Should I Watch This Movie?

You bought your ticket. You spent seven dollars on a four quart soda and a tub of butter-soaked popcorn. Your pockets are lined with Mike & Ike’s, Jujubes, and Milk Duds. You’re jazzed out of your tube socks to see the first summer blockbuster.

One question remains: should you watch it?

The fact is, you’ll be a different person when you walk out of the theater. Movies effect us. They make us laugh and cringe. They plant images in our mind. Sometimes they make us more like Christ.

As a Christian, how do you determine which movies are good and which are trash?

Here are several questions that I have found helpful to ask myself before and during a movie. (Note: These questions are the result of conversations with my dad and a sermon by Joshua Harris.)

Does the Movie Glorify Sin?

Have you ever found yourself hoping that a character will leave their unhappy marriage and run away with their true love? I have.

In essence, I’m rooting for adultery. I’m rooting for wickedness. For sins that crucified Christ.

Hollywood often portrays sin as good. We want Jonny Main Character to have a happy marriage, to get revenge on the man that killed his brother, to successfully rob the wealthy, snobbish banker.

Our emotions are manhandled to the point where we no longer root for righteousness.

Can I Thank God For This Movie?

Colossians 3:17 says:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Can you genuinely thank God for the movie you just watched? Can you thank God for the content of the movie and for the way the movie affected you?

If you find yourself cringing rather than thankful, you may want to reconsider.

TO BE CONTINUED…

+photo by Jessica

Comments

  1. says

    Very interesting. This has given me a great deal to think about…as I now am reconsidering some of the more recent picks in my Netlfix DVD queue. What about movies that both “glorify” sin, but only for a season. You know, the one’s where the righteous really are vindicated and the unrighteous, by the end of the film, really have reaped what they’ve sown?

  2. says

    Deek – That’s a good question. I tend to think that if a movie shows in the end that sin is wrong and has bad consequences, then it may be watchable. However, if the depiction of that sin is tempting to me (e.g. sexual sin) then I still probably wouldn’t watch the movie.

    I still wrestle through these questions and don’t have it figured out. I want to grow glorifying God through my movie watching.

  3. Tom says

    Such a challenging, but good post.

    It’s definitely something I’ve felt God challenge me on over the last few years – not that I watch movies that are considered “bad” as such – over here in the UK, our highest rating is an ’18’ movie – like your ‘R’ rating or ‘NC-17′ rating, I think? And I generally don’t watch those movies anyway, ’cause they generally don’t interest me, plus I don’t want to watch much of what they glorify.

    But even films that many people find okay to watch, I’ve felt challenged on – esp. in the area of temptations/lustful thoughts, and as you say – movies that glorify sin/evil, and movies that can spark a thought in my mind that spirals onwards into other thoughts that don’t honour Christ.

    It’s challenging, but something I think we definitely need to respond to – I’ve chucked out movies before (sounds dramatic and super-holy, but really wasn’t – more responding to God’s challenge to my areas of weakness). The movies were generally fine to watch, some even PG or 12 ratings (US PG or PG13) – but there were things in them that sparked something in my mind that didn’t glorify Jesus – so I just felt the best thing to do was get rid of them.

    We can definitely live without movies and films in our lives, but sinning and offending Christ isn’t so good!

    Still, it can be hard at times – especially with even Christian friends watching the latest “blockbuster” or great movie, and for whatever reason, you don’t feel it would be appropriate.

    But honouring God is most important, and as God says, “Those who honour me I will honour..” (1 Samuel 2:30b)…not that we honour God primarily to receive anything back, but in His grace and love He gives back….but anyway…you get the point! :-p

    I have rambled enough! Many apologies! :-)

  4. Turner says

    I have young kids and even some of the adult humor placed in the current digital (cartoon) movies is alarming. I have noticed even anti-God comments in some of them. I guess what can you expect the world to give us as entertainment? They can’t give what they don’t have right? Good insights.

  5. says

    One thing to consider is whether or not God’s name is used in vain in a movie. I try not to go see movies that do that, because nobody ever says its wrong in a movie. I know most movies have blasphemy in them, but I’ve pretty much come to grips that I won’t be watching many movies anymore.

  6. Bob says

    Bart,

    I have to respectfully disagree that there is a good time to watch something that glorifies sin to sharpen our discernment. There are many warnings in Scripture for us not to have anything to do with darkness. Going to culturally popular movie that glorifies sin and does not glorify God is part of the issue that we are facing in the church today. There is no difference inside and outside of church regarding entertainment; Where is the counter-cultural path?

    I hear the phrase over and over "that it's only a movie and I just want to be entertained." Someone once said that they keep and arm's length away from the culture. My response is an arm's length is different in each decade and the culture is not moving towards God it's moving away from God. When you look back on the arm's length theory we are now accepting entertainment that we would not have accepted in previous years. Think back to what is acceptable on TV now and what was acceptable 15-20 years ago. It use to be that cable was bad now you just have to watch TV commercials and you get bombarded. This is not a personal attack on any one person; I truly believe that our senses are numb to what we have now accepted as acceptable forms of entertainment.

  7. Bart Byl says

    Good questions, Stephen. Aren’t there times, though, when it is actually a good exercise to watch movies that glorify sin and for which we cannot give thanks—not for brainless entertainment but to sharpen our discernment? Mars Hill Church does this with their Film & Theology nights, and they’re excellent.

  8. says

    Bart – How are things up in the great north?

    That’s a great question. To be honest, I think it depends on the movie and how that movie affects me. If I find myself enjoying the glorification of sin, or rooting for sin, then I think it would be wrong for me to watch that movie.

    However, there are times when I can watch a movie that glorifies sin, recognize that it’s glorifying sin, and actually have my love for God grow. For example, I recently watched a movie where a man took his own life so that he could save others. He took his life because he felt guilty for previous sins. The movie portrayed the man’s ‘sacrificial suicide’ in a noble light.

    I was able to recognize this as sin, and in turn be reminded of the gospel that forgives my guilt.

    This is a fine line to walk and I don’t propose to have all the answers. Great question.

  9. says

    What about the shear cost of movies these days? Should that be a concern when it costs us some $28 to watch a movie, let alone the time it takes to do so?

    Usually my goal with watching a movie is to be drawn out of myself to something bigger (at least for the moment). I try to avoid escapism, but do think it is refreshing to be caught up in a good story from time to time. I have in the recent years tried to filter what I watch.

    I look forward to the next post.

    GB

  10. Devorah says

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions! Earlier today I was thinking about how to discern all those movies that are more “gray” as in the ones that aren’t blatantly good or bad and those questions definitely help! I’m looking forward to the next post! =)

    Blessings!

    Devorah =)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>