From a Real Question: Me and my Christian friends are considering going to see The Nun, an upcoming horror movie. Is it OK for us, as Christians, to watch this movie or horror movies in general?
Answer by September:
I imagine this type of question may be weighing on you quite a bit given the upcoming horror movie season of Halloween. We’re glad you came to us to talk about it.
The Nun (2018) is the latest installment in the universe of 2013’s The Conjuring and is a spin-off from a character introduced in The Conjuring 2. The Conjuring film franchise overall focuses on themes of demonic possession, demonic oppression, curses, hauntings, exorcisms, clairvoyancy, and the mystical. The main characters of the original two films claim a basis off real life demonologists whom The Conjuring claims were recognized as legitimate by the Catholic Church.
Before digging into this subject a bit deeper, I do want to make one disclaimer: If your parents have told you not to see The Nun, then you need to respect their decision (Ephesians 6:1-3). If, however, you’ve been given the freedom to discern your own media choices, we’ll do our best to give you some tools in deciding whether to see the movie.
As Christians, we should be extremely aware that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We know that demons are out to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Satan and his servants are trying to trip us up at any chance they get; spiritual warfare is not a subject to be taken lightly. While some of The Conjuring films do attempt a degree of respect for real life spiritual warfare, others treat demonic subject matter as a cheap way to get even cheaper scares.
Regardless of what type of decision we’re making—whether it be about life or media—we must always listen to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us through our conscience. Is He saying, “No, don’t do that”? If He is, then don’t! Are you not sure if the Holy Spirit is saying no? Then it’s a wise idea to avoid whatever it is you’re wondering about, just to be on the safe side, until you have a clear answer. Nothing is worth stifling the Holy Spirit’s voice (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30)!
We are given quite a bit of freedom in how we engage with our world. While there are certain things we’re specifically told not to do, there are many decisions we must make by answering one question: Does this glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Many Christians are uncomfortable with horror or thriller movies. They contain violence, spiritual darkness, twisting of God, often empower evil, and more. The Nun is associated with another movie (The Conjuring 2), which uses religious ideas for story fodder with no respect or awareness of the real evil in the world. The Conjuring 2 also included a “Christian” heroine who is a medium, someone who channeled spirits, which is one of those things the Bible DIRECTLY tells us not to do (1 Samuel 28:6-20; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
If you’re struggling with your own faith and where the lines are between fantasy, sound theology, and ideas that people claim are harmless while the majority of Christians speak out against them, then The Nun is likely to just confuse you and/or your friends further. It’s important to remember that The Nun is steeped specifically in a “Christian” religious setting and storyline, yet most of the actual theology and truth of Christianity is likely to be perverted, left out, or poorly represented.
On the other hand, there actually are Christian horror movie directors, creators, and authors. There are Christians who are drawn to horror because of its sharp contrast between good and evil and its character study of humanity at its core. Like with any movie, TV show, book, etc. that we try, there is always the risk of discovering it contains subject matter that shakes us to the core; that’s a risk that’s not exclusive to horror, but it’s a risk that’s significantly higher with horror.
If you’re still concerned about whether or not to see The Nun, wait for it to release, then read reviews on what it’s about. You can even take a look at the Parents Guide on IMDB, where they usually list every instance of “questionable” content by category. Read reviews from websites that claim a Christian affiliation and see what their thoughts are on the theme of the story in it. And always, always take your concerns to God. They are never too small or too big for Him to listen as you try to seek how best to glorify Him with your life.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” —Philippians 4:6