By Tony Eldridge
What would life in America be like without movie theaters and video stores today? Dates, parties, and entertainment itself would totally change without movies. Though I am not advocating that Christians give up this pleasure, I am, however, strongly grieved at the irresponsible way many Christians view some movies without taking into consideration their soul’s condition. I would like to consider the one question, “Can we as Christians view these things and still be pleasing to God?”
First of all, let’s look at what the ratings mean to a child of God. Of course they are G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and X. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has adopted these ratings to help in the selection of movies according to content. Rated G (general admittance) is usually suitable for young children. According to TV Guide, rated PG (parental guidance suggested) may contain one or all of the following: strong language, violence, nudity, sexual situations, and adult themes. PG-13 (under 13 not admitted without a guardian) may contain the same material as PG only more intense. Rated R (restricted) may contain the same material as PG, only even more intense. Rated NC-17 (no one under 17 admitted at all) is tailor made for soft pornography; and we won’t even discuss rated X since I hope that no child of God would ever try to justify that garbage.
To a Christian, those ratings shouldn’t mean too much. It is given by the world, for the world; and Christians shouldn’t let the world rate their morality. We have a God-given responsibility to guard the things that go into our minds and we will be judged based on his Word, not the MPAA rating system. I believe that it is foolish to justify a movie based on its rating alone. We must look at the content of a movie and see if it is contrary to God’s Will.
Let’s take an objective look at the content listed above as seen in the Bible. First of all, what does the Bible say about strong language? Ephesians 4:29 admonishes us to “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” Its sister passage in Colossians 3:8 tells us to put off blasphemy and filthy language out of our mouth. The Bible makes it clear that profanity of any sort is considered a sin by God and there is no way around that! And let me add that there is no way a child of God can make it to heaven if he uses the Lord’s name in vain. Of all filthy language, this type should be most offending to the children of God. If you can sit in a theater and listen to his name used in vain with-out even giving it a second thought, you need to take a good look at your relationship with him.
How does the Bible view violence; the murders, revenge, treating enemies spitefully? They are all condemned by his holy Word. Romans 13:9 – “Thou shalt not kill”; Rom. 12:9 – “Vengeance is mine”; and Matthew 5:44 – “Pray for those who spitefully use you.” These verses should suffice to illustrate God’s view of violence.
One passage alone will take care of illustrating the Creator’s view of nudity, adult themes, and adult situations. 1 Corinthians 6:18ff says, “Flee sexual immorality . – . do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. . . T’ I believe that this command is obvious.
Now I know that Christians aren’t practicing these things when we view them on the silver screen, but I do want us to understand how God views them whether or not we participate in them. The question again is, “Are we sinning when we view these things?” People usually have one of two responses when you hold their feet to the fire concerning this issue. “We certainly don’t practice these things!” This is the favorite justification; however, it forgets the reason for the Gentile’s guilt. In Romans 1:28-32, Paul listed some of the same sins that we have already studied as being the same ones that led them from God. Among them, sexual immorality, murder, and violence. Notice verse 32: “. . those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. ” My friends, if you are paying to be entertained by things contrary to the Word of God, then you are worthy of the same punishment as if you did those things yourself!
Another justification given to view these movies is, “You might have a problem handling that, but not me.” Paul talks of people who can make such statements in 1 Timothy 4:2 – “having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” My friend, it is not to your credit if you can sit through a movie filled with garbage and walk out unaffected. If you can make a statement like that, I plead that you do what David did in Psalms 51:10 and pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Jeremiah speaks of women in Israel who have forgotten how to blush (Jer. 6:15). And you, have you forgotten how to blush?
Plainly, I believe that we are sinning by watching these movies that contain such filth because we voluntarily subject ourselves to evil influences. Proverbs 4:14-15 says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” We must heed this warning as we choose the movies we watch. Verses 20-22 of Proverbs 4 admonish us to take these words to heart. The young man in Proverbs 7:6-9 flirted with what he knew was wrong simply by taking the path to the harlot and it ultimately led to his death. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 instructs us to, “abstain from every form of evil. ” Haven’t we more than proven that these movies contain evil?
If we haven’t shed the gospel light on this subject enough, let me encourage you to read Ephesians 5:1-17, for in it a Christian is admonished not to have fellowship with the works of darkness, but expose them. It’s all around us – theaters, TV, video stores. Be wise, walk circumspectly – but remember, on Judgment Day, you will stand before God, not the MPAA and if you are sinning against his laws, you will go to hell. Be careful in your entertainment, but have fun. And never forget who you are.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 10, pp. 289, 311
May 16, 1991