Movies from a Christian perspective

by Ruth

Hollywood has been in the movie making business for decades and has enthralled countless audiences. It has perfected the art of entertainment, and going to the movies or watching a DVD has become one of the most popular forms of relaxation for modern day society. For an hour or two, the worries and cares of the day can be forgotten in favour of a make believe world where heroes have adventures, good triumphs evil and boy meets girl. From a Christian perspective, do we need to be careful of what we watch? Surely a movie can be nothing more than a harmless hour of entertainment?

The role of the movie industry in shaping society’s (and our) values should not be underestimated. The majority of movies advocate values in direct opposition to the Word of God, but perhaps the Christian value most under attack seems to be the one of sexual purity. In this context, is it sufficient to avoid 18 rated movies, or should we also have a closer look at PG rated ones declared fit for family watching?


Most Christians would agree that 18 rated movies with explicit pornographic scenes should not be watched. But satan is no fool. He offers his poison in different forms, based on who it is aimed at. To the pornographic addict he offers the 18 rated movies. But to those with some sort of moral conviction, and to the professing Christian, he offers something subtle. The same lie is offered in small doses, sugar coated to appear harmless, yet aimed to do as much damage.


Romantic comedies, often PG rated, are usually described as “feel-good” movies (the coating), but ones without traces of sexual immorality have become hard to find.  Unmarried lead characters are usually shown to live together and bedroom scenes between unmarried partners are either explicitly shown or implied, the latter not being less harmful. Sexual purity, as taught in the Word of God, is largely ignored or even scoffed at.  A movie can be 99% “good” – the characters admirable, the humour witty and the overall message inspirational - but the 1% that goes against God’s word can do more damage than the good the 99% does.

Many Christians might feel that they can “handle” these small doses of sexual immorality. The problem is however two-fold. Firstly, have we perhaps become too accustomed to the world’s values and lost sight of the seriousness of sin in God’s eyes? The Bible warns in various places to flee from sexual immorality.

"Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own.  For you have been bought with a price;  therefore glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:18-20

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality..." 
Galatians 5:19

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality..."
I Thessalonians 4:3-5

We must remember that our God is holy, and expects us to be the same (1 Peter 1:16). As Christians, we cannot stand with one foot in God’s kingdom and one in the world. God hates sin and so should we. The Word of God urges Christians to “be excellent at what is good but innocent of evil” (Romans 16:19). Clearly, God does not want us to even associate with what is not pleasing in His sight.


Secondly, do we realize that seeing anything often enough makes us gradually more used to the idea? Every time we see a scene portraying sexual immorality, our mind can be dulled a bit more to the absolute truth of God (a truth which, with time, can seem not so absolute any longer). Young viewers in particular are at risk. They can be taught in Sunday school that God ordained sex for marriage, their parents can teach them the same, but if they watch movie after movie showing the opposite, whose advice will they put in practice? If “everyone who does it”, seems to enjoy it and no harm seems to be done, surely sleeping around cannot be such a big sin in God’s sight? The more one is exposed to a way of thinking, irrespective of how solid one’s foundation has been laid, repeatedly seeing the opposite of what one has been taught can crumble even the strongest foundation.  Our sense of right and wrong can be gradually distorted when we regularly watch that which is wrong in God’s eyes, being presented as “OK” and common practice. Some Christians will be more susceptible than others, but don’t overestimate your ability to stand strong - the Bible advises those that think they stand to take heed lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).



Perhaps your children are already conditioned to this world’s values and are not able to see why sex before marriage is such a big deal. Although we need to obey God’s commandments just because He says so (God is after all God), it might be helpful to explain to them that He is never merely out to spoil our fun – He always has good reasons for telling us not to do something. In the case of sexual immorality, God is more than aware of the damage it does, and only wants to protect us from getting hurt and not receiving His best.  As sugar coatings go, the consequences of sleeping around are almost always excluded from a movie promoting sexual sin. The fun part of sin is shown and exemplified, but the emotional baggage, the lack of security in marriage, the sexually transmitted diseases and the unexpected pregnancies are conveniently omitted. The resulting message to young viewers is the lie that sex can be casual and enjoyed without any negative consequences.



Although this article has dealt mainly with the topic of sexual immorality, all movies should be considered in the light of God’s Word before viewing. Obvious things to look out for are profanity and blasphemy, and although movies like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings could be argued to be “merely fantasy”, their blatant promotion of witchcraft needs to seriously concern the believer. As Christians, we cannot watch and support that which is in direct opposition to everything God stands for, only to shrug it off as being in the name of harmless entertainment.



Going to the movies might have always been an enjoyable, relaxing experience for you. It might have been the one thing you look forward to at the end of your week. Do however not disregard the damage it can do. The movie industry is one of the most underestimated tools in satan’s hand, cunningly drawing people, even well-meaning Christians, further and further from God’s holy standard. Heed the voice of your conscience, the Holy Spirit, and ask Him to show you when something is not acceptable in His sight. Before going to watch a movie or allowing your children to watch it, do research on the content and judge it against the holy Word of God. Yes, we live in a real world and cannot avoid sin, but neither should we wilfully fill our minds with what opposes God and run the risk of no longer seeing the seriousness of sin. The eye is the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22-23) and our minds should be filled with God’s truth, not satan’s lies: 


“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honourable, right, pure and lovely and admirable.” (Philippians 4:8)


Note


Sharing Biblical Truth can recommend the following website to check whether a movie has ungodly content:

http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight

Although we cannot guarantee the biblical soundness of all the reviews, those we did check provided an excellent summary of content not aligned with the Word of God. The reviews typically list how many times a movie uses the Name of God in vain, whether there are any sexual scenes or suggestions of such scenes, the level of violence and obscene language, etc. The website can be a useful tool to determine whether a movie is appropriate to watch, for yourself or for your child.

http://www.sharingbiblicaltruth.co.za/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.237