Should Christians watch violent movies?
The question has been raised before, but it gets my attention now because it's directed toward a movie I really want to see: The Hunger Games.
The premise of the story is that each year twelve subjugated "districts" are required to send one boy and one girl (12-18 years old) to fight to the death for the amusement of their rulers. Twenty-four enter; one leaves. The battles in the arena, as well as many other things that befall these children, are quite brutal. Given the movie's PG-13 rating, I expect a lot of the violence to be off-screen or at least toned-down, but it's impossible to take all of the edge off of children killing children.
Should we let ourselves (much less our kids) see things like this?
I find myself wanting to ask a few follow up questions:
1. What in the Bible specifically forbids our watching violent movies? I think you can make an indirect case from passages such as Phil 4:8, but without someone more direct, I don't think we can make an absolute rule.
2. How much and what kind of violence is OK? Why is football acceptable (if it is)?
3. Why is the violence in the Bible OK? It is the most violent book you'll probably ever read. Judges alone is probably the most violent thing you'll ever read.
4. Does is matter how the violence is handled? In some works violence is fun or funny and made to look attractive. In others, such as The Hunger Games, the reader/viewer is supposed to be horrified. You're supposed to look at the people in the story who enjoy the games and wonder what is wrong with them. And you're supposed to ask if you make any questionable entertainment choices yourself (Saw anyone?). Does that matter? I think it does.
For myself, I'm going to choose to see this movie. I am not going to allow my kids to see it until they are much older. When they do read and/or see The Hunger Games, we will talk about man's inhumanity to man, the importance of protecting those you love, kindness to enemies, desensitization, and the corrupting nature of power. It will be a wonderful family time, and I don't think there will be anything wrong with that.