Does God Care What Movies You Watch?

Most people are familiar with the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system—the G, PG, PG13, R, and NC-17. If you also happen to be acquainted with (or abide by) the A, B, C, or O ratings, you might have an easy answer for today’s Ask Movie Irv question. Those other ratings would be the various categories created by the Legion of Decency, which deployed the authority of the Catholic Church to warn moviegoers about films featuring content it regarded as sinful to consume. The organization has changed names (you can find its modern-day incarnation here), and one could argue its influence has decreased, but the mission remains the same.

We’ve heard contemporary faith-based complaints about Harry Potter being dangerous for “encouraging” the practice of magic (which would be worse, presumably to some, than encouraging the corralling of entire subsets of the U.S. population inside electrified fences, if you follow some recent headlines that beggar belief); do you share those concerns and others like them? Do you believe the Almighty is keeping an eye on your DVR, Netflix queue, or Movies Unlimited order? Are you bound for Hell because you watched (and enjoyed) Miracle on 34th Street—condemned by the Legion for its “sympathetic treatment” of a divorced mother?

Can this deceptively simple question give way to more thoughtful replies? Here’s Irv’s take:


Agnostics and atheists, just holster the sarcasm briefly. Tim Tebow is a big deal in this country for a reason. An overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. believe in the existence of a deity of one sort or another. As hard as it is for your humble producer to believe that so very many people would convince themselves their viewing habits are being monitored in detail by the Invisible Observer, my guess is that we’re likely to get more “yes” votes than “nos.” Let’s hear from the believers and nonbelievers alike.

 

 

  • Jerseyjoe

    I do not believe for one moment that a god would have any interest in what film I watch. I care what films I watch, and just like Irv, I will not watch what he has discribed. I’m 63 yrs. old and I have never enjoyed any of those types of films. Yes I’ve seen The Mummy and the rest of those very old movies and yes I like some westerns too, but if it’s gore, I’m gone! I have a small (1000) DVD collection so far and you will not find one film that contains gore, not one.

  • Jerseyjoe

    One other thing….. Please, you should watch whatever type of film you like. Just because I may not like it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It could be the films you like the most and that’s just fine.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Jerseyjoe, we recently had a post titled “You’re a Film Buff If…” — and were I adding a comment to that thread, I’d finish that sentence by adding: “…you think like Jerseyjoe.” And yes, I have quite a few movies with gore in them in my library…in addition to “The Mummy” and other great oldies. :)

  • Wayne P.

    Very perceptive question, as per usual, guys ;).  Yes, you are right in saying that weve got a free will to see what we want to as a matter of choice, but I also strongly believe that God has built into humans a conscience (as you also referenced in your video), which tells us what behavior is right and what is wrong to do…so, based on ones religious beliefs, would it be a poor choice to see a movie that has gratuitous violence, immoral sexual activity and/or other major sins against ones chosen Diety?

    I would have to agree…because, while I do feel there is only one true God, we may have different interpretations of what our ‘own’ Lord would have us to do but I dont think a righteous and Holy Creator, by any reasonable definition of the term, would want us to view things that would harm us in any way.

    This debate reminds me of what a Supreme Court judge once said about pornography: I may not be sure how to define it, but I know what it is when I see it!

  • Psychoajr

    There is ample sex, nudity, violence, obscenities, incest, even cannibalism in the Bible.  Heck, who needs an “R” rated movie.

    • Bobby

      The catholic church presided over one of the worst most brutal regimes in history the Inquisition. Murder Torture and Rape of tens of thousands of innocent people, Well documented these  atrocities were carried out under what was considered Gods wishes..if he cared or not mattered little to the Reality of the horror that many faced…..no gore fest movie could even come close to the stark facts of this history….

      • Psychoajr

        Amen Brother.  A very loud Amen!

      • Anne

        Well said, Bobby.

  • LaurenAva

    Yes, I firmly believe God watches everything, therefore He does care what movies we watch.  The Bible says to ‘put no wicked thing before our eyes’.  It matters!  The fact that lots of pretty rough things (i.e. violence, nudity, sex, etc.) are mentioned in the Bible is because it’s history of what happens in a sinful world.  They were written for our example, in many of those cases, of what NOT to do.  I’m an avid movie watcher, so I’m by no means condemning watching movies, but I do know that we need to take into consideration what we put before us.  Because God cares for us, He cares what we watch.

  • OZ ROB

    NO…

    • Wayne P.

      Can you be more specific?  Honest though, and to the point!  ;)

      • Robertaitken

        NO, but i do…….

    • John George

      You’ve said it all. Thanks.

  • Doppleganger51

    I  sure  do  believe  he  care  and  does  not  want  us  watching  such  garbage  as   harry  potter  or  the exorcist   the heretic  damien or  others  relating  to  demonic  stuff  and  has  plainly  stated  such  in  Deut  18:10-12  Gal 5:19-21  2nd  Cor  11:14,15     Lev  19:31  2nd  Kings  21:6  1st  Cor  10:21  James  4:7  for  starters  

  • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

    God has worked hard and even used the ultimate sacrifice to pay for a relationship with each of us, so with that thought in mind; Yes He does care what we watch, just as much as a husband/wife would, or boyfriend/girlfriend would. He, like the people I mentioned, have a personal stake in what we are doing and filling our selves with. 

  • Crbarclift

    If God is concerned with what movies I watch I would suggest that he/she start paying attention to more significant things.  I don’t believe in a nit-picking God who takes attendance.

  • inprov73

    No, he’s too busy watching reruns of ‘Highway to Heaven’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    As some have intimated, it may depend upon your conception of God (and the Bible) as much as anything else.  Personally, I am with Irv on the gratuitous violence, torture, etc.  I’m just not interested in watching it.  However, the acceptability of graphic violence, sex and the use of questionable language on screen is at the same time all a matter of context.  For example, when “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf” came out in the mid-sixties, so did language like we have never heard before.  But given the characters in that film and where they were coming from, it struck me as being within context.  Before it, in 1959 the British film “Room at the Top” explored sexuality and sexual situations in an incredibly mature manner as did Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder” later that same year.  More realistic presentations of violence can actually be traced back to the William Witney/Roy Rogers westerns of the late forties and early fifties when our hero would also get a little bloodied up in a cinematic punchout.  The fight scenes in “Shane” were much more real than we were used to seeing in 1953 and certainly the bloodletting in Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” elevated the consequences of gunplay to a whole new level.  But again, it was all within context.  

    Seems to me (whether one believes in God or not) the criteria has always got to be context.  That said, it does not by extension necessarily mean one wants to sit and watch it.  For example, Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” may be a western masterpiece, but I personally found those opening shots of the disfigurement of the prostitute so disturbing as to put me off the rest of the film.  Now does that mean Eastwood should have toned it down?  Was it out of context?  No to both because again, given the characters and their values (or lack thereof) what they did was perfectly understandable.  

    The bottom line?  Viewer beware!  If you don’t want to see what you consider objectionable material on screen then make sure you are sufficiently informed about the thrust of a movie before you go to it.  And it shouldn’t be hard, not given all of the information that is out there.       

  • Smurray

    God sees and cares what’s in our hearts so we should remember that when we choose what to watch and hear.

  • Alaskasourdough

    The question is ludicrous. If you don’t want to watch a movie because of violence or language, then don’t. If you don’t want your children to watch it, don’t let them. If you are concerned that God is watching, that is your business and nobody else’s. If you don’t care what God thinks about a movie that is your business as well. This is America, not the home of big brother when it comes to what you do or do not watch. You have that inalienable right, remember?

  • N Debrabant

    I don”t like movies where dogs or other animals die. People getting blown away? Ok.

  • Johndeiss

    Whatever we put in, in some way may come out…ie garbage in garbage out….yes God cares very much what we put into our soul realm. “guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it comes the issues of life” proverbs says. Killer Ted bunny admitted his road of destruction began with looking at porn. Must be very careful!

  • JSe071369

    On the other hand, the Hebrew Talmud clearly states that Satan is merely an AGENT of God and has no independent existence of his own. Implying (through some involved Talmudic logic) that God is responsible for all the Evil in the world. And is therefore the Ultimate Nazi.

  • BW

    I think god wants us to watch movies which reflect the christian values on which america was founded.He does not want us to watch the degenerate filth coming out of jewish-run hollywood like “hostel”,”inglourious basterds” or anything which will corrupt our minds and morality and those of our children.

  • Mwr5

    God cares about what we do and and say and how it affects those around  us. What comes from within us is suppose to reflect God and gloriufy his name. If the things that we take in “such as a movie with poor values” makes us do things we shouldn’t then it would probably be better for weaker willed people to stay away from that. Otherwise its entertainment, good or bad but God wants us to be strong and secure as christians and I for one believe that the only way to fight evil or just what is in the world is to meet it head on and not hide away. ?That does nobody any good.

  • SteveinSedona

    Why should I care whether a fictional character cares what I watch?  That’s like  being concerned whether or not James Bond, Bugs Bunny,  or Harry Potter care about my viewing habits

  • SteveinSedona

    ” Are you bound for Hell because you watched (and enjoyed) Miracle on 34th Street—condemned by the Legion for its “sympathetic treatment” of a divorced mother?”

    I think that says it all.  What a load of crap.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Oh Irv!  Everyone knows that Christians are big on torture flicks; hardly any of them missed Mel’s PASSION OF THE CHRIST.  Good Godliness!!!

    I think some films, IRREVERSIBLE is a good example, are love letters to “creators” by their creators; certainly many brilliant ones by Ingmar Bergman are, not to mention, LIFE OF BRIAN.
        
    There is certainly no denying that Biblical movies are among the trashiest ever made.  I think an epic about ADAM AND EVE (with a full-frontal NC-17 rating) would be quite the summer blockbuster if tastefully handled by Pixar or Michael Bay.  I think Michael Fassbender is up for the title role.  Anyone besides me ready for a remake of SODOM AND GOMORRAH by the likes of Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese?  IMAX and 3-D, please! 

  • SteveinSedona

    Movie Irv has his standards regarding what movies he chooses not to watch.  I respect his feelings, even though I don’t agree with them.  We all have our standards.  My wife refuses to watch any movie in which animals are harmed; I won’t watch anything with Julia Roberts (speaking of animals!).  Movie Irv has established his own personal guidelines; more power to him.  But I can’t buy not watching something simply because a mythical Man in the Sky (Thank you, Ricky Gervais) might not like it.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Oh wait!  Lady Gaga as THE HO OF BABYLON, directed by Spike Lee!

  • Gary Vidmar

    Cancel GaGa, lets go all out and give Kim Kardashian her big movie break!

  • Movie Fan

    A film is a reflection of a moment in time. Does God care what we watch? Probably not. God’s been around a lot longer than the film industry. He’s already seen centuries of everything we’re capable of doing to each other, live, from the best to the worst. The only thing that ever changes is the technology. Films didn’t influence Rome or Vikings or Vlad the Impaler. All those creative horrors were inspired straight from human minds. We’re supposed to teach each other how to be humans. We’re supposed to define what’s right or wrong, what’s acceptable or not, every day, from birth until the day we die. How we do that is up to us. You know…free will…

    • cyberfox836

      Another amen to Movie Fan.  It is good to see that there are some people who think outside the gutter of smut.  If you profess to be a Christian, just ask yourself, “How does God and His son Jesus Christ, want me to behave?  What do They want me to watch?”  If you claim NOT to be a Christian, no, it doesn’t matter to you but IT STILL MATTERS TO GOD AND JESUS CHRIST!  Some day those who reject God will find out just how He wants His people to live.

  • Gary Vidmar

    I’ll bet God thought it was really cool when Jeffrey Hunter was cast as Jesus in KING OF KINGS.  Luckily he didn’t destroy Hollywood like Sodom or Gomorrah when Martin Scorsese had Willem Defoe dream of Jesus sex.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OC6SKJLQDZEY674X7VRYBWH6AI Tom

    WE ARE what we eat.  We are what we allow our subconscious to absorb.  I am careful of what I allow my eyes to ingest.  There is a lot of junk that Hollywood “sells” that is not worth watching.  God our Father in Heaven does care how we nourish our bodies and our minds.  Garbage in – garbage out !

  • classicsforever

    The answer is yes. We are told in the Bible that a holy God hates sin. You don’t hear that much in most churches because so many pastors would rather be popular than preach the truth of God’s Word.

    HOWEVER…even without my convictions as a Christian I would still rather watch a classic film that is full of talented writing, directing and acting. Such gems (30′s, 40′s & 50′s esp.) did not have to rely on profanity and nudity. It’s no wonder they are still so popular and collected. 

    • cyberfox836

      Amen to that

  • Bill Twiss

    Why would God care what movies we watch .  Some people think it is a sin to even watch Bugs Bunny that is how radical some so-called Christians are.  Even if it was a sin to watch Bugs or Porno it doesn’t matter Jesus paid the sin price once and for all ,all sin has been paid for .Our apostle paul says we have liberty ,so go for it  ,it is all paid for but    the price of admission & the popcorn. LOL   Bill

    • classicsforever

      Bill, I agree with you in a sense. You must know, however, that someone who has become a believer (saved or born again) has a new nature that does not desire such things. Long ago, I was able to enjoy all sorts of things in movies. Not now. 

      • Jesse

        Same here. I can’t watch trash anymore. If God calls us not to lust, then why watch a movie that praises that behavior? If God calls us not to abuse His name, murder, commit adultery, etc. why would be entertained by that or find pleasure in watching it? Why give the devil a foothold to letting temptation in your life? Why harden your heart to these things that, while they may not be a problem for YOU, might be a serious struggle for others?

  • Bornagain710

    God is watching. Some day He will judge us all so don’t think He doesn’t care!

  • MindyP51

    Oh, please!!!!!

  • cyberfox836

    Censorship, or today, the  lack of it; has changed so much since “Gone With the Wind” was almost scrapped when Clark Gable uttered, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  In fact, is there even a government film  censor authority,of any kind, with the power to stop a movie from being released?  When was the last time a film was rejected for release in either Canada or the USA?  True, some films have been refused by foreign countries but even for those few, it was more for political reasons and not for offensive language.  However, some movies from foreign countries have been banned because of extreme violent scenes but even those have been few in number.  Sadly, some movies have had great story lines but are contaminated with foul language.  A good example of such is the remake of “The Lady Killers” with Tom Hanks.  Tom’s dialog was fine but the dialog of the bus boy in the movie was absolutely disgusting.  The “f” word was inserted after every fifth word (on the average) as well as other objectionable words and phrases. Whether a movie is made for the big screen or for TV we see the same thing.  Although TV networks had a code of ethics for a while, even they have pulled out almost all stops to obscene language.  Their excuse? “Oh, it’s a matter of freedom of speech” or “We have to make this movie as realistic as possible.”  NONSENSE!  WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE SO REALISTIC THAT WE LOWER OUR STANDARDS TO THE LEVEL THEY ARE TODAY.  It’s no wonder that our youth cannot or will not speak properly.  They have been brainwashed by these movies and TV sitcoms  to talk the way they do.  The media just replies “So what?  That’s not our problem.  We can allow anything we want.  We’re not responsible for what kid learn.”  I say that they were and they still should be. 

    • Jasonrfleming

      If you don’t want to watch movies with ” foul” language then don’t you have a choice. We do not need a government censor telling us what we can or can’t see. It’s not the media’s job to raise your children its yours people need to take responsibility for raising their own children and not just plopped in front of the TV. If you want live in a country with film censorship try Iran.

  • KenR

    Man oh man, this is a difficult topic for some to handle, so many interesting philosophical posts!…

    I liked Merv’s angle, If we don’t all mature as we age, then we join the growing ranks of those suffering from ‘arrested development’ or those who delude themselves with ‘denial’. Both groups being very popular with folk that won’t look past their ‘own’ ideas. Yes, we have been given the freedom to choose for ourselves, but all ‘freedoms’ come with a set of commonsense rules, and with a price.  

    I used to think I had most of the answers but, the more I learn, the less I seem to know ~ so, go ahead, maybe it’s ok to commit the crime, but perhaps be ready to do the time. Some posts are saying the crimes of History had no movies to influence popular behaviour…wrong, all eras had their ‘entertainments’ (check out the Roman Arena, etc,etc) Movies have simply taken their place, and reach a greater number of people.

    Violence is just another drug ~ take it in small doses. Sex is personal ~ keep it in the bedroom.
    Discretion of speech is more than ‘mere eloquence’ ~ choose words thoughtfully.

    Moral censorship no longer exists, and all the ‘wisdom’ being sprouted in defence of us being allowed to let ‘anything’ we want into our heads is sort of laughable. I sober my own so-called ‘wisdom’ with that great quote: “The ‘wisdom’ of man, is less than the ‘foolishness’ of God” – Is God watching? —
    Maybe it’s worth a little thought.

    In a world with so many un-answered questions, anything is possible, and I wouldn’t want to be taken by surprise…..

  • Gsczep

    In the Bible, Christians are called to be the “salt of
    the earth” and the “light of the world.” How can you be either
    if you’re locked away in a monastery? Therefore, Christians need to understand
    and interact with the culture in which they live, a position taught by the late
    Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer and others. Language, music, art, theater, film,
    architecture and literature are all part of our culture. That being said, then what
    type of movies should a Christian watch? The answer is it depends on the
    person’s maturity level. So, if watching certain kinds of movies causes a
    Christian to violate their Biblical beliefs than they shouldn’t be watching
    those movies. Put in another way, if it causes a person to commit the
    “S” word. The Bible teaches that Christians should avoid temptation
    (Matt. 5:29-30 NASU).