Why Christians “Prefer” Violence to Sex

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It’s not unusual for churchgoers and Christians alike to shun Judd Apatow comedies and National Lampoons’ sex-romps, while at the same time our DVD shelves are lined with violent movies such as Braveheart and Hunger Games. So why, then, in a world that seeks goodwill and peace toward all, do Christians abhor media-fillings that advocate for love and intimacy, yet will stand in line at the theaters and set their Tivos for entertainment that propagates war and violence?

I can tell you that as a Christian myself, I am prone to say, “I’d rather our movies have cursing and violence than sex,” and I can see how this could cause many people to scratch their heads in bewilderment, and maybe even shake their heads in frustration.

In this post, I’d like to attempt why many Christians are wired with this frame of mind, and make the argument that it’s not as bad as it seems.

There are few people who wold disagree that the Bible is filled with violence, particularly in the Old Testament, where fewer people can accept such a violent God who seems to disregard the value of human life.

When The Passion of the Christ came out, Christians were labeled as blood-thirsty savages. We sing songs in church about their being power in the Blood, and Catholics believe that their communal cups are actually filled with a juice that turns into Christ’s blood as it flows down their throats.

I’ve made jokes that every male Christian has either Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings, or The Patriot on their list of favorite movies – all violent films.

All the while celebrities from Hollywood are coming out in interviews saying how right and beautiful it is to push the boundaries of sexuality on film. One French actress said that sex scenes don’t scare her as much as violent scenes. And many other youthful celebrities are saying how “challenging” it is for them as performers to reveal themselves completely and put themselves in such a vulnerable state to see if they can push their acting to the next level.

So why then, do Christians such as myself, refuse to watch those movies where the celebrities claim to be at their best and talent is reportedly in full-bloom? Why settle for so much less with films that glorify blood and violence and war; films that have all been done a thousand times before?

Because you can’t take back sex.

Permit me, for the sake of time, to aside the fact that the nudity is real and the violence is fabricated. Let’s assume we all know this and move on to the deeper issues.

Viewers can’t take back what they see projected on screen. Beautiful as it may seem to many, sexual images carve deep crevices within our hearts. Explicit images make us crave what we cannot have, and dig insatiable wells that demand more and more and more. More explicit, more edgy, and dare I say, much younger. Younger. Younger.

And then when you take this argument on the other side of the screen, we’re supporting actors and actresses committing infidelity and fornication with one another (both, I realize are completely acceptable in our day and age), sins that we as Christians hold to as ones that God hates. Christians cannot, in right mind, encourage or support such acts.

You may be asking, Isn’t violence insatiable, too? This is tricky, because to some, like the Adam Lanzas of the world, it is. But we are not all Adam Lanza or James Holmes. And there is a much darker, deeper side of violence that those two and countless other evil-doers saturate themselves in.

I don’t know any Christian that owns or appreciates the Saw movies. I’ve never seen Silence of the Lambs or Scream on the DVD shelf in a Christian home. (There may be some, I am sure, and even more who may own movies with explicit sexual material. This should not be the case. We’ve had to throw out many movies that we were not comfortable owning anymore.) But if you look closer at the type of violent movies Christians tend to gravitate toward, you’ll find that there is a theme of redemption flowing through them.

I own no film where good does not ultimately triumph over evil. We live in an evil world, and Christians are called to stand up against those that cause harm against others, being careful not to be trip into some vigilante lifestyle. We have hope that the world will be redeemed and that our fellow people will find redemption in their own lives.

Christians don’t gravitate toward violent movies, per say, but toward redemptive movies.

We also tend to embrace many war movies because of the historical significance, as our beliefs, both religious and patriotic, are rooted in history we feel strongly should never be forgotten nor dismissed.

After a viewing of Saving Private Ryan, I’m not going around talking about how cool all the blood was and dreaming about dismembering people’s arms and legs to get the “live show.” If I were, then those who suspected that would be right to ban me from such videos and games and commit me to a psychiatric ward.

But we will absolutely have no part in many (if any) HBO dramas or Seth Rogan comedies because those explicit images are not easily forgotten, and there is no reason for me to view something that my human nature craves, but is both unattainable and forbidden by the God I serve. Andy may I point out that I married one woman who is absolutely good enough for me in every way, and I refuse to replace her with another in thought or in deed.

I conclude with a statement that I know will not settle well with many. I make the charge that any man or woman who continually views such explicit material and claims that it does not affect them or their marriage, or any celebrity who claims that acting out such roles is purely for their career advancement, are either liars or themselves have been deceived.

 

 

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My lovely wife and I are foster parents, dog owners, home owners, and Christians. I am a blogger, book editor, and author. On my blog you'll read about adoption, faith topics, inspirational thoughts, and a whole lotta Disney/Pixar lovin'! For the most exciting read ever, check out my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. You. Will. Love it.

79 Responses to Why Christians “Prefer” Violence to Sex

  1. lauramacky says:

    Yeah, on this one I disagree with what I see as a way to justify a point of view. Personally, I think both sex on screen and violent films creep into one’s fabric of being. The point you make about “not being able to take back sex” kind of made me laugh because the violence children are seeing on screen and on video games is affecting them deeply. It’s desensitization and lack of respect for life in general which is a problem with today’s media. But just IMHO. I still love your blog and, hey, it got me to make one of the longest comments I’ve ever made! LOL. Touche!

    • This is why we guard are children fervently from sexual and violent images. In children, there is a vulnerability that we as adults don’t have, and they lack the distinction yet from reality and make-believe. We must be very discerning about when to allow our children (and now I mean ages 13 and up) to view violent movies that underscore redemption as the ultimate theme (highlight that last part). If they don’t get the redemption aspect and are more intrigued with the blood and fighting, then they are not ready for such material. As discerning and intelligent adults we are not likely to be scarred by men getting blown up on the beaches of Normandy because we know it is all done by special effects and make-up artists, but we would likely (hopefully) be scarred if we saw real footage. And we will never allow our children (or ourselves) to view sexually-charged images or movies because that is something that is not fabricated for the screen and something we as humans never “grow out of” or mature from. I hope this helps.

  2. darkwriter67 says:

    This is a straw man argument. You say the difference between the two is you can’t “take back sex”. How do you take back cutting someone’s head off? Or slaughtering a family (Gladiator)? Maximus had nothing to redeem himself for; he was all out for vengeance- which you seem to have no problem with. Sex can be a healing experience, particularly with someone you’re close to. But if you’ve slept around, you can simply resolve not to do it again (redemptive) while everyone you’ve killed remains dead.

    • You bring up points that I’ve wrestled with myself. First off, we’re strictly assuming that the “Cutting someone’s head off” is fabricated by Hollywood special effects. No real harm has been done, no one has died. Life still goes on for all. The only potential harm is if someone more sensitive and less-educated in the difference between reality and fantasy (like a child) were to see such an image. That would indeed be very traumatizing and difficult to take back.

      In the case of Gladiator, it is true that “Vengence is the Lord’s,” but Maximus was willing to accept the consequences of his choices, morally wrong as they were. But in the end, he was reunited with his loved ones, which is the hope that Christians cling to daily as we live our lives making right and wrong decisions.

      As for the statement you made about sex. You are correct that it can be healing, but the key phrase that you pointed out was “someone you’re close to.” Hopefully that someone is your spouse whom you’ve vowed to be with for life. I’m not close to any celebrity I see on screen, so I have no business watching them “be close” to someone else. And if one has slept around, there are scars and damages done that could take a lifetime to heal, even though forgiveness is ready to be found, especially by God, if true repentance is made.

      • darkwriter67 says:

        …what…?

        ((First off, we’re strictly assuming that the “Cutting someone’s head off” is fabricated by Hollywood special effects. No real harm has been done, no one has died. Life still goes on for all. The only potential harm is if someone more sensitive and less-educated in the difference between reality and fantasy (like a child) were to see such an image. That would indeed be very traumatizing and difficult to take back.))

        You can say exactly the same thing about movie sex. It all happens within the context of the script- which means there’s a point to it- and unless it’s porno flick it isn’t real, either. So what’s your point- that you can come back from being a killer but not from getting laid? And how is murder ever less traumatizing than lust?

        • There is a much greater difference between an actor coming home to his wife and saying, “I pretended to cut off people’s heads today – they’ll be editing it in a month,” and one saying, “I spent the whole day in bed, naked with (so-and-so), making out, undressing each other over and over for several takes…” That cannot be taken back. That is infidelity plain and simple. And I have never in my life seen a movie where the sex scene served to enhance the story. Any movie that cuts from the kiss to the next morning is just as effective at getting the point across. Just because someone wrote it in a script doesn’t mean there’s a point to it. Someone just wrote it in a script to make a scene that would attract a certain kind of audience to put more money in his pocket. But there’s no point added to the story itself.

          • darkwriter67 says:

            Your biases are showing. First, there is no difference between the two. Pretending to cut off someone’s head via creative editing and props is no different than pretending to have sex via creative editing and a sheet between them. And you really think these folks don’t talk about their romantic scenes with both their spouses- if they have any- AND their co-stars beforehand to find out what’s acceptable and not? It’s not infidelity; it’s acting, performing, working. If you’ve never seen a sex scene that enhanced the story you really do need to expand your horizons- isn’t that culminating moment the driving force behind romances to say the least? You really typed that with a straight face?

            Your point about just because it’s in the script doesn’t mean it’s significant can apply to everything you’ve said, which renders your argument moot. A knife to the ribs or cutting away before the blood goes flying works just as well, so why do we need to see heads and limbs rolling in the dust other than that’s what works for you? But sex in a film doesn’t so it’s not good. Brilliant.

            The more I think about this, the more it seems you just typed this to stir things up, so well done with that. And that’s the last I have to say about this.

            • I just wanted to point out that I don’t think it’s necessary for every rib to pop out or arm to get cut off in a war movie. It’s not necessary for dinosaurs to eat people in sci-fi movies. It’s not even necessary for movies to be made at all, to get right down to it. But they do get made, and we do watch them. Because it’s a movie depicting war, there will be blood. And as long as the event is not made into a mockery or the actual lives lost dishonored, I believe it could be a valuable film for those of age (and sound mind) to see, but they’re free not to. Just like I’m free not to expose myself to sexually stimulating images.

              You say there’s no difference between pretending to cut off someones head and people making out and undressing each other on a movie set (and you can’t really believe that a sheet is enough to stand between them, do you?). You say it’s good enough that they talk to their prospective spouses, because it’s work. Why don’t I go and clock in at the office and fornicate with some woman because we talked about it? Taking that logic further, let’s adapt Shakespeare’s motto that life is but a stage and we are all actors. Say I adopt this philosophy as my own. Does it make it right that I go and make out with some other woman even though I told my wife about it beforehand? And suppose she does give me permission, I am still breaking a promise that I made to her under the alter to have and to hold her – just her – until death intercedes.

              Acting, indeed! It’s child’s play and nothing more than an excuse for people to have sex with each other, flaunt it in front of millions of people, and get paid for it.

              If I’m going to pay to watch any sort of child’s play, I’d much rather watch people swinging rubber swords at each other than watch people flaunt their bodies in front of me, engaging in acts that can just as easily be done off-camera, by anyone, and have them call it “acting.” It’s nothing but a poor excuse for their viewers to label their lusts as “art” and pretend that the paid actors are the only ones who know how to act in such ways (in which case, I feel very sorry for said viewers – especially the married ones).

              Don’ worry; there’s no need to respond, as you’ve clearly stated you have nothing left to say about this topic. I appreciate your comments.

  3. BA Phillips says:

    hahaha – shut up man!

    “I’ve made jokes that every male Christian has either Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings, or The Patriot on their list of favorite movies – all violent films.”

    lol. so true.

  4. You are far too quick to dismiss the visceral impact of violence, and the redemptive narratives are a red herring. One can as easily put such a narrative on a sexually explicit movie, but you apply the concept only to those involving violence. To say nothing of the degree to which the myth of redemptive violence is itself little other than a rationalization in its own right. In the end, your defense does little but show that the double-standard runs deeper than you imagine.

    • I can understand how this would seem a double-standard. Yes, whereas violence done to an innocent runs deep, sexual scars can run deeper still. We label sexuality as a happiness to achieve here on earth, and while it is a wonderful thing, it is to be harnessed and experienced appropriately, the way God intended for it to be. Sex was actually created by God in Eden before the Fall. God did not create, nor did He intend for there to ever be violence. So the double-standard seems to run even deeper with this statement, does it not? So deeper we must dig.

      Sex was intended to exist within the specific boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman. It is a blessed act, and highly encouraged by God within these boundaries. Slice open these boundaries as the Fall did, and in comes hurt, betrayal, lies, diseases, death.

      Violence occurred after the Fall. But God stepped in and said that the story doesn’t end there. Violence does not have a last word. The voice of death and pain is not louder than God’s. God provided occurrences for redemption, for the evil-doers to be judged and punished, for the innocents to be saved. But alas, we know this isn’t always the case.

      And in today’s world, more and more people and couples are open to polygamous relationships and encourage their significant others to explore other options. So it seems everything has flipped upside down even from the Fall.

      Deeper we must dig.

      It now becomes a question of character and right-standing with God. We live in a world where no sensible person living outside of God’s will has any reason whatsoever to abstain from frivolous sex. I think I am not off my marker when I say God would much rather a Christian man die by the hands of violence than have him exchange his character and integrity for the easy and loose ways of the world. Because happiness in this life is not the ultimate goal. It’s Life, not Death, beyond this life, that is.

      • Elaboration on your narrative preferences does not change the basic irrelevancy of your argument. Your priorities remain as perverse as they were to begin with. To be fair, a lot of people share your double standard; not many elevate it to the status of principle.

  5. Very interesting take on sex vs violence. Now that you mention the theme of good over evil I totally see why my christian friends have the movies they do and it makes sense weather its like you a decission make explicitly on the type of movie or juts engrained into them. Movies like avengers, star wars, lord of the rings, hellboy (all superhero movies) have a common theme standing up to evil and willing to give even your life to defeat it. Interesting and thought provoking as ussual.

  6. I would see violent intention as easier to psychologically direct. When someone is fighting it is usually in opposition to an “evil” adversary. War, bloodshed or outright genocide can be skewed as though in service to a divine mandate (i.e. They are evil, we are not). This is admirable in our culture. Intimacy has an asterisk associated with it. You may engage in this only IF “insert religious justification here”. We send our 18 yr olds to die overseas for our “freedom”. But we get all worked up when they have relations with someone we don’t approve of. While it might stem from a genuine desire to keep them from being “used” by that person or to prevent them from inadvertently bearing offspring they are not yet ready for, killing seems to get a pass. I will say that sexually explicit images steal innocence of childhood. In the pure mind of a child I see the innocence of Adam and Eve before the fall. Then they become “aware” and cannot completely go back. Such primal instinct runs deep but I see no need to prematurely activate them. Such a thing will inevitably happen. It is the cultural engineers which have constructed a system of manipulation by which people who have found themselves subservient to their impulses can be more easily led and directed to a self-consumed end and miss the deeper spiritual essence that is available to one with more… delicate sensitivities.

  7. Dugutigui says:

    A society based on family and absolute respect for authority, can not afford the free play of sexual pleasure. Even St. Augustine clearly acknowledges it when he says that “sexuality is not bad per se, but must be fought and regulated because it encourages disobedience …”
    I write a long article on this issue myself you may find interesting: http://damantigui.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/whats-wrong-with-sex-en/

  8. chialphagirl says:

    I think it is because we are all capable of sexual acts and many of us have or will engage in them. But most of us, unless threatened, are not violent and are definitely not capable of the level of violence in most movies.

    But, we do need to be careful because we can become desensitized to violence and it can impact dreams and thought life as well.

  9. jq1317 says:

    I think you all are missing his point and looking at some parts of this wrong, maybe too literal for lack of better term. He mot saying that if you ACTUALLY cut someone’s arm off you can take it back. By take it back he means that we as ADULTS can discern that the violence we see on the screen is made up, special effects, or a telling of historical real events that even though they are true facts the images we are seeing are fake. However, when a sex scene is played out, the persons in the screen are ACTUALLY naked. They’re nudity is not special effects it’s real. Making love to your loved significant other is beautiful. And yes can be healing. God meant for it to be. But watchingothers have sex is not healing or therapeutic, in fact it’s scientifically proven to be addictive. Of course there are always the cases where both violence and sex can be a problem for even adults to view. Like he mentioned if someone is viewing the blood and guts and getting off on it dreaming of doing that to people in real life them of course they are sick. But I think he made his point very well and clear. It’s not to say anyone has to agree, and I don’t think he is trying to push that on anyone, simply explaining where he and many Christians are Coming from and the psych behind it. Weak quickly jump and get so technical with anything we can find on people with different opinions I think we fail to actually see their points for what they actually are saying. I think he explained exactly what many Christians are actually thinking on the issue and why they truly don’t mind certain “violent” films because it is good triumphing evil which is what they believe in vs viewing sex and other naked people that aren’t their spouses which is not what they believe in. It’s not disagreeingthat sex is good, Christians don’t believe sex is wrong. They believe watching others do it or is wrong to say simply.

    • I posed this on the AdoptingJames Facebook page. Thank you for reading between the lines, as I didn’t want to use up too many.

      • jq1317 says:

        No problem :) I know it can get really frustrating feeling like you have to counter every possible case scenario in your writing when expressing a point of view because people will always look for that one loophole before actually listening to what you’re really trying to say, which most of the time said people actually agree with anyways.

  10. jq1317 says:

    Sorry for the horrible grammar and typos my kindle has a mind of its own..

  11. A says:

    Interesting argument, but I disagree in many ways. I believe gratuitous sex and violence both have deep lasting effects on viewers. I have a stepson who plays games such as “Halo” and other even more violent video games, and has been playing them since he was at least 12 years old. One time recently he didn’t like the fact that we were stuck in traffic and someone in front of us refused to move when the other traffic moved. He said that he would in all seriousness shoot the person in front of us if he could. He has also made other, more disturbing threats of violence toward others. He mimics what he sees in these increasingly violent video games. I find that to be a much bigger problem than occasionally viewing an onscreen kiss. I think children up to a certain age need to be protected from both sex and violence onscreen. I have seen the latter cause much more permanent damage than the former, though. JMHO. Regards, A

  12. thomasjford says:

    As much as I like reading your blog good sir, this just makes you come across as small minded. Just because you choose to watch a film with sex in it (a perfectly normal, healthy human pursuit) doesn’t mean you want to replace your good lady wife. Similarly, just because you watch a film featuring some sort of violence doesn’t mean you wish to carry out any such act on anyone.

    I agree that children should be shielded from certain images and themes, but a grown adult isn’t a bad person because they watch a Seth Rogen comedy or a Saw type horror film! You are missing out on some amazing films if you only choose redemptive movies.

    Dare I say it is this kind of opinion and closed mindedness that contributes to fears that religion and Christianity are dying out? You almost seem to press your opinion on to others by saying
    “There may be some, I am sure, and even more who may own movies with explicit sexual material. This should not be the case. We’ve had to throw out many movies that we were not comfortable owning anymore”.

    Out of interest, how much sex or violence does there have to be in a film for you to opt not to view it?

    • It’s great to hear from you, Thomas. I’m sorry I came across as small minded here. I think I would officially be small-minded if I myself have never dabbled in these viewing options in my life. Since I have, I am not proud, and I know the ramifications that can come from such viewings, even as little as speaking inappropriately to my wife or friends. So I must dismiss the claim that I am small-minded here.

      You’re right – watching a film with sex in it doesn’t mean I want to replace my wife, but I’ll likely still want to have what I see. This is the logic that restaurant marketers flow from. And that, according to Jesus, is as good as adultery.

      I don’t think people are bad for watching Seth Rogan comedies; I have many Christian friends that actually do, and I used to myself. But they must be watched with great caution, because his (and countless other) movies can desensitize us to the beauty of sanctity of sex God meant for it to be. On the same token, I’m not a good person because I choose not to watch them.

      And I do think it is right for Christians to occasionally go through their books and movies Netflix watch lists and do a thorough cleansing as we mature in Christ and become more like-minded with Him. A new Christian isn’t likely to stop viewing certain movies on a dime, but as he grows and matures, he ought to be able to discern the wisdom (or lack thereof) of subjecting his mind to such material.

      I really am grateful for your comment (I’m not just saying that). You pointed a sentence where I may have come across as too harsh, but hopefully this response provides you with a little more understand where I’m coming from.

      • thomasjford says:

        A good point well argued sir, and whilst I don’t agree with all of the points you make and I’m not a religious person myself I accept that everyone is different and has their own views. Happy viewing and I look forward to more posts. It’s always good to prompt discussion!

  13. Interesting post, interesting comments. What comes into the home of Christians is always up for debate, be it food, entertainment, drink, etc… We are to answer to our Lord as to what we fill our time with. We will answer to Him directly and be responsible for our choices. Very bravely written and I applaud you for expressing your views and answering comments that don’t agree with you. As always, an entertaining read, very thought provoking. Stand your ground Brother, not everyone is bold enough to write exactly what they are feeling about these areas that border on the ‘gray’ areas of life. Well done!

  14. paulfg says:

    Interesting topic Andrew. And cat amongst the pigeons springs to mind from the comments above. Any thorny topic will attract the rights and wrongs in endless debate. But one thing that did cause me to reach for the keyboard is your reference to “Christians” and what they do or don’t do, should or shouldn’t do. You might be right – but I never read about Jesus splitting hairs, So not sure what he would say about this piece. But I am pretty certain he wouldn’t want anyone to own His Christ-ians. Happy writing (it’s why I look in on your blog).

    • I completely understand that we are to operate according to the sensitivities of the Spirit inside us. I partake in media that I’m sure countless Christians would think that I shouldn’t (and sometimes even my wife, and in that case I’m responsible to rid it from my life), but I have my reasons for holding on to them, especially since I know where my weaknesses lie (some of them, anyway). And so I would not judge Christians for what they watch, unless it was just blatantly X-rated, and even then I refuse to judge, but would confront and counsel and help.

  15. Tim A. says:

    Great thoughts, Great piece. I enjoyed the read, and pretty much agree with you. The sexual images are very hard to get out of your head. The bloody scenes, are made up, staged. But those bedroom scenes surely light a fire of passion even among those actors and actresses; and leave a lasting impression on the viewers; which by the way does cause expectations from one’s spouse. Just my thoughts.

  16. J. Brown says:

    this is awesome and so true! I love the part where you say, Nudity is real and violence is fabricated.. so true. I have two teenage boys, and this is definitely true for all of us, but something that haunts my heart being a christian mom. I would much rather have the TV turned on to gladiator with killing scenes, than victoria secret commercials that are completely viewable for young boys to see on tv at all times of the day. thanks for this! best of luck to you and your wife :)

  17. I agree with you on this topic. I can not watch movies with a lot of sex or explicit scenes because it’s not something I want to see. At the same time, I can’t watch movies that are explicitly bloody. In both of these cases it’s because of how real it looks. I accidentally saw a clip from a Saw movie and gagged because it looked too real. A lot of this comes from preference, but I do think that Christiand need to look at both violence and sex in movies with equally critical eyes.

  18. Kim13 says:

    I prefer to keep my eyes from evil as much as possible, whether it be sexual content or violence in movies and television. But in specific regards to violence…
    *The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence*
    Psalm 11:5
    .*I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me* Psalm 101:3

    I believe that what we allow into our eyes we allow into our souls. We may think that just watching it is not harmful, but I’m sure the devil is pleased by that idea.
    I am NOT saying that I am innocent of watching inappropriate content more often than than I should, but this post reminded me to “guard my heart, and my eyes”.

  19. You made many great points! This post helped me to understand why some Christians are more comfortable with violence. Although I disagree with the fact that it does not stay in your mind or have an impact, your article was very well-thought and intriguing. Thanks!

  20. dfrantz1953 says:

    You are spot-on with your analysis about violent movies with redemption being our favorites! We watch “The Passion of the Christ” every Friday during Lent. There are parts where I have to look away it is so horrible. Great post!

  21. Erick says:

    Sex…and viewing sex…stimulates the pleasure centers of our brain and causes us to want more of it. Violence does not act this way on our brains…if anything it makes us cringe and feel remorse, (if we’re sane). The Bible tells us to “leave and cleave”…that is to one woman for life…(not with a cleaver looking for blood)…because the good Lord knows that the more we see, the more we’ll want…especially us men. Great article.

  22. vhdz14 says:

    Interesting. I guess I’m not as traditional as I thought I was. I can watch sex and violence, and still hold strong that I’m not going to go out and shoot someone or have gratuitous amounts of sex with strangers. Although there is the suspension of belief, at some point one has to realize that it is fake. And if watching shows like Game of Thrones, which has both sex and violence, is a sin, I’ll be sure and add it to my list during Confession and Absolution at the next service. (:

    • ljanoski says:

      Congratulations! Your frontal lobe is fully developed! For girls, that usually happens around the age of eighteen. For many boys it might not happen until as late as the age of twenty-five. Without a fully developed frontal lobe, a person’s ability for cognitive reasoning is impaired.

  23. ljanoski says:

    Perhaps the reason Christians have less of a problem with violence than they do with sex, is because the Bible is full of death, violence, and genocide, while God continuously lets His disapproval of any kind of sexual behavior, beyond what is necessary for procreation, be expressly known.

  24. This is my first time visiting your blog. First of all, I have to say i certainly see where you are coming from. That being the case though, I quite disagree with the box your lumping “sex” into. Or at least sexual content in the media. Your target seemed to be Judd Apatow and/or connections to his work. I am a devout Christian. I am a wife. My husband and I have both been involved in ministry, mentor couples through reconciliation/saving marriages and I’m a counselor for teen girls/young women who are survivors of sexual abuse. While I’m not giving you that background on myself for any reason other than to give you a little background- it’s relevant BECAUSE I LOVE Judd Apatow! I love his work! I love that he will take truly gritty subject matter (that is raw and relevant and focusses on monogamy or some other ethically sound and AWESOMELY unheard of (in Hollywood) element) and make an entire movie about it in a way that makes it relatable to the audience of people who need to hear it most- the sinners… (ALL OF US.) His movies are full of self righteousness and snobbery or judgement. They are honest. And time, and time again I see one and think “WOW! That was DEEP!”
    And I’m guilty of seeing a movie that looks like his genre of film, and being so disgusted by the completely heartless vulgarity for vulgarities sake.
    Because sometimes not everything that can be packaged the same. Like with violence… Braveheart isn’t Saw. They don’t tell the same story. One story can change a life, soften a heart, inspire change, beg forgiveness, convict a soul, etc.
    We live in a visual era where metaphors are on screen and people use these artistic imageries to grow, inspire, cope and feel… Who are we to limit through which ones God can speak to people?

    • I used to applaud Apatow films for the same reasons, and in some very small ways, still do. But the use of vulgarities and references and innuendos, when looked at on a broader scale are only meant to harm and cheapen sex. I don’t feel like it’s worth sitting through two-hours of bashing and cheapening and degrading sexuality for a last-minute moral lesson on monogamy. I hope you understand that I know where you’re coming from, but when glorifying sexuality as some cheap thing for two hours vs. a ten-minute morality lesson, that two hours is going to outweigh the morality in any instance.

  25. A very thoughtful article, and a well chosen subject. I’m going to make the outrageous proposal, though, that you’ve misread your own psychology, that is, your own psyche. You are a man. You have a visual imagination that is directly linked to sex. You don’t need to see someone nude or in a sexual position to be scored by temptation – this will happen to you regardless. Your mind, however quickly you whack it down, will momentarily show you everything, not in the brightest focus, but clearly enough. The real psychological reason Christians – we Christians – prefer violence to sex is that violence, if not completely berserk, is merely an extreme form of being in control, whereas we associate sexuality with being out of control. Here’s a related passage from my book, ‘This Moonless Sky.’

    The narrator, Marrik, aged 17, also Christian, is about to receive 50 lashes of the whip in a Saudi-style justice system on another planet, and he utters a four-letter swear word. What follows is part of his reflections, as his sentence is being read out in an incomprehensible language, on which is more obscene, his moment of dirty swearing or the whipping he’s about to receive.

    “Obscenity where I come from (North America) was limited to topics that were uncontrolling in themselves, or that caused moralists to worry that they would excite uncontrol.

    Sex was felt to be losing yourself to passion, lust and, ultimately, embarrassing geysering actions, so that all qualified as uncontrol. Talking about it a lot or showing it too intimately in audiovisuals would also cause people to lose control of themselves; moreover, the participants would eventually be shamed by their involvement in the foci of dissolution. There was more
    uncontrol right there.

    Bodily eliminations came into play, too, as uncontrol, which is why ‘sh**’ works as a
    swear word – uttering it erects a looseness-contaminated finger at sensibility and propriety. As a human, you can’t actually be a monkey and fling the substance around with social success, but you can be a highly modified ape and fling the concept around almost to the point of making it an art. You can even work the paradoxes of control, proving you’re a tough, controlling
    teen by manipulating the dangerous uncontrols successfully – swearing as much as you can, mostly with controlling aggression, having a go at drugs, including alcohol, and embarking on sexual ventures. Then you can f***ng marvel at how f***ing hungover you are, but at least you didn’t ba*f on a ch*ck’s b**bs like Kyle. Oh yes, stereotypical epithets like ‘ch*ck’ were also an uncontrol, a sort of swearing in classification.

    Now and again, on Earth, you would see a suggestion that a controlling act might also reach the point of obscenity. But this was uncommon. A television station showing a policeman blowing an escapee’s head off would engender viewer complaints, even when the station warned that the content they were about to show might disturb some viewers. Put the same scene in a movie, though, and it could be a moment of communal triumph. Just a few sensitive souls would say,
    ‘that was really unnecessary,’ when all the adventure lovers were saying ‘yeah, cool head-splat.’

    A common, though severe, punishment in parts of the old British Raj was to administer 24 thwacks on the bare buttocks with a thick, water-swollen rattan cane. Each stroke would take out a chunk of skin, draw blood and leave a scar. Showing that sort of thing on television would have been considered objectionable where I grew up, perhaps even if the flesh removal was transposed to the back. On the other hand, it wasn’t obscene at the time, because the British Raj worshipped control; that was the native idolatry of the Victorian era and its immediate surroundings.

    The society of my birth was just beginning to emerge from this adherent-in-reduction (more or less means ‘superstitious romanticism,’ but also includes idolatry), this enjoinment of the good to the controlling. It was just beginning to recognize that controlling-type obscenity could exist just as easily as uncontrolling-type obscenity. Adolf Hitler’s Nazis did their bit to help this process along with their hideously overstated parody of Victorian imperial control – they finally pressed the finger of social control deep enough into its latent possibilities to trigger the nausea response.

    Still, where I came from, we were all reluctant to be weak and eager to be strong, so uncontrolling obscenity still had the edge in disgust over controlling obscenity.”

  26. You make very good points here. I’ve never thought about the “redemptive” part before. Sin is sin, and violence in and of itself isn’t a sin- but fornication and adultery are. And even if a Christian is watching a movie with a “love scene” between a man and wife, the man and woman are NOT the viewer’s spouse (not sure if that made much sense.)

    Christ’s death was violent. But, ultimately, if he hadn’t suffered for us, none of us would be saved. I agree that if there is a good outcome, then violence is “ok.”

    I really enjoyed this post!

    • Yes, your comment made complete sense. I’m glad you found value in this post.

    • I thought about this post overnight and it still isn’t settling well with me. Most forms of violence ARE sinful – we’re not even allowed to ‘call our brother rakha’ – that is, ‘fool;’ and striking back after getting a clap, as you know from the Sermon on the Mount, is strategically strongly discouraged. Necessary self defense and life-preserving national self defense can be excused in urgent circumstances, surely. But to effectively say ‘the end justified the means’ in the crucifixion is a modern reinterpretation that knocks me over backward. The traditional interpretation is that all the sins of humanity compiled together in order to do violence to the son of the loving God; it had been predicted and God didn’t intervene to stop it, but it was still the quintessence of human sin. I think we go very far into the erosions of modernity if we conclude that its intrinsic violence was ‘ok.’

      • Nothing about the Crucifixion was okay. Nothing about war is okay. But what’s more than okay is the victory that God preserves for the righteous (usually the victims) at the end of it all. But when we get hung up on the sin and folly of violence and death, we are viewing things through a horizontal lens, rather than looking at the bigger picture. Death is necessary for us all in order to enter into the bigger reality of eternity. I make the claim that God would rather a Christian man die a violent death than he compromise his character and integrity and dabble in sin. Because at the end of death – be it violent or not is Eternal Life (for the Christian). And the end of the road of a life full of sin is riddled with pain and estrangement from God.

      • Surely you’re not saying Christ didn’t suffer on the cross. His death was violent. He was born 100% man while remaining 100% God SO THAT he would suffer and shed human blood. That is the only way salvation through him is possible.

      • Also, there are many instances of violence and death in the Bible. Are we to avoid those verses because they are “sinful?”

      • I’m not sure if Imarriedacubsfan’s question “Are we to avoid those verses (about violence and death) because they are ‘sinful?’” is intended for me or for James, since neither of us seem to me to have made a compatible suggestion. And there’s no reply button directly under the post. Anyways, if the question is to me, my answer is ‘no.’ I don’t regard any verse of scripture as sinful. Scripture isn’t a fiction made for entertainment like a movie, we all agree, and any violence and death depicted there either actually happened or are part of an illustrative parable that deals with those aspects of reality in a godly way. There is an interesting question about what we would make of the demand that Saul completely exterminate the Amalekites, though. Not sure if we want to start that discussion here or not.

  27. What about the selection found in Sin Laden’s compound?

  28. gapark says:

    My rule of thumb is to not see anything rated R. And some PG-13 movies SHOULD be rated R!

  29. keithgking says:

    great thoughts! I completely agree. excessive violence tends to make a person cringe away, sexuality is much stronger, and is much easier to gravitate toward (often against the will of the viewer).

  30. rhchatlien says:

    “Because you can’t take back sex.” Sorry, but that strikes me as a very flippant attitude. People are not tainted forever just because they’ve had sex with someone. If it was a mistake, they have a chance at healing and redemption. They can still have whole and sanctified relationships. I’m here to tell you, as someone who has lost two friends to murder, that the thing you really can’t take back is violence. Losing someone to violent death is permanent in a way that losing virginity isn’t. And I believe that this culture’s glorification of violence is something that makes Christ cringe.

    • People can certainly be redeemed from lives of promiscuity, there’s not doubt. But understand that when I speak of violence, I’m not talking about actual murder or violence done in real life in the above context. I’m talking strictly about what we allow ourselves to view on screen. I’m terribly sorry about your losses; I truly am.

  31. retrogold says:

    This is a brave post, and while I don’t agree with you, I like that you are being honest about how you feel.

    I don’t think that violent or sexual images have carved any crevices in my heart. I can understand certain people being caught in “insatiable wells that demand more and more and more. More explicit, more edgy”, but I don’t think that applies to the masses. Everyone has a different mind, and a separate approach.

    I wouldn’t want my children to be exposed to sexual images before they are old enough, but if it happened I would approach the topic with an open mind and I think that reacting in protective way where you try to “take back” what they have seen will only create a bigger problem. Sex is a part of my life, violent death is not. For this reason I view violent death as more offensive.

    Another point on this, but from the other side – I am 26, I am a fairly upstanding citizen, no criminal record, no desire to hurt anyone. I saw terminator, robocop, predator, commando… a whole bunch of films which, people said at the time, turned kids into murderers. I saw those movies as a pre-teen.

    In my own opinion I think that the child’s situation, the set and setting, is a greater influence than the media they consume.

    • I agree with your last statement about the child’s situation. I do think we give the media too much credit. But when the media becomes their constant setting, it has a much higher chance of affecting them.

  32. lauramacky says:

    I will go so far as to say that it shouldn’t just apply to children. But that’s just me. I know a LOT about online gaming as I had a serious addiction to it. I never even played them until I was in my 50′s. I should blog about that. lol

  33. Judy says:

    This is a fascinating topic, also evidenced by the number of comments. :-) May I just add one more thought? Christians, going all the way back to the apostles themselves, have mostly never been very comfortable with Jesus’ message of non-violence. The apostles themselves thought He was going to turn into the conquering military hero who would free them from the Romans. Peter tried to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. They never really “got” the message about not fighting back, allowing God to be our defender, loving our enemies, etc. Christians today still often don’t like that message. It’s so much more natural to fight back. We relate to violence because we’re human and we think that’s how things are done. But we’re all squirmy about sex because that’s what we’ve been taught in church. (How often do we hear messages from the pulpit about non-violence?) So we can watch violent movies, as long as they have that good-versus-evil message and good always wins, but we can’t watch movies that contain sex because we’ve been taught that sex is basically evil.

    Just another perspective. Thanks for a very interesting and thought-provoking topic.

    • I was never taught that sex is evil, nor do I know of anyone who has been taught that. Sex outside of a marriage between a man and woman is sinful. And not only have I been taught that, but I’ve learned it from the Bible itself, and not only that, but I am convicted of it by my basic moral compass, as is every man (Romans 1).

      Peter cutting off the man’s ear and Jesus rebuking him for it had to do with preserving Peter’s own life so that he wasn’t executed for a pointless act of vigilance since Jesus’ death was immanent and welcomed by Jesus Himself.

      I appreciate you pointing this out. And while God isn’t a blood-thirsty lion, He seeks justice, and yes, vengeance is His in the end. But that doesn’t mean we lay around allowing people to break into our homes and rape our wives and daughters. If I see a kid employing this this “Knockout” game on some innocent elderly person, I will tackle him to the ground and do whatever is necessary to restrain him until the authorities arrive, and I would charge any other able-bodied man to do the same.

      It is a sad truth that evil exists, but it is a truth also that sometimes it takes violence to stop evil.

  34. ameliaormia says:

    “we’re supporting actors and actresses committing infidelity and fornication with one another”

    Actors and actresses are not actually having sex with each other on screen. The nudity may be real (though sometimes it isn’t, due to camera angles hiding flesh-colored undergarments), but the sex is just as fabricated as the violence in movies. The only instance in which sex on screen is real is porn. When I’m watching a movie with a sex scene, I’m well-aware that they are actors and they are acting. There is no fornication or adultery going on. Unless it’s terribly done or gratuitous, I have no qualms about sex in movies. It’s not real.

  35. Pingback: An opinion on the portrayal of violence and sex in media | Ramblings on gender & sex

  36. winolady says:

    This is such an interesting post with intriguing comments. I have often wondered about the preference of violence over sex and never fully understood the reasoning behind it. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch any television and until I was in my teens, none with either sex or violence. As an adult, I happen to like movies with either or both… but only if it makes sense to the story. Sex OR violence without any contemplative story behind it is completely unnecessary but to eliminate them from a film for no other reason than to not offend doesn’t make sense either.
    I have to wonder about how society dictates what is right and wrong. Since most movies with just violence and no sex are rated PG or PG-13 but movies with sex are always rated R, do we have some sort of built-in thought that sex is more inappropriate?
    Also, what are you defining as “sex”? The comedic actors that you mentioned haven’t been in any movies with any “sex-parts” showing that I know of. Is it the presumption of nudity that is bothersome? I think that films would lose a lot of their meaning if we took out the sex entirely. An expression of a love story sometimes needs sexual acts but I guess I don’t understand how different it is from a story of conflict that involves violence.
    What are your thoughts on books? Are romance novels okay because they aren’t visual? I read once that women who enjoy romance novels are more sexually interested in their partners but I don’t know if it’s true. Seems legitimate because it’s unrealistic to have sex with characters in books or on screen though you may have an attraction to them; however, when you’re reading or seeing it, there’s some stimulation that may make you even more attracted to your partner.
    I don’t know how Christianity fits into any of this, but that’s for individual Christians to decide. I just wonder about the de-sensitization of both sex and violence and their effects on us all…

    • I think romance books are just as damaging, if not more so, because they’re describing someone other than the reader’s spouse, thus causing them to long for and crave that fictitious person, and therefore not their spouse.

  37. Cebuana C.A. says:

    I’m new here. I am about to just write on the double standard over some other people hung up about the violence in the Bible, but themselves don’t mind watching crime dramas and play Bioshock (I only read about this popular game), even when they’re fully aware of its graphic depictions of violence. Yes, I’m talking about the non-Christians, who can’t differentiate between reading up moral instructions and historical narratives. And the funniest thing is that they think we hate sex but love violence.

    Go over through the Bible and read up ‘Song of Songs’. That particular text has a lot of detailed sexual imagery. But it is more metaphorical, and in fact equating the passion between the lovers with our relationship with the Lord. At least in the text, there’s deep reverence to these sacred acts, and not cheapened and degraded like how other humans depict them.

    I don’t watch films that stylizes violence and sex, like a Tarantino film (only ever read about his work). And I never played any computer games other than some mind games (like word puzzle kind of games). I also feel squeamish over gory films. Even though I liked ‘Passion of the Christ’ I still don’t like how graphic the violence looked. But unlike with a lot of sex comedies, the violence in this particular film has a context. It is supposed to make us empathize with our Lord suffering for our redemption. You’re clearly right on this, mr. author.

    I also agree about the depiction of sex on screen. When I was four, my parents would use to put on some Disney movies for me to watch like Aladdin. And the way Princess Jasmine dressed up, admittingly made me feel strange and curious about my body. At that age. And the violence? I wasn’t yet exposed to it, but even in that cartoon, my mind can easily forget about that aspect – but not how the Princess looked. And even I struggled through with my mind messing me up – yes, it has more impact on a little child even when just implied.

    This is such an intelligent post and I wish there are more Christian perspectives on this subject matter. Truly refreshing. Thank you.

  38. jakepackham says:

    I think the issue here is with what we perceive as being our personal struggles. A religious person lives each day hoping to follow a pathway. They are to do this in real life and in their internal life.
    Most people get angry each day. But as long as we don’t bottle it up we can expell it before it becomes a problem. We can talk or write to those who have upset us, or just cuss a bit. And that’s ok. It is more acceptable that stabbing one another. We have a field of response. We can even tell people that they HAVE upset us and although we could respond strongly, we CHOOSE not to. The believer has to put the hating out of himself. It isn’t enough to simply ‘not express’ the urge to shove them, but to stop the hatred slicing you up inside. Then to move on with your own life and progress.

    Movies provoke us. As long as these provocations come and then go again, we are ok. If they stay, we have a problem.

    Some people find that violent images stick in their head more than sexual images, and the other way can be true.

    I am a non-smoker. Never did anything for me. If I have a cigar with chums it will not be a repeated experience. And I’ll want to have a good scrub after. But give me a nice tasty beer and chances are that I’ll be there for a whole evening.

    Commentors on this issue will either state sex or violence as being more problematic based on the problem behaviors they see around them.

    The struggle is still an internal one. We can remove stimuli. But the issue isn’t response, but whether or not we can control the urge., and stop it from slowly poisoning us. This is the redemptive quality.

  39. Pingback: Why Christians “Prefer” Violence to Sex | Unchanging

  40. Holly says:

    But you haven’t really addressed the issue of how watching violence with “redemptive” purpose inures and encourages the viewer to that kind of violence just as much as watching nudity and sex does. Violence is just as much a part of our human natures as sex is. And there is the “thou shalt not kill” commandment. It doesn’t say “thou shalt not kill except when there is a really good reason.” we are flawed: we cannot always know for sure what is a good reason and what is not. Wars have so often turned out in hindsight to have been fought under false presences and for bad reasons. I know the fantasy in many movies and for many people is that there is a clear dividing line between good and evil people/groups, but the reality is usually far from that.

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