Archive for Sunday, June 24, 2012

Faith Forum: Is it wrong to enjoy violent movies, books and video games?

June 24, 2012


The Rev. Matt Cox, pastor, EastLake Community Church, 2734 La. (South Junior High):

I am an avid gamer and love a good movie. Unfortunately it’s common for Christians to get dogmatic about entertainment, making broad brushstrokes about what types of movies you can or can’t watch. Two issues: One, the Bible is silent on what types of entertainment are “OK”; two, genres of entertainment are mostly value neutral.

It’s not enough to ask about “violent movies” or comedies or whether a movie is rated PG or R. In fact, if the MPAA were to rate the Bible, it would get a NC-17 rating because of explicit violence and sexual content.

While the Bible never speaks to any genre guidelines, there are two things we should consider when approaching entertainment: One, God wants us to rest and relax; and two, what is the condition of your heart when experiencing entertainment?

God wants you to have fun in life. He designed us to enjoy community and the creations we make — fictional stories to modern art to great food. Do you enjoy a good story as a way to experience another’s creation or are you using it as an escape from your dissatisfaction? Are those movies in your Netflix queue because you’re legitimately interested in the concept or because you knew there were sex scenes that you could remember later as an escape from your spouse?

You know the why of what entertainment you choose. Be honest when you choose.

But here’s a tough reality that we need to get: Entertainment usually does a much better job asking honest questions about life than almost any “movies” found in the “Christian genre.”

If we need a Christian bookstore’s endorsement to feel spiritual about what we watch, we’ll grow more out of sync with a hurting world asking R-rated questions we’re too absorbed to come out of our PG bubble for.

— Send email to Matt Cox at

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, Chabad Jewish Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:

There is a fascinating statement in the Talmud: “Although one might feel justified to steal from a thief, don’t do it because it leaves the ‘taste’ of theft in your mouth.” Jewish wisdom inspires us to be selective as to what triggers our pleasures and what content consists as our entertainment.

We believe that what one watches penetrates deep within the viewer and affects both the conscious and subconscious. So if I am watching a violent movie, or reading a violent novel, that violence is entering my mind and is more likely to affect my actions. Considering the amount of explicit, violent and graphic content being featured in this film or video game, the results can be frightening.

This, however, does not state that media is inherently bad or evil. The Talmud states, “Everything G-d created in His world He created to express His glory.” This teaches us that the media, Internet, television and all other technological advances can and must be used as a modem for expressing G-dliness.

Indeed, everything can and must be used for the good. But when does that happen? When the human being is using the technology. But when the technology is using the human being, what good can come out of that?

Compare it to raising children: If you can remain an adult and interact with your children, then you can raise them into adults. But if you become nothing more than a device in their hands for getting what they want, then it’s them pulling you down, rather than you raising them up.

All the more so with the power that technology puts in our hands: These tools have tremendous potential for good, as long as they are just that — tools and not masters.

That’s why I am selective as to what I view, read or play. Since, after all, I aspire to be the “master” in my own life.

— Send email to Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel at


Gart 5 years, 8 months ago

Matt. Do you have no arms and no legs and lay the floor??

Comical, you are. If you do not like what is on the T.V. it would probably be better for you to turn it off and go back and RE-READ "The BOOK" - ergo, Bible.

And, Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, Chabad. While you are it, please thank our former Christian President Truman for one vote that made Israel a Sovereign "Country". Particularly after Menachem Begin, a terrorist Elite, took over. Has you, or anyone, heard of the King David Hotel bombing?? Yep. Was him.

Are you Dorks serious??

Ragingbear 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the Bible could never actually be translated directly into a movie because of national and international laws. The amount of rape, incest, child abuse, torture etc would be too much. Many things depicted in the Bible are actually illegal to depict in American movies. Not only that, but people would watch it and find that it is not only offensive, but too far-fetched to believe.

Look at it this way. Supposedly the Bible is real. The first book has talking animals, winged man-like creatures with flaming weapons, the same flying man creatures raping women who give birth to a race of giants, magical "thrones' which shoot lightning and will kill anyone that touches it, a massive migration of a people that is not supported in any way by actual history, sticks turning into snakes, water turning into blood (The Red Cross would love to know that trick) and humans living to be nearly a thousand years old. Such a thing would be considered foolish to include in the first book of a fantasy series, as it leaves little to go from there.

Combine with that the huge amount of sex, rape,torture, pillage and wanton violence and church groups would go ballistic and pronounce it as "evil" just like they have with books like "50 Shades of Grey". But it's ok, because it is actually a book about love...supposedly.

The Chronicles of Narnia, frankly, are more believable. For that matter, so is Lord of the Rings. More consistent too.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 8 months ago

There's so much on which to comment and don't know if I have the time. Busy day here, as usual.

Reverend Matt...I couldn't disagree with you more when you say, "genres of entertainment are mostly value neutral." Rabbi Tiechtel explains beautifully why your comment is way off-base. Sorry, I don't have time to go into my rationale any further at this time, nor do I have time to discuss other disagreements I have with your commentary, Reverend Matt. I do agree with Rabbi Tiechtel's ever-present wisdom...his words almost completely replicate my thoughts on this matter. By saying that, you'll at least know where I stand on this issue. (No, I'm not Jewish...I am a Christian.)

Reverend Matt, I also question anyone who describes himself (or herself) as an "avid gamer". Those two words speak volumes to me; therefore, I would need to know your definition of an "avid gamer".

@ Gart...I would LOVE to have the time to challenge your comments, one by one. Most of all, I would really like to know your credentials for believing you have any reason whatsoever to call these two men, "Dorks".

@ dowser...Silly question??? I think NOT when this country is obsessed with violence, sexual immorality, lying, divorce, suicide, and any other vice you can think of in a moment's notice.

@ Ragingbear...How wonderful if you could have a conversation with Rabbi Tiechtel regarding your concerns. (Not for the effort of your being converted...just a conversation, as I said, about your concerns.) By the way, do you know any tidbits of info regarding the author of the Narnia series? Interesting man, indeed.

Ragingbear 5 years, 8 months ago

I know quite a lot about C.S. Lewis. I am aware that he was an Athiest when the Narnia series was written, and went on to convert to the cult of Christianity and wrote a rather well thought out book called "Mere Christianity". The Screwtape letters were also a good testament of his pre-cult days as well.

FloridaSunshine 5 years, 8 months ago

Ragingbear....What you don't know about C.S. Lewis is a lot. Please do some extensive research on this most unique are mistaken about him and his writings. Most of all that he converted to "the cult of Christianity". Christianity is not a cult. C.S. Lewis became one of the greatest apologists in the history of Christianity...a brilliant man, to say the who came to know the meaning of God's great Grace and Mercy.

Lewis embraced Christianity in 1931...he wrote The Screwtape Letters in 1941...NOT in, as you called, "his pre-cult days". I could go on and on...I studied this man's life and his writings for quite a few years. If I were you, I would be sure of which I state before stating something not accurate. And check out his character, Aslan...shades of Jesus Christ!! (Confirmed per Lewis.)

In my opinion, "Mere Christianity" is one of the most extraordinary books of all time. When I was agnostic for years in my younger days, this book helped change my life into one of meaning and showed me the Grace and Mercy that I so needed from my Lord.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago


(What first-person shooter game would Jesus play?)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.