“Jesus!” ….. As you just read that, did you think I was calling upon the name of our Lord and Savior? Or did you think I was uttering a frustrated expletive? Well, when I hear that name proclaimed in a church, or a Bible study, or while listening to composer Ralph Carmichael’s REACH OUT TO JESUS, I consider it an acknowledgement of our Redeemer. When I hear it at the local bijou, I cringe at the realization that it is mostly used as a superfluous curse word.
At the screening of Woody Allen’s HOLLYWOOD ENDING a few years back, I noticed that the bespectacled auteur avoided most objectionable verbiage. But, as in most of his films, he incorporated his idiosyncratic use of Jesus’ name. One thing that often mars my appreciation of Mr. Allen’s work is this uttering of Christ’s name every time he gets frustrated. And Woody gets frustrated a lot.
The next night, I attended the press screening for the highly anticipated action adventure SPIDER-MAN. While it was extremely entertaining and replete with positive messages, it also threw away Jesus’ name on two occasions. For me, it was like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.
All right, so profanity is irreverence toward God, big deal. Among the grand scheme of things, profanity falls short as one of the great no-nos. Right? Wrong! Basing the following on the inerrancy of God’s Holy Word, showing reverence toward the Almighty, which includes not taking His name in vain, is right at the top of the list of Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20. This ruling comes before covetness, adultery and, yes, killing. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:4 NIV).
While society as a whole points an accusatory finger at the exploitation of violence and sexuality, these are only symptoms of what ails our entertainment mediums. Consider for a moment: If you go to a surgeon and detail the symptoms you are suffering, the doctor doesn’t just treat the symptoms. If he does, the malady will re-manifest itself. The symptoms tell him what the problem is and guides him in the treatment. Therefore, if the Bible truly is the Word of God, is it too simplistic to suggest that the core problem with today’s standards is a disregard for God’s commands? And although we have been turning a deaf ear to the media’s usage of blasphemy for quite some time, should we continue to do so?
This brings us to the question; do we believe the Bible still relates to today's Christian?
If God inspired modern-day man to rewrite the Bible, would the teachings be different from those written in ancient times? Now, I'm not referring to the customs of that age, but rather God's instructions? Would the misuse of His name still make the top 10 list of do's and don'ts? To say God would change commandments is to suggest He made a mistake. According to the Word, our Creator is infallible: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments” (Revelations 16:7 NIV). I found 32 examples throughout the Bible where we were instructed to reverence God. Man may try to “update” the holy book, but there’s no evidence to believe God would.
Do We Honor God?
"Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises" (Psalms 25:14 Living Bible). "The Lord confides in those who fear him, he makes his covenant known to them" (Psalms 25:14 NIV).
Should We Not Attend Movies Containing Profanity?
We find the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. That third instruction clearly communicates a need for us to reverence God’s name. Yet, on the silver screen, nearly every actor of this era has misused His name or that of our Savior. Reverencing God is a command – from God. If it weren’t somewhat important to Him, wouldn’t it appear further down the list, or not at all? What’s more, there is no indication in that chapter that a storyteller can break that directive in order to develop a character or further a narrative. Those rules are not suggestions. They are not arbitrary. They are guidelines for honoring the Creator and for respecting our fellowman.
During my years as a Christian reviewer of movies, I have made a practice of not delivering ultimatums as to whether someone should or should not see a movie. I have adhered to this philosophy for one important reason, i.e., what my faith enables me to do or prevents me from doing may differ greatly from someone else. It is not my goal to promote movies, but merely aid moviegoers by supplying the pros and cons of each film. It’s your decision, not mine.
That said you might want to keep the following in mind the next time to sit down to watch a movie. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:7, 8 NIV).