Why My 12-year-old Can See Rated 'R'... but Not PG!
What Films are Actually Appropriate?
Yes ... it's true. My son Alec and I recently watched the 'R' rated The Last Samarai together. But I won't let him watch the PG-rated Sixteen Candles.
Sure, many of us "Gen X'rs might have fond memories of this film. But think about it: nudity, sexual dialogue ... is this really what you want your kid watching? And more importantly ... is PG really the line you want to use when discerning what to watch?
So how do we know what films are appropriate to show to our families? What about our church youth group? Or what's appropriate for a married couple watching a film together?
WHAT LINE DO YOU USE?
First, let me warn you that I love movies. Any of my close friends know that if they go see a movie with me I usually give the run-down on who directed it, the director's past films, and low the lives of unbelievers with secular morals. And even though the character Hitch seems like a good, moral guy ... there are comments he makes in the film that lead us to believe that he has no moral objection to sleeping with a girl before marriage. So does this make Hitch a no-no? Do we also need to go back and tear up our Shakespeare and our Hemingway collections?
Let's look for the answer from some of the truths from the above passage.
1. Verse 1 and 2 say that, as believers, we are to follow Christ's example of love and purity. Jesus not only forgave our sins, he set an example to follow. We can definitely learn from his example of love—we see many examples of this in the scriptures.
But we don't see much about what "influences" Jesus allowed in his life. That's okay—because the next verses talk about what to avoid.
2. In verse 3 and 4 Paul actually lists things we are to have no part of:
Paul tells us that there should be none of these things in our lives. These aren't the only things we need to avoid ... these are just examples. We see Paul list examples in many of his books. These lists vary a little, depending on who he's writing to. But certain topics seem to be a common denominator of discussion. For example: there should be no sexual immorality among us.
Some people may try to argue that we just shouldn't "be" sexually immoral, but it's okay to talk about it or watch it. I have to disagree. In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul tells us to "flee" sexual immorality. Notice that he doesn't say "try your best to avoid ..." He says "RUN AWAY!" That's because he knows how powerful a desire sex is.
I've never seen one stumbling block so devastating to families, so destructive to leaders, one that blackens the reputations of churches and ministries like no other ... as sexual immorality. I've personally known numerous pastors whose ministries fell apart because of their own sexual sin. Addictions to pornography, affairs, sexual misconduct ... you name it. Sex is a powerful thing, one not to be messed with.
Even King David, "a man after God's own heart," wasn't immune to the lure of sexual immorality. He saw a beautiful woman bathing ... which led to David lusting, wanting ... and eventually murdering. His first peek at Bathsheba bathing opened the door to a destructive momentum of sin in his life.
And "just thinking or talking about sexual immorality" ignores what Jesus said about the subject in His sermon on the mount. It is not just "doing it" that makes us guilty—thinking about it is just as bad. Lusting with our eyes is equally wrong. Jesus even went as far as to say that it would be better to pluck our eye out if it caused us to sin.
Maybe some of us need to pluck out our cable or Satellite connections?
In my movie reviews I will often comment about a film's sexual content. That's because many of us need to be aware of sexual content in advance and not set ourselves up for failure. Part of successful "fleeing" is becoming aware of what films to avoid before you sit down to watch them. Web sites like my movie review page, and www.screenit.com can help us be aware of the content of films so we can "flee" sexual immorality.
But Paul lists more than just sexual sin. In this particular list he also includes impurity, greed, obscene stories, foolish talk, and course joking. That pretty well covers Meet the Fockers, Something About Mary, and other films that might not have sex or nudity ... but definitely rate high in sexual and perverse joking.
THINKING TWICE ABOUT WATCHING JUNK
The above passage isn't the only one that advises us how to respond to the stuff that the world has to offer. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us to "watch out" for evil desires. Not only because they battle against our very souls ... but also because we're being watched by our unbelieving neighbors. We might be the only glimpse of Christ that they see.
This doesn't mean we should be pious or condemning to unbelievers for their movie choices. The Bible doesn't say that. But this passage should make us think twice about watching junk.
As a youth minister, kids have asked me numerous times if I have seen American Pie, Sin City, or films of the like. I'm glad I can tell them I haven't seen those two. But my batting average hasn't always been so good. And it's just not very convincing to respond, "Yes, and I hated every moment of that filth!" Maybe we should consider missing this kind of junk in the first place.
Let's revisit the film Hitch. Personally, I wouldn't show this to my own kids because it deals with the secular dating world. Frankly, my kids just wouldn't understand it. And some of the comments made in the film hint at sexual promiscuity.
But I had no problem seeing it with my wife. There was no sex, nudity or coarse joking. And it didn't preach or glorify the inappropriate. It was a fun date flick for a married couple.
God doesn't print out an annual list for us of acceptable and unacceptable movies. He's given us his Word and He's equipped us with discernment. And when it comes to that discernment, the scriptures are pretty clear about not flirting with disaster. We need to be careful of what we see and listen to. Not only for our own sake—but for the sake of others.
You have the information ... now it's your choice.