All of our life stories (including Christians ) are R-rated, and making a film ought to be truthful. Sounds like the believers who gripe about tough stories, ugly sin and the like are the ones who don’t fully enjoy the ongoing work of the Redeemer himself. I personally enjoy a particularly ugly or “complicated” story or testimony about how one’s life was at least R-rated before they became a Christian, and then even after that, their life has colorful, hard, and even graphic twists and turns. When I was at seminary, we were discussing The Apostle and there were many students there who couldn’t get their minds around the fact that Duvall’s character actually killed his wife’s lover—because Duvall played a minister! R-rated? Yep. A Christian did that? Wow.
Stories of real life can be told in such a way as to relate difficult life experiences, but with caution and care not to be too explicit. None of us need to see explicit sexual situations or graphic violence. Some things can be left to our imaginations. Christians today are losing their sensitivity to what is pleasing to the Lord, and are not being careful enough about what movies they see. We have to see how everything measures up to the Word of God.
I agree that Christian journeys are not G-rated, but I disagree that language, sexual content, or violence needs to be shown or seen to illustrate an ugly point. Christian movies can be made without following the world’s example, and there are ample good stories to be told.
The word “gratuitous” comes to the forefront for me. If the “tough stuff” is necessary to move the film plot along or to effectively complete any art form, then I’m all for it. Each person must seek and hear what is proper for them. Certainly that issue will always be individually discerned, [but] I think we will be surprised as to how big God is and how diversely he speaks to his children.
I agree that you have to have the ugly with the good to be real. I hate plastic and preachy movies that are unbelievable. But even in secular movies I avoid nudity and brutal violence. The main thing is that what is bad should not seem right.
Even some of the most violent and testosterone-loaded scripts can have a redemptive theme. And some of the most “churchy” and moral-based or religious movies can be very dangerous and misleading. How absurd. You wrote, “The world is an ugly place, sin runs rampant and deep, and good movies depict truth, even if it’s messy. And if Christians gripe about a ‘Christian’ movie that depicts R-rated ugliness, then I have to agree with Landon: that is hypocritical.” I agree. All truth is God’s truth. But if we keep on referring to churchy movies as “Christian,” we perpetuate what Landon and you—and I—are griping about.
I agree that Christian people often have a sordid past before repenting, and that films can carefully include some of this. My problem is that “worldly” movies only include gratuitous sex, foul language and violence solely to sell the movie, and “Christian” moviemakers and their proponents can fall into the same trap. How many times have you watched a movie that would be just as well served without the added vulgar content? John Grisham movies (The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Time to Kill)are entertaining movies with little or none of the above. Where would vulgarities have added to these movies? There is big money in selling sin as the norm, and the dumbing down of American decency is the result. Don’t lower the bar, because we reap what we sow and sooner or later will stand before God to give an account.
Can Christian movies have earthy content? That depends on what one means by the term “Christian.” Is it intended to be viewed primarily by moviegoers? Fine; bring it on. But if you want me as a pastor to stand in my pulpit and recommend it to my members, it better be PG or less.
Dr. Kevin A. Purcell
Two wrongs don’t make a right! Call me a prude, call me old-fashioned, I don’t care. Why are Christians supporting PG-13 movies and R-rated movies in the first place? Our minds get enough of the trash that’s in the world just by living here; why would we purposely fill our minds and our hearts up with more? On purpose! That amazes me. Someone might say, “Well, then we could never watch a movie.” Oh well! There’s a lot of things we don’t do because our enemy Satan is using them to destroy and break down our resistance. Whatever happened to thinking on the things that are lovely and of good report (Philippians 4:8)? Yeah, seems to me like we, as Christians, are being very hypocritical. We are taking pleasure in those that do evil. But count me out. There are plenty of enjoyable things in life; I’ll do those things, or watch those movies, but I’m not gonna be suckered into the enemy weakening my conscience, if I can help it.
Ah come on. Just because the world has lots of ugliness in it, do I want to roll in it? Do I have to see a movie to realize the “fall” is real? Think about the commands to think on things pure and lovely. I suppose that is pretty dull compared to sex and murder, but if the l0 Commandments say avoid these, why would we want to watch it for entertainment. Voyeurism?
I’m the actual hypocrite, as are those who are honest about their lives. Even if my life—the part that shows—has made it to G or PG, my thoughts are often R … or worse. Murderous, hateful, lustful. The good news about the Good News is that Christ came for people like me, who still don’t have it together, even after 35 years of following Jesus.