I am a huge fan of movies. I love the cinematic experience. I’ve spent more than I should on a nice home theater set up. I arrive 30 minutes early to the movie theater to find the acoustically and visually centered seat. (And make no qualms in expressing my displeasure of texting and talking during movies. But that’s for another day.) During this time of rest and focus, I have made it my aim to let God identify key avenues where I may be letting Satan have a foothold. As I will likely exposit in a later post, I have come to learn that God has appointed this time as a consecration and a purging of areas I am disobedient. You see, a very good friend told me that one of the hardest aspects of mission work is that whatever areas of weakness we have here at home are greatly amplified on the front lines of gospel work. It’s a spiritual battlefield out there and Satan will bend all his efforts to distract and render us ineffective.
In a particular area of spiritual discipline God has called me to deal with, He made me aware of the avenue of entertainment as a source of distraction. Now before I go any further, do not hear me say that Christians cannot watch TV or go to movies or play video games, etc. And this isn’t a post about challenging how many hours we sink into these things. But I think there is a strong necessity for us to evaluate what it is we are devoting our time to. While this was already stirring in my spirit, a blog post came across Desiring God, John Piper’s website, about this very subject. I invite you to pause here and go read that article now: Three Questions to Ask Before Watching a Movie.
Back? Great. I want to draw attention to a particular statement, in which Jonathan Parnell said, “Some movies should be out of the question, and for those on the bubble, we know best how certain things affect us.” That left the question in my mind, what are the ‘out of the question’ movies? I leave the Spirit to tell each person where to draw the line with such aspects of entertainment that include vulgar language and violence and such. But I think the clear imperative for me and for all followers of Christ is to not set our eyes on the screen depicting sexual immorality.
There is a clear and distinct line about sexual immorality in the Bible. We cannot make some amalgam of God’s Word and what culture tells us is permissible. This is the deception of Satan. There is to be no sex outside of marriage, no sexual worship, no prostitution or sexual violence, no homosexual activity, no sex with animals, relatives, or children, no sexual lust, no sexual allurement, looking or touching outside of marriage. And no entertaining ourselves with or joking about sex. (1) The central exhortation in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee sexual immorality.” The word flee is not arbitrary here. It should invoke an urgent emotion in us. Certainly, do not give sexual immorality–as biblically defined–any credence. But the strength of this word also means don’t even glance and casually walk away. No, you run as fast as you can from it as if a fire were bearing down on you.
We should not commit those acts, and we should not watch them or joke about them. Ephesians 5:3-12 calls the Christ follower to the specific rebuke. “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do no become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.”
You know the greatest scheme of the Devil? To lead us on a path of destruction without us even realizing it. Take this analogy. Put a frog in boiling water and it’ll quickly jump out. Put it in water and slowly heat it, it’ll end up boiling to death. This is no recipe for frog soup though, it is a recipe for disaster. (2) Stated another way, in his book “Tempted and Tried”, Russell Moore described it as the process of cattle being led to slaughter. He described how slaughterhouses have gone to enormous expense to make it seem to the cow that she is just taking a stroll across a pasture and not toward an untimely end. And before they even know what has happened, the deed is done and they were never the wiser. This keeps them stress-free, which in turn, keeps the meat tender.
In light of all that God has taught me and that I have been trying to live out and speak to in others, the warning is plain to see and the consequences severe. If we willingly walk into these avenues of sexual immorality, then we need to ask if the light of Christ is really within us. Paul said it, not me! “You may be sure of this…” he said. Now I’m not saying we won’t be tempted. As the Bible tells us God provides a way out from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), the implication is, we will be tempted. But there better at least be some struggle of conscious before we willingly step into an arena where our senses and bodies will be taken in by idolatrous acts.
Do we not think that our acceptance of entertaining ourselves with sex is why we are so numb to the immoral acts in our lives? Statistics show that 42% of Bible-believing Christians are in a sexual relationship outside of marriage! Cattle being led to the slaughter! If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus dwells in us, we must be compelled to say no to these things. Paul also says don’t be deceived by people who have empty words. In other words, do not care about what society says and all their cries for tolerance. Fear God. He is the one with the power to send our souls to hell or graciously receive them into His presence through faith in His Son. When we accept Christ, those immoral and idolatrous things become dead to us! This is the freedom of Christ! Our desires begin to become His desires for us. Is that true in your life?
In a culture where the boundaries are disappearing, we must humbly and boldly stand for God’s standard. Sexual sin is set apart in the Bible as particularly destructive because it is deceptive and never delivers; it may temporarily pleasure but always ends in deep pain. (1) And because culture is saying these things are permissible, Christ-followers are being led astray and rendered entirely ineffective in our mandate to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. Who in their right mind would ever listen to what we have to say about Jesus if we are not conforming our images to be like Jesus in deed? But that’s exactly where the Church finds itself.
David Platt, author of “Radical” and “Follow Me”, said it this way, in his sermon on human sexuality. “It is right to stand up and speak for what God’s Word says about [sexual immorality]. We would be wise to stop taking the specks out of others eyes when there are planks in our own eyes. If we roll our eyes and shake our heads when we see the Supreme Court ruling [in favor of gay rights], yet we turn the channels on TV to watch the trivialization of sex on shows and advertisements, to surf the internet for images to satisfy our lusts, to go to movies that glamorize sex outside of marriage, and entertain thoughts and desires outside of our own marriage, then we have missed the entire point. Are these sins acceptable simply because they are the sins of the majority?”
With movies and shows such as “300: Rise of an Empire”, “Need for Speed”, “Game of Thrones”, and God forbid even “Nymphomaniac” hitting screens soon, my heart and prayers reach out to my friends who may be enticed to see these movies for their visual spectacle and compelling stories. And I guess that is what has led me to write this. A careful look at the ratings of these movies will reveal “nudity”, “sexuality”, even “sex scene”. We must pay attention and carefully consider what we are setting before our eyes, unwittingly allowing the enemy to lead us down a path of destruction. (The latter movie is such an abomination, it is reportedly nothing more than pornography that will be in movie theaters under the guise of “artistic expression”, where actors–such as the current media prince Shia LaBeouf–actually partook in sexual acts for their scenes. If that line isn’t clear for you, then we need to talk.)
In our justification of our actions, the line may blur in our mind, but that is nothing more than Satan’s deception. Listen, Christ-follower, make this your commitment: “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” (Psalm 101:2-3) We cannot continue to coast out our lives as if Christ has made no difference or has not called us to a higher standard. Don’t fool yourself (James 1:22). As we sit entertaining ourselves with sex, thousands–millions–continue to live their lives having never even heard of Jesus. How will we ever carry out our command to take the Good News to them when we are mired in our pits of sin and idolatry? Let us repent of what we have set before our eyes and don’t turn back to them. The heart will love what the mind gives it. (3) So, let’s fill our minds with His Word (Psalm 119:1-48). Whereas the frog slowly boils to death in gently heating water and cattle walk to their death unaware, don’t succumb to the slow deception of Satan. Flee this. It is not worth the price of eternity. Yours or those you are commanded to reach.
1-“The Cross and Christian Sexuality (Part 1)”. Dr. David Platt. radical.net
2-Appropriately in context of this post, this analogy was taken from one of my favorite disaster movies, “Dante’s Peak”.
3-a paraphrased quote from the @desiringgod twitter account.