I heard this on the Desiring God Pod-Cast. Episode 597 (May 15, 2015) was a question/answer session with Trip Lee, a Reformed Christian Rapper, addressing the issue of believers watching on-screen nudity. I have posted a link to it here, as a follow up to my previous post, “How Can A Believer Not Be Grieved By Watching Sin?”.
A brother in the Lord recently posted the following commentary about a movie that is in the theaters right now (I am not going to mention the name of the movie- it is irrelevant to the point of my post). It left me wondering how can a believer not be grieved by watching immoral entertainment- sin.
“We saw the new _____________ movie as a family for Mother’s Day. It really bothered me. You could see the producers anti-God world-view through the whole movie. It was dark and sometimes evil. There were comments against Jesus multiple times. The women actors wanted to be sexually immoral with ______…and on and on.”
What astonished me about this brother’s commentary of the movie wasn’t so much that the movie was full of that stuff, but some of the responses that other professing Christians had to his post. One person disagreed with the post outright and another accused him of undue criticism. That was interesting to me, because if you re-read what he wrote, you will see that he did not criticize the movie at all. He stated three things: 1st- that he saw the movie, 2nd- that the movie bothered him, and 3rd- he explained – point by point – why the movie bothered him. Logically, (and I do mean ‘logically’ in a ‘logical syllogism’ sort of way- not just the expression), it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to disagree with him, or to say that he was being critical. After all, he only shared, how he felt about the movie and why he felt that way about the movie. If what he wrote about the movie is true (and I am assuming that it is, since I have not seen it, but I know this person well enough to know that he is not lying), he was neither being critical, nor did he write anything that can be logically disagreed with.
Now, the point of me sharing this is that I do not understand how any Christian could see a movie which intentionally presents an anti-God world view, has a ‘dark and evil’ undercurrent, misuses and abuses of the name of Jesus Christ, contains multiple scenes of crude sexual immorality, and enjoy it, calling it ‘entertainment’. Something seems ‘off’ to me about that. Our friend felt as I’d think all believers would feel after being exposed to those sins, after watching immoral entertainment that depicts those sins.
Of course, I understand that all true Christians desire to avoid being legalistic. We should avoid legalism- at all costs- for legalism (pharisaism) puts people in hell, just as much as gross immorality does (maybe even more so). And, Jesus Himself warned, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (Matthew 23:15). But, we need to be honest with ourselves, being entertained by sin is not what the Lord had in mind when He said that. We know that because, in another place, the Word commands that Christians, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord“ (Hebrews 12:14). To me, that is a terrifying thought – not seeing the Lord, for not being holy. I know that in some theological constructs the ‘once saved always saved’ paradigm frees people from taking the necessity of the pursuit of holiness seriously, but it shouldn’t, since people that are really saved (i.e., the regenerate) pursue holiness. So, setting the issue of legalism aside, I still ask, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
I use to think that some believers just had more liberty for stuff like that than I did. I reasoned that since the Lord saved me out of sin, movies that depict my former lifestyle bother me more than they bother other believers that have no personal history with deep immorality. I use to think to myself, “Self, you know what this issue is really all about? It is about Christian Liberty. I am the Proverbial weaker brother- in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. Other Christians can watch pornographic scenes, and not be bothered, because they were probably never exposed to real pornography and they probably never saw the devastating effects that porn has on a home, or on a person. Other Christians can pay money to listen to people use the Lord’s name being used as a vulgarity with out it bothering them. After all, they were probably not raised as godless as I was…” When I was a girl, I heard the Lord’s name used as a swear all the time. I had no idea that it was a sin to say His name in vain. So, when I started to grow in my faith and I saw older believers watching and listening to immoral things, I just assumed that they had more liberty than I did. But, now I know the Word well enough to know that enjoying immoral entertainment and enjoying an occasional glass of wine is not the same thing. (Although, for the record I do not, personally, have the liberty to drink alcoholic beverages.) So, I still do not get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
I have known quite a few very sincere people who think that they have an edge on evangelism, because they can use what ever movie or questionable activity they are involved in as a platform for the Gospel (with the unsaved). They can be especially critical of Christians, like me, that question whether we should enjoy those types of movies and entertainment. I can understand that mentality. I would only say that the Lord taught that the Holy Spirit was going to come to earth to “…convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment” (John 16:8). Therefore, if our lives are not useful to that end- we are probably not as evangelistic as we think that we are. Besides, when I was in the world- I thought lukewarm Christians were hypocrites, not culturally relevant. So I still do not get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
Jesus Christ was tortured and crucified for sin. We, who are saved, are being spared the awful eternal consequences of our sin because of that torturous crucifixion. As Christians we are saying that we have turned away from our lives of sin and turned towards God in a pursuit of His holiness for His glory and His purposes. Immoral entertainment glorifies sin and death- it glorifies the opposite of what we are suppose to glorify- namely, Jesus, the conqueror of sin and death. Immoral entertainment also feeds our sin-appetites, and gratifies our debased desires vicariously. The people that make immoral movies will go to hell if they do not repent. And, the people that enjoy the depravity depicted in immoral entertainment are also going to hell, unless they repent. And since there is nothing entertaining about hell, sin, immorality, or Christ’s death, I don’t get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
Doesn’t Ephesians 4:17-24 seem to address this issue of immoral entertainment? Isn’t this the type of thing that Paul could have been talking about when he wrote, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This passage of Scripture is one of the reasons that I ask, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Proverbs 29:25
Lord, please forgive me for allowing my fear of man to shape an ungodly view of church life in my soul. I confess that all too often, I have left church on Sunday mornings upset that I wasn’t invited into the “Cool Kid’s Huddle” after service. I confess that instead of leaving church full of rejoicing that I have been accepted into Your family; I have left church sulking that I wasn’t accepted into the “in” crowd. It is so embarrassing that I do this. It is embarrassing that I have even gone to church one time thinking about me at all- let alone having done it countless times. Church is about worshipping You, and serving Your body; not about my pride or my fear of man. Lord please forgive me.
Lord, please forgive me for allowing my fear of man to shape my ungodly speech. I confess that I have often hopped on the “Complaining about Everything Ban-Wagon-” just so that I could share in conversation with others who were complaining. I have done this even when in reality I didn’t feel upset about anything that You had providentially ordained into my life. I know that the Word says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…” (Phil 2: 14). I also know that my complaining and grumbling, has often been motivated by wanting to have something in common with other people, or because I didn’t want others to think that I was being overly pious. (Which is really lame, considering that Christians are supposed to be pious.) In truth Lord, I think that my obsession with people pleasing also accounts for most of the gossip that I have ever shared. It is like I just wanted to be the one with the juiciest morsel of the day- the person who is in ‘the know’ with what’s going on in the lives of others. – Lord, please forgive me- I know that Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Lord, please forgive me for loving the praise of men more than loving the opportunities that You have given me to serve You. I have often allowed my fear of man to make me feel ashamed that You have manifested your grace in me in a different way than You have manifested your grace in the lives of my peers. It has been my fear of man and my pathetic desire to just “fit in” that has given me that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, when I have been called to serve you in a different way than my friends have been called to serve you. I have thought foolish things to myself, like: “What if so and so doesn’t approve?”, or “What will ‘this one’ or ‘that one’ think of me when she hears about me doing thus and so?”.
Lord, I would have thought that the grace that you have shown me in giving me unique opportunities to serve You- would have caused the other type of pride to well up in side of me. You know the “I am so great, look at me” kind of pride. But, I am such a mess (outside of your grace) that that type of pride is quickly squelched by the reminder of my intrinsic uselessness, my lack of innate intelligence, and the horrifying reality of my sinfulness. Besides, like 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” Lord, please forgive me- I confess that my pathetic man-pleasing, people-pandering pride has made me so fearful of people that I have sometimes even wanted to forfeit the blessings of Christ and the graces of the Holy Spirit- so that I could just be like everybody else. I mean really, how sad is that? How wicked is that? How sad am I? How wicked am I? I don’t think that it gets more debased than to want to shirk the calling of God just so that I can “fit in” with the world around me.
Lord, please forgive me for my fear of man- it has been a systemic problem in my walk with You. Even in this brief time of confession I can see how terrible of a snare this sin is to my soul. Please forgive me, please free me, please grant to me the faith that I need to trust in you, and to be kept safe. For Your Word warns me that “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”