You may have looked at the title of this blog-post and thought to yourself, “What?! ‘The Danger of Movies’! What can be so dangerous about a movie?” Well, read on and let me explain.
Every movie tells a story. Stories are powerful because they shape the way we view the world. This is very significant because God has created human beings in such a way that our worldview dictates our behaviour. For example, if I think that apples are poisonous, I will not eat apples. If I think wild lions are as friendly and harmless as my little dog, I will not hesitate to approach them. These may seem like silly examples but they prove my point.
Now, as the two examples above demonstrate, if we have a false view of the world we will live according to this false view. This may have significant consequences (as seen in the example of the person who thinks wild lions are friendly!).
The reason movies and TV shows are dangerous is because, generally speaking, they present a false view of the world and this false worldview leads to wrong behaviour and drastic consequences.
Let me demonstrate this for you.
Most of our movies present to us a world where God doesn’t exist. If God does exist in these movies he is certainly not portrayed as the Bible portrays him – the Sovereign God of all the universe who has decreed whatsoever comes to pass and is worthy to be feared, loved and worshiped. Most of these movies present a world where events are brought about by luck, chance or fortune. Thus we are presented with a false view of the world. If we adopt this false view it will lead to a rejection of the God of the Bible. If we Christians let this false view influence us, we will end up treating sin as something relatively unimportant, and we will end up serving a God of our own invention who is powerless against the will of man and who cares little about how we live. At the end of the day we will become idolaters.
Another example is how our movies portray love.
They present to us a world where love is merely a feeling. If we feel love for someone it is ok if we have sex with them before we’re married. If we feel love for someone the wise advice of parents means nothing. Movies and TV shows teach us that true happiness is found in romantic relationships, that you will not be complete until you find and marry ‘the one’, and that if you’re not happy in your current marriage then you’ve married the wrong person. If you no longer feel love for your spouse, but you feel it for another person, then it’s ok to leave your spouse and be intimate with the other person.
For any Christian two things should be clear from these observations: 1) Such a view of the world is false and leads to great sin against God, and 2) Many who call themselves Christians today have been influenced by this worldview.
A final example concerns death.
The movies portray to us a world where this life is the most important thing and death is the end. If you don’t ‘make it’ in this life, if you don’t find happiness in this life you’ve missed the boat. This perspective leads to the conclusion that death is the worst thing that could possibly happen to a person and therefore we must fear it and avoid it at all costs.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Bible teaches that this life is simply preparation for the next. It teaches that the Christian need not fear death (Heb 2:14-15) because the cross has ensured that it is simply a doorway out of the pain and suffering of this world into glory in the presence of God (1 Cor 15:55-57; Phil 1:23). We often read about the martyrs of old and wonder at how they could be so calm and brave when facing death. Maybe that’s a sign that our view of death is informed more by Hollywood than the Scriptures?
These are only a few of the myriad of examples that could be given on how Hollywood’s false portrayal of the world can lead to unbelief, sin and idolatry.
So, movies and TV shows can be dangerous. What then should we do?
The Lord commands us not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). Therefore it seems to me that this means first of all, that we must reinforce a true worldview in our minds by regularly reading the Scriptures. Second, we must be discerning in our choice of movies and TV shows. Thirdly, we must be conscious of not spending too much time sitting under their ‘preaching’. And forth, as we watch movies we must not simply passively receive but actively engage with what is being presented and critique it by God’s Word as we would any preacher we listen to.
Matt Cole is in his third year of ministry training at PTC and attends Somerville Presbyterian Church