News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Christians & movies (part 5)

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

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–I suppose any content element can be defended. I’ve done it myself with “Schindler’s List,” “Dead Man Walking” and “Tsotsi,” finding their spiritual profundity more illuminating than their offenses were off-putting. But we accept an awful lot in the name of entertainment.

How is it that we continue to allow our Savior’s name to be misused in film after film without letting someone know we’re offended? We are offended, right?

Here’s an argument I’ve heard: “Well, I think God would be more upset by the wrongs we commit daily to our fellow man.”


The first four instructions written on tablets of stone by God had to do with our need to reverence Him. Here’s the third Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:4 NIV). This came before His rulings concerning how we treat one another.

I found at least 32 examples throughout the Bible where we were instructed to reverence God. So, if the Bible truly is the Word of God, is it too simplistic to suggest that the core problem with today’s standards is a disregard for God’s commands? And although we have been turning a deaf ear to the media’s usage of blasphemy for quite some time, should we continue to do so?

Christians need to stop hiding their heads in the sand, declaring “Oh, I just tune those words out.” Whether you attend movies or not, the media affect your life, and nothing’s going to change until we begin to seek change.

I’ve been talking about profanity in films for two decades only to receive either mocking smirks or dismissive pats on the shoulder. Let me ask you, am I wrong? Are the smirkers right? And if you think I’m right, well, what are you doing about it?

We need to band together, not to ban the media, but to lovingly reach out and make them understand that while we agree that man needs to be respected, that bigotry and prejudice must end, God must also be shown regard. And if some moviemakers don’t believe in God, they still need to respect those who do.

One solution is to write to them:

COLUMBIA PICTURES, 10202 W. Washington, Culver City, CA 90232-3195.

WALT DISNEY COMPANY, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038.

TWENTIETH CENTURY-FOX, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035.

WARNER BROTHERS, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522.

NEW LINE CINEMA, 888 7th Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES, 100 Universal City, Universal City, CA 91608.

MGM, 2500 Broadway St., Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061.

Often in our frustration we react with anger and wordiness. Very seldom does this tactic present us in our best light. You might try a little tenderness. Such as:

“Dear Sir,

“I’m grateful that your industry is sensitive to all groups that make up our country, being careful not to offend them in speech or action. With the film community’s efforts the world has become aware that to truly make strides toward peace, we need to show respect for one another.

“At the same time, the profane use of God’s name or Christ’s can be heard in film after film. An irreverent use of God’s name is offensive to Christians. I feel I must refrain from supporting entertainment that shows irreverence to our Creator. I am not asking for censorship, just sensitivity.

“Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your creative work in the film industry. May God bless you.”

Members of the media need to hear from thousands of us. Let’s take a lesson from those who have effectively banded together. Our declaration is about honoring the Sovereign of the Universe, not ourselves. It’s going to take a lot of letters to catch the media’s attention. We’ve got our job cut out.

What else can we do?

Remember this: Hollywood wins when you plunk down the money for a ticket at the theater or order a film from Netflix that contains offensive content. If you read the content sections found in reviews by Christian critics, that should help with your choices. We’re not talking about banning films, just making responsible choices. Letters and petitions send a message, but a lack of box office tally is what will turn the tide.

Does anyone see what I see? If so, let’s work together, and with Christ’s compassion, take a stand. When the world sees the Christian community unite with this message, they’ll have to reexamine the name of Jesus.

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be your name” (KJV).

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (NIV).

“Our Father in heaven, we honor your holy name (TLB).
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.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright