Horror, Gore, Fear & the Christian…

A lot of Christians I know love science fiction. Even more like tales of the heroic – comic book heroes or action figures fighting for justice on a big screen. That’s not to suggest that a lot of Christians I know don’t love drama, the low-budget indie, or comedy… though what’s appropriate in comedy is harshly debated. Still, the hot button genre with the highest temperature seems to be horror, and how Christians should – or shouldn’t – interact with it.

I grew up with the basic premise that horror movies were of the devil. I remember with fascination seeing part of The Fog with Adrienne Barbeau on Prime Time (edited) television before my parents realized I was peering out from behind the couch. I also remember that certain fairy tales for kids – Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel – contained horrific elements (contingent on the version you read) which felt incongruous with a general disdain for horror. Monster movies like Them! and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms were acceptable, but anything dealing with the supernatural was not… unless, of course, it was a chain-smoking Rod Serling with The Twilight Zone. I definitely grew up confused about the right and wrong of scary movies and the Christians interaction with the “horror” tale. As a young man, I became obsessed for a season with the writing of Clive Barker. My Dad even burned a copy of “The Great and Secret Show” he found in my school bag. While no longer a big Barker fan as an adult, I have enjoyed some King novels and share a fondness for Lovecraft and Poe. I always find – particularly with movies – that some Christians are baffled to why Christians have anything to do with horror at all.

The three chief complaints – particularly with cinema – are that horror movies are bloody and gory, often contain nudity and sex, and often glorify the demonic. I’ll tackle these three areas as they pertain not simply to the horror genre, but in and of themselves…

On Blood and Gore

The horror genre is filled with monsters that rip and tear people apart. Still, I’m hard pressed to find any story as violent and gory as our Bible. Not only did Jesus’ crucifixion earn an R rating, we find disturbing stories of murder, disembowelment, decapitation, and defecation in the Old Testament scriptures that – if depicted on screen – would definitely earn an NC-17 rating. Moreover, we’ve become pretty disaffected by the written word in American culture, but in “the olden days” (before big screen televisions) people would swoon and hurl at the reading of such grotesquerie. Does that mean we should feel free to visually ingest massive quantities of snuff and slasher films? Certainly not. But it’s hard to make an argument that the subject matter isn’t fit in any quantity for a Christian when it’s in our Holy Bible. Our aversion is more cultural than Christian, and we’re equally apt to see the same quantity of bloodshed in Saving Private Ryan.

There’s a lot of “negative images” in your Bible; to be honest, very little in Sin City beats the book of Judges, or the life of David, with his extended family and supporting cast, chronicled in scripture. This begs the question about how we often mix cultural propriety with the gospel. I’m not ashamed to admit I haven’t figured out exactly why I needed to know that Amasa didn’t just get assassinated by Joab, but that he was viciously disembowled, and even more that he lay wallowing in his own guts, so unsightly in his death throes that they drug him out of sight and threw a blanket over him (2 Samuel 20).

I also am not entirely convinced why I needed to know that King Eglon of Moab was so obese that when Ehud killed him, “The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out.” (That last part in Judges 3, translated appropriately, tips us to the important fact that Eglon’s bowels emptied upon death – which isn’t abnormal, mind you, but a crappy way to go).

And please, don’t get me started on David’s bride-price for Saul’s daughter Michal (shudder)… God apparently deemed these intimate, gory details to be of importance and included them as part of His inspired Word. Christian critics claim that our collected Bible represents one of the most gory and violent books in all of history, and I can’t disagree. It also contains the most wisdom ever written, the steamiest piece of sensual literature ever written, some of the most depraved acts of man ever chronicled, and – most importantly – the revelation of the One True God.

On Sex

Certainly, the horror genre has been fraught with topless actresses and gratuitous sexual situations. The reputation overshadows the reality, however. Many horror films have come out in the last decade with PG-13 ratings and tamed sexuality, hoping for a wider audience and subsequent ticket sales. The reality is that any genre, from American Pie comedy to steamy behind-the-scenes courtroom drama, contains a fair amount of sex in it’s content. We can critique film in general, but can’t pigeonhole horror.

Even more poignant, the “Scream” trilogy brought something very true to light, pointing out the formula of horror films wherein characters caught in flagrante were often killed by the film’s horrifying antagonist. The virgin, or most virtuous character, often survived… so what did this say to the audience? Sex before marriage equals death? Promiscuity brings a bloody judgment? Horror director Wes Craven has even stated that he believes he is telling our modern day “cautionary tales”, much like the Grimm’s fairy tales of old. While I think the titillating way Craven directs some of his material belies this claim, there is a kernel of truth in there.

On the Demonic

From ghosts, goblins, aliens, undead killers with hockey masks and leprechauns in space, to killers that come in your dreams, the horror genre is indeed fraught with the unnatural, or at least the frightening possibilities of what comes after death. Writer/Director Scott Derrickson, a professing Christian, had this to say:

In my opinion, the horror genre is a perfect genre for Christians to be involved with. I think the more compelling question is, Why do so many Christians find it odd that a Christian would be working in this genre? To me, this genre deals more overtly with the supernatural than any other genre, it tackles issues of good and evil more than any other genre, it distinguishes and articulates the essence of good and evil better than any other genre, and my feeling is that a lot of Christians are wary of this genre simply because it’s unpleasant. The genre is not about making you feel good, it is about making you face your fears. And in my experience, that’s something that a lot of Christians don’t want to do.

To me, the horror genre is the genre of non-denial. It’s about admitting that there is evil in the world, and recognizing that there is evil within us, and that we’re not in control, and that the things that we are afraid of must be confronted in order for us to relinquish that fear. And I think that the horror genre serves a great purpose in bolstering our understanding of what is evil and therefore better defining what is good. And of course I’m talking about, really, the potential of the horror genre, because there are a lot of horror films that don’t do these things. It is a genre that’s full of exploitation, but the better films in the genre certainly accomplish, I think, very noble things.

That said, we can’t dismiss horror as a genre any more than we can dismiss action, comedy or romance. There might be a wealth of garbage in the horror realm, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any nuggets. Being scared isn’t inherently sinful. A movie that depicts violent and scary things can be a good reminder that such things exist in the world. Horror is also one of the few genres that consistently wrestles with life after death, demons, and even God a conversation Hollywood almost entirely avoids in other genres.

A movie like Final Destination can prompt a discussion about mortality and fate. A movie like The Exorcist can shake the atheist who, despite a vociferous outcry that God doesn’t exist, knows deep down in a rebellious heart that not only does God exist, but that there are demons afoot as well that he or she is susceptible to. It can also remind the Christian that there is nothing titillating about playing with Ouija boards or dabbling in the occult. A movie like “Frailty” can polarize audiences about the existence of a God who brings judgment to the wicked.

“For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
- Hebrews 10

Christians can be startled and get a burst of adrenaline from horror films, even walk away with disturbing thoughts to explore and meditate upon, yet rest in the fact that God is sovereign, no force prevails against him, and that apart from his grace the only thing to fear is His wrath. The genre is not off-limits; like all areas of life, it should be engaged with godly discernment.


Comments
  1. Woody56292

    wow, as an avid movie-goer and fan of horror movies, I was so happy to read your thoughts on the subject.
    I had heard from other Christians that horror/scary movies were inappropriate for a follower of christ. thanks for taking the time to post about this.

    -Woody

  2. Michael

    The violence in the bible was not for entertainment purposes.

    Horror movies can be done right, but i dont know of many that let you play the “artistic significance” card.

    Watching a person writhe in pain for entertainment or shock value doesn’t seem healthy to me. As Christians, we are to glorify God in all we do.

    Still, its each individuals choice as to how they believe they can best do that. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a wimp when it comes to horror flicks, maybe that bias’ my opinion a bit :)

  3. Pastor James Harleman

    This strikes at the very heart of what “entertainment” means for the Christian. Being entertained as the world defines entertainment is not God-glorifying and indeed idolatrous in ALL genres – I have done some teaching on the subject but have not posted it here. You’ve just given me an excellent direction for my next post Michael. Thanks!

  4. David Hemphill

    I think this is a great post, even if I disagree. I used to love horror movies. But as I’ve grown deeper in my walk with God, I’ve found less and less place for them in my life. Not to be overly spiritual, but 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that we are not given a spirit of fear, which is why I choose not to watch horror flicks. Horror just scares the poo out of me and/or makes me sick now, and this overshadows any nugget that I could withdraw from it. The Bible however, containing what could be termed “horrific” content, doesn’t do either of these things and still allows me to draw something from it. That’s not to say it’s wrong for everyone, but I think it’s definitely something to seek God about and let Him decide for you.

  5. Pastor James Harleman

    You make a lot of sense David and I appreciate your spirit! I can sit through a horror movie with a friend and then discuss why it gives me no true or lasting fear and I go to sleep at night unscathed. However, this mode of evangelism is not for everyone and your view is valid. I also know some who have been severely traumatized by demonic attack and horror films dealing with such things dredge up old wounds and past spiritual issues, which is also a good reason for some to steer clear. This genre may be useful to some and even used by Jesus to reach the lost as He chooses but it is by no means “beneficial” to EVERY believer. It’s a beautiful aspect of our faith in that we each have different aspects of gifting and calling in our freedom to use various tools for the gospel.

  6. Official Dj Plasmic Nebula

    Amen, i love horror movies. :D

    I believe if God hates horror movies, then he’ll hate passion of the Christ. Violence is violence, and the bible is different. Cause all we need is the bible, not a movie.

    So i can care less about passion of the Christ.

    A movie must have a message.
    If i remember correctly Jesus was saying a story in the bible, that to me is a horror story.

    I think he said something about a man killing someone and so on. But other then that there was a message in what Jesus said.
    I sometimes have bad memory in remember scriptures. So i should of used a book mark.

    It’s true some Christians jump to conclusion on certain things like horror movies, music, animals..etc. So i understand what most of these people commenting to this forum means.

    You may say well Passion of the Christ brought many people to God.. well it didn’t bring some. so therefore God can use any movie (horror, sci-fi, drama, action, comedy, sport, short, thriller, documentary,..etc.)

    And yes we should be able to stay away from some Horror movies that only revolve around sex, drugs without any meaning to the plot line.

    I seen a lot of horror movies in my days that only deal with sex and the sex has no purpose in the movie. So therefore the movie is practically about teens having sex and being murdered or whatever the situation is. Another example of a bad horror movie that we should probably stay away from is 2001 Maniacs. I haven’t seen it, but I’m going to check the plot to the movie. But I think it only deals with and is meant for Gore. I find nothing wrong with gore in a movie, but if it only deals with gore and has no meaning in the movie, i would stay away.

    What i find in horror movies that i like is the fact that they help each other out, help each other survive, be their for each other and love each other. That’s the basic element i love in horror movies. I practically like survival situation in movies. As God would want us to be their for each other, help each other out, protect each other, and love each other no matter what situation were in (good or bad situation)doesn’t matter. God is always there for us. :D

    My favorite horror movies are:

    Resident evil (123)
    Saw 2
    Stepford Wives (2004)
    Ice Spiders
    Passion of the Christ
    Final Destination (123)
    Celluar
    Flight Plan
    Panic Room
    Most zombie movies (Dawn of the dead 2004, Flight of the living Dead..etc.)
    Stay Alive
    and more….

  7. Official Dj Plasmic Nebula

    and remember passion of the Christ the movie.
    Has violence, Half naked man, Jim isn’t really Jesus.

    So therefore Even Passion of the Christ can cause some audience to sin.

    Some people are attracted to Jim and see him half naked.

    And Jim isn’t really Jesus. And they didn’t rip his Beard off in the movie… ;(

    But since their is a message in the movie, i find it good to watch. It has a biblical message on salvation. And so i say not all Horror movies are bad to watch as long as it has a biblical message in it. And remember just cause we have Jesus movies, doesn’t mean their good to watch.

  8. cryncoyote

    There is a Pastor on film-talk.com named “Bud” who posts so much he is a moderator. He has over 3,000 posts. A man of the cloth or is he? How can he stand in front of his church preaching of God and write a review of BioZombie, Hannibal Rising Jason X and so many more. What are the creditentials for becoming a preacher now? I was hoping he was using the reviews as a way to witness, but there are NO references to God except his screen name on yahoo which is preacherbudman.

  9. Bud

    Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Coyote has no idea how many people I witness to at that site. I do it via PMs, and I witness to people from all over the world.

    There’s a credo on the site that has to be abided by – it’s a secular site – and it stipulates that public discussion of religion is grounds for banning…

    I use a different bait than most, it’s true, but – hey – whatever works.

    Meanwhile Coyote, tried to have me disciplined over at FT because my screen name was preacherbudman, and asked how I was allowed to be a moderator over there…it was unwarranted.

    Bottom line: preachers are people, too, and if it takes me using horror movie reviews to reach out to people, I’ll use ‘em. Right now I’m teaching a young man in Nigeria the Bible because of those reviews, and I refuse to defend myself beyond this singular post.

  10. Bud

    Actually, I’ll post one last item before I dismiss myself through the back door. It’s a PM Coyote sent me after I PM’d an apology specifying that, if I’d posted anything offensive, I’d reword it, or edit the offending comment out, but didn’t know what had offended them:

    “I really believe you write spectacular reviews. I was concerned because I saw “preacherbudman” and was more offended than intrigued before reading several more of your reviews. Keep up the work.”

  11. Pastor James Harleman

    It’s amazing how hot this topic can be amidst Christian circles, whereas romantic comedies where the couple is sleeping together or “happy children’s movies” that confuse kids with karma and the circle of life (or just poorly behaved children) are considered appropriate fare. I think some horror aficianados obviously have an unhealthy fascination with the genre (I certainly did, pre-Christian) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t worthwhile material within the narrative themes, or that there isn’t a ripe field for mission.

  12. Bud

    Thanks, James. And if Coyote had really scrutinized what I do over at FT, he would have noted that I navigated the Horror Club there away from the gore they were concentrating on, and steered them toward classical horror, which is an entirely different animal altogether from the likes of SAW, etc. I toned the club down a great deal, and tried to lead the gang there to re-examine the basics and ponder the significance of cinematic horror on an intellectual level. And, for the record, most of my reviews have been fairly negative, and I’ve even snuck in some Christian theology from time to time. I am respected there because, sometimes, I watch a film with the membership via what we call a “synchro,” which is a concept I came up with where we all watch a movie at the same time and make live comments, and there have been times when I watched something that I knew would offend my Christian sensibilities…but I watched it anyway, to have a gateway for conversation and dialogue, and I’ve received several messages of respect from agnostics and athiests who applaud me for reaching out to them where they are. Until the Lord tells me to switch venues, I’m not going to stop.

  13. Taylor

    I just simply think, would Jesus sit here, and watch this. How would i feel if Jesus walked in right now. Honestly, i dont believe that Jesus likes us sitting there watching things of the devil. I dont believe He would sit there and watch those movies. Real or not, i dont believe God wants us sitting there watching murders, rapes, kidnaps, demon possession etc, and say wow, that was an awesome movie! I feel that that is almost like giving Satan recognition and power. I see no good that comes out of it. I always think of these verses’ as well:
    Have no fellowship with evil;
    Protect your heart, mind, body, and soul
    Yes, there are movies such as the Passion of the Christ, or even movies such as Taken,
    but those are true stories that people need to be aware of.
    Horror movies have no point in watching them, except to scare you, which is not of God.
    Its almost like capitalizing on Satans work. Sure, you can say well in Taken, the men do awful things
    to those girls, which is of Satan, but it gets the message across and raises awareness.
    Movies such as Saw and The Hills Have Eyes, have absolutely no point, other than to get that wordly pleasure, like i said before. Its just as if you watched a documentary on history, yes, it might have gory details, but its history and you cant change that, same as watching the news. You can not watch evil movies though.
    Why would one, especially a Christian, want to watch a movie, where bad things happened to people while making the movie?! Thats clearly the devil. Those people that make those movies usually do research on the topic and many have gone as far as talking to satanist, people that experienced things of satan, and so forth; which once again, i dont think God is too fond of. People have even gotten freakishly killed while working with those movies, and you cant say that has nothing to do with satan. When you give satan a foot hole, he’ll take it, and especially for non-Christians, he’ll work his way in.
    I just feel that there is enough evil in the world; watching gory movies that only have negative affects are not Godly.
    Now tell me that that is not of God, which therefore, should not be watched by Christians.

  14. admin

    Taylor, first of all you’re stereotyping horror movies. Jaws is a horror movie. Sharks are animals, not demonic.

    Also, whether we feel comfortable with it or not, God definitely encourages us to read about murders, rapes, kidnappings, demon possession etc. and then expects us to say “wow, that was an awesome Bible”. I don’t think God detailing this throughout the Old and New Testament gives Satan power or makes a story with those facets inherently of Satan.

    I also believe the verses you are paraphrasing are Ephesians 5:11, which actually says “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Note how this still implies an engagement with the matters at hand, not a culture of fearful avoidance. Also, from Philippians 4: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This verse is promising us that God can and will guard us in the midst of our stimuli, not telling us to be afraid of a movie. To top that off, both of these were written by Paul, who was reading pagan poetry and schooling himself on local idols and encouraging disciples of Jesus to emulate his example.

    If you’re watching horror movies purely for self-indulgence, I’m not certain what the point is. If you’re watching Bambi purely for self-indulgence (i.e. self-worship) I’m not certain what the point is either. If non-Christians are watching these movies and feeling fearful about death and the afterlife and the supernatural and more open to conversation, this seems like an arena we should be able to speak to.

    Also, even if your premise “horror movies have no point except to scare you, which is not of God” is accurate, my answer would be engage them as you see fit and have no fear. I could watch a film or read a book advocating abortion, or lying, neither of which is of God, but see what culture is saying in their defense and justification. Just because the filmmaker or genre has an agenda doesn’t mean I can’t engage it from a godly foundation. Jesus made it clear what defiles a man in Mark 7:

    “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

  15. solomani

    Open hand issue IMO. I enjoy Poe and Lovecraft and that style of horror (both book and movie) but do not enjoy Hellrazor and its ilk. More because they are not “beautiful” to watch. If I want ugliness I just have to look around. I prefer my entertainment to have some redeeming quality. Even if that quality is purely aesthetic.

    However I will try the movies listed above.

  16. joy4800

    The Bible tells us that whatever is pure, righteous, holy, good, pure, to think on these things. I don’t think that movies like the SAW series promote pure, righteous, holy, good and pure thoughts or actions. I always ask myself, why would I WANT to watch this? what is it going to do that positively affects the way I think and live my life? Also, why would I want to watch a movie like SAW that encourages self mutilation? these movies are also just continuing to de-sensitize our country and the next generation that is growing up. they are watching all these horror shows and thinking that the things they see in these movies are okay and completely normal. movies that deal with the spiritual realm and demonic activity can open the door to all sorts of problems in our lives.

  17. James

    Joy, the verse you’re paraphrasing is “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—THINK about such things.” It seems easy to throw that at a conversation about our stimuli, but note the CONTEXT of that verse by the verses that surround it:

    7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians is referring to our THOUGHTS, not our stimuli. The goal is that we are following Philippians 4:8 no matter WHAT is before us: comedy or tragedy, Rom-Com or Horror flick… or the real life equivalents. If I can’t think about what is true/noble/right/pure/lovely/admirable/excellent/praiseworthy when confronted with fictional horrors, what hope have I when bombarded with a season of life wherein there are TRUE horrors? Verse 7 implies that God will guard our hearts and minds; note, this implies things are being set before our hearts and minds that we need guarding from, filtration and discernment. NOT disengagement.

    A lot of people use this verse in regard to our stimuli, when it’s talking about how and what we think regardless of life’s stimuli. It’s talking about our mental output, in light of or in spite of, the input. There might be other scriptures to appeal to in regard to this, but this isn’t one of them. “Garbage in, Garbage out” is a behavioral psychology model, NOT a biblical/relational model. Jesus refutes this soundly in regard to unwashed hands and eating when he says it ISN’T what goes into a person that makes him unclean, but what comes OUT, but the Pharisees refused to accept it. (Matthew 15:10-20)

    Even moreso, verse 9 tells us: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

    Paul remained in culture, a student of culture, as Jesus said about his disciples – that they would be IN the world but not OF it. Paul knew Pagan poetry and the idols of his culture, but many Christians shy from engaging and understanding sinners and their stimuli. They’re engaged in a religion of personal piety versus bravely engaging the lost with a confidence in Christ.

    One thought, however: I think

    James
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm
    and – a final thought – Phillipians 4:8 is beautiful in light of its surrounding verses…

    Paul, in all his fearless culturally-engaging glory… facing everything from pagan pop-poetry to very real shipwrecks. I pray I can face life’s real shipwrecks as well as I can face the fictionals.

  18. Justin

    We have such a strange view of Christianity in America, as if Jesus has a different commission for us to develop Utopian rural communes where our children are safe and moral and we experience greater faith (simply due to our removal from anything that would challenge our faith). We are like ignorant soldiers trying to build a comfortable house on a battlefield, perhaps forgetting that we are not home. A soldier who thinks only of home will be a terrible soldier (though a soldier should certainly long for home).

    Horror films are good if only for the fact that their sharp edge bursts our American Christian bubble.

  19. Carol

    I am a Christian and I LOVE these type of movies.

    I am not hurting my relationship with Christ when I enjoy a good zombie flick, nor am I putting my salvation in danger. You can feel free to waste your time debating the finer points of what may or may not be acceptable to God based on what you read in out of context passages, but the only thing that ultimately matters is John 3:16, Christianity in a nutshell,
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    There are NO conditions to God’s love. PERIOD. If you want salvation all you need to do is ask for it. Believe in it. Confess your “sins” and live a good life. Personally, I think Jesus would LOVE Dawn Of The Dead. Some would say that Jesus was the original zombie after all. It’s all about a personal relationship, I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful one, without fear and full of love.

    Don’t be so damned serious. Enjoy your walk and do what your heart says. Let the holy spirit be your guide. All my love.

  20. Matt

    I believe this debate boils down to just a couple of key points:

    1. Source
    2. Intent
    3. Fruit

    #1 Source

    I don’t believe we would catch Jesus in line for the latest horror movie? Why? Because I don’t believe he would devote time to being immersed in something that was conceived and created by people who are influenced by the devil and his Father. Jesus said he only does what the Father shows him to do. He was only interested in communication from the Father. Being led of the Spirit. I can imagine one scenario in which we might find him in line… If the Father told him, I have a predestinated child in that line and you need to brush shoulders with them. Like the Father told him to go sit by well so he could meet the woman at the well. (John 4: 6-39) Which brings me to point #2. Intent.

    #2 Intent

    What is the intent of one seeing such a film? Would it be Jesus’s intent, to save that which is lost. Jesus went to parties with sinners with one intent, to save that which was lost. Can we honestly say that 100% of our intent in watching a horror film is to be prepared to save the lost? That seems like a stretch to me. I don’t see how this would prepare one to save that which was lost. Jesus said that by your love for one another, the world would know you were his disciples. (John 13:35) Hence, point 3.

    #3 Fruit

    If you are still considering horror movies… let’s at least agree to earnestly pray before watching that next film. “Lord, is it your will that I watch this movie? Lord, what purpose do you have for me in watching this movie?” Here are some other questions to consider:

    Will this movie fill me with light and love, or will it fill my imagination with darkness?
    What fruit of the spirit will this promote in my life…? Love, joy, peace, long-suffering…?
    (if you are a male) Will I really be able to turn away when a scene involving nudity comes on?
    What condition will the my spirit be in when I am done watching this kind of movie?

    In summary:

    Consider the source of the content. Was this movie a product of someone led by the Holy Spirit and and inspired by Almighty God? Was is my intent for watching? To equip myself to save the lost or to be entertained? And if you do partake, take note of the fruit that comes out of it.

    Ephesians 5:16 “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.”

    I would challenge each of us to review Ephesians 5: 1-21 and take our next steps from Paul’s exhortation.

  21. James

    Matt, there are so many unfounded assumptions that aren’t boiled very well:

    1. “something that was conceived and created by people who are influenced by the devil and his Father…” Um, some horror stories are told by Christians… and a lot of NON-horror stories are conceived and created by people who are influenced by the devil. Who exactly is the devil’s father?

    2. Jesus had only one intent? Are you suggesting NOTHING in him went for the food, drink, or fellowship? Primary intent, yes. ONLY. No.

    3. You should pray before ALL movies, so don’t single out horror. Romantic comedies are usually WORSE in content. And don’t assume only males are impacted by nudity.

  22. Matt

    Brother James,

    Greetings! I appreciate your feedback. Although we will have to agree to disagree, I am all for each person seeking out, in the scriptures, their position and leading.

    Oops! “the Devil’s Father..” what was I thinking! haha. I meant to imply that if one is lead of the devil, then he has chosen the devil as HIS father, as opposed to Christians who have decided to follow their Father.

    I must agree with you. Most of what is produced in Hollywood is conceived and created by people who are influenced by the devil. I should have been more upfront with my overall position. I actually don’t watch any movies. I decided this about a year ago. The only movie I have seen in the last year is The Passion. This is just my personal decision.

    In the Psalms, David makes a rather strong statement that I find very hard to “put aside”. Especially in this day.

    Psalm 101:3

    “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.”

    David knows all too well what can happen when things we ought not see come before our eyes. What if he had NOT seen Bathsheba that day from the rooftop?

    The eye is a powerful tool. It can move someone to compassion as it did Christ at the pool of Bethesda, or Peter at the Gate Beautiful, but it can also bring terrible consequences… as it did Eve… “and when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes…”. This is the deceptive side of the eye. Satan knows this, as he did in the Garden of Eden, and will try and place things before us that will hamper our walk with the Lord.

    I think we can both agree, there is NEVER an appropriate circumstance for a man to see an image of a woman with no clothes on depicted in film. I understand there is plenty of famous artworks depicting nudity, but I place those on a different level. I am speaking directly about film because of it’s true to life nature.

    That said, I choose not to intentionally put myself in the position where it is possible.

    You are correct. I agree that Romantic Comedies are often worse in content. They depict a lustful and unrealistic view of “love”. Unfortunately they mold societies view of what life and relationships are about.

    Again, I challenge all of us, to earnestly review Ephesians 5 and seek the meaning of God’s instruction, written by Paul, for our lives:

    Ephesian 5:3-4

    “3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

    and then…

    Ephesian 5:8-12

    “8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

    I ponder now, how as a Christian, I used to read those words then go and become engrossed in a movie depicting the very things Paul was crying out about. In my opinion this was a gross mis-judgement on my part.

    Ephesians: 5:15-16

    15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

    -Matt

  23. Jenny

    I am new to God, Im just starting my walk with Jesus. I absolutely love horror movies. I was starting to feel conflicted about still watching horror and loving Jesus but you have given me understanding that I can do both and it doesn’t make God love me any less that I just watched Kill Joy 3 after reading some devotional books. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    Blessings!

  24. Sean

    So I have been a christian all my life and I am a big movie fan and horror is one of my favorite genre’s (next to action, comedys, and superhero’s). I tottaly agree with parts of this and found thing intersting. Next time I’m watching something like Final Destination or Nightmare on elm street I’ll have to see if i can find what could almost be a christian message of sorts.

  25. jonh smith

    If they did a prequel to the passion of the christ would it show John the baptist’s bloody decapitated head on a tray given to the dancing girl by the king?….. what’s in the Bible is like star wars, indiana jones and lord of the rings movies combined.

  26. Rohit Benjamin

    Bravo Matt!
    The only place that a Christian needs to keep his gaze is Jesus. There is no need to study or experience evil, even under the pretext of ‘evangelism’ or relating with people. To preach otherwise is a terrible deception and a snare, and often an excuse to justify continuing to experience the perverse pleasure of evil works conjured by minds ‘in enmity to God’. The church is most effective to witness to the world when the Church is least like the world. Doing evil that good may result is a pernicious doctrine strictly condemned by Paul in the book of Romans.
    As for finding common ground to engage with our culture and present the gospel, there is plenty of evil to encounter in the real world, and enough work to be done in opposing it. Or do some people live in a utopia where they do not find evil, and hence must go to a theatre to discover what it must be like? It seems foolish to require the recreation of evil in the fantasy world of the big screen, in order to study it even under the pretext of fighting it. Every time we pay money to buy a ticket or DVD for a movie that dishonours God, we are aiding and abetting the same evil, and are being enemies of God. Also, some kinds of evil like sexual temptations, are explicitly to be fled from, and not engaged. Those who do otherwise, surely do so at their own peril. Like you rightly said, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and do what he did.
    Yes Jesus talked with prostitutes. But did he visit a brothel to find out what it was like? The difference is huge.
    Therefore, to all those who say “I can be a Christian and still enjoy these things I did before- Repent!”.

  27. James

    Rohit, I hope that you follow your argument to its logical conclusion and restrain yourself from engaging ANY fiction. If that’s true, I can respect your opinion. If you can name me a comedy, drama, or any other genre that doesn’t contain some kind of sin (i.e. evil) that is the tension or conflict upon which the narrative pivots, that’s very rare. In God’s eyes, a harsh or careless word from a husband to his wife is as worthy of hell as a machete murder. There are plenty of “nice” movies that don’t resolve these kinds of sins, and yet there are horror films where good ultimately triumphs over or vanquishes the evil, which is more reflective of the gospel than most sitcoms.

    By your logic, if you have cable television, buy any book or story in which any character commits any type of sin, watch a Spider-man movie where the villain hurts people, or a children’s story where they disrespect their parent, you are “aiding and abetting” the same evil. Almost every fiction narrative, regardless of genre, contains an element of tension that is either resolved or not resolved by the end of the tale, and that lack of harmony is almost always a depiction of sin – lie, verbal or physical abuse, deception, unfaithfulness, etc. If you believe the fiction depiction is unnecessary and dishonors God, you must abandon ALL of it. I can completely respect someone who feels led to skip all of this consistently, even if I might disagree, but I hope you’re living out your worldview well and abstain from all of this and more.

    Again: if the “depiction of evil” is always bad in anything except our Bible, you’ve then condemned pretty much all fiction storytelling in every form and genre. James chapter 2 is clear about sin. A child sassing his mother is no more or less godly to depict than a serial killer.

    And no one here is requiring the recreation, but think of it this way: our polite mainstream culture avoids the topic of afterlife and supernatural. Many people in middle and upper class DO create boundaries in their lives to isolate themselves from evils befalling others. And most mainstream Hollywood films and television shows deal with the material world as if that’s all their is, so a good way to be the “least” like the world would be for Christians to put more light on the fringe genres and bring their realities into the light.

  28. Sean Phillips

    ‘A child sassing his mother is no more or less godly to depict than a serial killer.”

    Are you saying that all sins are created equal?

  29. James

    At first blush, I think that’s a fair way of putting it.

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