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Hollywood and the Christian
By Shaun Willcock
Entertainment! A vast and lucrative industry thrives on the almost-insatiable appetite of hundreds of millions of people for entertainment. Films, television programs, and videos fill the eyes and ears of modern man with images and sounds designed to thrill him, excite him, make him laugh, make him cry, and make him lust.
Mankind's appetite for entertainment is nothing new. In centuries past, the arena and the stage catered to this appetite. In the ancient arenas, men fought with beasts, and men fought with men, in bloody clashes that only ended with the death of one of the contestants; and the crowds bayed for more and more blood. And on the stages, plays were put on which entertained people with violence, fornication, adultery, idolatry, heathen mythology, etc. The invention of the motion picture was the next step; and today, by merely pressing a few buttons, a seemingly endless variety of films are available right in one's own house, at any time one desires.
This article is entitled Hollywood and the Christian, because the name "Hollywood" has become synonymous with the motion picture industry, being the centre of the industry in America, the largest producer of films, TV programs, and videos in the world; but of course ungodly, filthy movies are made in many other parts of the world as well. Those who profess to be followers of Christ, children of the living God, are duty-bound before God to consider the "entertainment industry" in the light of holy Scripture. Vast numbers of professing "Christians," who can wax eloquent about the precious doctrines of the faith, who speak piously and appear so godly, are virtual slaves to the "box," bowing down every evening before what is all too often a modern household god, prostrating themselves before this idol of entertainment. Should it be in need of repairs, as all TV's are from time to time, it is enquired after, or a replacement is sought, with all the anxiety displayed by Laban when his daughter stole his household images (Gen.31:19-35).
One can hear professing "Christians" speaking enthusiastically about the latest movie to appear on the "big screen," or the latest "soap" saga on TV, or the latest batch of videos to come on the market. In one breath, they can speak of attending a service in their church, and of sitting glued to their seats at home, hungrily devouring some programs. It was not uncommon, before the VCR made its appearance, to hear them bemoaning the fact that some meeting of their church took place at the very time their favorite programs was being aired; now, of course, they can simply record it, and watch it later. Some "churches" even re-scheduled their services to ensure that everyone got home in time to lap up an "important" soap opera! Such is the power of the "box."
How many parents--professing to be Christians--rightly condemn the rock music young people listen to, and forbid it in their homes, and yet sit glued to their television screens, with their children around them, soaking up the vile filth that spues into their living-rooms from that piece of electronic equipment? Hypocrites! Condemning what suits them, but not what doesn't! We have many ministers speaking out against the evils of rock music; but where are the ministers who speak out against the sinful "entertainment" of movies, TV programs, and videos? I venture to say that one of the reasons is that many ministers are slaves to these things as much as their flocks are. And I ask: where is the separation from the world that the Bible commands?
Do the Scriptures have anything to say on this entire subject? They most certainly do! For the Scriptures list, as sins in the eyes of a holy God, such things as fornication, adultery, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sodomy, stealing, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, extortion, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, revellings, and such like (1 Cor.6:9,10; Gal.5:19-21; etc.). And every single one of these sins is portrayed, and glamorized, and glorified, by the movie industry! Every single one! In Romans 1 we find another list of terrible sins in the sight of God (vss.21-31). And then we read these solemn words: "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (vs.31).
Some may argue that they simply watch these things, but do not live that way themselves; yet here we see that those who take pleasure in others committing such sins, are guilty as well! No Christian is to take pleasure in even watching such things, let alone doing them! This is "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes," which "is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 Jn.2:16); and we are commanded, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 Jn.2:15). Reader, did you take note of that? If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him! It is as simple as that. He is not a Christian, regardless of what he professes.
Those who commit such sins as are portrayed in films, and TV programs, and videos, will not inherit the kingdom of God, according to 1 Cor.6:9,10 and Gal.5:21. They are the works of the flesh, according to Gal.5:19. And yet we see huge numbers of professing "Christians" actually taking pleasure in those who commit such things! And they do so, knowing the judgment of God, that such sinners are worthy of death! I ask, Where is the evidence of regeneration in such people? Regardless of their profession of faith in Christ, they give evidence that it is an empty profession. They walk in darkness, not in the light. Away with their pious talk, their praises, their prayers! "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him" (Tit.1:16). They are a blight upon the Church, a disgrace to the Holy One they claim to love and serve.
Let us briefly divide movies into certain categories, and examine these.
There is, firstly, that type of movie that is known as the thriller. Under this category would be found most adventure movies, spy stories, detective stories, war films, and much more. The vast majority of them involve hatred, violence, murder, revenge. These sins, almost without exception, are considered essential ingredients. But the Christian is to love his enemies (Matt.5:44,45), to be gentle (Gal.5:22), to commit no murder, not even in the heart (Matt.5:21,22), and to seek no revenge, but to forgive (Rom.12:19-21; Matt.6:14,15)--the very opposite of the essential ingredients of most thriller movies! The Christian is not to walk according to this world. He is a citizen of a heavenly country. He is to "think on" such things as are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil.4:8). He is to set his affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Col.3:2). He cannot do this if he is filling his mind with images of unnecessary violence, or murder, or revenge.
Then, too, thriller movies usually contain such things as fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins. Not only are such scenes shown--that would be evil enough--but such sins are actually glorified! The Lord Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt.5:27,28). Adulterous scenes are constantly portrayed in movies, inciting lust in the viewers; millions of whom profess to be Christians! Merely to look at a woman (or man) with lust is to commit adultery, and yet night after night so-called "Christians" do precisely that! Let them know that the holy God that they claim to love and worship sees all, and his judgment will not tarry forever.
This type of movie--the thriller--also often contains scenes glorifying drinking, and drunkenness (see Prov.20:1; 23:29-35; 1 Cor.6:10), and various other sins, such as blasphemy and profanity. The child of God has no excuse, no justification, for watching such things. Besides all that has been said above, there is another point that must be made: what constitutes heroism in our eyes? We hear of the "hero" of the movie. Is he a true hero? Is it heroic, to do what he does? To kill, to hate, to lust? In the life of our Lord upon the earth, we see true heroism. Yet he was the very opposite of the so-called "heroes" of the screen. Secondly, that category of movie known as the love story must be mentioned. The world cannot teach the Christian about true love. "Love," to the worldly, usually means lust.
And so-called "love stories" are usually filled with adultery, fornication, divorce, hatred and bitterness, etc. Such things are dreadful sins! Women, in particular, are devotees of this type of "entertainment." It is fantasy, escapism, a time in which women close out their own real world, with all its problems and struggles, and fill their minds with the standards and values of the ungodly. Tragically, so widespread are such sins as divorce, adultery, etc., today, that many women are living miserable lives, and they seek escape for a few hours in soaking up such movies. Only at the feet of the Lord Jesus can peace and joy be found. The Christian woman must spend much time in studying the Word of God, not in idly sitting in front of the TV screen, taking in the devil's trash. Thirdly, there is that category known as science fiction. In addition to being filled, for the most part, with the usual violence, adultery, blasphemy, profanity, and other sins found in virtually all types of films today, films in this category promote the absolutely unscriptural concept of life on other planets. The Bible tells us that God created life on earth; but we are not told that there is life anywhere else in the physical universe. In fact, the Bible positively precludes any such notion.
When God created the heaven and the earth, he immediately focused upon earth alone (Gen.1:1,2). The sun, moon, and stars were created, firstly, for God's pleasure (Rev.4:11); secondly, for the benefit of man and other creatures upon the earth: for signs, and seasons, and days, and years; to give light upon the earth (Gen.1:14-19); thirdly, to declare the glory of God, and show his handiwork (Psa.19:1), leaving men without excuse (Rom.1:20), so that it is indeed the fool who says in his heart, There is no God (Psa.14:1). But no life is to be found anywhere else. The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth alone, to die for men and women ordained to eternal life; he left heaven's glories, and came to earth; and when his work was done, he returned to heaven. He went to no other planet, he redeemed no other creatures. The notion of life in outer space, promoted by science fiction tales, promotes the diabolical theory of evolution, for of course, if life could spontaneously evolve here on earth, then conceivably it could do so elsewhere in the universe. But for those who believe the Holy Scriptures, it is quite evident that there is no life anywhere else; and they should derive no pleasure from such ungodly fantasies as are portrayed in science fiction films.
Fourthly, the comedy must be mentioned. This type of film is often considered "innocent" by many professing "Christians"; but they should know better. Such films almost always contain filthy language, filthy jokes, and filthy behaviour. They are far from being innocent entertainment. For a comedy to be successful in this sinful world, it must almost always make fun of some of the holiest matters; in particular, sexual matters. Such wickedness should never be entertaining to Christians. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Heb.13:4); and yet marriage is mocked, and adultery and fornication are treated lightheartedly, in this type of film. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks" (Eph.5:3,4). Many innocent things are amusing, and there is a time to laugh (Eccl.3:4); but to laugh at sin is itself sinful.
All Christian values, God himself, and the Lord Jesus Christ, are mocked in many comedies. The blessed name of the Lord is used as a curse-word on the lips of wicked men and women. What true Christian can sit through such vileness, and be entertained? Can the true Christian bear to hear his Lord's name used thus? He is a hypocritical liar who says that he loves the Lord, but can tolerate, and even laugh at, such things! To hear the worldling make fun of the One before whom he will stand on the judgement day is a cause for weeping, not laughing. It is a tragedy, not a comedy.
Finally, there are the so-called "Christian" films. Certain historical films, depicting the lives of various Christians of the past, can be very profitable, if they are accurately made, and exalt the Lord. But the vast majority not only fail to meet these criteria, many of them are positively sinful. They are made by Hollywood producers who have only profit in mind, and for this reason distort the truth, and concentrate on things which will attract audiences. And films depicting the life of Christ, with some actor portraying the holy Son of God, are contrary to the Word of God, which makes it clear that any representations of any of the three divine persons of the Trinity are sinful (Exod.20:4-6; Acts 17:29).
Although the eternal Son became flesh, we have no idea what he looked like, and so any representation of him is purely imaginary, and inaccurate; and even if we did know exactly what he looked like, we still could not depict him, for his divine glory, which the apostles beheld (Jn.1:14), cannot be depicted; and yet, if only his humanity was depicted, then his nature would be divided--and that is heretical. Furthermore, as Christ is the image of the invisible God (Col.1:15; Heb.1:3), so that he could say to those who saw him that they had seen the Father (Jn.14:8,9), it follows that if we attempt to depict Christ, we attempt to depict the invisible God; but as we can only depict Christ inaccurately, we would thereby depict the invisible God inaccurately.
And in doing so, we would have made a similitude of God as a man, which would be sinful (Deut.4:15,16). The apostles, who knew him in the days of his earthly ministry, never attempted to depict him in art. No Christian should think that he is wiser than they. Films in which some sinful man attempts to portray the Lord Jesus Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, should be shunned by all true Christians as utterly contrary to the will of God.
All that has been written above about films, television programs, and videos, applies equally to the literature people read. No true Christian should fill his or her mind with the kind of fictional garbage which ungodly authors spue out, filled with the same sinful things as the movies described above: spy novels, romantic novels, science fiction, horror stories, filthy books of "humour", or any others. Pastors must insist on separation from all such filth on the part of their church members, with those refusing to turn from such things facing the same disciplinary measures they would face for other sins. For that is precisely what the reading of such books and magazines, like the watching of the type of motion pictures described above, constitutes: sin! Where are the pastors who will take such a stand? They will be very unpopular, their churches will be much smaller, but they will be honouring the Lord. The Christian loves to read the Holy Scriptures. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psa.119:97). There are also sound Christian books to read, the writings of men of God. The true Christian shuns all ungodly fiction.
Perhaps the reader is thinking to himself that even to own a television set must be sinful. This writer does not believe that this is so. The TV itself is merely a box of electronic parts. It is what is displayed on its screen that is either sinful or not. It can be used to educate. It can be used to inform us about the world we live in. It can have these positive uses, and to view such things is not sinful. But no Christian should ever spend a moment of time watching worldly, ungodly films. To do so is to sin grievously against the Lord.
Huge numbers of TV and movie devotees claim to be Christians. They claim to worship the true God, and that they seek to depart from iniquity. The Bible commands all who profess to be Christ's to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith (2 Cor.13:5); and I urge all those who prostrate themselves towards Hollywood every evening with the same blind zeal as the Muslims who prostrate themselves towards Mecca, to earnestly examine their profession of faith in the light of God's Word. A lover of Zion cannot be a lover of Hollywood; he who is on a life-long pilgrimage to the heavenly city cannot simultaneously be on a pilgrimage to the shrines of the "stars" in Hollywood. No man can serve two masters.
Shaun Willcock is a minister of the Gospel. He lives in South Africa and runs Bible Based Ministries. For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, tapes, news articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website, or write to the address below. If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ electronic mailing list, please send your details.
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