Is it okay for Christians to watch R-rated movies? Today’s question comes from a viewer who wants to know what is and what is not appropriate for a Christian to be watching as far as movies are concerned.
And we might as well throw TV shows in there. They rate TV shows nowadays too, and they should.
The people who are rating them, obviously, have some criteria as to what is more or less offensive to potential viewers. We know that if there is vulgarity, then they give it a certain rating. It’s not for general audiences, not for young children. And if it’s got sexual content, the rating goes up to PG or PG-13. If the sexual content, or the violence and so forth, becomes even more graphic, you’re onto the R rating.
What Does the Bible Say About Watching R-Rated Movies?
We know that the scriptures don’t tell us anything about movie ratings. So we’re going to have to go by basic biblical principles here to try to answer this question. One scripture that comes to my mind, first off, is the fact that the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 19:14,
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
That shows that God cares about what we’re meditating on, what we’re thinking.
Remember, He’s the one that invented our brains. He wants us to think and He knows what is best for us to think about and what is best not to think about. He knows what we’re thinking, so that is a realm of His domain which He has the right to legislate, because He’s God.
Giving Your Mind Over to Movies
So let’s not think that our thoughts belong purely to ourselves and we can do whatever we want in our brains. We need to be thinking about what is acceptable in God’s eyes for us to be dwelling upon. And of course, when you watch movies and TV shows, you’re giving your mind over to that story, over to those people, to plant thoughts there for a long time.
You say, “Well, what could be the harm in that?” Well, there can be great harm in that. Advertisers pay millions of dollars just for seconds of time, because they know they’re going to influence people and they’re going to change their behavior to buy things that they wouldn’t have otherwise bought.
So putting yourself into a movie theater for two hours, or in front of the TV for an hour or two, can have major ramifications on what you think. And then ultimately, on your behavior.
The moral slide across the world (but I’m most familiar with the United States) over the last few decades, I’m sure, has a lot to do with the fact that Hollywood has presented as normal things that God says are immoral. Even the heroes in the movies and TV shows are sexually immoral people. That’s become thought of as okay now. It can’t be wrong because the good guys are doing it!
What God Wants us to Be Thinking About
I’m thinking of a scripture that has a great bit to say about what we should be thinking. This is a great filter for us to be thinking about before we watch any movie, any TV show. Are you ready?
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever’s of good repute, if there’s any excellence, and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. – Philippians 4:8
Wow. So much for the movie ratings. That’s quite a rating right there!
Doesn’t the Bible Talk About Some Pretty Bad Things?
Now, I know what someone’s going to say. They’re going to say, “Well, you know, the Bible talks about some pretty bad things. David committed adultery with Bathsheba! And there’s wars, and killing, and violence in the Bible,” and so forth. “We’ve got people running around outside naked in the very first couple chapters of the Bible, right?”
But you’ve got to admit that there is a difference between reading a sentence in the Bible that says, “They were naked and not ashamed,” or, “David committed adultery with Bathsheba,” and watching a real filming that goes on for minutes or longer of two actual people, on a huge screen, engaged in some kind of sexual activity.
There is a difference, and this is also true with the violence and so forth. It’s so much more graphic when it’s in a movie or on a TV show than what you’re reading in the Bible. And, of course, the Bible always condemns immorality and sin. It doesn’t glorify it, like these movies and TV shows so often do.
Believing that God Wants What’s Best for Us
So those are things to think about before you decide what’s good to watch and what’s acceptable to watch and what the Lord would have you watch. And remember, the Lord loves us. He knows what’s best for us, and He wants us to be blessed. So we’ve got to take His directives when it comes to what we should be meditating on.
A great question that has been asked is, “Would you watch that movie or that TV show if Jesus were sitting there beside you?” And that is a great litmus test. But guess what? Jesus may not be sitting beside you, but He is in a sense. He’s in you, if you’re a believer, by the Holy Spirit! And Paul asked the question in 1 Corinthians 6:15, “Should I take the temple of the Holy Spirit and join it to a harlot, a prostitute?” Well, the answer, of course, is no! You would never do that to the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Shall we subject Jesus to watching this garbage on TV, and this garbage in a movie theater? Something to think about.
Beyond Movie Ratings
So I don’t think we should necessarily be all wrapped up in determining which ratings of movies are okay and not okay. I think that we should go by biblical criteria regarding what’s pure, what’s right, what edifies. And there are some great things to watch.
I like, personally myself, movies that are redemptive. Where something good happens to somebody that things weren’t going so good for, because they made a right decision. And that is inspiring to me, to follow a good example.
But I don’t want to watch stuff that God hates. And I don’t want to hear people take God’s name in vain.
I don’t want to be a part of supporting, financially, something that’s causing lots of people to stumble. Because we know that Jesus warned about lust in very strong terms. And who would deny the fact that the graphic sexuality in the media today isn’t fueling lust, and that it’s destroying lives and hurting a lot of people?
God loves us. That’s why He tells us these things and warns us against these things.
All right, I’m out of time. Thanks for joining me! God bless.