In my adult life, I have been called ‘stupid’ by a peer only twice. Both incidences involved a Christian who was commenting on my opinion regarding what kind limits Christians should put media they consume. In both cases I was defending why I thought some popular movie shouldn’t be owned or regularly viewed by a Christian. I’m not someone who gets a kick out of stirring the pot, but it was obvious in both cases I’d struck a nerve.
As a Christian who enjoys observing, critiquing and participating in popular culture I try to not set arbitrary rules – I look to scripture. Here are my personal guidelines and the reasoning behind each. While I’ve probably broken them all at some point, I can say that I’ve never been sorry when I follow them. I’m talking about movies, but they can really be applied to all forms of media.
- I do not go see R-rated movies in the theater unless I am recommended it by someone who I know holds my same values. This may seem prudish, but the reason is two fold: First, what if you get caught walking towards that theater by someone who is struggling or is young in their faith – what if they happen to know the kind of content in the movie you’re about to see is not God-honoring? You wouldn’t want to cause someone to stumble. (Mark 9:42). Second, if you go to see that movie and you see something that you shouldn’t, it will effect you and you can’t unsee it, where as If you watch the movie at home you can skip parts of it. (Job 31:1) I recognize that I’m very unusual in this way as statistically, Christians are just as likely to go to an R-rated film as non-christians.
- I don’t watch any movies with frontal nudity. The reason is simple: Ephesians 5:2 – no hint of sexual impurity. This one seems like a no-brainer to me, but when I told a Christian friend that I wouldn’t watch a particular movie because it had a number of nude scenes in it, he flipped. He said “Just because of that you’re going to miss a great movie.” Just because of that. Just because I’m trying to take the scripture seriously. I don’t do this because I think I’m better than anyone – I do it because I know I’m a sinner; I know the effect those movies have on me and I know I’m not the only one.
- Finally, I try not to buy any any movies that I’d have to throw out if I ever had children – I thought this was just a good rule to have about life in general. What if all single young adults lived life as if one day they might have to sit down with their children and explain everything they had ever done. What if people began preparing for parenthood before they got married? You wouldn’t just have better parents, you’d have more responsible people – even if they never had kids. I told a Christian friend of mine about this philosophy and that’s when I got called stupid. I’m not going to write a whole manifesto to defend myself on this. I just don’t believe that it is stupid to live a life filled with a desire to be responsible, to be selfless, to be above reproach and to maintain the child-like state of innocence Jesus talks about in Matthew 18.
I’ll quote again from my favorite Pauline epistle:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” Philippians 4:8
No matter what you’re doing in life, if you’re not sure if you’re on track with Christ, read this passage and ask – is this me? I do it all the time and honestly most of the time the answer is “no, not really.” – That’s where I know things need to change.
Wow, thanks for so putting a sacred practice (holiness) in simple, creative and accessible language. This is a great post. May I share this with my students? I am going through my movie drawer and Hulu account today!