Rated R

April 17, 2006 — 44 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the movie Flight 93 lately, musing a little on it, and checking out the comments on the site about it. Then yesterday, I was watching the Military Channel, and saw a preview for the movie.

“Cool,” I thought as I watched the preview. Then it happened. The voiceover saying “Rated R.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I immedietly thought of everyone who said they wanted to see it on my blog, and thought “should Christians be watching this movie with this rating?” Is there ever a time, other than perhaps the Passion, where Christians should be watching R rated movies?

Tim Sweetman

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Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

44 responses to Rated R

  1. I never make my decision on whether or not to see a movie based on the rating. The Ratings system is useless… I just read reviews.

    Think about it… the rating doesn’t consider my Christianity, or how offensive I consider particular instances of immorality to be; instead, it considers the number of kung-foo kicks to the head a movie has, and the number of F-words. A violent movie is far more likely to be rated R than a gratuitously sexual movie. Really, what’s the use?

  2. I saw the Passion. But if Flight 93 is rated R… I don’t think my parents would let me see it, honestly. And I don’t know if I would want to see it that much, either… What do you think, Tim?

  3. I think life is rated R. We shouldn’t put a blind eye to the world around us just because it is ugly.

    If a movie is based on a historical fact, I would rather it was accurate than sanitized. Chances are the heroes of flight 93 where imperfect people, and they likely where not on their best behavior during this incident. Chances are there was some profanity flying. There is also an inherent amount of violence in this story. I would rather the characters in the movie reflected the common nature of the historical people, rather than the legend that can be easily created.

    On the other hand most rated R movies are fiction, and are much more profane than reality. We shouldn’t support that.

  4. I have to agree with NeoFacist? It depends on why ithe movie is rated R. Personally, I have no problem with R-rated war movies (e.g. We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down), given where I am heading. In fact, a Christian US Army Sergeant who had spent a year in Iraq encouraged me to watch certain war movies (all R-rated), because of their accurate portrayal of combat. So in that regard, yes, I think it is OK.

    Now there are some movies that are R-rated for sexual content (even PG-13 movies such as “Titanic”). Of those I would question strongly whether a believer has any business watching them; they serve no purpose other than to defile.

  5. I agree that the modern rating system is useless. The rating does not matter as much as the content – something that our culture has no concept of.

    A movie about 9-11 is almost guaranteed to be rated R. Why? They are showing actual footage of human beings in the Twin Towers being murdered before our eyes. Such content, though obviously essential to the purpose of the movie and not damaging to young people, fits under the secular label of “actual murder/torture”. Hence the R rating.

    Unfortunately there is also likely to be a lot of profanity in the film. Our world does not bat an eyelid when profanity is spouted these days. But hopefully it will not detract from the meaning of the movie.

    The passengers on Flight 93 gave their lives to save others. If this is the message of the movie, we should definitely support it.

    In Him,

    David S. MacMillan III

  6. You said it David. (In case you wondered Lindsey, David said exactly what I think).

  7. It’s no doubt that this event and the ones surrounding it are some of the biggest in modern history. These things need to be taken to heart and understood.

    If a movie is based on a historical fact, I would rather it was accurate than sanitized. Chances are the heroes of flight 93 where imperfect people, and they likely where not on their best behavior during this incident. Chances are there was some profanity flying. There is also an inherent amount of violence in this story. I would rather the characters in the movie reflected the common nature of the historical people, rather than the legend that can be easily created.

    If I understand that correctly… does that mean, Josh, that you advocate a movie in which there are things which Christ died for, being portrayed for entertainment sake, if it portrays a historical event? I would be lying if I said that I’d go watch this movie purely to understand the event. There is definitely an entertainment factor.

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of understanding the history of the world and the importance of certain acts of bravery and almost inhuman courage. That’s precicely why I watch the History Channel. However, when Hollywood takes an event from history and makes it into a 2 hour piece of garbage packed full of profanity and violence (think of “Saving Private Ryan” for instance) , then shouldn’t we rather not watch those things?

    Our infinitely holy God has prepared a home for us in heaven where there will one day be no violence, no profanity, no immorality. If heaven had a cimena… I certainly can’t imagine a movie playing at it in which just one vile word was spoken or one act of murder was shown. Surely, everything in heaven will give God all the glory? Surely then, we should begin preparing ourselves for that place? If this movie doesn’t bring God glory, even at a single point, then it shouldn’t be worth watching – and all other movies for that matter. If it doesn’t bring God glory, then it won’t bring us joy – and will therefore not fulfill man’s chief end: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”.

    I read an incredibly challenging post by Barry York which convicted me to the core. I very highly suggest it. If I’m not reading into too many of the comments on this post… it seems as though the “stickers” Barry Speaks about in his article are being used here.

    I hope I’ve misinterpreted the comments though! It just seems that Philippians 4:8 is almost being swept under the carpet here. Forgive me if I’ve come across in a nasty, judgemental manner! I’m just a concerned Brother :)

  8. Not much time for me to respond…

    No worries, David, I don’t think you’re being judgmental. However, there is more that we need to take into consideration than the mere depiction of sin in a movie (or other medium). For example, does the movie glorify the sin, or portray it in a negative light? Indeed, the whole concept of satire requires that sin be depicted in order to be ridiculed.

    Sin can be depicted in such a way that it encourages us to meditate on that which is holy, pure, just, righteous, etc. Really, even the Bible does this, with instances like David’s sin with Bathsheba. Yes, sin was depicted, but the overarching moral of the story is not that sin is somehow good or titillating, but rather that it has consequences.

    Furthermore, what good would it be to reenact some event like Flight 93, but sanitize it so that there would be no sin? Wouldn’t that be like reenacting Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden without ever mentioning the apple? Or Cain’s murder of Abel without anyone actually getting killed? Sometimes, sin is essential to the storyline. Without it, there is no way to tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys.” And sometimes, it’s necessary to prove that even the “good guys” are flawed human beings who nonetheless are able to take the moral high road and save the day (even at their own expense).

    Depictions of sin in the media, I believe, do not become problematic until they become gratuitous or voyeuristic, a la Kill Bill, Assault on Precinct 13, or Unfaithful.

  9. Thanks for the reply Neo :)

    I have a few questions for you. I’d be very, very interested to read your replies:

    1. What Scriptures can you show me to back up your claims that in the real world, it’s ok to put optional sin (movies/tv programs) before our eyes? Also, what Scriptures can you show me to back up your claims in your 1st, 2nd and 3rd paragraphs. I ask this in light of the fact that movies are usually produced by the ungodly and their sole purpose is to entertain and fill people’s wallets.
    2. Did you read Barry York’s incredibly challenging post that I linked to?

    Just as a side note – I’m still learning in the area of history/documentaries/sin in the Bible… so I’d rather not discuss this aspect of the topic, lest it causes me to stumble. If we do, I’m going to have to err on the side of being too strict :D

    I look forward to your reply :)

    Dave

  10. Just a quick sidenote: Though this may seem to be a side issue… I don’t think it is. Let’s endeavour to become of one mind as we are taught:

    Philippians 2:2

    Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

    I look forward to the rest of our debate :)

  11. wow guys, Neo, Sec, Josh, and David III pretty much summed up what I was gonna say.

    Yes, I’m going to go see United 93 :D its rated R but we really have to look into WHY its rated R, The Passion was rated R for the violence,does that mean we shouldn’t have watched it?
    The Passtion is a true story about Christ sacrificing his life for us, similarly, the story of United 93 (one that I have used in most of my speeches) is about people who sacrificed their lives for others.

    Kp

  12. Just as a side note – I’m still learning in the area of history/documentaries/sin in the Bible… so I’d rather not discuss this aspect of the topic, lest it causes me to stumble.

    I’m sure we all respect that David – but I’m afraid I don’t completely understand. If you don’t mind clarifying, are you saying that you a) disapprove of certain sections of the Bible because they document sin (like David & B), b) dispprove of these sections of the Bible being made into film, or c) just disapprove of sinful sections of history being made into films?

    I hope I’m not dragging you into something you don’t want to talk about – I’m just missing something somewhere. Feel free not to respond.

  13. The first thing we should remember here is that the current movie ratings system is not based on morality or spiritual relevance, it is based solely on content. Yes, I also believe that some content definitely can have moral implications, such as explicite sex scenes.

    However, since the ratings system is based solely on content I believe that there are I most definitely believe that there are R-rated movies that are worth watching (even if the Passion is not part of the debate).

    A lot of it depends on the circumstances, as well as the maturity of the viewer. (You’re not going to let a six year old watch the Lord of the Rings, and it’s only PG-13.) Movies such as The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan (an awesome movie in my opinion) greatly increased my appreciation for our soldiers, and my own patriotism.

    Movies such The Matrix and Gladiator convey strong messages of freedom, truth and heroism. And, while we’re thinking about it, there are many PG-13 movies that aren’t acceptable for Christians to watch.

    Calling all R-rated movies wrong is legalistic, folks.

  14. bq. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of understanding the history of the world and the importance of certain acts of bravery and almost inhuman courage. That’s precicely why I watch the History Channel. However, when Hollywood takes an event from history and makes it into a 2 hour piece of garbage packed full of profanity and (think of “Saving Private Ryan” for instance) , then shouldn’t we rather not watch those things?

    Personally David, I agree with you. Everything has to be in balance. Sure, a war movie is going to have , and some cussing. But when the movie drags on and on and is jam-packed with profanity, ual inuendo and brutal-no-need-to-see-that , then we as Christians need to consider just exactly why we’re watching it in the first place. You can learn the same history (and the horros surrounding it) with plenty of other movies and textbooks without all of that garbage.

    Sure, “that’s the way life really is,” but do Christians need to indulge in it to know it exists?
    Just some thoughts.

  15. David,

    As with Alex, I don’t want to cause you to stumble… however, on the topic of histories/documentaries/sin in the Bible, what possible way could it be wrong? If all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, then what is there to be strict *about*?

    Now, for your first question…

    I don’t know of any place in the Bible where movies or tv shows are addressed… I do know that we are NOT told that the simple act of *seeing* sin is in itself sinful. The closest we come to that is Philippians 4:8, a verse which I too love, and there, we are told to *meditate* on righteous things. What we see is not addressed there, because what we see can be dealt with in one of two ways.

    If we see sin, we will either meditate on it, or we will “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” In other words, thinking critically as Christians about what is in movies we see will keep us from sinning by meditating on this sin. We must discern what is sinful and what isn’t, using the tools God has given us. Now, it may be entirely true that this critical thinking may show us that the movie we are watching is not using sin to advance a storyline, or prove that the bad guy is in fact bad, but rather that the sin is gratuitous and voyeuristic in nature, and then we may end up just walking out of the theater.

    Or think of it another way: If I say the word “murder,” have I sinned? Am I meditating on murder and violence, and officially in sin? What if i’m using the word “murder” in the sentence “Murder is bad?” The word “murder” is just as likely to cause us to meditate on the sin as a murder being conveyed on a film screen, so I think this is a reasonable parallel. So then, shall we judge the individual concept, or the overarching idea that tells us that, in fact, murder IS wrong?

    I believe a movie is the same way. Does the movie glorify murder, or does it portray it as it is, as sin? It can instruct us, or it can tittilate us; the former is perfectly admissible, but the second is obviously wrong.

    Gosh, I could write more but my mom wants me off the computer. I DID read the Barry York article though…

  16. Hey Alex and Neo,

    Thanks for the replies :)

    I haven’t got any time at all to reply now… so you can expect a reply probably within the next 24 hours! Keep checking back! Just a quick note, Neo, as to this:

    “As with Alex, I don’t want to cause you to stumble… however, on the topic of histories/documentaries/sin in the Bible, what possible way could it be wrong? If all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, then what is there to be strict *about*?”

    … don’t worry… it’s got nothing to do with what you’re thinking. I’ll clarify later :)

    Dave

    PS – in the mean time, what are your thoughts on the Barry York article? Alex?

  17. Okay, I’m really glad to hear that David :D

    As far as my opinion on the Barry York article, overall I’d have to say most of it seems sound. For example, point 1, 2, 3, and 5 all make sense – and are even “givens” to most of us. I don’t see how #4 really applies to movies, but if it’s to say you can’t watch movies on Sundays, I’m sure many people would debate it.

    I would take slight issue with #6 – I don’t think we should have to not watch a movie simply because someone else might stumble if they watched it. Take for example, a movie with disrespectful kids. It might cause an 8 year old to stumble, but it probably wouldn’t bother a 25 year old (although I don’t know why he’d be watching it).

    “If it lacks redemptive qualities, give it up.” This is actually quite an interesting topic, in my opinion. Many people feel that movies must be redemptive in order to be watched – many very reputable people. Take Vision Forum for example. My personal view probably differs, but the main thing is that the Bible verse given doesn’t back up the statement. As Neo stated earlier, Philippians 4:8 simply talks about dwelling – it doesn’t talk about forsaking. As I said though, this is definately an interesting topic.

    For #8 and #9, I’d further it to say that we should be careful with any film we watch, no matter who produced it. We always need to be on the watch for non-christian worldviews, and we always need to compare with the scriptures. However, I would also say that just because something doesn’t line up with our worldview or the scriptures doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch it, but just that we should recognize the problems. For example, Star Wars has just about the worst worldview ever. The doesn’t mean we can’t watch it though.

    Finally, #10:

    10. If you can do something better, do it. “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (Matthew 22:37)

    While the principle sounds fine, the verse doesn’t really back it up. I don’t know exactly where he meant to go by putting that verse there, but he takes the fact that we should always be loving God, assumes that loving God and doing other things are mutually exclusive, so therefore, we shouldn’t do other things because we should be loving God. I’m sure that’s not what he was trying to say, but that’s where the logic seems to lead.

    He sums it up with this: “In other words, don’t let love for the things usurp love for the Maker and Ruler of the things.” – I think most of us would have to agree with this statement. I don’t know if we’d all agree with where he might take it however.

    So overall, I think he brings up some good points, while I’d have to take issue with some.

  18. Hey Gents :)

    I don’t even know where to start. My heart is unbelievably burdened by this… and I am a lone voice in a sea a Christians. There are unreal amounts of little side issues that need to be dealt with. But, that would be foolish. I’m not going to reply to everything. The issue is not movies particularly… it’s worldliness. Yes, my dear brothers, I’m going all out on this one – and it might be a good thing if some of you are offended.

    My thoughts on this matter started a while back. Our family gets a daily Grace Gem (http://www.gracegems.org). These devotionals are written by the old Puritans and the like. While reading these, I have been gradually convicted, first of my spiritual infancy compared to them… and of the things in my life which blatantly contradict their view on similar but smaller issues. The Puritans were an unbelievably spiritual group of people. I would venture to say that the church today has nowhere near the depth that those men and women had.

    A second issue came to mind in the way of questions: “Why is it that today, Christians are having such a weak impact on the world compared to generations past? Why is there such a stark conrast between the Puritans and current Christians? Why do I not have the same spiritual vibrancy in my life as the young Jonathan Edwards had?”

    I don’t confess to know all the answers to those questions and ones similar… so I think I’ll call on my favourite author, J. C. Ryle for some insight from his book, Holiness:

    It may be that a certain profession of religion has become so fashionable and comparatively easy in the present age that the streams which were once narrow and deep have become wide and shallow, and what we have gained in outward show we have lost in quality. It may be that our contemporary affluence and comfortable lifestyles have insensibly introduced a plague of worldliness and self–indulgence and a love of ease. What were once called luxuries are now comforts and necessities, and self–denial and “enduring hardness” are consequently little known. [...] We have too often been content with zeal for orthodoxy and have neglected the sober realities of daily practical godliness. [...] There has been of late years a lower standard of personal holiness among believers than there used to be in the days of our fathers. The whole result is that the Spirit is grieved and the matter calls for much humiliation and searching of heart.

    My friends, I know this is getting long, but I can keep silent no longer! I must continue. There is something desperately wrong with Christian society… and there must be a cause to this effect. I think J. C. Ryle has hit the nail on the head. As little David Peyton all the way in South Africa, I cannot say to any of you, “I don’t need you!”. As we, together, form a part of the body of Christ, I need you all for my own personal spiritual health (as our Lord tells us through Paul). We can debate on and on and on the finer details of this topic (each point of York’s article etc), but that will not suffice in getting to a conclusion. Let me rather address this principle in the form of a pointed question: “The Puritans warned their generation to ‘Beware the concert halls!’ (which were nothing compared to the movie cinema/tv). At the same time, the Puritans had one of the biggest effects on the world that Christians have ever seen. Did we suddenly obtain more insight than some of the holiest people of the end times? Does not their wisdom on these matters display itself through their effects/fruit?”

    This is getting long! But I must just quote once more from Ryle as a closing thought:

    We must simply repent and do our first works. We must return to first principles. We must go back to “the old paths.” We must sit down humbly in the presence of God, look the whole subject in the face, examine clearly what the Lord Jesus calls sin, and what the Lord Jesus calls doing His will. We must then try to realize that it is terribly possible to live a careless, easy–going, half–worldly life, and yet at the same time to maintain evangelical principles and call ourselves evangelical people!

    Again, if I have come across as judgemental, please, dear brothers and sisters, forgive me. The burden on my heart is the cause behind my vehmency. I truly hope that some of you are in full agreement with what I’ve just said… but from the looks of it, it seems as though you are all leaning toward the other side of the argument.

    As a final challenge, I would encourage all of you to read the following article: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts

    With great concern,
    Dave

  19. Just something to point out….

    It looks like you are presenting a relationship between the worldliness of the church today and watching movies. While there may be some truth there, I would argue that the worldliness is caused by a number of other things, not movies. Just a thought. ;)

  20. Indeed, I completely agree ;)

    Some specifics need to be dealt with, and considering the theme is movies, that formed part of my argument. Christian’s proneness to movies is a natural outflow of the main problem: “a lack of appreciation of the sinfulness of sin” – again, Ryle.

    SecDef, thanks for the comment on my blog. I suppose we can consider this as the continuation of our debate :)

    Do you perhaps have any thoughts on my previous post? Any thoughts on “Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts”?

  21. Oops… I don’t completely agree! Hehe. I stongly disagree that movies are no problem at all (but you already knew I’d say that! :D)

  22. David,
    Thank you for bearing your heart to us. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone. But, by the way…you’re not alone! I struggle with Christianity and movies as well.

    I don’t have time to get into it all now, but personally I believe it’s not “movies” themselves, it’s what we as Christians do with them and what we choose to see.

    If you think about it, all of the arguments above could be said of many other things: music, fiction and non-fiction books, etc. There are books out there (for example) that are even worse than R and X movies…but do we read them? No. Why? Because we know what they’re mostly about; they same with movies. One of the greatest things about our technology is that we can read up on the ‘latest and greatest’ before we even see it [i.e. reviews, websites that lay out the plotline and content, etc.]

    I think if Christians would just think about what could possibly be in x movie and do a little research, we could avoid the evil surrounding Hollywood and focus on the things that would be more beneficial.

    I would like to recommend this to everyone here: Read Brian Godawa’s “Hollywood Worldviews.” I’ve only read a few chapters, but I can tell you that what I did read was very convincing. Godawa explains what Hollywood has done to society, and how we can avoid the same thing happening to us. He also shows that there is a chance of redemption for Hollywood, if only people would follow through with it. I can’t really explain it all here, I don’t have the time, but I would encourage you all to read it. I’ve got my copy on it’s way, and my drama teacher has heartily recommended it.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, David. God sees and smiles. =)

    P.S. Oh yeah, this quote from David: “Why is it that today, Christians are having such a weak impact on the world compared to generations past? Why is there such a stark conrast between the Puritans and current Christians? Why do I not have the same spiritual vibrancy in my life as the young Jonathan Edwards had?”

    David, I believe that it is because WE AS CHRISTIANS have allowed our hearts to grow cold, by INDLUGING in the world’s entertainments. Notice I said “indulging.” It’s our own fault if we allow the things of the world to crowd our minds.

    Just a thought. =)

  23. Oops, I meant “convicting” instead of “convincing” with regards to Godawa’s book. My bad! =P

  24. David,

    First of all, I’m really glad you have a burden for this!

    As you said, your argument isn’t about movies, but about worldliness. In my opinion, everything here hinges on how we define worldliness.

    You seem to be making the case that either sin is not required for worldliness, or that we have very different definitions of sin.

    For example, you talk about concert halls. While I doubt many would condemn them today, the Puritans once did. Now, by my definition of sin, there is clearly nothing sinful about concert halls in general. So my first assumption would be that the Puritans simply felt they were too worldly, even though they were not Biblically sinful.

    This idea of worldliness leads to some very interesting conclusions. For example, just fifty or so years ago, Anabaptists cautioned against carpet (according to a Brethren church we once attended). Other Christians once condemned books that today are known as the classics.

    Although some might react to this by abandoning Berber and literature, it doesn’t demonstrate a problem with today’s Church, but with what yesterday’s Church chose to condemn as worldly. There is nothing sinful about carpet – except the way Silly Putty gets stuck in it. Some literature can be sinful, but we’re talking about the classics here! There is no biblical case that these things are sinful, and therefore, there is no biblical case that they are worldly.

    So the main crux of the argument is whether something must be sinful to be worldly, and what is actually sinful. We all agree that worldliness is bad, and that sin is bad, but we seem to have totally different definitions of them.

    Now, to clarify, I’m not defending all movies. In fact, if I were to go out to my local theater and look at what’s playing, I would probably only be able to watch 10-20% – and most of that percentage would consist of Ice Age. We’ve got some serious problems in the movie industry today because not enough Christians are getting in there and using the big screen to its full potential. It’s not going away any more than books are.

    At the same time, we need to be careful not to condemn all movies just because most are bad. I haven’t done much research into United 93, so I’m not talking about this movie in particular – it could be good, bad, or medium rare.

    In conclusion, I guess I would have to ask this: do you really live in South Africa? That’s pretty cool :D

  25. David: I am not saying movies aren’t a problem, just that they are not the underlying cause for the church’s worldliness. Indeed, given that your premise is true (that most movies are bad for the Christian to watch), it would seem that movies would be a symptom, not the disease.

    Haha…I’m reading the article. :D Incidentally, I didn’t know any of the answers to the movie questions…but I did know all the answers to the Scriptural questions. :D OK wow that was a good article. A bit graphic in some parts though. :P However, it seemed to mostly focus on the sexual aspect of movies…so I essentially agree with it 100% (probably only 95% because there must be something I am missing as I type this at 3am :D). Those are exactly the kinds of movies I try to avoid. And…I really should go to bed. :)

  26. Thanks for the replies :D

    Alex, you’re completely correct… we need to define worldliness. With regard to your question, I think worldliness always requires sin. To try illustrate why I believe this, let me share with you some sort of definition of worldliness (from a Christian perspective):

    A state in which a child of God is perpetually drawn to, and indulges in those activities or practices which lessen his/her communion/relationship with God. The activities or practices include those things which conform to the pattern of the world. There is one type of sin which is always commited in this state of worldliness, and that sin is omission. Most commonly, it manifests itself as a dulling of the spirit (you know what I mean?). The second type of sins committed are those sins of commission (lust etc) which are inspired by those activities that conform to the pattern of the world.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    So, again I must say that the underlying problem is that worldliness is caused by a lack of appreciation of the sinfulness of sin. And I speak here with reference to the fact that it seems that sins of omission are looked on with less severity than sins of commission. Indeed, Alex, you did this quite blatantly in that you didn’t even mention sins of omission.

    I must just say another thing: I know that, very often, I find myself looking outwards and pointing out things in Christian society that need to change. I have failed to realise that very often, I form part of the problem that the church is experiencing. I won’t challenge any of you on the grounds of falling into this trap also… but what I will do is challenge you to search your hearts to see if you’re forming part of the problem.

    Just a final thought and a verse:

    Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things; in short whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.

    James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    Dave :D

    PS – thanks for the insights, Veronika! I really agree with what you say about indulgence in worldly entertainments. I’m very skeptical of what Brian Godawa’s views. From the mere movies that he watches (from looking at his blog)… I am very, very skeptical about his insights.
    PPS – Alex, perhaps I missed what you were trying to say… but do you not agree with the Puritan perspective, in principle?

  27. *cough* Do you have a reply for me too? Or am I not as special as Alex? :D jk

  28. David,
    About B. Godawa, I haven’t checked his site yet, but from what I’ve read in his book, it seems pretty good. He did mention in the intro that just because a certain movie is mentioned or used in the book, doesn’t mean that he applauds or agrees with it. Sometimes certain storylines just prove his point.

    I just thought I’d mention his book, though. Who knows, maybe after I read the entire thing, my opinion of it may change!

  29. Haha, sorry Alexander! I’ve come to realise that it’s better to keep an argument simple. But, the reason why I didn’t reply to your reply was because I thought you were going to elaborate (since you replied at 3am and seemed to indicate you hadn’t read it extensively! :D). All my comments were intended for everyone involved in the discussion though. Have you any thoughts on my previous reply?

    Veronika, from what I’ve seen on his blog… it seems, as you said, that he does not agree with some of the movies he watches. By the mere fact that he has watched Brokeback Mountain and some other “erotic thriller”, I have absolutely no trust in his opinion of movies and Hollywood. I’d rather follow the “old paths” laid down by our fathers (i.e. people like the Puritans).

    Thanks again for your replies :)

    Please do not mistake my vehmency for being judgemental :)

  30. Hmmm….as I said, I haven’t checked out his site yet (Internet problems); you’re right though…that does give me room for pause. Ok, so maybe I don’t agree with all of his METHODS and the way he forms his opinions [i.e. the movies he watches], I just thought he had some good opinions.

    Thanks for the heads-up on him. I’ll have to check him out myself (and finish the book!) =) And hey, like you, I’d rather be safe than sorry, so don’t feel bad because you stick to what you KNOW is right. I admire you for it!

    And don’t worry, you’re not judgemental. ;) You’re passionate for God, that’s the point.

    P.S. Btw, I checked out your site….I’ll be a regular visitor from now-on! =D Keep up the great writing!

  31. David,

    So are you saying that movies are not sins of commission, but of ommission? If I understand you correctly, that would mean that there is nothing specifically sinful about movies, except for the fact that the time used watching them could be used for more spiritual activities? It looks like this logic could be applied to pretty much anything – such as outdoor recreation, reading secular books, etc.

    And of course there’s a balance, if we’re always so caught up in a sport, a book, or a movie, to the point where we don’t have time for God, there’s a big problem. But I doubt that’s what any of us are talking about here – many of us probably don’t go see a movie in theater more than once a month (or less).

    As to the Puritans, no, I’m sure I don’t agree with all of their theology, but I’m certainly not against them :)

    (and I second Veronika – you’re not judgemental)

    Alex :D

  32. Woahhhhhh, Alex! :D

    You’ve totally misunderstood me :):

    So are you saying that movies are not sins of commission, but of ommission?

    Not at all. What I’m saying is that there are sins of commission in movies, and of course sins of omission. What I was referring to is the fact that when one becomes worldly, one is always committing sins of ommission, and possibly sins of commission, depending on the situation.

    If I understand you correctly, that would mean that there is nothing specifically sinful about movies, except for the fact that the time used watching them could be used for more spiritual activities?

    From my previous explanation, you can see that obviously I don’t maintain this.

    It looks like this logic could be applied to pretty much anything – such as outdoor recreation, reading secular books, etc.

    What I am saying is that if it’s not going to bring glory to God, then forsake it: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)

    This is the Puritan perspective… and is precisely why they warned against concert halls. One Puritan said that he avoided concert halls because it dulled his spirit. I think also, the great thing about the Puritan perspective on this is the fact that they didn’t just forgo those type of activities – they replaced them with profitable activities. That’s exactly why Barry York’s 10th point spoke about doing something more profitable if it can possibly be done (i.e. something which reflects one’s absolute love for God – hence his quotation of Matthew 22:37).

    As to the Puritans, no, I’m sure I don’t agree with all of their theology, but I’m certainly not against them

    Hehe… Alex, you didn’t answer the question. Do you agree or disagree with the principle of their stance on concert halls?

    Thanks again for the reply :D

    Dave

  33. Veronika,

    You’re so right… better to be safe than sorry! That’s why I’ve been reminding myself to err on the side of being too strict when it comes to movies and other activities which are popular by the world’s standards. I can say that even though I’m being ridiculously strict, I’m finding great joy in it all! I am seeing less and less the need to become less strict, and more and more the importance and relevance of the Puritan way of life.

    I’ll be checking out your blog too! I’m really busy though (university work and building another site)… so not much time to write stuff for my blog.

    Must be off!

    Dave

  34. Eh..sorry I didnt get back sooner. Was typing a reply the other day and the browser closed on me. O:-)

    OK, regarding the post you asked me to comment on….

    I guess I would point out that, when you say worldliness = conforming to the pattern of the world, that one must be carful how it is defined. After all, would not eating and drinking with tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, etc. fit that view? But Jesus did it…and brought them into the Kingdom.

    Also, when you say “dulling of the spirit” and “lack of appreciation of the sinfulness of sin,” I am unclear on that too. (Illustration: Living with the cadets has made me somewhat immune to hearing language…cuz I hear it all the time. Yet I certainly don’t use it – or support anyone using it, for that matter. My mind has been affected so as to ignore/overlook the language…but that doesnt mean I use or endorse it. So how would the above statements apply there?)

  35. There are a few thoughts I would offer up to the readers of this thread which, I hope will be helpful.

    First, if we are to define sin biblically, we need to begin with the ten commandments, a summary of the moral law.

    Second, the third commandment is the commandment about the holy name of God, and that a believer, saved by grace should not take that name in vain. A true believer, has the law written on their heart, that is, they love the name of God, and worship that name and desire it be praised by all men.

    Third, Christianity is a matter of the heart and will and mind changed by grace and now desiring to glorify God and love and keep His commandments. If in the workplace, the men or women I work blaspheme God’s name, this grieves my soul, like Lot living in Sodom.

    Fourthly, why would I knowingly choose to go to a movie (it’s easy to know ahead of time if there is the using of God’s name in vain) in which God’s name is used in vain, and to choose to hear that which grieves my heart as a Christian. Why would I willingly place myself in the hearing of swearing and cursing and blasphemy? You see, many are looking for a verse here or there to tell them what to do, what movie to go to or not to go to. Much of the guidance we receive in the Christian life through the Scriptures is through our heart of love to God’s will or commandments. Why would a Christian choose to put themselves in the hearing of God’s name being profaned? Is this not the question, brothers and sisters, we should be asking ourselves? WEll, maybe this is of some help to the discussion. I hope.

  36. Thanks for the response Alexander :)

    Some troubling thoughts came to mind when I first read your reply – which were echoed by my brother when he read this reply and said: “It seems like this guy is trying to protect something”.

    Now, I don’t know if you are trying to protect something, and if you are, what it is. I won’t pass any judgement, but will just share my concern so that you can perhaps search your heart to see if there is any hidden wickedness which is impeding your relationship with our marvellous Lord :)

    I was concerned that you did not rejoice with me and agree that we should do all we can to sharpen our spirits to be more attune to the Holy Spirit’s working (which is the opposite of a dulled spirit). I thought also that you would agree that we should be pursuing a sensitivity toward sin. If we are not sensitive toward sin, how will we then walk in step with the Holy Spirit as we are commanded?

    I agree that we must be in the world – but we must never be of the world. We must “dine with the tax collectors” as Jesus did. There are, however optional things which can be avoided – such as most movies etc which dull the spirit. This verse has become very special to me:

    Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

    Dear brother, I’m not here to “ruin your fun” as it were. I’m not here trying to be a dogmatic fundamentalist. I’m not trying to set rules which are burdensome and hard to bear. All I can tell you is this:

    Through my actions, I have tested and approved that the will of God is “good, pleasing and perfect” – through experience. Through all these supposed “restrictions”, I have come to a state of great happiness. To deny myself so many things, because I love Him who died for me and you, brings me great and unspeakable joy. I can only tell you these things and plead with you to search your heart – because I know deep within my soul that this is God’s will for His children.

    Perhaps you misunderstood all that I had said – and hence your comments?

    Perhaps also, I am delusional and being entirely unbiblical here. If so, please point out my error with appropriate Scriptures.

    Something that struck me like a freight train while reading Holiness by Ryle yesterday was a single sentence that he said: “Holiness is happiness

    Warm blessings,
    Dave

  37. Amen Ken! And not just blasphemy against God’s name… all other sins which are avoidable (like all those ones in movies). The bold in this verse sums it up nicely:

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

  38. David:

    Oh dear, that’s not what I meant. O:-) I actually made a similiar mistake this week…someone wrote a post in which I agreed with 99%, but I wrote a comment debating the 1% and forgot to say that I agreed with the rest. O:-) I think the same thing happened here. So my apologies.

    Yes, I definitely think we should sharpen our ability to be more “in tune” with the Holy Spirit; and I believe that as we do that, we will begin to draw away from sin, and find it more and more repulsive, the more we draw closer to God.

    “I agree that we must be in the world – but we must never be of the world. We must “dine with the tax collectors” as Jesus did. There are, however optional things which can be avoided – such as most movies etc which dull the spirit.”

    But didn’t Jesus have the “option” to dine with the tax collectors and sinners? Could He not have refused? Where do you draw the line? IMO, Jesus went and dined with them, because He considered the benefits of doing it (reaching out to their souls) to be greater than the cost (socializing with sinners). (If it sounds like I am making this into a formula, I apologize…one thing they taught us in engineering is the “cost-benefit” ratio. :D) But that does not mean that He condoned their actions by any means. I find it to be the same with many movies. I watched “We Were Soldiers” to help prepare me for combat. I feel that the benefit of that outweighs the cost (a little language). (Alghough, if you have a language filter on your TV, that takes care of it. :D) For a more practical example…if I have the option of performing extra training with my unit (and thus hearing more swearing, etc.) or staying back at my dorm and reading a book, is it wrong for me to *choose* the extra training? And if not, how is that any different from watching a movie (for the benefits) that contains some language?

    I guess I am wondering this…how does it dull your spirit? (That’s a real question, not a “prove it” attack. :D)

    Also, just to make sure we are on the same page…the vast majority of the movies that I watch are all military-related (exception: I did see Finding Nemo :D). (Which means there aren’t that many. :D) I don’t watch the average film that Hollywood makes…when I look at the movies that my college theater is playing for the semester, usually I will only find one, maybe two, that I like (this semester the one was Narnia). So…most of the movies out there I dont watch; and most of the “bad stuff” in the movies that I *do* watch is swearing, which I am around all the time and thus am used to.

    And I don’t think you are unbiblical; I think it is better to be more strict in that regard than not; I just don’t agree with you on how “strict” to be. ;)

    BTW I am really enjoying this discussion. :) You most definitely are not “holier than art thou” or condecending, so thanks! :)

  39. Thanks for the reply Alexander :)

    I’m glad you agree with me on some points!

    With regard to the whole “Where do you draw the line?” issue… this is what I observe:

    Jesus set the standard for us. By dining with the tax collectors, he set that as a standard as something for us which we must see as not optional. That sort of thing echoes his command to go out and evangelise to the lost. It forms part of our responsibility in fulfilling that command.

    Movies are, however, entirely optional. From your perspective, surely you can watch war documentaries instead of watching movies? Movies display sin in order to entertain, which is surely a problem. War documentaries and history programs are there to educate and sould automatically send us to our knees to pray for people suffering in the real world.

    When I want to go out and watch a movie, I ask myself “David, what are your motives for watching this movie?”

    If my motives and the movie are not in conformity to the following principles laid down by Ryle in Holiness, then I will not watch the movie:

    > Value everything and place and company, just in proportion as it draws you nearer to God.
    > Follow after purity of heart. Dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw you into it. Know your own heart is like tinder and diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall?
    > Holiness is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.
    > Anything that may potentially cause me to stumble.
    > Anything which does not bring God glory and me joy.
    > Anything that may potentially dull my spirit

    Ok, now with regard to the dulling of the spirit, this is my take on that: In light of 1 Corinthians 10:31, if anything causes me to not be able to give glory to God – i.e. it causes my mind to focus on earthly things; causes me to feel a distance from God (basically in effect, causes me to commit many sins of omission) – which the vast majority of movies do to me, then it is not just something which must be removed – bit should be avoided at all costs.

    Dear brother, the reason why I am so terribly earnest about this issue and principle is because I feel it is of vast importance in bringing revival to this planet. I feel that this whole thing is an outflow of the bigger problem of worliness among Christians – which is grieving the Spirit. Please do not misinterprest the direct nature of ths question, but have you ever considered that you might form part of the problem? What steps have you taken to fix the problem in your own life, if you have observed a problem?

    I’m also enjoying the discussion! ;)

    Dave

    PS – I too am around swearing for about 9 hours a day. Since my perspective and heart has changed on this entire issue… my sensitivity to swearing has increased 100 fold – and it causes my thoughts to go heavenward and seek the Lord’s comfort. I would encourage you to consider why it is a good thing to become desensitized to swearing?

  40. *reply coming…Military Ball I have to attend tonight* *gags*

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