Fifty Shades of Grey was the number one rated movie in the U.S in its opening weekend. In its first week, it grossed over $300 million counting domestic and foreign box office sales. According to reviewers, it has 20 minutes of sex scenes and a great deal of nudity. Clearly large numbers of people are seeing this movie.
I’ve mentioned this movie to raise a question. Do Christians draw a line at not seeing certain kinds of entertainment? Seventy-three percent of the US population identify themselves as Christian. So if I combine demographic information with box office sales, I would have to say a large number of Christians draw no lines and have no qualms about viewing any of this.
But should we? I think what is at stake is our purity of heart and our clarity of thought — Christian thought.
Sexual immorality, adultery, murder, and warfare are a part of many narratives including the Bible. The question becomes one of how are they portrayed. My concern is not just with sex but with violence and profanity as well. How are these things handled, and what do they do to our hearts and minds?
I do not want my entertainment to make me a voyeur. The definition of voyeur is “a person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.” I do not want entertainment with simulated (or real) sex or nudity. How can I watch something like this and not be turned into a voyeur? Jesus warns about the danger of lust (Matthew 5:27-30) and the danger of having sexual immorality and adultery in our hearts (Mark 7:21-23). How can this kind of entertainment be consistent with following Jesus?
I do not want my entertainment to harden me to violence and suffering. I don’t know how I can keep that from happening, if I am shown every kind of violent act graphically. I realize that violence is plot point to much drama, but I’m concerned about how it is portrayed. I’m concerned about how much of it I consume.
I do not want my entertainment to shape my worldview. I want my worldview to be shaped by the Bible. That means even in the things that I watch, I need to evaluate the message of the film. All kinds of non-Christian messages are present and must be evaluated critically. We must be active viewers. I’m not wanting to withdraw from culture but to engage it.
I have found some tools helpful in making informed choices. The Internet Movie Database (IMdb.com) web site has a Parental Guide which allows you to see content advisory information. It is helpful to parents, but it is helpful to anyone trying to make good decisions. Dove.org provides movie reviews. Their main concern is to help people find family friendly films, but their reviews also give detailed information on sex, language, violence, drugs, nudity, and a category they label as other — lead characters that exhibit disrespect for authority, lying, cheating, stealing, illegal activity, witchcraft or sorcery and whether there are any consequences to this behavior.
What I am suggesting is that we need to be a lot more black and white in our moral view towards entertainment and a lot less fifty shades of grey.