In case you are wondering, I started this blog to really discuss technological issues and how they intersect with Christian thinking. Lately, I have wanted to discuss certain elements of them in this five-part series.
This is an obvious “elephant in the room” issue when it comes to how Christians can view secular works. It is pretty apparent that much of what is accepted in the world contains violent scenes, overt sexuality, or profanity in some manner. I can understand why Christian people would not want to taint their spirituality by watching something that has this.
Of course, I can’t help but think of the alternative. A lot of Christian films and books tend to use violence and sexuality sparingly, with minimal swear words, if any. The end result looks like something from the mid-fifties, or something made only for children to watch. I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I want to see more violence, more sexuality, and more profanity in Christian works.
Think of the opening of Saving Private Ryan, where soldiers storm the beaches of Normandy only to be chopped down in a massacre of bullets form the enemy side. The scene did not hold back on showing blood and gore, and it should not have. The scene would simply not be as effective with a G, PG, or PG-13 rating. There is no doubt that the scene is uncomfortable, and this is the point! It makes you think about war. Every time you vote on war, you approve of this. I’m not trying to say that all war is wrong and we must have peace at any cost, but in this context of this film, this is what the main characters are experiencing.
I hear very few Christians complain about Saving Private Ryan, and most respect the idea of someone dying to save someone else. There were absolutely no complaints when Mel Gibson gave the world The Passion of the Christ, and I have seen other passion plays that seem to want to show violence. You cannot approve of that and boycott a slasher film at the same time, unless you have a reason to show such violence.
I can see why some Christians might not have a problem with violence on the media, because there are times when showing violence is necessary to prove a point, provided it isn’t real. I suppose that it is easier for Christians to watch a violent scene then a nude scene, or something. That’s good enough a transition to talk about nudity in film.
I personally don’t think that Christians should have any problem with nudity, and I understand why they might not to see it. We are all naked without clothes, but it really isn’t my business to see it. We live in a world where wardrobes are getting less modest, and this shouldn’t be a problem if Christians were not tempted to leer. Like violence, there are probably good reasons to show both nudity and sexuality in the media.
Personally, I have watched films that have X-ratings but have points that I think everyone needs to see. For example, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is about a young rapist who is conditioned to be something better than what he is. The scene contains an infamous scene where the main character Alex and his gang rape a woman while singing “Singing in the Rain”. This scene apparently inspired a real-life rape of a Dutch girl in Lancashire. My only response to that is this: Those rapists were stupid.
A Clockwork Orange has scenes of nudity that I think are unnecessary, but when it comes to dealing with the dark subject matter of this film, it addresses it dead-on. The film doesn’t really answer the question as to what causes a person to have deviant behavior, but it does address the issue of tampering with someone’s free will to achieve “good” results, and this is what makes the film shine. The films asks several questions of: “Should we tamper with criminal’s minds?” “What makes a criminal a criminal in the first place?”
Watching a film with nudity and sexuality is different from pornography, or at least it should be. Pornography is about showing gratuitous sex scenes for the sake of arousing the audience. The plots of most pornographic films are just sex scenes with a very weak plot threads in between, and it pretty much knows this. My advice is if you are watching a movie to see sex scenes, then you probably shouldn’t be watching it.
The thing about sex scenes is that I have seen a lot of good movies slowed down by them. Oftentimes, they are just stuck there to show that two characters are “in love”, and there is much better ways of showing that with committal love rather than that.
Then let’s address the issue of profanity. I have recently written a book and I used swear words in it for the first time. I didn’t do that because I like to swear, I did it because I was putting characters in situations where I would probably swear. If you really think about it, someone who isn’t a Christian who has had their spirit broken isn’t going to say “darn it”. I have worked among many places to know that most people swear without even thinking about it, saying things that I would only say in fury to describe things that they are only mildly irritated with.
I feel like these issues with violence, nudity, and profanity should not be cut out of the media. If anything, literature and film offer us a chance to view the human race as an objective viewer, and we can make our own choices based on what is shown about what is right or wrong. Except for pornographic materials, I’ve never seen a film or read a book that praised the big three, and that is because it would only come off as propaganda that we would simply disregard. Can’t we simply look at works of film, literature, and whatever media and just ignore the things that might offend us for the sake of a possible better message.