Post Author: Bill Pratt
Part 1 of this post discussed the use of Internet sites to help parents decide whether a movie is appropriate. Today, we talk about how we know something is inappropriate.
There are at least two kinds of appropriateness, which I think a lot of parents miss. First, there is age appropriateness. A movie that is dealing with subjects like romance, or realistic war depictions, or other historical events that include intense human pain and misery, is not appropriate for younger children. Their immature minds cannot process what they are seeing and they will not understand these themes until they are older.
A couple examples would be The Passion of the Christ and Band of Brothers. The Passion depicts the excruciating torture and death of Jesus while Band of Brothers portrays the true story of World War II soldiers. Both of these are inappropriate for younger children because of the thematic content, but worth seeing once a person is well into their teenage years.
When deciding age appropriateness, you also have to consider your child. My children do not struggle with violent streaks. They are not aggressive toward other kids and they also have a good understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality. So, we may let them watch movies that include violence, as long as it isn’t too realistic or intense. If your child is aggressive toward other kids and is obsessed with violent role playing, you need to steer them clear of violent movies.
On the other hand, we are very concerned about exposing our kids to sexual themes and profanity. We believe that there are real consequences if we allow our children to be inundated with foul language and sex. When they enter their teenage years, their thoughts and deeds will be impacted by the language and sexual situations they see in movies. Those things impacted me, so I assume they will impact my kids. Therefore, movies that major on these themes are off-limits.
The second kind of inappropriateness is more difficult for parents to accept. Some movies should not be seen by anyone because they are garbage. These movies may glorify extra-marital sex, gratuitous violence, drug use, and so forth. I can remember watching Natural Born Killers (lots of gratuitous violence) about 15 years ago with my wife. When it was over, we both looked at each other and said, “That was a complete waste of time! Why did we subject ourselves to that kind of filth?” The movie actually left us both depressed.
Not only should your kids not watch these kinds of movies, but neither should you! Unfortunately, many parents go ahead and watch these kinds of movies and their kids know that they watch these movies, and their kids see their parents as hypocrites. Mom and Dad are always talking about certain movies being inappropriate but they routinely watch inappropriate movies! If you, as a parent, expect to have any credibility when it comes to movies, you need to practice what you preach.
Some of you may object, “I’m an adult and I can watch whatever I want. These kinds of movies don’t affect me like they affect a child.” I used to think that until I came across Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” God expects you to expose yourself to media which contributes to your wisdom and virtue. This verse is directed at adults, not children.
I’m not saying that you can’t watch movies for the sake of entertainment. I am saying that entertainment should not come at the cost of your soul. Every time you expose yourself to movie sewage, you are shriveling your soul. You are growing away from God and therefore away from wisdom and virtue. Christian adults need to restrict their own movie viewing. If they don’t then they shouldn’t expect their children to take them seriously as God’s representatives.
I don’t think I have all the answers on this topic, and I’m sure some of you would disagree with my conclusions. Please let me know how you see this issue. I am truly interested in other perspectives!