“I have made a covenant with my eyes” –Job 31:1a
As a gigantic fan of movies who also happens to be a Christian, I have analyzed and thought about the movies I watch. The question I am sure you are asking at this point is: as a Christian then, what are your thoughts James, on R rated films? Or what about PG-13 films? As a Christian should we avoid them altogether? Do we take it on a film-by-film basis?
Personally, I think that the above verse I opened this blog with applies to movies and particularly how the Christian film fan should weigh in on whether or not they should or should not see a movie.
There are some great online resources that allow you to know specifically how much sexual content, violence and fowl language a film contains. They rate the movie in each of these categories on a scale of 1-10 and/or also list specifics in each category, all while attempting to not spoil the actual movie. Websites such as www.kidsinmind.com and www.pluggedinonline.com are sites I use as my guide before I go see any movie, not just an R rated one. Following are my thoughts on how one should choose from a Biblical perspective, whether or not to see a movie based on the three categories of violence, language, and sexual content.
I personally find myself the least concerned about this section. When I get angry, I never struggle with thoughts of murdering or shooting the person I am angry at. However, if you find this is an area you struggle with, I advise that you may want to limit the amount of violence in films you allow your eyes to see. Paul tells us in Ephesians to “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26a) and this includes the thoughts in your heart (Matthew 5:21-23). Thus, I would say that if you struggle with violent thoughts, part of keeping a ‘covenant with your eyes’ would be to not expose yourself to violent images that are present in some movies.
In the book of James, he tells us that the tongue is impossible to tame (v. 8) and that we both bless and curse with the same tongue (v10) and that is NOT okay. Therefore, since so many people struggle with cussing when they are angry, and so many of us are easily influenced by what we hear, it is probably a good idea for us as Christians to be careful how much foul language we regularly expose ourselves to in the movie theater. There are of course various degrees of how much each of us can handle. Some people struggle with uttering foul language when they are angry more than others. To those folks, I would say it is very important that you keep your intake of R rated F-bomb laced cuss fests to a minimum, but as a general rule for all of us believers, I would say moderation is key here, especially if you are prepared and going in to the film knowing there will be foul language.
This one I think is the one that requires the most caution for the Christian viewer, especially those of us who are guys! Because God has wired us to be very visually stimulated when it comes to attraction and desire of the opposite sex, watching graphic sexual scenes in films where nudity is present seems to render it impossible for guys not begin to have impure thoughts. Jesus taught that ‘everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery with her in his heart” and Paul strengthens this further in telling us to ‘flee sexual immortality’ (1 Cor. 6:18). Therefore, I can deduce that watching films with graphic sexual content should definitely be avoided, unless, somehow and person can say they feel no lustful thoughts whatsoever when watching it, and that my friends seems truly impossible to me! If you really want to see a movie that you know has one scene with nudity in it, wait until the film comes out on DVD, rent it and skip over that scene when it arrives. I have done that on several occasions.
So basically if I could sum up my thoughts on being a Christian and a huge fan of film, I would say use the resources I have mentioned to weigh in on what you will be exposing yourself to before entering the theater, and then decide, knowing the areas in which you struggle, whether or not it will cause you more harm than good to see such films. Therefore I personally make my decision on each PG-13 and R-Rated film on a movie-by-movie basis. Our eyes are very powerful mediums in which our brains take in information, and it is important to always bear in mind once we have seen certain images, they can take a long time to be erased from our minds, and some may be permanent! This is how I decide on what movies I allow myself to see, and how I take Job’s commitment to ‘make a convenient with his eyes’ and incorporate it into my own life.