Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 13, 1969

The Christian And The Movies

Sewell Hall

One of the clearest reflectors of the moral disintegration of our culture is the modern movie. They have always been, as a general rule, destructive of the highest standards. This is because they have been made by worldly people to appeal to worldly people. But their influence has become increasingly harmful.

For a time there were restraints and controls. An article in a national magazine several years ago described the code. Several acts of violence were forbidden. Certain camera angles in filming the human body were not allowed. The length of a kiss was controlled and in several circumstances, men and women were not filmed together. Many Christians felt that even these restrictions allowed unwholesome influences. Many did not attend, did not allow their children to attend, and there was considerable preaching and teaching against it all.

Like everything else, this has changed. The old code was abandoned some years back. Now, in the name of free speech, nothing is forbidden. Nudity, immorality, perversion, and violence of all kinds are now depicted bigger than life on the modern screen.

A feeble effort is now being made to control, not the films, but the audience. Each film is being given a rating which the newspaper explains as follows:

G - Suggested for GENERAL audiences.

M - Suggested for MATURE audiences (parental discreation advised).

R - RESTRICTED — Persons under 16 not admitted unless accompanied by parent or adult guardian.

X - Persons under 16 not admitted. This age restriction may be higher in certain areas.

We have called the effort feeble because we have just this week heard of a mother's successfully insisting that her children be allowed to attend an "X" movie with her. We learned, also, of a young person under 16 who attended an "R" movie without parent or guardian.

But even if the audiences were strictly controlled, these classifications would be of little use to the Christian. How qualified is the average worldly reviewer to determine what is suitable for the Christian's children? The standards of the world and those of the Christian have always been different.

Fallacious Concept

Furthermore, the whole concept of the ratings (based mainly on sex) is fallacious. It assumes that the sexual activity of the most lascivious and perverted people is suitable as entertainment for mature people over the age of 16. This is not so. The apostle Paul wrote, "For it is a shame even to speak of these things that are done by them in secret." (Ephesians 5:12) Much less should these things be flashed on the screen and acted out for entertainment. Pleasure is obtained from such exhibitions when observers identify with those on the screen and imagine themselves participants in the action. This is looking to lust, as condemned by Jesus in Matthew 5:28.

There are other things, too, that may make many movies unsuitable for Christians, young or old. Every time we hear cursing, sacred things are cheapened. Often we cannot avoid it, but we are in a ridiculous position when we pay to hear it. Violence affects the adult as well as the child. Of course, the adult knows that it is not real. Yet for the moment, it is real to him as evidences by the fright, the excitement experienced. Those on the screen become our companions and their experiences become our own. Pleasure in the death of a man on the screen hardens the heart and dulls the sensitivities of a Christian whose goal is to be tender hearted and compassionate.

What About Wholesome Movies?

We are aware that a handful of films is produced each year that may be rightly termed "wholesome." Much of what is said above will scarcely apply to these. Yet there are some questions to be considered regarding them. How can we know they are wholesome before we go? What about the previews of others not so wholesome? To what extent are we supporting an industry whose major influence is detrimental? (For example, would I want to buy a cola, bottled by Old Crow?) Does the fact that one attends some movies weaken his influence in opposing the wrong kind? Could the fact that so many preachers do attend these days, account for the fact that so little preaching is being done on the subject?

These questions may not be conclusive and we grant there is an element of judgment as to the necessity for total abstention. But for us, these questions are sufficient to decide us against attending the movie theaters period. Doubtless we have missed a half-dozen delightful experiences. But we feel that we have been compensated in many ways. And we recommend the policy to others.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8.

— 108 French Way, Athens, Alabama