Is R for Relevant?
Do Christians need a review of the movie “Sex and the City” from a Christian ministry? Obviously there are some who think so, including Christianity Today and many other Christian movie review websites.
This is only one rated R film out of many that ministries have watched and reviewed in order to inform the Christian public of the content. Most of them disapproved of the movie after watching it and discouraged others from watching it. Am I expected to jump up and down with enthusiasm for such courage demonstrated by these reviewers taking the bullet for me so that I don’t have to be accosted unknowingly by spiritually and morally compromising messages and images in that film? I should hope not. The title and rating seemed to be an adequate indicator that it was something that was not only inappropriate for me to see but something I couldn’t imagine Jesus spending His time and money to watch.
I seem to be in the minority when questioning why Christian ministries feel the need to review rated R films in order to tell Christians what they should already know. The liberal MPAA ratings board gave this film in particular an R rating for “strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language.” Did any of these ministries think to set an example to other Christians by simply saying, “We chose not to watch and review a movie like this because we didn’t want to waste our time or allow our hearts and minds to be exposed and defiled by compromising images and messages contrary to God’s Word. We encourage you to follow our example”?
The apostle Paul when addressing the subject of Christian maturity says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 NASB)
The need for training our senses to discern good from evil regarding motion pictures didn’t exist a little over 100 years ago. The movie theater was novel. In 1896 the first theater dedicated exclusively for motion pictures was established in New Orleans, Louisiana. We may have 20th Century Fox but we don’t have 20 centuries of Christian thought, instruction, debate and guidance regarding movies because they simply didn’t exist.
No doubt there is a correlation with other visual art, a correlation with written media, and a correlation with drama which have all been in the spotlight of Christian thinking over the centuries. That being said, the uniqueness of motion pictures and their singular impact on culture has created a compelling need for reciprocating thought, study, and discernment from the church which matches or exceeds the rigorous march forward by the entertainment industry.
Instead, the church at large has seemingly retreated from a Biblically sound understanding of entertainment and neglects the thoughtful challenge of the widespread compromise and post modern’s relativistic ideals being touted as relevant and liberating.
After all, if we think deeply about this subject from a truly Biblical worldview, our own habits and personally held views might come into question. We might be faced with a need for change in our own lives.
This article is part one in a series that hopes to kick start some constructive thought, some healthy debate, some sound Biblical exposition, and hopefully stir the conscience. Once again, the apostle Paul wrote about those who were mature “who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good from evil”.
The recent review of the movie “Sex and the City” as well as an article published by the magazine “Christianity Today” titled “Have We Lost Our Minds?” prove to be good springboards for some thoughtful challenge. The article provides a look at some of the cliché and haphazard arguments given in defense of an infatuation with movies and a justification for reviewing R rated films for Christians. The popular and often Biblically unsound arguments behind this kind of thinking are given with an heir of supposed authority, but who gives this authority? Who has granted some to excuse themselves from discretion?
True authority for the Christian must rest with Scripture. Scripture that is taught responsibly with a commitment to seeking truth rather than merely trying to justify cultural preferences. In the next article I would like to respond point by point to Christianity Today’s article “Have We Lost Our Minds?” from a Biblical perspective. In the meantime, feel free to e-mail your thoughts.