There is much controversy between brethren over this question. Some say that a Christian may attend the movies; others say they may not attend. The movies are evil, and they are made by evil people. The people who make the movies would teach us that evil is good, that there is no harm in doing evil things, and that crime does pay. Let us notice some warnings in Gods word. “Wash you, make ye clean; put away the evil of your doing from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek the judgment.” (Isa 1:16,17) Can we learn to do well if we participate in evil things?
Paul, when he was writing to the Corinthians, spoke of the children of Israel who had followed God but later began to seek after and participate in evil. They sought evil pleasures and things that were sensually pleasing to them. Paul warned, “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” (1 Cor 10:7) The children of Israel had begun to lust after evil things with their eyes and their minds.
Those who go to the movies, lust after them with their eyes and minds. John said, concerning lust: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 Jno 2:16,17 ) Now John said that the lust of the eyes was not of the Father but was of the world and would pass away. There are those who say that the movie goer does not lust with his eyes; but I would like to ask, how many blind people do you see at the movies?
The only blind people who do go to the movies are those who are blinded to God’s word. Paul said, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, is I have also told you in time past, that they which lo such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21 ) Now the church member who attends the movies would not think of committing murder or fornication, for he knows these are against Gods will. But he refuses to heed Paul’s “SUCH LIKE” as a work of the flesh.
There is no doubt that each of the works mentioned in Gal 5:19-21 can be seen in practice on the silver screen by the actors. It has been admitted by many who attend movies that they live each scene as it is enacted; e.g., if the act is one of fornication, adultery, murder, etc., as you move through the acts you become guilty in your heart. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt 5:28)
It would be difficult indeed for a man to sit in a movie theater and behold the most beautiful woman the industry can obtain, parade before his eyes hour after hour in a half nude condition, flaunting her charms, and apparently throwing all caution and morality to the wind, and not commit adultery with her in his heart. If they should take away that part of the movies that is classified under “extravaganza” then they would lose their male customers. Paul wrote, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess 5:22 ) The movies portray evil in abundance and mold the lives and character of all who attend them. The general sex education of the movies is evil, destroying modesty, corrupting the imaginations of youth and developing sexual thoughts and desires. Yes, evil, salacious and immoral pictures are shown constantly in American movie theaters, so that one does, not have much chance of escaping immorality and evil in attending the movies any night. Either in the main feature picture or in the comedy or in the trailers announcing coming films, there will be lines and scenes unfit for the pure minded to see and hear. Their influence is deadly and poison to the morals of our young people.
Often even newsreels, I’m told, have scenes that are immoral. This is the kind of education and schooling our young people get in the movies. Do you like it? Do you think it is morally safe to the character of young people, or even the older ones? Brethren, let us take heed. Let us cease to do evil, and learn to do well that God may receive glory and that it might be well with us when we stand before God in judgment. O.P.A. May, 1948
Brethren, this problem has become much worse hasn’t it? The movies of the 1940s which brother Winchester wrote about then are considered tame and innocent today aren’t they? Today sex and violence are the real box office drawing power. Those who still insist that movie going is dangerous to ones spiritual health are growing fewer and fewer every year. We are certainly in the minority. Should we continue to be surprised, then, as immorality makes its inevitable inroads upon Gods people? Why? Don’t we believe we will surely reap what we sow? Why be surprised when young church members commit fornication when it has been glorified in the movies (yes, and often on many television programs now) for most of their lives? I have heard members speak of not only attending the movies, but of seeing things they surely must realize are wrong. Yet this is becoming common among the members of the church in many parts of the country. Preachers, why don’t we do our best to stem this tide? Start saying something about this and other equally dangerous forms of worldliness wherever you go. I find I am often greeted with incredulity when I mention that I am still opposed to the movies. The reason must be because church members never hear us say much about it. It can’t be because the movies have improved can it? Think about it. – Don L. King
Published in Old Paths Advocate originally in May, 1948. Republished in November, 1987.