Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of our parenting series. For similar stories, click here.
Discernment question: How is love portrayed?
The beauty of God’s love is wonderful, yet most movies portray lust as love. Love is giving, putting others before ourselves, and always fulfilling with the joy of giving. Lust is taking, demanding more and more, without any satisfaction.
Movies and other mass media of entertainment present lust as love with one night sexual relationships, tedious ordeals, endless battles, or perverted activity. This desecration of love should be an anathema to God’s people.
KIDS suggests that promiscuous sex posing as love is acceptable among young teenage children. 50 SHADES OF GREY depicts sado-masochism as appropriate and even enticing. WAR OF THE ROSES suggests that marriage is war. MAGIC MIKE depicts hedonistic, promiscuous lust as a fulfilling lifestyle. THE SHAPE OF WATER promotes the idea that lust, including bestiality, should be expressed openly, without shame. In MOTHER!, traditional heterosexual marriage is depicted as a sad, emotionally abusive situation for women. The Disney movie RUTHLESS PEOPLE has the husband trying to murder his wife, while the wife is trying to blackmail the husband. In CRIMSON PEAK, parental neglect leads to a justification for incestuous lust. PHILADELPHIA, BOOKSMART, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, BIRDCAGE, and LOVE, SIMON present homosexual lust as love.
Many horror movies capture an audience by luring them with the thought of forbidden lust, such as necrophilia (fornication with the dead) and bestiality (fornication with animals).
However, horror movies and other mass media of entertainment are not the only entertainment that extol forbidden fruit. The Disney comedy SPLASH lifts up bestiality in a humorous way by having the hero fall in love with a mermaid. Bestiality is not funny, hurts the animals and is condemned by God.
Many movies suggest, or even promote, the idea of sex with a child.
The most memorable and most profitable movies are usually carefully crafted character studies which portray love in a wholesome, biblical, uplifting, or light way, such as A QUIET PLACE, THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
When considering a love story compare its presentation with the Apostle Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV):
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
This is the kind of love you want your children to experience in a marriage – not the kind centered on lust or satisfying your base instincts. When harder times come, many marriages built on the models presented in most movies and television shows fall apart.
God’s love is not a romance story. It never fails.
Ascertainment question: How much sex is in the mass media product?
In 1995, there were 36 movies produced that had excessive sexual content. These films earned on average less than $1 million at the box office. By 2018 the number made dropped to 15. Only six of these were made by the major studios. Movies with excessive sex averaged one-fifth the box office of movies with no sex whatsoever. Also, movies with no homosexual content totaled $7.9 billion at the domestic box office, while movies with strong homosexual content totaled only $0.6 billion. In part as the result of Movieguide®’s Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry the major studios are learning sex does not sell as well in theaters as was once so strongly believed. There are exceptions such as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY that create controversy, gain free publicity and attract an audience, but for the most part sex scenes reduce box office in stories with more to offer than naked bodies.
Sadly, that’s not the full story. Internet pornography is pervasive and privacy is preferred when seeking sexual stimulation.
It is best to check Movieguide® for such content when trying to protect children. Such imagery can have a strong demonic appeal.
Editor’s Note: These articles are adapted from Dr. Ted Baehr’s THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY book. You can buy a copy from www.movieguide.org or on Amazon.