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Archive for February 5th, 2015

Holy

I am going to address this question because sometime ago a reader of this blog emailed me our question: Is it ever appropriate for Christians to view sexual sins in film?

It might be unpopular and sounds old fashion but my answer then and now is no.  It is not appropriate for Christians to view sexual sins in film for the purpose of entertainment.

The brother who emailed me also shared how there are Christians who think that things such as nudity or other sexual themes are okay in film.  If I recall correctly, this brother mentioned that these Christians think it is permitable in certain context and depending on what kind of film it is.

I think we must remember Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:3:

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;

As saints, “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” to use the words of the NIV translation of Ephesians 5:3.  First off, the person in the screen is not your spouse so they are sharing things that should only be private between a husband and wife.  Second, if there are more than two individuals in a film involved with a sexual moment rememebr that these individuals are very likely not married and hence are engaged with lusts and acting upon it (with various degree) with someone else that is not their spouse.  We ought not condone and approve the sins of others.

Sometimes I think Christians can end up compromising by thinking the following:

  • “But everyone else is watching it!”
  • “I like the story!”
  • “I can handle it.”
  • “I’m watching it for the philosophy and worldview discussion.”

We must remember that the Bible is more concern that we flee from sexual immorality:

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

I don’t know if one can muster a verse that would say it’s okay to be visually entertained sexually of someone that is not your spouse let alone God blessing the excuses given above.

I also realize we live in a day and age that is very sexual in many of our entertainment.  I do not want to be legalistic but I hope the following are helpful pastoral advice to navigate through this issue practically with the consideration that we apply it with the motivation of pleasing Jesus who has died for our sins:

  1. Cultivate in your heart a holy hatred of sin.  This involves a deeper love of God and the things of God.  When you can’t say no to a film even though it is sexual, you might have an issue of a functional god (an idol) in your life.  Meditate on the Gospel so as to change your affection and motivation in resisting sin.  If you don’t hate sin, all the advice that follow will only lead you to “manage” your sins rather than mortify it.
  2. Resolve in your mind that there’s already going to be films you will never watch.  You don’t need to experience every film.  I find it helpful to think about how short our time of life is, and our responsibilities (spiritual and otherwise).  People always get in trouble when they stop forgetting that the are finite with a finite amount of time and abilities, etc.  I also find it helpful to think that not watching some movies for the sake of Christ is nothing compared to the big picture of things such as what Jesus has done to save me, etc.
  3. Research as much as possible about a film before you see it.  If, as the result of your research you discover that your conscience is uncomfortable or you know that you will definitely be tempted when you watch the film, then it is wise not to see the film.
  4. I also realize that no amount of preparation before hand to avoid a bad movie can prevent surprises when one watches a film.  As cheesy as it might sound, during those awkward moments practice the art of fast-forwarding and skipping inappropriate scene.
  5. Make it a habit not to watch films alone.  When those shocking moments in a film occur I usually cover my eye as my wife fast-forward it.  We also typically reverse role when it comes to violent scenes.  Watching film with others also allow conversations afterwards and fellowship if one discuss the film from a Christian worldview, etc.  With a group one must also realize that one of the party’s conscience will be more weaker than the other and rather than be upset that this will limit how much movies you can watch, realize this is an opportunity to practice love by not watching a certain film to stumble someone; also realize that sometimes the other person who doesn’t want to watch might actually be right when we want to brush some of the things aside.
  6.   Spend more time with spiritual matters than watching films.  Use the following as a diagnostic question concerning your spiritual life: “Am I in the Word and prayer more than I am being entertained by some kind of video media?”  You want to focus on things that matter.  Be very conscious that video media can easily dull one’s senses to reading, prayers and critical thinking.

I’m not a movie guy but I am a movie guy.  To some I’m not a movie guy because I watch the least amount of movies among the people I know from church, work, family and friends.  It has also been years since I watched something in theaters.  Nor do I own a TV at home.  Yet to some I am a movie guy.  I am not a dinosaur and I do watch films on DVD.  What films I do watch with others I enjoy talking about it intensely afterwards.  I would say I enjoy it–but I enjoy film primarily because I want to enjoy God and see things God’s way, even as I watch a movie.

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