“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–Long ago and far away, America was Christian-friendly, as were the movies. Though there were people who profaned God’s name, committed adultery or cheated on their taxes, just like today, the moral torpor of the times demanded a social behavior conducive with biblical principles. So moviemakers of the late 1930s through the mid-’60s approached their stories with an adherence to Bible standards, whether they wanted to or not.
It was a time when men wore suits, and in the movies no one could get away with a crime. Nowadays, common attire consists of t-shirts and ball caps reflecting a taste in beer. And in the movies of this generation, the criminals are often the protagonists -– and they generally get away with the crime. Times change. But God’s Word remains the same.
So, those who follow the moralistic directive found in Philippians 4:8 will seem peculiar.
Were we better people when we wore suits? Well, if I was to answer that, I’d offend far too many people, so I’ll stick with the objective of this column — God’s command to not conform to the world. We as Christians are either going to be simpatico with the surrounding culture, or stick out like, well, those “peculiar” people of 1 Peter 2:9.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you not go to anything other than G-rated films. I’m just asking that you read Philippians 4:8 and let that verse be your litmus test.
The old story goes that if you place a frog in boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you place him in room-temperature liquid, slowly raising the heat level, he’ll remain until he — excuse the expression — croaks. Over the past several decades, the media has simmered society in a stew of moral ambiguity, excusing their offenses by saying “it’s only a movie.” Like that poor frog, we Christians have adjusted ourselves to the same numbing content as everyone else. This hurts us spiritually, and it hurts our witness to others.
Today, content (the reason for the film’s rating) has become as much a defining factor in moviemaking as the technical and artistic merits. Frustratingly, negative content often overrides positive themes in today’s film releases. Mind you, it’s not the rating as much as the filmmaker’s objective that should cause concern. I believe that certain R-rated films such as “The Passion of The Christ” and “Schindler’s List” serve to teach, edify and unite, as well as entertain. But remember the poor frog; if we simmer in the pot, that’s when we harm our communion with the Creator.
Cut to the chase: What makes you different from any other filmgoer? By refusing to attend films that negate your witness, you’re making a statement to God, to others and to yourself.
Some might object, saying, “How can I know what offenses are in a film until I see it?” That’s easy. There are a couple dozen Christian reviewers out there that provide a critique of movies through a biblical lens while also highlighting the objectionable content of movies. (PreviewOnline.org is the one I write for.) There’s even a secular website (screenit.com) that serves a similar purpose. And the Movie Mom reviews are printed in many newspapers.
No excuses, folks. We may not change Hollywood, but we can witness our faith to the world by studying the Bible and putting its directives into practice.
” Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Phil Boatwright suggests DVD alternatives with his reviews on previewonline.org.