Each summer, blockbuster movies release to burgeoning midnight showings and packed out first weekends.
The Avengers recently broke the record for the highest grossing opening weekend ever in movie history, pulling in $200 million from Friday to Sunday.
Just a month ago, The Hunger Games joined the list of the highest grossing midnight showing premieres.
As we seek to make good, wise choices about how we approach popular media, I believe that there are three scriptural truths that provide our moral baseline and three aspects of the media that ought to be weighed as we make this decision.
Three Scriptural Truths
First, the Scriptures teach that we should abstain from things that lead us to sin. Philippians 4 speaks of thinking of what is right, noble, true, etc. Ephesians 4 commands us not to walk as the Gentiles do, but instead casting off darkness and taking on light.
Second, the Scriptures teach that when we are unsure if something is wrong, we ought to hold off until we can participate with a clean conscience (Romans 14).
Third, the Scriptures teach that we ought to consider our brothers and sisters in Christ and not participate in an activity in such a way that it may cause someone who believes that it is wrong to sin by doing it. I Corinthians 8-10 describes how Paul has set aside his rights in order to love his brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul also says there, “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful”.
In light of those Scriptural truths, if seeing a particular movie doesn’t violate those principles, how do we make a decision about the merit of such a piece of entertainment?
Three Components of Media:
1. Content: What kinds of offensive content does this media contain?
It is important to scrutinize the content that we allow into our minds. We also need to think about how the content is presented. Is bad content condemned or enticing? Is a character’s sinful habit part of the change he will undertake or is he celebrated for that trait? Is his sin shown as sin or exalted as virtue? What content is in the media, and how is it presented? Will experiencing this content cause you to thirst for righteousness or deceive you into lusting after evil?
2. Message: What is this media saying?
Every movie is saying something. Understanding what the main point is should be crucial. Although content is important, if we made our decisions about what we would read on content alone, we would never read the Bible, as it contains accounts of all sorts of heinous acts. The overall message is equally important in making decisions. It may be that Wall-E has no offensive content, but it has a message. Evaluate whether this message tells the truth or a lie, and whether this message draws you nearer to Christ or pushes you farther away.
3. Setting: Where is this media put on display?
The setting that you choose to experience the media plays a large factor as well. Certain settings place one in greater temptation than others. It is important to think through how the setting that is chosen may encourage you toward godliness or lead you into temptation. Want to make sure that you are seeing a movie and drawing near to Christ? It may be good to see it with several Christian friends with whom you can discuss it afterwards. Will this setting present an opportunity for sin or an occasion for holiness and rejoicing in the Lord?