Rant by Gene
Take a survey among Christians as to what types of movies are acceptable or okay for them to watch, and you’ll likely come away with as many answers as you have participants. What we consider to be entertainment is a somewhat argumentative issue. Movies with large amounts of foul language, sexual content, violence, etc. are generally frowned upon. I once heard a preacher, speaking on the topic of worldliness, say “why would you choose for your entertainment that which Jesus died to cleanse us from?”. That question struck me quite a bit then, and still does today.
I can remember in college, shortly after I was baptized into Christ, I decided I should get rid of a handful of movies in my collection. They weren’t edifying to my soul, they weren’t encouraging or thought provoking. They were nothing but eye candy in one way or another.
For the most part, when Christians consider a movie they’ll ask themselves what kind of material that movie contains in terms of sexual content, drug use, foul language, violence, etc. We do this for a few reasons: We don’t want to appear to be condoning said actions, we don’t want exposure to these things to adversely affect our own senses, we don’t want to promote such things that children may see and idolize or mimic, etc. Yet even in considering these things heavily, no two Christians are likely to come to the same conclusion as to what is okay to see/promote and what is not.
For my own part, in running this blog I’ve told the writers here to heavily consider what movies they review and/or promote not only for themselves, but for our audience as well. We don’t want to encourage fellow Christians to see a movie if there is explicit sexual content, or graphic violence. So we are sure to mention those things. However, there are some cases where the violence, for example, may be graphic or extreme, but it aids in relaying an important message. One that we may do well to consider. I might put films like Braveheart or V for Vendetta in that category. Another film I’ve recently seen which contains graphic and often disturbing violence, but that I would encourage a fellow Christian to consider, is Lone Survivor.
Lone Survivor is based on the true story of Marcus Luttrell and his team of Navy Seals as they set out to capture or kill Al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd, in late June 2005. You’ve probably heard it compared to such greats as Saving Private Ryan in its depiction of a real world military battle. It’s not far off in that comparison. There are slow motion deaths that are tough to watch. Head shots which leave nothing to the imagination. In one scene, an American soldier is sitting against a tree, out of bullets, an Al Qaeda fighter aiming at him. Shot fired, hits the tree above him. Shot fired, again it misses and hits the tree. Third shot hits square in the head. We watch this all happen to the soldier who’s face has already been badly mutilated by various wounds. If that’s tough to read, imagine how tough it is to watch.
All that violence is however set against some very important background information and decisions made previously in the movie by the soldiers. They are on this mountain in the first place because Shahd killed 20 marines the week prior. They are in the firefight because of an extremely difficult dilemma they faced previously. Their bravery and brotherhood in the midst of the battle is a majesty to behold. Despite the graphic and sometimes disturbing violence, there are some deeper elements to this story which deserve our attention. They are things that, in my opinion, all Christians should be aware of and have an appreciation for, even a scriptural perspective of if we were to ever be faced with such situations.
Many Christians would automatically dismiss movies such as Lone Survivor, knowing it is a war movie and will be graphically violent. That’s totally fine. I’m not here to belittle that decision. I consider this a Romans 14 type of issue. I can respect that opinion and, in many ways, I appreciate how conscientious those people are in deciding what they view as entertainment. However, there are plenty of things we can take away from such films that can aid in solidifying our beliefs and opinions on many important topics. So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t let some violence distract you from drawing out some deeper meaning, and learning what the filmmaker or the story itself are trying to tell us.