“Let’s watch a movie!!”
–a common phrase among families of all shapes and sizes, children, new couples, best friends, and old pals. How many Christmases have been spent watching classics such as White Christmas and Frosty the Snowman or Easters watching The Jesus Film or The Passion of the Christ?
Yet many of us as Christians are aware of a maze of lines that are moved and greyed as time goes on: These lines guide our choices of entertainment. They help us find a video we would enjoy watching. They guard us from watching something we know is immoral.
Are “they” the parents who taught us what to and what not to watch? No.
Are “they” the ratings that are designed to keep movies from getting into the homes and hands of younger audiences than intended? No.
This maze of lines is something you may not have suspected. “They” are our own desires.
An Appeal for Wisdom
This blog is the fruit of about 5 months of thought, prayer, and seeking others’ perspectives. I hope to lead you and I, myself into a heightened awareness of how we choose the movies that we watch, and give us a lot of food for thought. In this mini-series I will first write about why being different from the world applies to movies, and then give guidelines for viewers. If you have any questions or something to add, please leave a comment below. This is by no means a closed topic.
Lord Jesus, please give me wisdom. Help me to trust that you have, in fact, given me that wisdom that I have asked for these many months. I pray that you would open our eyes to the impurity that we have allowed in our lives. Please help us to turn and repent from anything that doesn’t bring glory and honor to you. In Jesus’ holy and righteous name, Amen.
Coming Out-Why be different?
If you are not a Christian, I suppose unless you want to have Christian morals, you can throw this entire thing out of the window. But if you are a Christian, Christ has given us guidelines about what we do with our bodies, our thoughts and our actions. We are not suppose to look like the world around us.
We are supposed to stick out like a sore thumb in some cases. Listen to what the Bible says:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.-Matt 5:8
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.- 1 Cor 6:19-20
For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.-Eph 5:8-11
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.-Phil 4:8
Repeated theme in the Bible: Be holy. Be pure. Old you=dead. New you=alive in Christ!
The way we choose what we use as entertainment speaks a lot about who a person is. Think about it. Within the first day of a friendship you are likely asking them if they like sports, or what their hobbies are. If they like to read you want to know what genre. If they like to listen to music, you want to know which bands. If you talk about movies, you want to know if they are the person who likes dramas or horror movies. Our choices matter, and a Christian choice should stick out.
While talking with some Taiwanese from Aroma Church about English cursing, a friend of mine said something profound . We talked about which words we deemed curse words in English, and why we choose what we say. My friend said,
“In high school I was the only one who didn’t swear. Kids would literally come up to me and ask me, ‘How come you don’t swear?’ and I was able to answer them by telling them about Jesus and how he had changed my life. I don’t swear, not because I don’t want to sometimes, or because I object to the words, but because of the huge impact it has on people to know someone who wants to stay pure in their speech like this.”
In all my 23 years, I have never heard someone use impact as their reason not to swear. That remark began to shape the way that I think about other things too… namely movies.
Come out, be different.
… because our biggest impact on the world is to show them a holy God.
I said before that we have a maze of lines guiding our choices of entertainment, and this is true in an obvious sort of way. Obviously we would not be watching Snowdogs if we did not at least desire to laugh or want to watch a movie about sled dogs. If we did not desire it, we would choose something else.
Sometimes it is not so obvious. Sometimes our desire is for comfort or love or companionship, and instead of finding it in a person, we are drawn to a movie to fill that place of a human heart.
Sometimes our true desire is for evil and we know it. I will admit, I have sometimes chosen not to look away during an intimate sex scene in movies before. For me, this action is usually accompanied by a crawling feeling inside of me that says, “Stop! What are you doing? This is not right!” But unfortunately that sometimes is not enough to curb the appetite for… what? I know it must be the thing called lust. Look:
14[E]ach person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.-James 1:14-18
Let us turn from misplaced, glorified desires and, instead, desire to give God glory in everything we do, including what we watch.
I have decided that I am not going to let my sinful nature rule me anymore. I will be a slave to righteousness instead of ever-dulling wickedness. I will not become desensitized.
“I am mature enough to watch that now”
I have a mind to think that some of you right now are saying, “Movies aren’t wicked. Violence happens. Sex is real. Swearing is just an expression. I’m old enough to handle that stuff now, Skye.”
Please hear me: Movies themselves are not sent from God. Movies are made by humans, for humans. God gave us the tools, technological abilities, and creativity to make beautiful things. We as humans choose to make good or bad from these gifts. Some movies are brilliant, holy, funny–they glorify God.
Some movies decidedly do not, even if they are “brilliantly made,” “hilarious,” or “powerful.” Don’t be deceived. The evil your parents stopped you from watching when you were three is still evil today in your thirties. Come out! Be pure. Glorify God.
To Be Continued!
Because of the nature of this subject, there is more than I can deal with in one post. Please stay tuned for the next blog, called, “DisEnchanted: Part 2. ‘But it’s such a good story!'”
in which I will talk about these things:
- Movie-watching guidelines for moral issues–I Don’t Want to be Entertained by Evil
- How to choose a movie for yourself–Just Me
- How to choose a movie for your family or group of friends–It Wasn’t My Choice!
- The difference between porn and chickflicks–How Can We Tell?
I want to leave you with this final thought for today, and it will not be the last time you hear it from me. In regards to movies, think about this: If something you watched in a movie happened in your living room, what would you do in a normal situation?
Keep the Faith, Expectantly!
Financial Update: I have about $900 of the roughly $1,000/month that I need to be fully funded for my two year missions service in Taiwan! I am leaving in January, so if you feel you want to give to the ministry I’ll be doing with discipling new believers in Taipei, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I could be fully funded if four people gave $25/month!! Pass the word on!