by Bro. Buddy Smith (Heads Up! June 2014)
What Is It About Movies That Is So Attractive?-
Pastors begin to realize how deadly is the influence of Hollywood upon their churches when they overhear the primary topic of conversation among their youth. It is not about spiritual things or Bible truths, which are seldom mentioned at all. It is not even primarily about sports, or friends, or cars, or work, or plans for the future. It is about the movies they’ve seen, the ones they like the most. One other observation is that their infatuation with Hollywood is being encouraged by their parents.
It ought to be stated that we all own many technicolour bilge pumps that, instead of ridding our homes of the excreta of the world, are pumping it in by the megalitre.
Most movie watching is now in the home, not in the “sinema”. Large screen TV’s, DVD players, Computer monitors, and even smart phones are the high-pressure bilge pumps that are used to daily fill the minds and hearts of Christians. Most of these are funded by parents, at least to begin with.
Movies Are The Major Influence In Our Churches
When I sought counsel from wise men concerning movies, I received a number of helpful replies. Here is one from a veteran missionary, “I think it was while our daughter was with the ________________(family) she watched a number of Hollywood type movies. She observed that after watching them it made her feel very discontented with the normal everyday life that she had to live, as compared to the exciting (“unrealistic” – her words) world and life that movies portray.
The never ending hype and excitement / action, etc. are like a high you get from drugs and when the movie is over it leaves her feeling empty and discontent.
The other observation (along the same lines) was that everybody in the movies is always very good looking / cool / self confident, etc., which breeds disillusionment with your own ordinary and often imperfect looks and figure, etc. All of our children have really struggled with movies this time round, it’s a huge temptation to them, most every home we
have been in have all the latest Hollywood hits and no one seems to see anything wrong in them, I’m amazed.
This observation is one of the indicators that movies have a larger influence in our churches than the Bible does.
Why Are Movies Such An Attraction?
Is it because we who know Christ are strengthened in our faith by watching the latest blockbuster from Hollywood?
Is it because we are challenged by the plot, the screenplay and the actors to go out and preach the gospel to the lost? Is it because our morals and values are improved and our commitment to Christ deepened?
Ask yourself the question, “When was the last time someone said to you, ‘Let’s go to the cinema tonight. There’s this really convicting film that God is using to turn thousands to Christ. If we go and see it, we will be helped in our witness to our friends. We’ll take some gospel tracts with us and hand them out to the big crowds that are waiting to get into the movie theatre. I’m sure they will be glad to get them’?”
Some of you are laughing at that question. How ridiculous! Nobody watches a movie to become more spiritual! You watch movies to be entertained, to be amused. You go to the movies for “fun.” Any fool knows the reason why movies are so attractive. They provide pleasurable sensations to the mind, to the emotions, and to the body.
The Part Of Me That Loves Movies
There is a part of me that is addicted to movies. You love movies? I love them more than you do. At least a part of me does. But it is not the part of me that loves God. It is not the spirit, but the flesh that loves movies. It is my carnal nature. It is the feral in me, the lazy pothead, the lecherous total sleaze in me that loves movies. God says it is the old man. God calls it “the flesh”, that loves movies. It is the part of me that only ever seeks self gratification, the flesh that hates self denial, that knows nothing of the work of the cross in the life of the believer.
Have you read recently what God says about the tendencies of this old nature that indwells every Christian? Maybe we should read it again and again to remind us how devious our hearts are. Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. “
When my flesh is permitted to rule, when I walk in the flesh, I find pleasure in the works of the flesh. I vicariously enjoy the immorality I see on the movie screen (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness). I take a perverse pleasure in idolatry, whether it is in pagan form or in western covetousness. I am titillated by witchcraft, JK Rowling’s or Tolkien’s. My flesh loves the violence of hatred, variance, emulations, wrath and strife, and feeds on them like candy laced with drugs. My carnal mind finds great pleasure in seditious whisperings, and devious conspiracies, even in heretical, demonic doctrines. I feed my carnal mind on envyings, and plot the murder of anyone who slights me. I vicariously enjoy the altered states of consciousness I see in the drunkards and drug addicts on the movie screen and wonder what it would be like to experience them for myself. And the wild parties of the abandoned? There is a part of me that craves them. My flesh longs to sip champagne with celebrities, to be able to say that I was there, and that I wittily held my ground in cutting repartee.
Ah, so do I hear you say, that these are not your thoughts? These feelings are foreign to you? Do you say that you are no feral, lazy pothead, no lecherous sleaze within? Horace Bushnell is not renowned as a sound Bible commentator, but his insights were clear when he wrote,
This, we say, is man, the fallen principality. In these tragic desolations of intelligence and genius, of passion, pride, and sorrow, behold the import of his eternity. Be no mere spectator, turn the glass we give you round upon yourself, look into the ruin of your own conscious spirit, and see how much it signifies, both that you are a sinner and a man.
Here, within the soul’s gloomy chamber, the loosened passions rage and chafe, impatient of their law; here huddle on the wild and desultory thoughts; here the imagination crowds in shapes of glory and disgust, tokens both and mockeries of its own creative power, no longer in the keeping of reason; here sits remorse scowling and biting her chain; here creep out the fears, a meager and pale multitude; here drives on the will in his chariot of war; here lie trampled the great aspirations, groaning in immortal thirst; here the blasted affections weeping out their life in silent injury; all that you see without, in the wars, revenges, and the crazed religions of the world, is faithfully represented in the appalling disorders of your own spirit.
God says you are capable of all these works of the flesh. So is every man, lost or saved.
Movies Feed The Flesh And Nourish It
The purest Christian you ever met has a carnal nature. You never saw it in them? It is there, nevertheless, and if it is not producing its vile works in your sight, it is only because they have been feeding their spirit the milk, meat, and bread of God’s Word, and mortifying the flesh moment by moment. You can be sure they battle the old nature and fight its urges continually.
Such is not the case with the average Christian in our churches today. Rather, they feed the old nature a daily diet of romance, violence, rock music, glamour, and pretence, seasoned with profanity, sex, and mockery of the Christian faith. It is “fast food fatal to faith!” They feast on sweet poison from Hollywood.
As a pastor, I am observing the professing Christians who attend Independent Baptist churches and am shocked to see how strong, how muscular, how virile is the old nature in them. Initially, I turned a blind eye and assumed they were just having a bad day, but NO! It finally sunk in that our churches actually ARE filled with the Goliaths of the world, Schwartzneggar saints, Bruce Willis Baptists, the Hulk in a three piece suit, Captain America leading the singing at our Leadership Conferences. If I go looking for a godly man in most of our churches I find him on the back row weeping over the spiritual condition of the members.
So Is There Any Release From The Bondage Of Movies?
My dear friend A.J. McClure once told me of a preacher friend of his who was so convicted about the vanity and vexation of spirit that invaded his soul through the eyegate that he took his television out to the back yard and smashed it to pieces. And then fifteen minutes later he was out there gathering up the pieces and trying to stick it back together to get it to work. It was not only humorous, but it pointed out the problem we all have with the flesh and its affections. Breaking the TV is not the answer. Burning the “sinema” will not fix my problem either. Bulldozing the video rental shop will not correct the wicked tendencies of my mind and heart any more than living in a monastery made godly men out of Catholic priests. The problem is inside me. And you.
The means of being released from our celluloid bondage is given us in Galatians 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” The crucifixion here is not some second blessing experience. It is a conversion experience, according to Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith off the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
We have all heard the deeper life conference speakers use this text to appeal to their hearers to be “crucified with Christ” even though they already know the Saviour. I do wish they would read the verse in its context. The context is not one of sanctification, but of justification.
Paul is describing the same encounter with the cross that Jesus referred to in Mark 8:34, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” And Romans 6 refers to the same event, the crucifixion of the sinner with Christ. In Romans 6:11-14 we read, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Did you notice the key in verse 11? “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I’m not sure who it was that said it, but somewhere years ago I heard a preacher tell about his time in the army. He said one of his fellow soldiers asked him to go to a dance with him. He replied, “I can’t, I don’t have any feet.”
His pal said, “Well, what are THOSE?”, pointing to his feet.
“Oh, they’re not my feet. Those feet belong to the Lord, and I couldn’t use his feet for dancing.”
The truth is the same. I can’t go to the movies for the same reason. I’ve got no eyes.
Try that one on for size the next time someone asks you to engage in a sinful activity.