Six Ways Christians Watch Films: Part 1
Updated: Aug 22
In preparing for a talk on watching movies with a Christian perspective, it occurred to me that I've noticed Christians approach movies in a variety of ways. (Please understand that in many ways this is an over-simplification.)
I'll list six, while I know there are more.
Some of the ways listed can be helpful, while others are truly not.
Where do you lean? I'll be honest, I've leaned towards most of them at various times during my Christian journey.
So, let's take a look at them.
1. ONLY FACTS TELL THE TRUTH
One might argue that only propositions can communicate truth to us, or statements that can be tested. So, it's best to stay away from stories which are fantastical and don't correspond with reality.
2. FICTION IS LESS SPIRITUAL
A pastor once shared with me that since his time is limited, he doesn't read what is fictional. The implication to me is that he saw non-fiction as more spiritually beneficial than fiction. Fiction is just entertainment.
While stories can tell the truth, this person might argue, other forms of communication, such as creeds, statements of faith, systematic theologies, sermons, and Scripture are far more effective at relaying what is sound and good for the Christian.
"I only watch movies rated __________." I'll be the first to admit that I've made this my guiding principle before, and I know godly Christians who do as well.
And they've got a point, no Christians should be watching NC-17 films and many R and PG-13 rated films offer little that is worth enjoying or meditating upon.
"I stay away from horror, soap opera, and science fiction films," they might say. "If I'm going to watch a film, I'll stick with a documentary or drama, preferably a historical drama."
This seems to connect with point #2: "A documentary," they might say, "communicates truth far better than a science fiction film."
5. GOD'S IN ALL
"I watch a lot of different movies across different genres, because if you look closely enough you can see the sacred in all films."
This approach is driven from the doctrine of general revelation. The Christian might argue that even though the world is fallen, we can still see remnants of God in it. According to Romans 1, just by observing the world we can know God exists, that the world is not as it should be, and that God wants us to live a certain way. Creation still reveals truth, goodness, beauty, and the glory of God.
6. FREE TO SEE ALL
"I'm not bound by the law. I have Christian freedom, so I see any film I want." I don't meet many Christians who articulate this position, but I see many who live like they hold it.
In my next entry I'll offer thoughts on each of these approaches and offer what has become the Stage and Story approach to watching movies with a Christian perspective.
(Read the next post in this series: part 2.)