We walked together through the historical site. We were on a homeschool fieldtrip together. It was my senior year in highschool. For some reason I can no longer remember, she and I began a discussion about a film we had both seen.
“My parents watched it with me,” I said. “It’s quite an intense film.”
“So true,” replied my friend.
“I love films that tell true stories…” I sighed, “But I wish my parents hadn’t had to censor so much throughout the film. There were some very inappropriate parts.”
“Umm, yeah,” I replied haltingly. “There were several intimate scenes between the main character and several young women… and there was also nudity in more than a couple scenes.”
“But Rachel, those scenes were put in there to show what kind of man he was before his heart was changed to help those around him. Plus, the nudity makes it much more intense and historically accurate.”
“Oh, I know the nudity was historically accurate…” I nodded, “But those people in the movie weren’t the actual people. They were actors with no clothes on. That’s not right.”
“Well, I think they were just trying to show how misused those people were. How can the film properly portray that without those scenes?”
“Maybe the filmmakers should just get more creative…”
We’d had a discussion similar to this before… only then it was on the subject of swearing in films. Surely, it was more realistic for the sailors to have “potty mouths”… but I couldn’t seem to justify it in my mind.
It’s frightening to me how so much content in films is “okay” because it makes everything more “realistic”:
1) The Wedding Night
The wedding night scene (or any intimate scene between a married couple) is usually seen as fine because it’s between a husband and wife. Okay, in real life that would be true (and a beautiful thing in the sight of God)… but those actors aren’t married. And, even if they were, how is it right to display the intimacies of marriage for all to see? (Kind of defeats the whole “intimate” part of it, doesn’t it?)
Hebrews 13:4a says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled…”
I don’t know about you, but those intimate scenes in films don’t seem to show honor and being undefiled to me. It looks more like a couple sharing what should be private with the whole world. Whatever happened to actors not even being able to get in the same bed??? Bottom line, there are certain things that should stay behind a closed door.
I’ve watched several movies where the swearing isn’t that bad, but it is still very much there.
“Well, come on! People swear! It’s realistic!” Sadly, people DO swear, but that doesn’t mean I should be opening my ears to it through movies I decide to watch. It’s very different to be in the check-out line at Walmart and hear the cashier swear (and yes, this has happened to me) then to be in the safety of your own home while listening to dialogue that would make a sailor blush (that you’ve chosen to expose yourself to).
My other argument to my Christian friends, by the way, is that it is never right to swear… whether you’re an actor in a movie (in which case you’d be promoting swearing) or a frustrated parent (which would make you a bad example). God tells us not to (specifically giving us a commandment to never take His name in vain… which, of course, is one of the most commonly-used curse words now. No other form of swearing angers me more).
BUT... Since most actors aren’t following the laws of God because of their unbelief, they are, most likely, going to swear. And, honestly, whether they swear or not isn’t going to change their eternal destiny. Let me sum this whole issue up in a simple statement:
The issue isn’t so much that the actor is swearing, it is that we, as Christians, allow ourselves to be constantly exposed to it, thus desensitizing ourselves to (and making ourselves more vulnerable in times of frustration to using) words that displease our Lord.
3) Historical Films
My Mom and I have talked recently about the excuses we find ourselves making (especially) when it comes to historical films. The movie my friend and I were talking about is called “Schindler’s List”. It is NOT a movie I recommend. Though it brought me to tears seeing the atrocities the Jewish people suffered during WW2, my parents and I were unprepared for how many times we had to push the “next” button. We had been warned it was intense… but we had not been told that it was also just down-right inappropriate at times. Even recently though, I’ve found myself thinking: “Well, the Jews did suffer those things and it is important we never forget…” But honestly, even that can’t be an excuse.
As both Mom and I would say, there is a fine art to tasteful filmmaking that seems to have been lost in our society’s desire for being “realistic”. I’ve watched other films on WW2 that have NO inappropriate scenes, but still manage to get a powerful message across and be historically accurate.
There’s a reason that we used to sing the song “Oh be careful little eyes what you see”. God doesn’t want us to be filling our minds and hearts with images and words that do not glorify Him. We are warned to turn away from the “things of the flesh” (our natural desire to sin). “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…” (Galatians 5:17). As new creations in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. We are told not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” by exposing ourselves (and thus, the Holy Spirit) to ungodly things.
So, when looking at these issues from the standard of God’s Word, you must answer these questions:
1) When is it right for me to watch an intimate romantic scene in a movie (even when the characters, or even the actors, are married)?
2) When is it right to blow off bad language or to constantly expose myself to it by choice?
3) When is it right for me to watch inappropriate scenes of any kind in a movie simply because it is “realistic”?
As painful as it may be…
To all of the above.