Monday, June 13, 2011

Applying the Standard

You guys have made me kind of nervous. I thought I would get a lot of feedback (positive or negative I wasn't sure) on these movie/TV posts, but you have been eerily silent. So, I shall continue.

If we all agree that Christians should concern themselves with what is set before their eyes (and the eyes of their children), then we have to figure out how to go about that. It may seem like a very simple thing to do, but I imagine if you were a new Christian, and had previously watched whatever you wanted, this would seem a daunting change to make.

First, some practical things. There are several places where you can go to get good reviews of movies from a Christian perspective. My go-to site is and I look up anything I can there. They even have reviews of video games. Julia also shared a few in the comments section of another post: and . Does anyone know of other sites that give reviews?

I have learned my lesson about reviews. We picked out a Mary Kate and Ashley movie from Netflix for the girls to watch called Billboard Dad. It looked's MK and A for goodness'll be fine. It was old and Plugged In didn't have a review on it so I read the Netflix reviews people left. AND IT WAS RATED G. So I thought all was well. In one scene, the dad is getting ready to go on a date and the twins ask him, "Dad, do we need to give you the safe sex talk?" Needless to say, this Mama almost choked on her lunch. I will be more careful or pre-screen from now on. 

So you might think the answer might be to just watch educational things with your children. Documentaries will save the day, right? Um, I have a sinking feeling that is not true either

I will say I have found older movies to be better. I'm talking about Shirley Temple old. Roy Rogers old. OLD. Morals were higher back then for the most part I suppose. I would still look into it, but you are probably safer with older movies than more modern ones and some of them are so charming. 

Of course ask friends if they have seen a particular movie. Christian friends whom you trust. After all, we don't all have time to sit around pre-screening things for our children. We can help each other out. 

The last thing I want to say is this. You will be hard pressed to find a movie or show with no "sinful things" in them. In movies there are bad guys and bad guys do bad things. I think the difference is, does the person doing the bad things get away with it? Or are there repercussions from their actions? For example, if a movie showed someone robbing and lying--I would want them to be caught and punished. Old westerns are great about this. In some movies, the characters act perfectly horrible and life just goes on. We cannot have a flippant attitude about sin. I wasn't allowed to watch The Love Boat growing up. Later my mom told me it was because people slept together who were not married to each other. Mind you when I was growing up, married people on TV shows did share a bed and it was even implied that they were going, really share the bed. But if they were married characters then my parents were fine with that. (I'm talking about prime time TV here-nothing graphic-like Hart to Hart. Oh my word I'm showing my age.) 

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from seeing bad guys do bad things on TV. My mom was always really good about making comments like, "Oh that horrible man! He just lied right to her face. That was wrong!" I also think discussing movies and shows afterward is important. 

Am I saying it's OK to watch people engaged in all sorts of sinful behavior in movies? No..I'm not saying that. Obviously sexual sins are a bit much. But watching a bad guy who stole something get caught and go to jail? That I can handle. That we can discuss. There is good and bad in the world and I would rather my children learn about alcoholism from an episode of Little House on the Prairie than from real life experience. Especially with time to discuss it afterward. 

I would like to wrap up with some thoughts from Erin and her husband. She left a comment on my last post that I thought just beautifully wrapped up this whole topic. I'd like to share part of it here:

" came up in our family devotion time, not by me, but by my husband! The point of discussion during family devotions was that it's not necessarily about setting "rules", but more of drawing close to God and seeing His beauty and preciousness so much that this other filth becomes just that in our eyes - filth. Guidelines (rules) and parameters/restrictions are beneficial and helpful, but as Christians, our goal not to be just "moral" people, checking off our "what we do right" list, but instead being transformed by our intimacy with the Holy Spirit so that our hearts no longer desire or are attracted to sin.

Amen! I couldn't have said it any better! So...some practical ways to have guidelines...and a reminder that it's really about loving the Lord. 

NOW. I'm done. Any other thoughts?


  1. I'm sorry I haven't been commenting, but I wanted to let you know that I have been eagerly reading this series, and truthfully it has challenged and convicted me. So thank you! I've really appreciated it.

  2. Thanks Brenda:) My problem is also with movies that are fine right up till those inevitable swear words that crop up somewhere randomly right in the middle! Why do they even have to put those in? it's as if they aspire to reach the the lowest of the population to make sure they reach their target audience. We usually preview movies for the kids first, and usually pay for it when we don't :)

  3. I had wanted to comment the other day, but had problems and it wouldn't go through. Wanted to give a big "AMEN" on that, though. A website we use to screen movies is . Also, want to put a plug in for the Lassie shows! My parents gave my 5yo a set of the series for Christmas and both my boys have loved them!

  4. Sorry for the silence, Brenda. I think this is an excellent series of posts. We're discerning when it comes to movies, but there is certainly room for improvement.

    My husband likes sci-fi and shoot 'em ups. I've actually grown to like them too over the years. What can I say?

    We are very strict about sexual content and excessive language and we don't let our kids watch anything without pre-screening first. Maybe it's a man thing, but violence, as long as there's no gore, isn't something that has been viewed as make or break when it comes to watching movies.

    I know we have a lot of room for improvement, but I wanted to be honest and not pretend that we don't watch things that fail to meet the standard you outlined here.

  5. I didn't mean to sound complain-y...I know you guys have busy lives. I was just prepared for arguing and a firestorm and it never came!

  6. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I LOVE your background!

    We watch very few movies and television because of all of the reasons that have been discussed.

    Check out the Lamplighters audio dramas. They are excellent! Excellent! We have been listening to them in the van. Very entertaining and very moral!

    Have a great day! :)

  7. What bothers me in posts like this among Christians in the USA is the blatant and glaring inconsistencies. What most Christians here appear to be saying is that sex is bad, don't watch it. (Married sex isn't bad, but we still don't need to watch it on TV, and I agree I don't want to watch sex, whether supposedly "married" or otherwise, on TV). I'm in agreement on that point. I'm also in agreement when it comes to bad language etc.

    But, it seems that sex and bad language is where American Christians stop. Although Jesus tells us violence is wrong, US Christians have NO problems whatsoever with watching people kill each other, beat each other up, and even think that's a GOOD thing. I don't care if the violence is supposedly for a good cause, Jesus is very clear that violence is wrong. Yet we don't seem to have a problem with that because it's not sex. Sometimes I think I'd rather, if I had to choose, see two people engaging in consensual sex of any kind than to see violence. Violence is real, violence is horrible, and violence is wrong.

  8. You're right Katy-Anne. I'm not disagreeing with you. That's why I was honest in saying there's room for improvement. I'm not condoning violence in movies. In fact, my husband and I have had this conversation. I just wanted to contribute an honest comment.

    Hope you're doing well.

  9. Hey Terry, I wasn't talking about anyone who had commented here, that wasn't an "attack" on you. It's something that bothers me immensely, especially with my in-laws. My husband was not allowed to watch "The Little Mermaid" because Ariel wears a shell bra and that's "immodesty" and yet they allowed all their kids to watch "The Dark Knight" where there was violence such as some guy cutting up people's faces with a knife. I was so sick I left the room and took my kids with me. That offended them and at the time offended my husband although now he says it was the right thing to do. I just thought if it made me sick, there was no way my toddlers were going to watch it.

    I have a problem with magic and stuff in movies too. Hence, I watch very little, and I'm actually happy with that. I don't like to watch stuff much anyway, so it's relatively "easy" for me to talk about these issues. Some other issues, not so much. lol.

  10. I actually think I was the only person here who admitted that our movie selections don't always meet the standard that Brenda outlined. Everyone else is clearly doing a much better job than we are.

    Since I was the lone commenter to admit a less than stellar standard, I assumed you were referring to me when you said,"What most Christians here appear to be saying is that sex is bad, don't watch it."

    It's okay though. I know you're making a very valid and good point.

    So, you don't watch "The Chronicles of Narnia?"

    Terry@ Breathing Grace

  11. Sorry for the silence, Brenda! I agree with all you said!

    Husband and I gave up tv after the series finale of 24 over a year ago (probably a questionable choice.) There just haven't been any shows we think is worth our time, and to be truthful, it doesn't come out of any spiritual conviction. If and when we choose a movie to rent (hardly ever), it is often having to do with war/military or drama. We probably have some room to improve in this area.

    The kids watch more tv than we do, but it's usually PBS or dvds we own. We don't have satelite or cable so our choices are limited for them, which I like.

    Good posts, Brenda! I gotta get Little House in front of the kids! I think they would love it!

  12. Terry,

    I have not commented but I will admit to not "living" up to this standard. I really mostly focus on what my kids watch and even there I have missed the boat quite a few times. I don't want you to feel like you are the only one!

  13. my thoughs.... even if you take the word conviction out of the equation you still have to assume that people have different standards. I don't mean GOD has different or moving standards but it is the same as the skirt conversation. Why does one family believe it should be down to the ankle, one think mid calf is okay, one family think below the knee is still cool and yet other think mid thigh is yet still acceptable? YET these are all christians-- christians who THINK they are doing the right thing. Some of them are wrong and they are hopefully going to have their blinders removed, but the whole is it ankle or mid calf.. do you have to wear dresses all the time or not.... I do not believe that was specifically addressed in the Bible. It is the same as what is good... does it mean a movie that indicates good wins over evil (as long as the ranger catches the gunslinger) does it mean ZERO language or just not the F bomb, does it mean sex or only sex if they are married... does it mean violence (action) or violence someone getting their leg blown off in a war movie??? I believe this is where OUR own personal standard or the word conviction comes in. what are you convicted of? Where do you draw the line? What does Gods standard speak to you... it if we go PURELY by what the Word says we would watch ZERO shows-- not even Veggie Tales (don't get me started on the adding and taking away of the scripture. :0) ---so they would be nixed even though it is in good fun and gets God's word across)

    I think we do have to remember GRACE, we do have to listen to the still small voice in us and we do have to READ God's Word and know God's word as a starting point for any decision we make.... but everyone is at different points in their walk, everyone beleives different theologically and everyone has differnt threshholds.

  14. Terry, to answer the, I don't watch Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings or any of those so-called Christian "allegories". However, my husband has different convictions about it. He respects my feelings and so he watches those things when I am not home, or when I'm in bed. He said he will allow our children to watch them too when they are older if they ask to, although he's not going to specifically suggest the movies to them, and he's going to tell them to have respect for me and not to watch them blatantly in front of me, and they will have to be 15 or older at the age where he wants them to really be thinking mostly for themselves and be developing their own convictions. I can live with that. :)

  15. Brenda, thank you agreeing so kindly with my comment - I will be sure to pass the compliment along to hubby, since they were his words!

    Terry, you've brought up an interesting point about being one of the only ones to actually admit your "weaknesses" in this area - it made me think about Christians as a whole, how we so often like to present ourselves or our ways as perfect and that we've already arrived in certain areas. Which I still fall into at times! Over the years I have learned that many times when I thought I had "arrived" in an area, God throws it for a tailspin and my actual destination winds up in a much different place! So I really appreciated that comment!

    Carry, I agree with your comment as well. Convictions and people growing at different paces and even in somewhat different directions is one of those things that often keep me wondering and marveling at the way God works!

    I've really enjoyed these posts and the comments!
    This has been

  16. (ooops, that "this has been" is a typo!)


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)