Should Christians watch popular films? | Third Space

Should Christians watch popular films?

Thu 4 Jul 2019
An unique view into the human soul

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. - Romans 11:36

Going through the year as a film critic and one who is a Christian, there is one question that gets asked of me. A query that is posed by well-meaning people of faith that pertains to the support of the film industry. A business that regularly rails against the religions of the world and specifically towards Christianity. What seems to be a simple question is a multi-layered discussion that touches on theology, philosophy, sociology, psychology and even personality. With all of these possible angles of debate in mind, the answer will have to be broken down into numerous short articles. Any of these fields of study offer opportunities to engage with this subject. So, why not begin this investigation with how you view the world.

‘Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.’ - Pablo Picasso

Throughout history and acknowledging that billions of people have inhabited this planet, each person develops a unique perspective on the world. There have been attempts to break it all down into different world-views, but realistically these labels eventually fall short of explaining the human condition as you peel back the layers. Yet, it does not take too long to realise that each person has developed their own unique ‘filter’ for how they think and relate to others. This process merely begins with the things that most sift their thoughts and emotions through each day. The list starts with family, education, religion, the internet and even our entertainment choices, but is not limited to these social structures. Each dimension adds to our experience and allows different elements to penetrate through to influence and define our lives. It could be said that these are core influencers that impact every human’s life, but throughout history, some things change and some remain the same.

How does the subject of film begin to play into this discussion? In our world of disengaged and plugged-in individuals, movies offer a fascinating means of discovering the filter development of those in your influential orbit. The production and consumption of what is on offer at the local cinema provide a fascinating social experiment. A glimpse into those things that are driving our societies around the world. Over the last century, the film industry has given historians a means of knowing what were the key indicators and influencers in various cultures.

“Film supplies historians of the present with an incomparable resource for describing and prescribing for the problems and struggles of the moment.” - Margaret Miles

How does this get us closer to answering the question of supporting the film industry as a Christian? The analysing of the actual films and the viewers that watch them opens the door for a privileged glimpse into the hearts of humanity. Not to be overly philosophical, but if someone wants to know what is going on in the minds of the people who come into your world, films provide a magnifying glass to people’s hearts. Most people are encouraged to avoid the topics of politics and religion in polite conversation, but it is not hard to find out what people’s views are on these subjects and more. Merely ask them about the last few films they took in or the recent television show that they binge-watched on Netflix or Disney+. Then ask them what their thoughts are on the content within these entertainment choices and get ready for a smorgasbord of discussion opportunities.

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. - Colossians 4:6

As a Christian, the study of the Bible affords us the ability to address everything that comes from these conversations. The Bible is filled with stories of sexual promiscuity, murder, violence, hatred, bullying, corrupt politics and religious persecution. No one would state that the mention of these topics means that the Bible or God condone them, on the contrary. What it does show is that Christianity should have a realistic view of the world and provides an answer to all that seems right or wrong with it. These ancient words also equip the Christian to know how to respond to the situations and conversations that occur every day in private or in the public square, especially all that various films have on offer. There is nothing on the big or small screen that has not been acknowledged or discussed in the Bible.

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