Recently I was asked a series of questions regarding the application of Christian principles in the area of entertainment. Although these are neither exhaustive nor thorough, I hope you find them helpful.
Q: More and more we see the church looks like the world. One area is entertainment – the music we listen to, the movies we watch, or the music or movies we allow our children to listen to or watch. Do you have specific Scripture regarding the criteria for evaluating the movies that we should watch?
A: Yes, all scriptures that speak of pure thinking, focusing on what edifies….. 1 Corinthians 14:20; Phil 4:8; 2 Peter 1:5-10 relate to this.
Q: I can think of a couple of overarching Scriptures regarding where we allow our minds to dwell, immorality regarding sexual scenes, and our own use of cussing. Regarding cussing, I know verses regarding us cussing but can’t think of any specifically directed towards “hearing” cussing and avoiding it – i.e. in movies.
A: Eph 5:4 deals specifically with speech, and as far as hearing…the aforementioned verses apply as well as all verses that speak of what to learn, teach, e.g. Proverbs…and of course we were saved from that kind of thinking, so it is absolutely incongruent to surfeit in that kind of thinking again (Ephesians 4:17ff) and we are told to “renew our mind” (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23). We are not to be conformed to the world, which is impossible to avoid if we feed on an unfiltered diet of the world’s music, literature, entertainment…
Q: Can you point me to more specific verses about avoiding hearing cussing?
A: Aforementioned verses and remember that Christianity is more about do than don’t; hence, we are to shed things that retard our growth in godliness (Hebrews 12:1).
Q: For example, if Martin Luther cussed during his lifetime, and it was depicted in a movie about his life, is that acceptable?
A: At times cursing, murder, stealing may be something that we can see or be exposed to as Jesus was as He lived life and befriended soldiers, etc. who usually do not clean up their language for anyone. Sometimes, the overall theme or message is much more important than a particular word. For example, John Wayne saying a curse word in a 4 hour movie about something positive may be okay whereas a movie that depicts Christ disparagingly without a curse word may be absolutely off limits. Also, is it a documentary or a sensual movie? Generally documentaries seek to reveal what is necessary to convey reality about the person or…whereas other genres seek to entice, extol the baser elements of man, and make money at any cost or push an agenda. Gratuitous language is immediately shut down by me.
Q: At what point does it become unacceptable (quality or quantity of words)?
A: I simply ask, does the movie, music, art, etc., aid me in my Christian walk, being a pastor, thinking godly, and or loving God more and “letting this mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:5).
Q: Same scenario, but the movie is a slapstick comedy?
A: Low level of tolerance because one way for Satan to lower morals is to get you to laugh at it first and then accept it; thus, I watch Mayberry, Newhart, etc., which shun billingsgate. This is not because I do not think some of the moderns are funny, but I refuse to jeopardize my spiritual walk by digesting Augean vulgarities in order to laugh.
Q: I’m just trying to better prepare a defense of God’s truth.
A: For that I commend you. I do think that many who seem very serious about Christ are far too lenient about the standards they apply to their personal holiness—intake and behavior.