Like many choices we face today, the question of whether or not watching movies is a sin is not a topic directly addressed in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." Some families are convicted that watching movies are not profitable or edifying for them. So if your parents have told you not to watch movies (or even just certain movies), it is your responsibility to obey them (Ephesians 6:1). For these families, watching movies would be going against their conviction and would be sin (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).
To answer this, let's check out the guidelines the Bible has given us regarding how to live and think as followers of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
What it really comes down to is knowing what our goals and motivation are all about. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when examining your heart's desire to see any given movie:
Is going to see a movie a way you can hang out with and encourage a friend? Or will it be a stumbling block to him? If your friend is struggling with lust, it would not be loving to invite them to see something that involves sexual content (Matthew 5:28; 1 Corinthians 10:25-33; Romans 14:13).
Are you curious about the new film everyone is talking about so you can come up with a biblical position on it? It's usually a good idea to make a judgment on a movie yourself than it is to just take someone else's opinion as the truth.
Are you able to see and focus on the good and pure themes of a movie rather than the negative or sketchy things? If you're going to see a war movie, will you be inspired and encouraged by the bravery of the soldiers? Or will you have difficulty thinking on anything past the blood and the violence? Both Christian and non-Christian movies will have good and bad themes and elements. It is up to us to choose to dwell on the things that are good.
Will this movie negatively affect you? Will it trigger any stumbling blocks for you personally? If you're struggling with a desire to take revenge on somebody, well...going to see a movie about getting even probably isn't healthy for you (Matthew 5:22).
If you are seen walking into the theater to see a certain movie, will it hurt your testimony for Christ? While it is true that we can't control what everybody thinks of us, it is still important to make sure that you have an explanation for your decision to watch a movie. If you are seen walking into a movie that glorifies the occult, will you be able to answer the question of why and still hold onto your credibility as a Christian?
Maybe you are watching it to spend time with your non-Christian friends and open up conversations about God and morality. Maybe you're writing a review for a Christian website. Remember, not everybody is going to accept every reason and not every reason may be truly valid in the first place. That's why it's so important to pray and ask God for guidance when we're unsure if certain things will be beneficial to us or not.
Whether or not watching a movie is a sin for you personally is a matter between you and God. Aside from your Creator, you know yourself best. You know what sort of "objectionable content" will slide off and what will affect you badly. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts (Acts 2:38), guiding and telling us what's good or not so good (2 Timothy 1:14; John 16:13).
Pay attention to what He might be nudging you away from, and if there is any doubt as to whether or not something will be bad for you, stay away from it. It's not worth the risk of searing your conscience into uselessness (1 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Movies are not automatically right or wrong. We have freedom in Christ to enjoy entertainment. The question of sin comes in when we reflect upon our personal motives and convictions (1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 4:8). Whether or not watching a movie is a sin for you personally is a matter between you and God. You know what sort of "objectionable content" will slide off and what will negatively influence you. Allow the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) to guide you and listen if you are feeling nudged away from a particular movie (2 Timothy 1:14; John 16:13; 1 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.