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Jesus and R-rated movies

Written by: Caleb Henry

There are many questions I get asked throughout the day, but one question that I get asked the most — because I’m a Christian and a film fanatic — is whether or not Christians should watch R-rated movies. This question is not as easy to answer as a lot of people think it is.

First, what is an R rating? The rating system is put together by a committee of mostly non-Christians. They decide, based on certain criteria, whether or not a movie is suitable for people of a certain age. Some of these people believe sex outside of marriage, shouting F words profusely or watching violence are not bad things. So why should we as Christians trust that these people are looking out for the best interests of Christians that follow a moral code?

Even the guidelines the committee follows are a little sketchy. Take the movie “Transformers”: originally the movie received an R rating for intense action and violence. Shortly after the rating came out, executive producer Steven Spielberg made a phone call and got the committee to overturn the rating to PG-13. Nothing in the film changed, just a phone call. All this is to show that the rating system is a little wacked, and people need to look at the content of a movie, not just the rating.

A  PG-13 movie most people have seen is “Titanic.” How come a movie with nudity is OK for Christians to watch, but a movie like “The Passion of the Christ,” which is rated R, is not OK to watch? One of these movies doesn’t grow a person spiritually and the other is potentially the greatest spiritual movie ever made. Because a group of people decided you have to be over the age of 17 to watch the “Passion,” many Christians avoid it out of fear. But they don’t think twice about letting their kids, or themselves, watch “Titanic.”

The R rating means a movie isn’t suitable for children under the age of 17 without adult supervision, and I completely agree with that rating because people mature with age and can handle more. The issue I have is that Christians assume an R rating means it’s worse than a PG-13 rating.

Here is the guideline I follow when watching a movie regardless of the rating: Does it contain content that will cause me to stumble in my faith? This question is different for every person. For me it comes down to sexual content of the movie. This means I will try to avoid movies with nudity, sex scenes or even a movie with a sensual feel.

But this might be different for other people. Maybe it’s drug use that affects someone; the movie could be rated PG but might do more damage for him or her than an R-rated movie that doesn’t have drug use. So before you jump on Christians for watching an R-rated movie, ask them why they are watching the movie and what content the movie has in it. You would be surprised how much good can come from an R-rated movie if you let God use it.


Caleb Henry  is a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University

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