The Theology of Entertainment

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satz

Puritan Board Senior
calling all movie watchers on the board...

how would you respond to an assertion that christians have no business watching any movies at all?

Is there any inherent conflict between the fact that God hates sin yet any movie or story must inevitably portray sin (even if the point of the story is not to glorify the sin)?

I guess this qn is rather similar to the other thread i started on writing...guess i'am just trying to sort out my thoughts on these matters since before i hadn't really considered these things seriously...


thoughts?
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Good question.

I assume it's within our liberty. However, as I grow in Christ I have been more and more conflicted about these issues. As much as I love to study the word of God, I doubt I ever do that every free moment I have. In my free moments I turn on the TV, go to a movie, etc.

I cannot see a movie that has any kind of nudity at all including just "rear shots" played as comedy. It's just an area that I do not feel is acceptable for a follower of Christ. But why then, can I accept foul language, infadelity, fornication, etc? I have no idea!

It's my personal opinion that the Church needs to become more than it is. The church needs to become an actual family. I need to be able to call upon my brothers and sisters within my local body whenever I am desire worldly fulfilment. My pastor is pretty good at being there during these times but the man has three small children and "pastoral" duties as well.

Most believers I know would only be just as wanting as I am for entertainment that is worldly! So what do I do? I already have very little of a social life as it is. Do I seclude myself even further?

You've asked a good question! One that, in my opinion, if every follower of our Lord would seriously consider would bring about much change! I pray that we do.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
My blog entry today was on Eph 5. Where should it come into this discussion and our considerations of worldly entertainment?

Ephesians 5

1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not associate with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
"Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."
15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Adam... i totally agree on how we become more sensitive to sin as we grow... looking back now i am really shocked at some of the things i could do without even flinching, all the while considering myself to be a christian...

Personally, i plan to cut down majorly on my indulging in such worldy entertainment, but as of now, just like you said my view is our liberty does allow us to partake of select films or programmes provided we do so with much discernment and care.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
our liberty does allow us to partake of select films or programmes provided we do so with much discernment and care.

While I agree, I have a hard time reconciling that with Ephesians 5 and other like passages.

7Therefore do not associate with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light.

If we are to not even discuss sinful ways, how do we pay money to watch them?

Again, I am not trying to be "holier than thou" here as I do partake of entertainment! I am just looking for some thoughts on scriptures that seem to admonish against it.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by satz
how would you respond to an assertion that christians have no business watching any movies at all?
I would respond that they are being a bit too legalistic making such a general statement as that. Not all movies are bad. Christians just need (in my opinion) to use a little common sense and discretion about what they watch.

I've heard some arguments about this that seem to be stretching it. For example, if I go and see a movie about the three little pigs, its wrong because its produced by Hollywood and watching the three little pigs gives money to Hollywood. Therefore, since Hollywood also makes the R- and X-rated movies, my money indirectly supports that kind of stuff.

I'm sure there's some logic there somewhere - maybe if Paul reads this thread he can help me find it.

I'm not a big movie goer because I don't like paying to hear God's name taken in vain or to see two people fornicating. That's my choice and I'm comfortable with it.

Regardless of where a person draws the line about what they watch, your questions are good to ponder. I like to try and be consistent, so its good to ask myself why I would want to watch those movies I do enjoy watching. As I said, I find movies with bad language and fornication in them offensive. Yet I would have no problem watching martial arts movies where everybody is beating the tar out of everybody else, which isn't the most godly type of behavior. Does that seem inconsistent to anybody but me?
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Bob:

Violence in movies never bothered me unless it is sensless violence, or teaches the lesson that evil overcomes good in some way. If a movie has violence but good wins over evil, I don't see the big deal. If the film is about boxing, Karate tournaments, etc then I don't see any issues of concern there.

in my opinion the negatives are sexual situations, promotion of evil, or just vile subjects being portrayed for the thrill of it.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by houseparent
Bob:

Violence in movies never bothered me unless it is sensless violence, or teaches the lesson that evil overcomes good in some way. If a movie has violence but good wins over evil, I don't see the big deal. If the film is about boxing, Karate tournaments, etc then I don't see any issues of concern there.
I agree. As the scriptures say, the heart is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked. I just like to examine myself and question my motives and look for consistency. I'm very good at rationalizing sin if its enjoyable.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The "theology of entertainment" is a very good question, one which I have wrestled with too. It is important, I think, on the one hand, to avoid legalism. The Westminster Larger Catechism, for example, in its exposition of the Seventh Commandment, notes that "lasicivious stage plays" are thereby prohibited. It does not, however, go so far as to say anywhere in the Catechism that all stage plays (movies not yet having been invented) are prohibited. In other words, drama or acting, in the writings of the Westminster Assembly, are not identified as unlawful. Some Puritans and Presbyterians (Increase Mather and Samuel Miller come to mind, plus a certain European Presbyterian denomination today I know of which bans people from the Lord's Supper who watch movies) have argued that stage plays are always connected with immorality and appear to leave no room for Christians to have any invovlement with them as spectators or actors. Others -- I noted in a separate recent thread how Theodore Beza wrote a play about Abraham, for example (meant for production outside the church) -- do not go that far. Some fundamentalist writings that I have seen claim that acting is inherently a violation of the Ninth Commandment because it involves pretense. I don't agree. I am inclined to see warrant for drama in the parables of Scripture. I see imagination and creative storytelling (in oral, written and dramatic form) as a noble art that can and should be honoring to God (and like everything else can be abused as we see in Hollywood today). The dramatic portrayl of sin need not be sin in itself; however, great caution must be used in such instances. I agree with the need to avoid provocations unto sin, as the Catechism states. Sex scenes should be verbotten. Romantic love can be portrayed, but kissing between actors and actresses can lead to trouble. In Pure Country, George Strait, a married man, refused to play his role unless he could refrain from kissing the female co-star. In ye olden times, the role of women in acting performance was severely curtailed or prohibited. Violence can be portrayed in ways that are not gratuitous and convey the honor of a warrior, I think. Bad language is something that I don't think should be part of a dramatic performance. However, as I have noted in a separate thread, it's hard for me to say that certain words can never be spoken in any context. Finally, much more could be said about the distinction between entertainment and recreation. The latter is more profitable, I believe. We should consider how we spend our time. Vegging out in front of movies may not always be the best use of time. One should always evaluate their motives for why they can set aside a chunk of time to watch a two hour movie but they can't find time for private or family worship. Having said that, there is much good that one can find in certain movies. Chariots of Fire, Gods and Generals, and Luther are some examples that come to mind. Braveheart and The Patriot are two remarkable movies which may contain excessive violence and some other objectionable scenes, but also much that is good and praiseworthy. Let us not go too far and bind the consciences of others with respect to movies. And yet let us proclaim the need for drama, its actors and spectators to all submit to the Lordship of Christ in every way. Philippians 4.8, Romans 12.1-2, and 2 Cor. 10.5 are among many verses which ought to guide us in these matters.

http://www.kuyper.org/stone/lecture5.html

http://spindleworks.com/library/vanrongen/drama_school.htm

[Edited on 3-1-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
 

Authorised

Puritan Board Freshman
Good post, Andrew. I think the key issue here is to not to purposely tempt ourselves, reflecting on how we could be affected by what we watch. Sex scenes, gratuitous excessive cursing, &c, should never enter our minds, which are to be subject to the lordship of Christ.

[Edited on 3-1-2005 by Authorised]
 

Ex Nihilo

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by satz
calling all movie watchers on the board...

how would you respond to an assertion that christians have no business watching any movies at all?

Is there any inherent conflict between the fact that God hates sin yet any movie or story must inevitably portray sin (even if the point of the story is not to glorify the sin)?

This argument cannot be used to forbid all movie-watching because it would ultimately prohibit Bible-reading. The Bible portrays sin, and the Christian is supposed to read the Bible--therefore, reading or watching a portrayal of sin is not inherently wrong.

It's not inherently right either--I agree with what everyone has said about the intentions of the movie and the way the "offensive" content is used... Sexual immorality, for whatever reason, does seem so much more off-limits than a little violence. But then, I don't think that violence is not necessarily sinful in all situations--or, again, you make God a sinner for commanding it in the OT.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
The sexual stuff is what bothers me most.

I love the TV show "Alias" and is definately "pro good guy".

But the lead actress is in a sexual relationship with a man outside of marriage. This relationship is also a major part of the story as well so it is shown often and many fans love it.

Any thoughts on that? I mean I could do without the relationship at all, I even think the lead is a BETTER character when they do not have her in a relationship!
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
hmm... i totally agree that watching or reading about sin is not in itself a sin, otherwise simply living in our modern society would mean christians would be constantly sinning, all the time...

i sort of think of it this way; how is watching a movie any different from having a conversation with an unbeliever? Will not an unbeliever's speech ( if we look at it strictly) be filled with rebellion, sinful desires and blasphemy ( does it seem to anyone else that people seem to have lost the ability to express emotion without resorting to ' OH MY ...' or something like that?)?

So, if it is permissible to speak to an unbeliever, by the same logic can we conclude it is permissible to partake in movies? Off course, speaking to unbelievers is sometimes necessary to live in the world, whereas movies are never 'necessary', and a analysis of the 'pros and cons' would indeed lead us to condemn most modern movies yet i don't think we would go so far as to issue an outright condemnation?

1 Cor 27:If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

While the above verse does not address the issue directly, it does seem to imply that Paul left the corinthians with some measure of freedom as to whether or not to partake in minor social interactions with unbelievers. So if we are at liberty to eat at a feast or meal with unbelievers (and i think it is inevitable that there would be sin of some sort going on in the setting) can we conclude that we are also at liberty to partake in stories and drama, given all the limitations that other posters have noted above?

Well, that's just some of my thoughts... if anyone disagrees or see hypocrisy, please shoot me down!



"The sexual stuff is what bothers me most.

I love the TV show "Alias" and is definately "pro good guy".

But the lead actress is in a sexual relationship with a man outside of marriage. This relationship is also a major part of the story as well so it is shown often and many fans love it.

Any thoughts on that? I mean I could do without the relationship at all, I even think the lead is a BETTER character when they do not have her in a relationship!"

...heh..adam, i can totally relate! Many a times i watch a show or read a book where the hero ( or heroine ) seems a decent protagonist to root for..the right values, moral courage, compassion, etc etc...then the author or writers decide to throw in some illict sexual relationship and...ugh

Its for this reason i am thinking of pretty much giving up TV...to my shame, i have never really 'given up' any show, but all the ones i was interested in have died natural deaths...so i am thinking of making sure i don't get into any new ones...

eh... i know i've been rambling..so apologies, but on final note i do sometimes feel guilty when raising topics like these because i know i am focusing too much on trying to define how i can enjoy myself legally and not enough on serving and loving Jesus Christ. While i don't want to be legalistic at all, i certainly hope i will come to have a heart that would be willing to give up anything..even totally permissible ones..for God.
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
eh... i know i've been rambling..so apologies, but on final note i do sometimes feel guilty when raising topics like these because i know i am focusing too much on trying to define how i can enjoy myself legally and not enough on serving and loving Jesus Christ. While i don't want to be legalistic at all, i certainly hope i will come to have a heart that would be willing to give up anything..even totally permissible ones..for God.

I want and need more conversations like this! in my opinion this is what brothers and sisters need to help one another with more. It just seems to be a part of the local church (from my experience) that's missing.

I hope you and others speak more here!
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Spurgeon on entertainment;

As I look abroad, I am grieved and have great heaviness of spirit at what I see among professing Christians. A very serious matter concerns the amusements engaged in by professing Christians. I see it publicly stated, by some who call themselves Christians, that it is good for Christians to attend the theatre, so that the tone and character of the productions may be improved. The suggestion is about as sensible as if we were bidden to pour a bottle of lavender water into the main sewer to improve its aroma.

f the church is now supposed to raise the tone of the world by imitating it, things have strangely altered since the day when our Lord said, "Come out from among them...and touch not the unclean thing." Is Heaven to descend to the infernal lake to raise its tone? Such has been the moral condition of the theatre for many a year that it has become too bad for mending. And even if it were mended it would soon become corrupt again. Pass by it with averted gaze, for the house of the strange woman is there.

It has not been my lot ever to enter a theatre during the performance of a play, but I have seen enough when I have come home from journeys at night, while riding past the theatres, to make me pray that our sons and daughters may never go within their doors. It must be a strange school for virtue which attracts the harlot and the debauchee. It is no place for a Christian if it is best appreciated by the irreligious and worldly.

f our church members fall into the habit of frequenting the theatre, we shall soon have them going much further in the direction of vice, and they will lose all relish for the ways of God. If theatre-going became general among professing Christians, it would be the death of piety. Yet one finds the taste for such things increasing on every hand.

We cannot even enter places once dedicated to science and art without finding ourselves in the presence of something like a theatrical performance. Such gimmickry, though in itself harmless enough, has helped foster the taste which leads ultimately to the theatre and its surroundings.

Who can suppose amusements surrounded with the seductions of vice to be fit recreation for a pure mind? Who could draw near to God after sitting to admire the performances of the debauched (and I am told that some who have dazzled London society are such)?

More here:

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/christia/spurgeon.htm
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
Paul, do you place any limits on entertainment, I mean other than extreme obvious ones like straight x-rated materials and obvious foul materials.

I am intrested in your take on this as a whole.

(Edited because the word that starts with p and ends with n describing x-rated materials gets censored)

[Edited on 4-1-2005 by houseparent]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
The Puritans, like Spurgeon, were unanimous in their universal condemnation of theater. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland still does. Im not 100% sure either way but I do see movies and my conscience is not grieved.

By the way, I just say the Luther movie and thought it was great.
 
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