what’s wrong with movies?

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.

March 21, 2011

It seems to me that nothing is inherently wrong with movies. Movies are a good medium to learn about history, literature, culture, science, etc.

However, the movie ratings system would suggest that some (or most) movies contain some form of objectionable content.

So begins the great debate – Is it OK for a Christian to see an R rated movie? Many Christians would probably suggest that it depends on what the rating is for.

For example, if it is a war movie, then violence and language may be overlooked. Or if it is a PG-13 romantic comedy then suggestive sexual scenes might be alright as long as there is no nudity. Of course every Christian knows that movies with human nudity are wrong, right? That is unless of course it is a documentary or a story about Adam and Eve.

Most (if not all) rating systems consider visual and audio content such as language, nudity, violence, drug use, intense scenes and the like. But are these the most dangerous areas for a Christian to entertain themselves with?

I, like many others, can watch a movie and clearly distinguish that sex outside of a marriage covenant is wrong or that murder is evil. Of course, if I continually entertain myself with this type of content my conscience may grow callous to the material.

However, it seems to me that there is something more disturbing in many popular movies today – even the so called “good” ones that have a G or PG rating.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of a movie is the subliminal message. No, not secret marketing schemes that the eye cannot pick up in the flickering lights. It is the hidden message. That is the portrayal of a world without God.

It seems to me that most movies show a world without God. When was the last movie (or TV show) you saw where God was present in the plot. Or when a Christian (the kind you know) was actually portrayed well, if at all? If God is active in the world where is he in the movies?

We have super heroes, people solving their problems, people finding peace, love, satisfaction, and even redemption without any acknowledgement that there is a higher power in this universe.

There are some movies – It’s A Wonderful Life, Joyeux Noel, Babette’s Feast, The Lord of the Rings, and others that at the very least hint of a Providential Being – but most movies, sit-coms, and TV dramas show a world without God.

This subliminal message, the portrayal of a world without God, is so easily overlooked. Yet, its impact may be catastrophic.

Why, when faced with problems in our life, difficult situations, and common disturbances do we turn to ourselves to fix the problem or look for help from a friend? As Christians our first inclination should be toward God in prayer.

Perhaps our infatuation to be entertained by the popular movie culture has a part in our apathy toward God. If we spend more time watching movies where God is not present than we do in God’s Word or in fellowship with other Christians, then what message will we most likely portray in our own life?

14 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Omigosh..is that a picture from MST3K? I used to love that show!

    Personally, I’m tired of all the sex and profanity in movies (plus potty humor). Nothing ruins a great movie faster than a random unnecessary sex scene or a hit on the private areas. Even TV shows are the same…like “Glee” was slightly edgy the first season, but now….WHOA!

    I think it’s sad that this culture is SO devoid of God that it has to really prove it…again and again.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      LOL… yeah, on a post about movies we just could’t resist using a photo of MST3K! That was one of the coolest ways to watch an old movie…

      The God-less culture reminds me of the Israelites in the Old Testament, how they would forget their God when times were good. We seem to be making the same movement…

      Reply
      • Mark Lafler

        I agree Dan. We are like the Israelites in the OT. I know that my prayer life is not the best in good times.

        Reply
    • Crystal

      Okay … I have to ask a somewhat stupid question … what’s MST3K??

      Reply
      • @bibledude

        MST3K = Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was a TV show where a guy and his two robot friends would watch old movies and make hilarious comments about them while it was playing. Here’s more information about it, complete with some links to videos so that you can see what it was like…
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094517/

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          You forgot to add that Joel was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than Mike.

          Reply
          • Mark Lafler

            MST3K was hilarious. We could not resist using its pic in the column. Thanks for noticing!

  2. Seiji Yamashita

    Even movies and TV shows where there are Christians present (I’m thinking Easy A for example or Secret Life of an American Teen) I spend the entire movie thinking to myself “where’s the pastor? who’s teaching these kids? Does any one else realize how much healing needs to happen here?” And it’s not even as if Christianity is presented as some kind of party line, but an exaggeration of it. I find personally that I can’t watch a lot of romantic comedies because I spend so much time thinking about that kind of stuff.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      That is SO true. Christians are ALWAYS presented as lame or mean. I mean, ABC is working on a TV show called “Good Christian B**tches”–what’s that about?

      I watch “Glee.” (I don’t know why because Season 2 isn’t that good) and they just had an episode called “Sexy,” in which the high school kids supposedly didn’t know ANYTHING about sex ed. For example, the one character thought that she was pregnant because a stork was nesting outside her bedroom window.

      The club that promotes abstinence is called the “celibacy club.” Like that can’t make purity sound any lamer. It’s all sorts of messed up.

      I know I went off on a whole different line of thinking…but…

      Reply
    • Mark Lafler

      Good input on the conversation. I also find it hard to watch romantic comedies because of the lack of the “real world” which includes pastors, teachers, and fellow Christians.

      Reply
  3. Crystal

    Maybe it’s not so much about how much time we spend watching movies that portray a world without God, but how we watch them. I find myself watching movies and reflecting on how it might have been different if God played a role in the lives of the characters. Granted this means watching movies with a different lens … it’s no longer about entertainment, but about critical thinking and reflection.

    That being said, there are certain movies that aren’t even worth that!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Sometimes when I watch movies there is such a parallel to man’s need/search for God. Obviously, the writers didn’t intend for that the happen, but there it is nonetheless. Fascinating, you know?

      Reply
      • Mark Lafler

        Good reply. I agree the parallels are there. I think they are naturally. Journey, searching, longing are human qualities placed within us by God. They are too natural and human to leave out of any story. Is there a story that exists without the qualities of journey, searching, and longing?

        Reply
    • Mark Lafler

      Good thoughts Crystal. How should a Christian watch a movie – for entertainment, critical thinking, or both? In my next column (to be out within the next week) I will consider this question.

      Reply

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what’s wrong with movies?

by Mark Lafler time to read: 3 min
18