how should a christian watch a movie?

movie,movies,film,watch,watching,christian,worldview

Written by Mark Lafler

B.A., Global University; M.C.S., Regent College I am currently serving as a youth minister at our church in Sarasota, FL. I am married to Tera (15 Years +) and we have 3 beautiful daughters.

April 4, 2011

movie,movies,film,watch,watching,christian,worldview

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.

3 Comments

  1. Jennifer@GDWJ

    This post reminds me of Jeffrey Overstreet’s presentation at Laity Lodge last fall. Remember his talk on secular films?

    We’ve been talking about this issue in the class I teach. This week, I assigned the students to attend a movie and write a movie review. I’m excited to see what they come up with.

    The students and I talked a lot about the fact that some Christians believe that the only movies worth watching are those with the Jesus-label slapped on it. But we limit ourselves if we don’t take into consideration other movies that aren’t specifically Christian. Through the power of art in movies — no matter who made them — we can learn a lot about our world.

    That being said, I do believe we need to guard our hearts and minds from art that promotes bad behavior. I’m willing to watch movies that have violence or bad language or whatever — because that’s an honest reflection of what’s happening in the world — but I’m not willing to watch movies that promote or glorify that kind of negativity. I think that’s an important distinction.

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      And I just now realized that this is Mark Lafler writing the post, not Dan King. OOPS! Sorry about that. So Mark — you probably have no idea why I’m asking you about a presentation at Laity Lodge. 🙂

      Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

      – Jennifer

      Reply
      • Mark Lafler

        Thanks Jennifer! Nope, I don’t know too much about Laity Lodge…

        You are so right – sometimes there seems to be a difficult balance between movies that glorify bad behavior and those that reflect a realistic world. It seems to me that we should be clearly engaged with our entertainment choices and not just numbly looking for something to pass time.

        Thanks again for the comments!

        Reply

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how should a christian watch a movie?

by Mark Lafler time to read: 3 min
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