Should a Christian watch a movie for entertainment purposes only? Or does a Christian need to question and critique every aspect of the movie thus taking away its entertainment value?
I would suggest that movie watching for Christians should be both entertainment and critical interaction.
It seems to me that entertainment is not an evil. God created the world as a place to be enjoyed, discovered, and managed. Entertainment via God’s creation happens all the time through animals, plants, weather, and the like.
God also created humanity with the ability to create. If the good God can create things that bring entertainment, surely we can too. And films are a part of human creation. Therefore, using films to entertain is not evil in itself.
However, as one may read in my last post (what’s wrong with movies?), Christians who only watch movies for entertainment may be tainted in ways that they might not be aware of.
Another part of God’s creation is critical interaction. Weather, plants, animals, and the like teach us life lessons all the time. Jesus the Christ used examples from creation in many of his parables and other teachings (see Luke 6:43-44, 8:4-8). We should interact with God’s creation through science and reflection.
Likewise, movies should have critical interaction. Considering the worldview of the movie is important as well as analyzing the content in the movie.
Moreover, movies are also a form of communication. Many movies ask a question, a series of questions, or make a statement about a certain topic. Some movies answer their own questions, while some do not.
Let us look at an example with the critically acclaimed film Saving Private Ryan. This movie is an historical piece about a group of soldiers in World War II.
At the beginning of the movie Private Ryan (at an elderly age) takes his family to the National Memorial at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. He breaks down crying and remembers the sacrifice that a group of men made so that he could live. At the end of the movie, Private Ryan (again at an elderly age) looks at his wife and asks her to tell him that he is a good man.
The movie is asking the questions: “What is life worth?” and “What cost is too much for one’s life?” The movie does not answer the questions, but places it out there for you to consider.
So what does the Bible say about the value of life (especially at the cost of others)? Contemplating the answer to this question in light of the Bible and Saving Private Ryan is to critically interact with the movie.
The first Spider Man movie states, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The movie revolves around this statement. What does the Bible suggest about this statement? Is it truth?
Disney’s Mary Poppins considers the important choice between a successful career and a loving fun family. The film suggests that the family is more important (and in the end the successful career follows). What does the Bible say about the choices and the film’s answer to the question?
Some questions/statements in films are much harder to find. However, if you are critically interacting with the movie you will find it. And once you get a feel for reading movies you will find that the questions/statements become easier to recognize.
So how might a Christian watch a movie? For entertainment and for critical interaction – both can take place. Enjoy movies, but judge the content and the worldview according to God’s Word.