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Sin and the Cinema

Sin and the Cinema

Restored relationships, wildly pumping adrenaline, political frustration, belly laughter chasing away the blues, tears flowing from subconscious depths, horror provocation, religious confusion, sexual desire heightened, or hope in humanity restored or destroyed. These, and so many more, are the effects the current silver screen has on the psyches of us unsuspecting creatures.

A once primitive black and white, speechless image has blown up into a special effects frensy, along with 3-D images and booming sound effects, enough to toss your buttered popcorn onto the patron in front of you.

We have advanced to a place of technological miracles.  And those who create them are truly movie-making geniuses.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

But for every advancement, there is a down side and at the risk of sounding critical, I’d like to share my mature heart—my hopes and fears—on how I believe the movie industry is affecting our culture.

After viewing I Can Only Imagine at its debut, I felt a deep sense of hope that no-one is beyond God’s healing reach. This feature gripped my soul with the stark message of restoration and forgiveness. Why did I cry while viewing it? Because it reached a place where most humans are unable to.

Cinematography draws our emotions up and out by appealing to our senses in blaring intensity. The massive screen magnifies images that imprint on our brains. We get earfuls of emotion-stirring music that can warn or warm, stir up or calm down. Camera angles zooming in on intense expressions draw us into the characters we are viewing. And if you’re like me, you feel what they are feeling (human or beast!).

The cinema (whether you pay an exorbitant price at the theater, complete with reclining seats and over-priced snacks or you view in the comfort of your own home) can evoke deeply intense sensations. And is it possible that these flicks can change our perspectives if we have a steady diet of them? Can they steer us into positive or negative mindsets?

We have access 24/7 with a click of the clicker to view thousands of movies, accessible through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and a myriad of other carriers.

Clearly as a Christian woman, I am not under law as “all things are permissible” (I Corinthians 6:12 & 10:23). But as I’ve had to ask myself—and I encourage you to also—is what I’m allowing into my brain good for my life, my growth, and my emotional health? What exactly am I calling “entertainment” these days? Is what I’m viewing “noble…right…pure…lovely…admirable, excellent…or praiseworthy”? (see Philippians 4) Or is it creating anger, fear, strife, anxiety, and confusion?

What I’m asking is this: What are we allowing into our minds on a large scale, steady stream? And if you’re a parent, what are you allowing into your child’s highly impressionable mind to absorb?

Images of throat-slashing sinister men or bound up women begging for their lives to be spared (or for something else…) or young lusters ripping one another’s clothes off and “falling in love” while chance-meeting on a weekend holiday all scream for our full attention as they appeal to our base flesh. But is that what regenerated souls are satisfied by? Or worse, hurt by?

Conversely, scenes of love patiently waiting to blossom and grow, adventures and drama encased in a deeply inspiring storyline, and images of heroic deeds applauded all conjure up positive images and inhabit our minds—and hopefully spur us on to goodness.

It’s our choice. The movie industry is moved by money, and whichever ones make the most, then more of those will be written and created.

An overview of Romans 14 gives us clarity on our Christian liberty. It also gives us the sense that our conscience can be at work steering us toward or away from certain activities. But the culture can steer and “sear “us also. If you find yourself cringing in your seat hoping your mom, your pastor, or your kid doesn’t know you’re watching this flick, then just maybe you need to do the brave thing and walk out.

Can we support the positive influences? I know, I know…there have been “cheesy” displays over the years. But there’s a move more recently toward excellence in cinematography, script writing, production, acting, and directing. Give the wholesome, the truth-bearer, the redemptive, and the honorable films a chance.

Who knows…our support just might give the Hollywood gurus a much-needed message. And our temperaments just might benefit by experiencing far better movie choices.

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Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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