Is it wrong to watch movies or listen to music with sinful elements in them?

Asked by Bandon

This may sound like an odd question, but, is listening to music or watching movies that have sinful themes in them, such as swearwords, and the like, constitute as being a sin? its not like i live my life by these movies and songs, but rather like for example, the beat in a song, or like a specific movie, but however can turn off things of sinful nature that are in them. please help me on this one, as i have become very confused on the matter. thanks.


That’s not an odd question at all, Bandon! It’s actually a really important question, because it deals with so much of how we live our life in the world.

Christians are called to avoid sin. But they are not called to avoid all sinful people. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that we are not to avoid people who are not Christian and who are openly sinful. He says that if we wanted to avoid people like this, we’d have find somewhere else to go, because there’s no place we can avoid them on earth! If a Christian finds himself/herself around someone else who is doing something that is clearly sinful, it is not as though the Christian has sinned. This is just as well, because if it were, we’d struggle to do just about anything, because we see people sinning around us all the time - whether it be sitting on a bus, going to school, going to work, walking down the street… wherever we go! The same is true with things that we watch and listen to. Just because someone else is sinning, doesn’t mean that we need to avoid every aspect of what is going on…

BUT…

Having said that, it’s important to realise that things things we listen to and watch affect us - just in the same way as the people that we have contact with affect us too. This is particularly true when it comes to our own struggles with sin. There are things I can watch and hear that will make life very difficult for me. If I struggle with lust, there will be movie scenes that will cause me to lust - not only at the time that I watch it, but also afterwards as I remember the things I’ve seen. If I struggle with swearing, then being around people who swear all the time (or listening to songs with lots of swearing) may make it harder for me to be pure with my words.

Jesus has some pretty strong words for people when it comes to dealing with sin. He says this on the Sermon on the Mount:

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Matthew 5:29-30

What Jesus is saying is that we need to take drastic action to avoid putting ourselves in situations that will cause us to sin. Cutting off your hand is pretty extreme - Jesus seems pretty concerned about the things that might cause us to sin!

Every person’s struggle with sin is different. One person might struggle with lust, another person might struggle with jealousy, another person might struggle with their physical appearance. We might struggle with all these things and more! Every person needs to examine themselves and work out what things are going to cause problems for them in their life. And then we need to avoid those things at all costs! There is no one list we can come up with to say what things Christians should/shouldn’t watch or listen to. One person might have no problem being around people who swear, while another person might really struggle with it. We need to be honest with ourselves before God and ask him to help us to know our own hearts.

It is also important to think of those around us. We need to be aware of the struggles people around us have, and make sure we don’t put any problems in front of them. It might be fine for me to watch a particular movie, but it might cause my friend to stumble. You might want to have a good read of 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul deals with this issue.

I find the issue of listening to music a difficult one. I often don’t really have any idea what the words of a song are about, especially if I really like the music! However, I do think we need to be careful about the things we fill our mind with. I used to enjoy listening to AC/DC’s song, talking about being on the ‘Highway to Hell’. However, since becoming a Christian, I find it hard to sing along to a song that is so clearly about living against the way Jesus would want me to live.

 

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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