DisEnchanted: Part 2. “But it’s such a good story!” How to choose which movies/shows you and your family watch

“But it’s such a good story!”15057857_10154755548645452_946060598_n

How many times have you heard someone talk about a movie they had just seen–telling you about all the hilarious moments, about all the great actors on the screen, and then, sobering, admitting there were quite a few objectionable parts and lines with a disappointed air? Not to worry though, because they usually brighten right back up with, “but it was a such a good story!” supposedly making up for all the aforementioned stains.

I would like to challenge that mentality, and drive us all on (myself included!) to paying a lot more attention to a question we do not often ask when it comes to Friday night movie night: “Am I honoring God by watching this?”

Friends, we have been enchanted by movies for so long that we are losing our sensitivity to evil. Let’s take a look at what we watch and how to set ourselves apart from the world in the realm of the film.

Impact

In my last post I talked about why, as a Christian, our being different from the world applies to movies. I mentioned a quote my friend had made about another issue, swearing, that really stuck out to me and caused me to change the way I think about choosing not to follow the crowd. We were sitting in a park in Taipei, talking to a Taiwanese friend about why we have chosen not to swear, and she said,

“In high school I was the only one who didn’t swear. Kids would literally come 15045576_10154755548690452_1099796466_nup 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 wrote, “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 Don’t want to be Entertained by Evil.

Period. I have intentionally made this title huge so that it sticks in your mind, and mine. How about evil being defeated by righteousness or good? Yes, of course. Here are a few issues that Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn.com uses to rate their movie reviews:

  • Spiritual Content
    • As in everyday life, we often totally forget about the spiritual content of movies. Sometimes, as in The Exorcist for example, it is just out there, plain as day. But take a look at the message a movie/show is portraying even if the film is not based on a spiritual theme. The movie Megamind is rated PG for action and some mild language, but throughout the movie, there are several mentions of Yin and Yang, spoken and implied.
      • My take: 15033567_10154755548925452_15403313_n
        • Horror movies are meant to scare you. Many of them have demonic spiritual overtones. I do not think horror movies appropriate for young audiences at all, and I would question the desire behind an adult watching one. Remember to ask, am I glorifying God by watching this? What is being glorified here? When God tells us 365 times not to fear in the Bible, I feel like it is something we should not be pursuing as a form of entertainment. Go to a theme park.
        • With something like Megamind, the spiritual side is much more of a subconscious part of the viewing experience that we are likely to miss it. Make sure to be aware of this when watching with your family and point it out to your kids. Tell them what God says about the situation in the movie/show, and then tell them why the director uses his/her particular philosophy in the video.
  • Sexual Content
    • God has made his creation as a multiplying creation. 🙂 He has created his sons and daughters to celebrate the gift of a covenant marriage through sex and intimacy. It is a beautiful thing. But where do we draw the line in entertainment? How much is too much?
    • My take:
      • Fine: a couple kissing because they love each other. A married couple talking about wanting to have children.
      • Not fine: a couple kissing to the point of taking clothes off and beyond.
    • Why:
      • I believe excessive (longer than a couple seconds) kissing and sex scenes of any sort (showing or not showing nakedness–basically anything) is sin and should not be watched on two accounts:
      • Because of the actors: You may have not thought of this (I had not before this year), but the sex scene(s) we watched in our Friday night movie were not made in a single shot. Actors do not ‘get it right’ in their director’s eyes on the first try every time. It likely took an afternoon to make. Or a day. The actors were seen fully or partially exposed by at least three people: their partner in the movie or TV show, the director, and the camera man. That leaves out sound guys, techs, film editors, set builders, lighting pros, fx makers, makeup artists, water boys… Even though the actors are 15086179_10154755548840452_1887802540_nnot actually having sex, they are giving away their bodies to people who should not ever have the chance to see them. Sex outside of marriage is never okay. Writing a sex scene, acting it out, directing it, editing it…So many people have seen these actors naked before the theatres ever get the rights to show their videos.
      • Because of our covenant with God: Temptation can be ignored, defeated, or entertained. Temptation can be passed off as harmless. I believe watching another couple have sex is not just a wrong idea, it is disgusting to God. Can you imagine someone looking into your bedroom window when you and your spouse are making love and being okay with that? How on earth is watching real people on a screen having sex in your living room any different than watching real people on the rug in front of you having sex in your living room? Let me tell you: It’s not.
    • What are we watching for? Most sex scenes contain no details pertinent to the story line. If we are honest, we watch because we want to see our hero/heroine feel good. We watch because it makes us feel good. Perhaps a little too good? 

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matt 5:27-29

19 “So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”-Matt 5:19

  • Violent Content
    • I love action movies. Stuff blowing up? Cool spies saving the day? War movies? I will most likely be in right away. Violence, however, must be objectively looked at like any other category.
    • My take:
      • Violence and action can be portrayed in such a way that it is not overdone, or, in fact, is done well. For instance, in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, battle scenes are very important to the entire story line. LOTR is known for having some of the most epic battle scenes in movie history. What you will not see is tons of blood, guts, and gore. Becoming desensitized to violence can be both good and bad, but listen to a quote from one of you:
    • One thing one of my fiddle teachers said a ways back really made me think about it. He asked something to the effect of “why do we have a problem with seeing nudity and sex on screen but don’t have a problem watching people tear each other apart?”15058043_10154755549025452_1000619127_n…I admit that there are a few war movies that I do enjoy. I’m not sure where the line is for me. I don’t so much enjoy the bloody battle scenes, but the characters’ heroic actions. –Joanna Johnson, WI

      • I am with Joanna on this–I do not know exactly where the line is, but that is where the Holy Spirit is our best help!
      • Torture or psychological violence (done to make the audience squirm) goes back to the spiritual content of a movie/show: Remember to ask, am I glorifying God by watching this? What is being glorified here? If it is fear being glorified, it might be worth picking another one to watch.
  • Crude or profane language
    • Certain words are known as curse words in our language. Each of us can probably make a mental list of the words we “shouldn’t say to our grandmothers.” We also know talking about body parts, sex, or gender in a demeaning or joking manner is considered crude. And for good reason.15050418_10154755548880452_1656970715_n
    • My take:
      • Did you know that there are, give or take a few, about 40 verses in the Bible that talk about not using crude or profane language? KnowingJesus.com has a list of these verses for you to peruse.
      • The great prayer warrior, Rafaela Fiallos, has said,
    • “I want to spend more time with Jesus because you start to act like the people you are most around. You start talking like them. You start doing certain things like them. You start picking up their quirks and even laughing like them.”

For me, I know that the more swearing and crude speech I surround myself with, the more a curse word becomes my first response to a frustrating situation. The more a sexual joke will pop into my head and seem funny. I don’t want that. I want to be pure and see God (Matt. 5:8). Instead, I want to surround myself with Jesus as much as I can, not forgetting that although I am not of this world, I am still in this world.

So, Skye, what do you propose I do about it?

It is all fine and dandy to know about a sin. What really matters is what we choose to do about it. Here are the two situations we will be in:

Just Me- How to choose a movie/show for just yourself

  • When you have already seen it:
    • There is a great button on remote controls that unless your dog ate the controller and your son hit the TV with a baseball bat, we can all use: THE SKIP BUTTON. Use it! It’s great! Skip sex scenes, short gory moments, or if there is a part you know of that is spiritually demonic, etc. Do not let the devil trick you into temptation with a ‘good story.’
    • What this will not help with is movies/shows that are infused with swearing, crude jokes, or excessive violence or fear-provoking scenes. Don’t watch these films. Just don’t do it, please! Let your testimony be “I stayed pure when no one was looking.15058623_10154755548945452_232643641_n
  • When you have not:
    • Be proactive, not reactive.
    • PluggedIn.com is a Christian based website by Focus On the Family that reviews and rates new and old movies with helpful information on all the above categories from violence to profanity.
    • IMDb also has a parents guide for each movie in the database, which is authored by viewers of the movie. They may not be written with Christian values in mind, so use discernment.
    • I would also recommend CommonSenseMedia.org, the Dove Foundations site, and ChristianCinema.com.
    • Best advice: Pray. If the Holy Spirit gives you a check in your heart about it, it is not worth it. God has something better and more entertaining you can do, and following his desires will meet your needs, so do that.

It wasn’t my Choice!-How to choose a movie/show for your family or group of friends

  • When you were involved in choosing:
    • 15033657_10154755548805452_584535715_nMake a plan. If you help everyone to agree on a plan of action beforehand of what to do if things get sticky, it will drastically reduce your discomfort and those around you. If you are all Christians, agree to some way of knowing when enough is enough. Some have a general “two time” or “three strikes” rule, where the film gets shut off for two cases of something that does not glorify God. Commenting on a previous blog I wrote, Bekah says,

      “If a movie starts with a sex scene (or an implied sex scene), crude jokes, or extreme swearing, I usually turn it right off just because I know that if that’s what they’re trying to get my attention with, it will probably be a running theme in the show.”

      Have in mind what you will do, and follow through. You will have to get over how hard it is to get up in front of your friends and say you will not watch the rest of the movie or episode.

    • Best advice: Pray. Christians are stronger together. If no one else is a Christian, pray by yourself and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you.
  • When you were not:
    • Be willing to be the one that stands up for what is right. Even if your friends or family do not congratulate you on your “goody-two-shoes-ness,” you are looking for treasures in heaven, not the accolades of man. Even if your friend is a movie director or something, make the right choice, regardless of what they are doing. If you have to get up and leave the room, do so. And do it humbly.

And if someone asks you why you don’t want to watch a particular movie? Just be honest. Tell them you follow an amazing God who loves you and has saved you from eternal separation and spiritual death in hell, who has answered your prayers and who takes care of you every moment. Tell them that he, in return, asks that we be willing to forever purify our lives more and more, in order that we can stand out and show the world how good he is. And leave it there.

A last Word: The difference between chick-flicks and porn

When I was in college, one of my professors taught an entire class period about purity and movies. Something he said has turned over and over in my brain for years:

“Chick-flicks are like porn for women.”– Dr. Bruce Konold

The difference:

  • Porn is usually associated with guys and is not typically socially acceptable, especially within a marriage context.
  • Chick-flicks are usually associated with women and is socially acceptable, regardless of status.
  • Porn is shot to intentionally addict, and exploits men, women, and children, who in many cases, have only agreed to be in the video/film because of verbal or physical abuse or threatening.
  • Chick-flicks (with sex scenes/sexual innuendos) are shot to fulfill a desire in the watcher for intimacy or those ‘good feelings,’ and to make box-office cash. They are shot by and and with people who have voluntarily agreed to play the role of the character they are portraying.

What’s not different: They are both sinful in God’s eyes.

Conclusion15050057_10154755549045452_1654063407_n

Some will argue that if we watch a strongly negatively rated movie or a horror movie/show, we can still look at it from God’s point of view and get something positive out of it. It can be used as a witness to others. But I say, treat it like the people who detect false currency do. What do they study? Do they study all the forged bills that come in? No. They study the original bills so closely and carefully that they know every nook and cranny, and therefore are able to detect a falsification just by knowing what is out of place. We should know God’s desires, God’s commands, God’s nature so well that we can detect and expose evil. We can’t do this by studying all the evil.

God has done so much in our lives to bring us out of our past sins that to go back intentionally to the same things we used to do, even if only on a screen, is like throwing it all in His face.

We have been enchanted by movies for so long that we are losing our sensitivity to evil. I hope you can join me in saying that I want to be DisEnchanted.

Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!-Rom 6:19-21

∴∴∴

Please Pray!

  • Please pray for the Holy Spirit to have his way in our hearts (mine included).
  • Please pray for a willingness to turn and repent.
  • Pray for a desire for purity that is stronger than a desire to be accepted or to watch a particular film or show.
  • Please pray for the actors in Hollywood and around the world. They really need Jesus and many of them need healing from emptiness, addictions to drugs and alcohol, and idolatry.
  • Please pray for Christian movie and television directors and filmmakers to write good videos with good morals. Pray for quality that goes beyond a ‘good story.’
  • Please pray that we will be able to humbly honor and glorify God in all that we do, think, say, and watch.
  • Pray for and look for opportunities to stand out, and share the gospel to someone who needs it.

 

Keep the Faith, Expectantly!

Skyebirdie

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s