As school doors close for the summer, many families will likely find themselves watching more movies than usual. As Christians, our desire is to “do all the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to seek wisdom in our approach to entertainment. We want to interact wisely and critically with the movies we watch, and we want to do so in a way that benefits our own souls as well as the souls of our children.
All movies communicate a message. They present claims about God, humanity, morality, and the meaning of life. Some present more truth than error, while others present more error than truth. As we seek to evaluate movies with a discerning eye, three simple questions can help guide us in our thinking—
1. How does this movie represent the goodness of God’s creation?
Does a movie present a strong sense of right and wrong? Is the main character driven by a desire for justice and equity? Is conflict solved through self-sacrifice or by extending mercy to an enemy? These are ways in which movies can reflect God’s common grace. As we stop and recognize these elements of common grace in movies, we can grow in our own worshipful appreciation of our God who is the source of all goodness.
2. How does this movie represent the brokenness of a fallen world?
Does a main character’s selfishness lead them to hurt those around them? Does a villain utilize violence and oppression to satisfy their greed? Does the world itself fight against characters as they struggle to survive? Every movie has conflict, and the source of this conflict says a great deal about a filmmaker’s understanding of the world. Sometimes this brokenness is celebrated, and sometimes it is presented as a problem to be solved, but it can always be found in one form or another.
3. How does this movie represent the solution?
What does a main character learn about themself or about others throughout the course of the story? How do they change? How is the conflict ultimately resolved? This is where filmmakers usually present their message most clearly. These messages can range wildly, from “good always triumphs over evil” to “follow your heart,” and everything in between.
The next time you finish a movie, after the credits roll, take a moment and think through these questions. When you watch a movie with your children, try asking them and discussing the answers together as a family. Thinking critically about entertainment is not a natural tendency for most people (myself included), but it is a skill that can be sharpened and developed over time. As we develop these skills, we can grow in our appreciation for the goodness of God’s gifts, in our discernment of the many false messages that movies communicate, and in a deeper understanding of the necessity of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only true solution for a beautiful creation turned into broken world.
All the best,