Sunday, August 31, 2008

Should Christians Watch Movies?

A while ago a friend of mine heard a sermon entitled "Should Christians Watch Movies?" (given by David Murray) and as he told me about it I was very convicted and decided to not watch movies/TV anymore. But I never realized how difficult it is to live in this world and say "no" to watching TV and movies. When friends come over, this is the typical thing to do. Or when you want to go for a night out, the common thing is to go to the cinema. It's hard to explain to people why you don't want to spend your night watching a film or TV show... especially when it's the most common thing to do.

I decided to re-listen to the sermon and write down detailed notes so that I can have these notes with me when I start to lose sight of just how important this issue is and remember why I've made this decision. I'm sure many people will look at the first line "Why Christians Should Not Watch Movies" and think it's backwards, old-fashioned, or legalistic in some way... but these notes outline just how normal this actually should be in a believer's life. I hope they challenge you as they have challenged me!

Eight Reasons Why Christians Should Not Watch Movies:

1. The Precedent of the Psalmist
2. The Power of the Eye
3. The Perverting of Behaviour
4. The Pollution of the Memory
5. The Protection of Others
6. The Passing of Time
7. The Puzzle of Separation
8. The Poverty of Excuses

(Keep in mind that watching of TV, playing certain computer games/video games also apply)

1 – The Precedent of the Psalmist
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When it speaks of meditating on the Law of God, this includes the 7th commandment (“you shall not commit adultery”), and the sins forbidden in this commandment include all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto. Can we say we delight in the Law of God and then do what is forbidden by it?
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:2-5).
I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil” (Psalm 101:2-4).
Some say of these verses, “oh, that’s just Old Testament legalism,” yet Paul says in Philippians, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If we claim to be followers of the Bible, this is the pattern to follow.

2 – The Power of the Eye
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:21-23)
Whatever has your eye, has you. It has your thought, your affection, your imagination, your time, your money, etc. When you watch movies and TV, what is pouring through your eyes? Light, or darkness?

3 – The Perverting of Behaviour
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
We say or think, “I can watch that and be unaffected,” or “I can listen to that and be unaffected” or “I can read that and be unaffected”… yet here we are warned – “Do not be misled”! We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’ll be unaffected. If we watch ungodliness we will become ungodly; if we watch sensual scenes, we will become lustful; if we watch gratuitous violence, we will become hard-hearted… can we really say that after we watch things like that, that we find it easy to pray? No, because these things pervert us… they “corrupt good character.” How can it be right to look at things that are wrong to do?

4 – The Polluting of the Memory
With the latest technology and audio and visual equipment, scenes are set forth with the most incredible images and sounds. So much so, that after watched, the images linger. Can you watch such vivid things without vicariously living it yourself/putting yourself in that place? There is a powerful hold on the mind and with that kind of vividness of scene it makes us feel like we’re experiencing it ourselves.
With vivid visuals, the images stay in our memory. We remember scenes and images from years and years ago. They make a deep and lasting impression. When this is in our diet, other things like listening to a teacher or a preacher, etc, are suddenly boring because they’re not stimulating us in the same way that we’re used to through movies and entertainment.

5 – The Protection of Others
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall” (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Example: One Christian says they can watch movies and not be affected, and then another Christian sees this and feels that if this one can do it, then so can they. But then along comes a young Christian and they are then lured in and affected deeply… it is because of the example of the first two that has led this one to sin. If someone will be affected and harmed by my actions, we must – as Paul did – give that up.

6 – The Passing of Time
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Romans 13: 11-12).
How are we spending our time? Time passes very quickly, and we are to spend it wisely… not waste it and just throw it away (as we basically do when we watch a movie or TV, etc).

7 – The Puzzle of Separation
What does “separation from the world” mean, if it doesn’t mean “separation from vile images, violent scenes, blasphemy and profanity”, etc?
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16).
Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Every Christian believes in separation from the world because it is commanded in Scripture. But what does that mean? It means: “I will not watch immorality. I will not choose to spend time and money listening to Christ’s name being taken in vain. I will not sit and watch murder and mayhem… etc.”

8 – The Poverty of Excuses
The excuses given to defend this behaviour do not stand. For example: “I’m just relaxing/winding down” – can you relax as a Christian in the presence of adultery? Or while people are being slashed and stabbed? It’s a confused heart that can relax and refresh by watching this. There are so many other ways to wind down and relax.
Or there is the excuse, “It doesn’t affect me.” This excuse is not only selfish (not caring about the impact on others), but is an utter lie. If it is true that it doesn’t affect, then it is reasonable to conclude that you are not converted… the Spirit is not in you. If He is in you, then He is there right with you as you watch these things, and the Bible says, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
There is also the common excuse, “I go to the movies/watch these things so I can engage in counter-culture criticism.” These people are saying that we must try to understand the worldview so that we can criticize it and show the emptiness and hollowness of it. This doesn’t stand, because God has given us two sources where we can find the worldview of the unconverted – what makes them tick, etc. We find this in the Bible, and in our own hearts. We don’t need to add to this, or go to movies in order to find out what the world thinks.
There is the further excuse that we need to be wise in order to argue/discuss these things – but Paul says in Romans 16:19, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” There is a certain ignorance/simplicity which is desirable. Being wise and knowledgeable is filling your mind with what is good and right. We ought to prefer to be laughed at because we don’t know the latest movie or TV show.
This does not make us a “monk” and it does not mean we can’t reach the world just because we don’t know the latest in entertainment. Think rather, “what good is salt that has lost its saltiness?” Isn’t it better to be separate from these things and still witness, than to be immersed in them and lose your witness because of it? Again, we don’t have to go to the cinema or watch TV to learn about the world… we are surrounded by the world.
Another way to word this excuse of learning about the world is commonly, “We need to learn about Satan’s devices and not be ignorant of them”… yes, Paul said, “be not ignorant of Satan’s devices,” but he also said, “Therefore come out from them and be separate.” Being separate doesn’t make us ignorant of Satan’s devices; in fact, it’s just the opposite.

Surely there is sufficient biblical reason to say “enough is enough.” No excuses, no exceptions. When you make exceptions, you find yourself gradually lured into more… little by little. And you find excuses easier to make (“but there was only one swear word,” or “that scene was necessary for the storyline,” etc).

Can we start fresh? We will never be able to erase and remove images that we’ve already seen, but we can receive pardon. And we can look forward to heaven, when it will all be wiped clean and taken away, never to torment us again. Really and truly ask yourself how much you’ve been taken, poisoned and persuaded by movies. And pray, and choose to endure “no wicked thing before my eyes.” Come firmly and solidly out of this world… and as you choose to do this, start with the remote control.

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