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It’s Not Just a Movie

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I present to you (pardon the pun) a dramatization. The scene is Friday or Saturday night. Friend A calls up friend B and asks, “What’s going on tonight?” Friend B says “Oh, not much, a bunch of us are going over to friend C’s house; we’ll probably just watch a movie or something.” My friends, I ask you how many times this has occurred in your lives and with your group of friends?

As you can see from the title and the opening paragraph, the subject of this article deals with movies or—more specifically—drama in movies and on television. It is my goal to address some concerns that I have about covenant young people and the involvement of viewing this drama in our lives. Also, I would like to take a look at what scripture has to say about the subject. And, finally, I will give some closing remarks and look at some sound advice.

We all know to different degrees that the subject of drama is a touchy one in our churches. Some have been shielded as much as possible from drama both on television and in movies by their parents. I would like to commend these parents as they “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov 22:6). Others have not been taught so diligently. True, they are not allowed to attend the theaters. But they are allowed to watch that same movie in the privacy of their own home. And the last group of young people has been left unhindered in their exposure to the television shows and movies that make up a large part of the culture around us. It is for these last two groups that I fear the most. Drama is a powerful tool that the Devil uses to tempt God’s elect and cause them to stumble on the path that the Lord is leading them on. It creates a world devoid of Christ where cuss words and violence are a trivial matter. Guns, drinking, and sex are glorified and applauded. “Well,” you say, “I would never watch something like that.” What about the more subtle shows, the ones that appeal to our intellect? I’m talking about the shows that are filled with symbolisms that tickle our imaginations with ideas about angels or the after life while at the same time they deny God’s sovereignty and the very place of God and His elect—heaven. Or what about the ones that get us rooting for the main character regardless of the fact that he/she may be divorced or indulged in some other gross sin. Young people, we must not take part in this.

At first glance it appears that The Bible remains silent on this issue, but if you cast a searching eye you will be rewarded. The first text I present to you is Mathew 5:37, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” This verse is a continuation of a group of verses discussing the subject of taking oaths. Jesus warns against taking oaths lightly and informs us of our positive calling—to show truthfulness in all our words and actions. Does drama violate this? The gifted actor is said to “take on” the personality, thoughts, emotions, and feelings of the character he or she is portraying. The gifted actor can suppress his own being and take on that of another. I ask you, is doing this not a lie? If a kind and gentle person takes on the being of, or acts like, a different cold-hearted, mean-spirited person that says things the person normally would not say, and does things that person normally would not do, is that person not lying in his words and actions? If we act like we are sick in order to get out of school or work, or if we act differently when certain people are around us, do we not give a false representation of ourselves? Jesus tells us to avoid evil by telling the truth in our actions and to change nothing in our representation of the way God has fashioned us. “But,” you say, “that is the sin of the actor—not mine—I just watch it.” This argument, while it may seem logical at first, has no foundation. By just sitting there and viewing this sin—whether it be in a theater or on your own couch—by funding it with the money the Lord has graciously given you, and by letting this sin and those who commit it influence our speech, our clothing, or our hair style, we join hands with the world. We become servants of the world. We say what the world wants us to say, we spend our money how the world want us to spend it, and we look how the world thinks we should look. We throw away our goodly heritage and spit in the face of our heavenly Father when He says “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

The second text comes from the first three verses of II Peter,

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (3) And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

It is especially verse three that I want to look at here. The first part of the verse says that through or because of covetousness they shall with feigned words, or made up words (acting words), make merchandise of you or make money from you. I ask you, young people, how much money have you contributed to the false prophets and teachers—the “they” our text refers to? How much of your money (money that God has given you) have you spent on the “feigned words” of the world? The last part of the verse says that their judgment lingereth not, or that their judgment does not linger or delay; it is quick and obvious. It also says that their damnation slumbereth not or that their damnation is not asleep. It is wide awake and active in their lives. One needs only to scan the headlines from time to time to see this truth in the world. How many movie stars are not in and out of drug rehab, have had multiple divorces, or have had problems with alcohol? How many of them lead peaceful and pleasant lives?

The world is very good at what they do. They make movies that entice us and draw us in. They peak our interest with dazzling effects and astounding imagery. Our sinful human natures crumble all too easily at the appeal of the world. But we, being covenant young people, have a special calling with regard to the world. We are called to live the life of the antithesis, to be a “peculiar people” (Deut. 14:2) of the Lord our God. We must only do those things that glorify God’s name. I leave you with some words of wisdom that you may use as a guide in all your activities whether they be on the weekend or throughout the course of the week.

Remember: you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord! And not to confess is to deny! This confession implies, moreover, that you would never voluntarily appear in any place where it would appear strange and awkward to confess Jesus as your Lord. It is well to remember this. To determine whether or not it is proper and partake of certain kinds of worldly amusements, we often proceed from the viewpoint of the question, “What is wrong with it?” It is more salutary to remember always your positive calling, confess with your mouth that Jesus, in Whom you believe, and of Whom you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, is Lord! And wherever your very presence would be in conflict with that confession, so that it would appear absurd if you would make it, you have no proper place as a member of the body of Christ (Herman Hoeksema, God’s Eternal Good Pleasure, pg. 158).