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FIRST-PERSON: Christians & movies (part 3)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is the third in a five-part special series by movie reviewer Phil Boatwright examining the coarse content of movies.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–Recently I reviewed the film “Nine,” a musical loosely based on Fellini’s “8 ½,” about a genius filmmaker undergoing a personal and professional crisis.

With a female cast of Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergie, and Sophia Loren, the movie tells the story of a man who comes to realize that a gluttonous appetite leads to spiritual decay. By film’s end, our protagonist has learned that one wrong turn leads to another and another. Alas, the message seems secondary, the theme overshadowed by sensuality, sexuality and beguiling pole dancers in revealing clothing.

Let’s face it: Studios use women to entice and most women in show business are willing to be used in that manner. I must admit, my original review of “Nine” reflected a more accepting attitude of what Hollywood uses to tempt us away from the things of God. (I’ll try to be more careful in future critiques.)

Most films aimed at the teen demographic are geared to promote the idea that abstaining is no longer relevant. The world and the movies are telling them to have pre-marital sex. What’s more, there’s such crudity associated with the portrayal of sexual intercourse on film (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Fired Up,” “Jennifer’s Body”) that the screen version of the act lacks true love.

It’s been going on for quite some time.

In the 1968 space-age sex spoof, “Barberella,” Jane Fonda wore one revealing getup after another and did a striptease during the opening sequence. Certainly sex has been a mainstay in movie themes, but this was the first time drive-in goers were able to see a major motion picture star take off all her clothes for no other apparent reason than to stimulate the viewer. It led the way for legitimate screen pornography.

And as we all know, one taste of the forbidden fruit is never enough. Today’s culture is more accepting of promiscuous sexual relationships than at any other time in our history. And we are bombarded by sexual imagery through every media outlet, including the adult bookstore at our computer keyboard fingertips. The Bible clearly says, “But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:17-18).

Even though we are new creations in Christ, Christians still battle the world, the flesh and the Devil. It’s nearly impossible to avoid sexual media overload, but I think the Lord is pleased when we try to flee from the world’s tug. That’s something to keep in mind when selecting movies, TV shows, etc. Filmmakers have a certain power, but not until we hand over the price of a ticket.

The Bible makes it clear that we are not to be governed by the world’s standard. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). The key word here is renewing. It’s kind of difficult renewing the mind when we bombard it with sexual imagery.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective and is the author of “Movies: The Good, The Bad, and the Really, Really Bad.” Read his film reviews at previewonline.org. To read other columns in the “Christians & movies” special series click here.

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  • Phil Boatwright