Christians at the Cinema
Three things to remember before you start watching a movie.
A trip to the cinema or just a simple night in can prove difficult for the Christian viewer wanting to honour God in all parts of their life, including what they watch in their leisure time.
A common question is ‘what should Christians watch or not watch?’ To understand this it is important to first understand how a Christian should watch anything.
1. Don't completely switch off when watching movies
Unless you’re a film critic or studying for an English essay, you will probably go straight into relax mode when watching a movie.
Whilst relaxing is essential in our day-to-day lives, a problem occurs when we shut off our brains and become unaware of the messages we are being sent through the media we consume.
God created us to be thinking beings, who engage with the good things in the world He has created.
So to make the best use of your time at the movies or in front of the TV, keep your brain switched on and thinking about what’s being shown in front of you. This doesn’t mean you can’t relax. It simply means making sure you're thinking about what you put before your eyes.
2. Ask questions about the movies you are watching
Some helpful questions you may want to ask as you watch include:
- What does this film say about our world? Is it good/bad?
- Which characters do I identify with? How?
- Does the message of the film agree or disagree with the message of the gospel?
For example, The Social Network doesn’t have a biblical theme, but presents the viewer with a character obsessed with success and being important. So much so that he drives away all his closest friends. We are reminded that our identity and worth is found in Jesus, not in our achievements.
3. Be careful about the movies you choose to see
Given that we should use our entertainment time to also engage with and think about the films we view, it could be beneficial to watch all different kinds of films covering a range of topics and content.
However we must also be cautious about what we watch. Before watching something we should ask ‘what’s it rated’? And ‘will this hinder my relationship with God?’ Let's explore those questions a bit more...
What’s it rated?
In Australia for instance, if it’s MA15+ and you’re under 15, don’t watch it! The rating systems in each country are there for a reason. Take note of them.
Will this hinder my relationship with God?
We’re all different and struggle with different sins. We must each ask ourselves honestly what we struggle with. If it’s lust, avoid films with nudity, sex scenes and lots of sexual references. Other people don’t find it helpful to watch movies with coarse language or large amounts of graphic violence.
In Matthew 5:30, Jesus said “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
The point of this passage is that if there are things in our life that cause us to sin, they should be cast away so we can be pure.
So it is with the movies we watch. If we are mindful of what content won't be helpful for us, we can avoid it. Then we can make use of our leisure time to engage in films (or TV shows or books) using our God-given intelligence to try to understand more of our world and reflect on the hope we have through Jesus’ death and resurrection.