Comedy.” It lists similar movies as Tremors and Lake Placid. First of all, Tremors is hilarious and no one is worried about radioactive worms. And Lake Placid is only slightly scary because the movie doesn’t take place Florida. Every lake in Florida has gators that size in it, but our fish and wildlife guys handle that stuff no problem. The real villain is crazy Betty White who’s been feeding that giant gator all these years. Don’t feed the gators tourists! It only makes them more comfortable near people. That movie is more of a PSA. But there’s no doubt, there are horror films that are designed to make us jump and tense-up. You could always watch the movie in the middle of the day with a bunch of friends over as opposed to alone at 2am, but a truly scary movie can get your hair to stand-up on end regardless.

Joe’s Thoughts: I like a good scary movie. I say “good” because I have the same standards of quality on all movies. Being scared is just an emotion like any other. Happiness, sadness, anger and the like are neither good nor evil. There’s a time for all those emotions. While feeling these emotions it’s important not to sin. What should never happen after watching a movie is a lack of trust in God. That’s what “fear” would really be referring to. It’s a worry that God is not in control. Personally, I think about all the ways that Jesus would stop the “monster” in the movie. In most other circumstances, just a well placed 911 call or a little bit of wisdom provided by the Good Lord would prevent quite a bit of the shenanigans. As for the really scary stuff like Demons; yep, I’m gonna let Jesus totally take the wheel on that one. One cool thing is no matter what, I get to go to heaven when I die.

But What About You: If that spirit of fear persists, or any emotion for that matter, perhaps such films are not the right fit for you. It’s important to know yourself. In many ways I view movies as meat sacrificed to idols. It’s a stumbling block for some, and absolutely not for others. Know who you are.

 

Profanity

Ah wordy dirds. I’m going to put language in two categories: sexual language and taking the Lord’s Name in vain. These are the 2 types of words that are truly warned about in Scripture, anything else is societally driven. I’m reminded of the words in Matthew 15:11, “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out.” Now that’s definitely out of context, but every other instance in scripture tells us to not let such language out of our mouths, and do not take the Lord’s Name in vain. Is listening to it still blasphemy though? Tough stuff.

Joe’s Thoughts: I’m very thankful that God impressed upon me at an early age to watch my tongue. I don’t curse (accidentally), and I never take the Lord’s Name in vain. I personally wish that television and movies didn’t have terrible language in it. But it honestly doesn’t affect me a whole lot. The biggest indictment you could make against me is that I don’t even notice it at times. So would I keep watching a show if Jesus is sitting right next to me. I wouldn’t start watching a movie if Jesus is right next to me. We’re gonna be having a Holy Ghost party when He shows up. Cursing is such a huge part of our society. The silver lining is that hopefully it makes Christians more distinctive in the way they choose to talk.

But What About You: Being in control of your words is very important, and rewinding that back is so hard. You will need to take radical steps if you want to truly clean-up your tongue. Be willing to make the hard choice.

 

Sexuality

I use this word instead of “nudity” because there are certainly scenes which might not show any “parts” but is extremely illicit and arousing. On the other hand, nudity can potentially be used for other non-sexual purposes (Schindler’s List, anything National Geographic, humor). This is the toughest call. Being a man, I am not immune from lust and whatnot. I do need to be careful about what I see. Phil 4:8 reminds us to focus on what is pure, lovely, righteous and the like. I’m not going to seek out sexual images, but if you’ve turned on the TV lately you know how sexual even a regular broadcast station can be. So what should you do when the unexpected comes on the screen? Well I suppose you have 3 options: A) Keep Watching B) Look away C) Leave/ Turn it off. But what should you do?

Joe’s Thoughts: I can only share what I do. I look away. I don’t search out that content at all, but if it comes up, I look away. Is that enough sometimes? No. There are times I need to do more.

But What About You: Be careful little eyes what you see. You are more enticed by what you see than you realize.
The last warning comes back to the meat sacrificed to idols argument. Do not be a stumbling block to another believer. Be extra careful not to hinder their walk in any way.

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