There is a lot of talk going around about The Hunger Games - a thrilling movie based off of Suzanne Collins' book series trilogy. In simple observation, it seems Christians split on this issue. Some say the principles it teaches are excellent while others condemn the violence and sensual content. PRO Hunger Gamers feel those who oppose it may be "too sensitive and a little judgmental." ANTI Hunger Gamer believers are appalled any Christian would consider watching it in the first place.
But as followers of Jesus, I think we need to get above the "I am on this side" viewpoint and simply go back to the teachings of Scripture. Does Scripture give us any help in this area? I believe it does. Here is a simple six point check grid that me and my wife use mentally before we consider watching a movie.
Check #1 – Appearance of Evil
“Abstain from every form of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:22
· Are PG 13, R-Rated, or NC-17 movies the diet on which I wish to raise my family?
· Sinful Cover - Does the cover glorify sin?
· Bad Reviews - What does Pluggedin.com say?
· Ungodly Title
Check #2 – Three Human Temptations
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” – 1 John 2:16
· Lust of the flesh
o Does it promote and make fun of Drunkenness, gluttony, laziness, or crime?
· Lust of the eyes
o Is there immodesty, suggestive behavior, and a heavy emphasis on sex?
· Pride of Life
o Is greed, selfishness, and materialism promoted?
Check #3 – That which is Good
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
· True – Is lying and deception promoted as acceptable behavior?
· Honorable – Are people treated respectfully? Is there foul language?
· Right – Does right prevail or at least portrayed to prevail in the end over evil?
· Pure – Is there excessive violence?
· Lovely – Is true love or fleshly love displayed?
· Good Repute – Does this movie have a negative reputation? Would you recommend it to a friend? Do you come away feeling better after watching it? Is the movie useless and unprofitable to Christian growth? Will it hurt your influence as a Christian if you tell others you have seen it?
Check #4 – Profitable
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12
· How will this benefit me spiritually?
· Is this the best use of my time?
· Does it make me more like Jesus?
Check #5 – Loving God; Loving Others
And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39
· Could you watch this with Jesus beside you?
· Would you watch this with a non-Christian whom you were trying to lead to Christ?
· Does your watching this cause someone else to stumble or have wrong temptations?
· Does it help to promote family growth?
Check #6 – Personal Convictions
“But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:23
· Does this violate my conscience?
· Does this allow the devil an opportunity to exploit any of my weak areas?
· Does this violate my personal convictions?
No matter what movie we watch, there is almost always parts of it we could label "redeemable." But this does not make it profitable. And likewise every movie we view will likely have areas that differ from our faith. But Romans 16:19 states we are to be innocent concerning evil. There should not be a part of us that longs to see how close we can get to the world without stepping over the edge. Based on these six principles listed above, I have made my decision on watching The Hunger Games.
What do you use to guide your movie decisions?