3 Questions to Ask Before Watching a Movie

It's never been easier to watch movies, and lots of them. Netflix, which leads the race as the top online streaming service, provides more than 10,000 movie options for its 40 million subscribers -- and it's flanked by formidable competitors like Hulu Plus, Redbox, and Amazon Prime. Considering the sheer crowd on this track, and each one's continued efforts to specialize its features, the movie industry doesn't appear to be slowing down.

Add to this online surge the weekly box office numbers, and one thing is clear: a lot of us are watching a lot of movies.

And let's face it, they're not all good movies. In fact, many of them are bad. And I mean bad in every sense -- poor storylines, debaucherous scenes, shaky acting -- there are plenty of ways it could go wrong. Which means, there are plenty of ways to ruin your evening by watching a movie. Therefore, we should think carefully before devoting hours of our lives to the screen, whether at home or in a theater. So in hopes of more thoughtful entertainment, here are three questions a Christian might ask before watching a movie.

1. Should I really watch this movie?

Seriously. Don't assume you've already answered this question because you want to watch a movie. Back up and think honestly. Why are you interested in this movie? What is this movie about? How do you know that's what the movie is about? What peaked your interest in it?

This sort of interrogation is simple permission to play. And we shouldn't let up so easily. Don't be duped by the rating or the trailer. Those are both marketing tools that are not trying to talk you out of watching. Read some reviews. See what other people are saying about it. And of course, set a standard, which won’t be the same for everyone. Without getting into prescriptions here, consider two aspects for how you discern that standard.

First, make it a reasonable benchmark that you can sustain. Which means, don't make overly audacious goals built on bad logic. Consider whether your movie standard, if applied to the Bible, would bar you from reading important portions of the Old Testament. And, to be sure, don't think that biblical narratives like David and Bathsheba, or Ehud the assassin, mean it's okay for us to watch similar scenes on screen. Be critical and sober about what you say is good to watch.

Second, how you discern a movie standard is largely determined by your integrity. Some movies should be out of the question, and for those on the bubble, we know best how certain things affect us. We know where we are weak. And if you are unsure, I think it's safe to say that if you find yourself repeatedly stumbling over the same sort of scene, then it means you should avoid it. We just know, if we're like most people, we shouldn't watch everything put before us. Sacrificing our serenity of mind — or mental purity — is not worth a few minutes of supposed entertainment. We can still understand a story even if someone stronger has to fill in the gaps we can't handle.

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