should christians watch horror movies?

Movies are a powerful medium, and they have a profound impact on culture. And the sad truth is that many movies these days, including those outside the scary “horror” genre, are either completely antithetical to Christian values or at the very least are at odds with God’s divine standard of holiness. As for most horror movies, their “entertainment” value often lies in their ability to titillate our youthful desire to be scared witless. The gruesome means by which moviemakers attempt to shock our consciences usually involves an abundance of carnage and bloodshed. The problem is, however, that it takes more and more to shock seared consciences these days, which means the level of depravity is continually on the rise to accommodate our increasing desensitization to hard-core gore and evil. All things considered, true Christians would likely find it difficult to enjoy the majority of today’s horror movies.

Let’s consider the horror movies that delve into the supernatural realm with a particular focus on demonic activity. Scripture makes it clear that our earthly struggle is “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Christians are keenly aware of the evil reality of demons and how every moment of their very real existence is spent trying to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) or to otherwise separate us from our Savior. As such, this is a subject that should hardly be taken lightly; neither should it be considered a form of “entertainment.” If something would offend Jesus Christ, it should offend His children in whom His Holy Spirit resides.

As we mature in our Christian walk, sin and evil should bother us more and more all the time. We are to be beacons of light in an ever-darkening world, striving to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Scripture tells us to be moral and pure, abhorring what is evil and to have our minds focused on things which are noble and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and that “whatever [we] do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). These verses should guide us daily in everything we do, including the movies we choose to see. How can it be possible to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when we are at a horror movie laden with murder and mayhem and, essentially, being entertained by the very sins that Jesus Christ died for?

Now, notwithstanding the above, it should be noted that there are some Christian moviemakers who actually produce horror movies, albeit not the bloodlettings referred to above. Realizing that evil is a very real part of our existence on earth, they feel it is not only possible but responsible to make a horror movie that accurately depicts the reality of the dark forces of evil with which Christians constantly struggle. Certainly if such a movie could help the audience appreciate the depth of our worldly struggle between good and evil, then such a movie could indeed be congruent with a Christian paradigm. Better yet, how beneficial would it be if such a movie could even point to our need for a Savior?

In deciding what movies to watch, perhaps it would be wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5 emphasis added). As Christians, we of course know that the Spirit of Christ resides in our hearts (Romans 8:9). He is with us wherever we go. What if, however, rather than occupying a place in our heart, Jesus Christ walked beside us so that we could literally see Him every moment of the day? What effect would this have on our behavior? What if when we went to the movies, for example, we saw Jesus Christ sitting beside us – watching the movie that we took Him to? Knowing the divine character of our holy and sinless Savior, and knowing the sanctity He places on the very life He died to give us, what sort of movie would we feel comfortable taking Him to?

Prophet Nathan Emol

SHOULD WE AS CHRISTIANS WATCH TELEVISION?

Many Christians struggle with the issue of whether or not to watch television and, if we do watch, how much TV should we watch? Television, like many other diversions we have in today’s society, has the ability to do both great good and great harm.

On the plus side for the Christian, television can be a wonderful educational tool. News and weather reports have saved countless lives, and we have access to entertainment, sports, and information that can be helpful and uplifting. From a Christian standpoint, TV has been used to share the gospel to virtually every nation on earth (Matthew 28:19), and countless lives have been changed through Christian television broadcasts.

On the negative side for the Christian, many people become addicted to television viewing or mindlessly sucked in to whatever show may be on at the moment. This takes people away from family, friends, and time in God’s Word. Many of the most popular shows today focus on the worst that mankind has to offer, and evil is glorified as good (see 2 Timothy 3:1–5 and Isaiah 5:20). Even on so-called Christian television, there are some men and women claiming to be ministers of God who are more concerned about money and prestige than saving souls (see 2 Timothy 4:3–4).

The impact of television in our lives comes in what we do with it. Christians should not let TV control them; rather, they should use TV as the communication tool it was meant to be.

A discerning Christian television viewer will ask some questions and prayerfully answer them:

– What is my motive for watching this TV show? (See 1 Corinthians 10:31.)
– Does this television show contain material that, as a Christian, I cannot hear or view with a pure mind? (See Psalm 101:3.)
– Will watching this TV show further my understanding of my culture and therefore help me communicate Christ more effectively? Or am I seeking a thrill and secretly relishing scenes of evil?
– Am I committed to obtaining truth from the Word of God rather than from powerful media forms such as television?
– Can I separate the wheat from the chaff? Can I rejoice in biblical themes a TV show might present while rejecting its ungodly elements? Or do the ungodly elements overwhelm any good contained in the show?
– Is there a better use of my time?

It’s difficult to give a hard-and-fast rule about how much television a Christians should watch—or whether he should watch any at all. Ultimately, that decision is between the believer and God—or, in the case of minors, between their parents and God. Christians considering the issue of television should examine the Word, pray about it, listen to their conscience, and follow the Spirit’s leading.

Here are some verses that may help in discerning what is appropriate TV viewing for a Christian:

Matthew 5:28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 6:22–23: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 13:13–14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

Philippians 4:8: “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.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21–22: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS STAND UP FOR THEIR FAITH AGAINST ANTI-CHRISTIAN WORLD?

As Christians, the two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and grow our own knowledge of Him. Christ said, “Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16). This means that we should live and act in a way that supports the gospel. We should also arm ourselves with knowledge, both of the gospel (Ephesians 6:10-17) and of the world around us. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” All we can do is live and teach as Christ would and let Him take care of the rest.

Critics of Christianity have become more vocal recently. This is partly because there are many people who do not believe in God or understand the truth about Him at all. Yet the apparent increase of anti-Christians is also due to perception. As with many topics, those who truly despise Christianity are the loudest and most vocal of the non-believers. The vast majority of those who do not believe don’t care enough to bother believers. The few angry, vocal, bitter unbelievers make enough noise to seem more numerous than they are.

The typical insult from the non-religious crowd is to refer to believers as “ignorant,” “stupid,” “brainwashed,” or to otherwise suggest that those who have faith are less intelligent than those who do not. When a Christian stands up intelligently for his faith, the terms change to “bigot,” “extremist,” or “zealot.” When people who know that the believer is kind and loving hear this, the atheist starts to look like the fool that he or she is (Psalm 53:1). Most non-believers have no personal reason to see Christians negatively, but they sometimes hear so much from the loud anti-Christians that they just assume it is so. They need examples of Christ-like living to see the truth.

Of course, when someone claiming to be a Christian says or does something that is not Christ-like, the angry, loud crowd is there to identify him as a typical religious hypocrite. This is something we have been warned to expect (Romans 1:28-30; Matthew 5:11). The best thing to do is to cite a passage of the Bible that speaks against what the person did, and remind the atheists that just because a person says he is a Christian, and even if he thinks he is a Christian, that does not mean that he is. Matthew 7:16,20 tell us that true Christians will be known by their actions, not merely by their profession. And remind critics that absolutely no one lives without sinning at all (Romans 3:23).

An important thing to remember is that no one, no matter how persuasive, can force anyone to believe anything he doesn’t want to believe. No matter what the evidence, no matter what the argument, people will believe what they want to believe (Luke 12:54-56). Conviction is not a Christian’s job. The Holy Spirit convicts people (John 14:16-17), and they choose whether or not to believe. What we can do is present ourselves in a way that is as Christ-like as possible. It is sad that there are many atheists who have read the entire Bible looking for ammunition against Christians, and that there are many Christians who have hardly read the Bible at all.

It’s hard for the angry crowd to accuse a Christian of being a hateful, cruel bigot when that person demonstrates a life of kindness, humility, and compassion. When a Christian can discuss, debate, or debunk secular arguments accurately, the label of “ignorant” no longer fits. A Christian who has read the secular arguments and can politely expose their flaws helps to deflate the stereotypes advanced by atheists. Knowledge is the weapon, and it is invincible when we let Christ direct us in how to use it.

Prophet Nathan Emol

JESUS A FRIEND OF SINNERS:

The fact that Jesus is a friend of sinners means that He is our friend and is waiting for us to acknowledge His presence and availability. God’s love for us is almost beyond imagining. When we consider Jesus’ Incarnation—His leaving heaven to be born as a helpless human infant in order to grow and experience life among us—we begin to get a glimmer of the depth of that love. When we add to that His sacrificial death on the cross, it is staggering.

To be a “friend of sinners,” Jesus subjected Himself to living in a fallen, depraved world, for we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Despite our sinful condition, Jesus desires a relationship with us.

The phrase “friend of sinners” comes from parallel passages in the Gospels. “Jesus went on to say, ‘To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “We played the pipe for you, / and you did not dance; / we sang a dirge, / and you did not cry.” For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”’” (Luke 7:31–34; cf. Matthew 11:16–19).

In this passage Jesus is pointing out the level of spiritual immaturity among those who considered themselves the “righteous” and the most “spiritual.” They based their standing on their rigorous following of ritual, law, and external appearance instead of on a true understanding of God’s heart and a relationship with Him. They criticized Jesus for spending time with the outcasts and “socially unacceptable” people, calling Him a “friend of sinners.”

The story of the lost sheep shows the importance of the lost and vulnerable, those who have wandered away from the place of security. To God the lost are so important that He will search for them until they are found and brought back to safety. “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?’” (Luke 15:1–4).

Jesus made it clear that He had “come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He was willing to associate with those who were, by the standards of the self-righteous Pharisees, not good enough. But it was those who were open to hearing Christ, and they mattered to God!

Matthew 9:10–13 relates another time when Jesus was ridiculed by the religious leaders for His associations. He answers them by saying, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (verse 13).

In Luke 4:18, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1–2: “The Spirit of the LORD is on me, / because he has anointed me / to preach good news to the poor. / He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners / and recovery of sight for the blind, / to release the oppressed, / to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” In order to preach the good news to the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed, Jesus had to have some contact with them.

Jesus did not condone sin or participate in the destructive behaviors of the ungodly. Being a “friend of sinners,” Jesus showed that “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). Jesus led a perfect, sinless life and had the “authority on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24). Because of that, we have the opportunity to experience a transformed heart and life.

Jesus, our friend, spent time with sinners, not to join their sinful ways but to present them the good news that forgiveness was available. Many sinners were transformed by His words of life—Zacchaeus being a prime example (Luke 19:1–10).

When Jesus’ enemies called Him a “friend of sinners,” they meant it as an insult. To His glory and our eternal benefit, Jesus endured such slights and became “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Prophet Nathan Emol

JESUS THE PRINCE OF PEACE:

In Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah, he says:

   “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
   And the government will rest on His shoulders;
   And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).

The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”

In our sinful state, we are enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”

But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:7, 13). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but to spill over into our relationships with people.

And we desperately need it—especially since God calls us to live with singleness of purpose with other believers, with humility, gentleness, and patience, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3). This unity in purpose and gentleness would be impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the peace we have with God thanks to the sacrifice of His Son.

Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquility in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.

Note that peaceful doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.

Prophet Nathan Emol