How to Practice Discernment When Violence, Nudity and Language Command the Box Office
By Tess Farrand, Associate Content Editor
Discernment is a value that the Bible places a high importance on and therefore, should merit some consideration from believers.
Discernment is also one of the foundational hopes that Movieguide ® has for moviegoers.
Dr. Ted Baehr puts it this way in his book, The Culture-Wise Family.
“Those who have been born again see God’s providence at work. Those who do not have eyes to see are subjected to the influence of the world- a world where the mass media of entertainment spins reality to conform to its preconceptions, values and desires.”
Let’s put discernment in terms of one of the newest summer movie releases, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.
Movieguide® gave ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, which released on Friday, a minus-three for acceptability due to “excessive” content. The movie follows an actor’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) journey to stay in the limelight along with his stunt double (Brad Pitt) and ties in the infamous Hollywood Manson murders to set the stage of the era.
Although arguably less crass than other Tarantino movies, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD still has plenty of foul language, violence and other innuendos.
When I was in line at the movie theater this weekend, a gentleman in front of me in line purchased a ticket to ONCE UPON A TIME and said with excitement to the young adult working the box office.
“You were too young to remember the Manson murders, weren’t you? Tarantino is going to make this so creepy!” the gentleman beamed.
When Movieguide® hears a title like ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, it sounds like something right up the ministry’s alley! Hollywood is one of the bedrocks of the ministry’s focus. But, once we saw the movie, we had to bear in mind the scripture that Jesus proclaims in Matthew 10:16.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16 (NASB)
In the verse above, Jesus is telling His disciples to expect that not everyone will see eye to eye with their faith in Him. He’s also making a point to mention that the road will be challenging as they try to tell people about Him.
This is a biblical example of the importance of being in the world, but not of it.
Jesus is pointing to discernment as His disciples would model living in such a way that would edify Him.
From where I’m standing, this also applies to all facets of life including what types of content we consume.
So, let this serve as a friendly-reminder that discernment when watching movies is something that can easily be put on the back burner, but for Christians, it should be of the utmost importance.
Let us know how you’re practicing discernment in the comments below!