Christians and Movies

Dear Reader,

I recently read and reviewed Grant Horner’s book Meaning at the Movies. This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend all Christians reading it. Though he does not lay it all out in one place, Mr. Horner has a lot to say about how Christians should view movies. Not surprisingly, since he is a film professor, Horner is not in the avoid-popular-culture camp. He does, as I showed in my review, have a very high view of the power of movies and their place in our culture. His comments in that regard were enough to make me wonder if we should even watch movies though I am not usually a culture-avoider either. My own thought was along the lines of: If this medium is able to suck us in and affect us so powerfully, should we be putting ourselves under its influence?

Horner says that we, as Christians, need to be very discerning viewers. In fact, he says that ”

“I take the position in this book that there are valid and valuable reasons for Christians to enjoy and thoughtfully study culture in general and film in particular.” (p. 26)

Among these reasons he includes the social aspect of watching movies. He says that we do not engage culture as such but we can engage the individuals we watch movies with (p. 27). A second reason to watch movies is that we can learn from them. I completely agree with Horner when we says that Christians have no monopoly on the truth (p. 28). Though we may have more of it or see aspects of it more clearly than non-Christians, God still uses them and can teach us about Himself and ourselves through secular movies. Horner rejects the argument that movies are just fun, however. He says that for the believer, there is no such thing as “‘mere entertainment'” (p. 30). Every aspect of our lives must be submitted to God. We can’t set Him aside when we sit down to watch a movie. Horner goes as far as to say: “The next time you watch a movie and don’t think biblically, you’ll be disobeying God” (p. 96).

But, you ask, are there certain movies or kinds of movies that are just completely inappropriate for Christians? I appreciate that Horner admits when a movie creeps out him personally. It shows that despite his own love for film and years of study of it, that there are movies which just go too far. He also steers clear of blanket statements like “all horror movies are evil” and brings it to the level of a more personal decision. The one subgenre he seems to exclude entirely is what he calls “torture porn.” Though even in this case, his statement is a personal, not a dictatorial one: “I do not watch these movies” (p. 126). My own opinion is that this is all the more powerful an argument against such movies because it is personal.

Horner does provide guidance to help us make our own decisions:

“Our thinking about movies needs to be more sophisticated than ‘it’s got cussing, so I won’t watch it’ or ‘there’s an affair going on, so it must be persuasively immoral.'” (p. 82).

Rather, as I discussed in my earlier review, he encourages us to ask that the movie’s creators believe and in particular how they portray the nature of humanity. It is good to remember also that, as with books, we are affected by what we take in (p. 126). It is a quote I am not refinding right now but Horner says early on that what we watch says a lot about us, but this can go both ways as what we watch also shapes who we are.

As I read through Horner’s book, there were a lot of movies he discussed which I found myself wanting to watch or rewatch. But in the end, I also cam away with a fair amount or trepidation lest I watch things that might have  a negative impact. I guess the take away for me is that movies can be quite enlightening but that it is an area where one needs to use an awful lot of discernment.



One response to this post.

  1. […] look at some of the other topics here at Letters from Nebby? My suggestion of the week is this recent post on Christians and the Movies. Before downing another yummy THM snack, why not click over and let me know what you […]


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