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Matthew 5:27-28 Scriptural reasons why we should prayerfully consider avoiding movies and TV shows with gratuitous nudity and sex
Like many people, Barb and I were excited when we heard about Christopher Nolan’s big budget bio-flick Oppenheimer. Both of us have been fascinated by the story of the Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bombs, have read a number of historical books about the topic, and even visited the Trinity Site — the site of the first atomic explosion.
We bought advance tickets for Oppenheimer, hoping to go the first night the movie was out. But then we heard something troubling — the three-hour movie contained about 15 minutes of full nudity and graphic sex scenes. Apparently, Nolan and/or the screenwriters felt these scenes were somehow necessary to tell the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s unfaithfulness to his wife “Kitty”. None of the many books we’ve read about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project felt it was necessary to go into vivid detail about his sex life, instead just stating that he had affairs.
We were still planning on attending the movie with some concerns, but then we read a thoughtful article by Jim Denison on CrossWalk titled “Why I Refuse to See Oppenheimer… And You Should, Too”.
Denison references Scripture in outlining his reasons for not seeing the movie and its gratuitous sex and nudity. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” As Denison points out, this warning also goes for women who look at men with lust — even if that man is an actor on a screen.
Dictionary.com defines pornography as “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.” A movie is a fast-moving series of photographs, and as I noted earlier, there is really no artistic reason for Nolan to have included these scenes — it adds little to the plot of the story except to arouse audiences.
Thinking of this 15 minutes of the film as pornography was the reason we canceled our tickets and received a refund. Let’s look at Denison’s argument in more detail:
In addition to the psychological effects of pornography, consider the spiritual: lust, like all sin, grieves and stifles the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). This means that viewing the nudity in Oppenheimernot only damages us—it keeps the Spirit from working positively in and through our lives. We suffer both the harm of lust and the lost opportunity of holiness.
And there is the matter of our public witness. What will those who watch Christians watching the sex scenes in Oppenheimer think about the sincerity of our faith? What about those who watch us enter or leave the theater or who otherwise learn that we saw the movie? This is one reason we are commanded to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
James warned us: “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Death to our psychological well-being, our spiritual health, and our public witness.
Now, Barb and I have seen plenty of movies and TV shows over the years with gratuitous and usually unnecessary nudity, bad language, violence, and sex scenes. Our late-blooming commitment to Christ has truly changed our hearts and minds, so that we’re trying to avoid entertainment that serves only to titillate. There are good “clean” movie choices this summer — we’ve seen both the excellent “Sound of Freedom” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”.
We’re also taking an enjoyable trip through classic movies. Recently, we’ve watched a number of movies including Judgement at Nuremberg, High Noon, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Quiet Man, and To Kill A Mockingbird, most of which have won Oscars.
Will we ever see Oppenheimer? Perhaps — VidAngel is a service that filters objectionable content from streaming services, and when the movie begins streaming we should be able to watch it without the extraneous sex and nudity.
All of our readers are adults, and as such, can make their own decisions about what entertainment to consume. Just be sure to consider the consequence of your decision, both in the short term and from the eternal viewpoint.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, create in me a pure heart. I desire nothing more than to be more like You, resisting evil, being faithful, and honoring commitments both to You and others. Forgive my times of weakness, and continue to work on turning me into Your holy servant, to be used only for Your glory. I pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.