My girlfriend and I like to watch films together, but I’m getting worried about the language and physical intimacy of the actors. Where do you draw the line?
I am so glad you have asked this question before you get burned. The first thing I want to do is to flip the question. We need to rearrange your assumptions. You seem to be asking, ‘How close can I get to the edge before I fall over?’ That’s actually not the right question.
You see, Christian liberty isn’t about how much you can do before something is actually sin; you are freed from sin in order to serve Jesus Christ. You are free to be as holy as you can be! If you want to be spiritually safe and happy, you don’t dance on the edge of the precipice of sin; rather, you get as close to God as you can.
That’s not to say that you cannot ever enjoy genuine recreation or find many pastimes that you and your girlfriend can really enjoy together. However, the fact that you are already worried about crossing the line suggests to me that you may well have reached it or even breached it.
So consider the issue of what you are hearing and seeing, and the effect it is having upon you. While I don’t want to draw too fine a distinction, there may be a difference between a gritty documentary which is just very honest about the way people speak, and a film which is full of gratuitously vulgar and coarse speech, or sexually suggestive language.
The fact that you are also worried about the presentation of sexual intimacy suggests to me that it is the latter. And that means that you and your girlfriend are probably putting yourself in a situation where your otherwise legitimate sexual desires are likely to be sinfully inflamed by what you are watching and hearing together. That is a very dangerous place to be.
Even if she, as a woman, is less aroused by what she sees, you are both going to have those scenes in your mind, and you – as a man – are likely to find them sexually exciting. That means you are much more likely to sin against God and against your girlfriend or another woman, either in your mind or in your body. To be honest, even if she were your wife, I think you should be asking the same questions, because of the effect this has on your hearts.
The Bible tells us to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Instead of filling our hearts with filth, we ought to be meditating on whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
So where do you draw the line? Wherever you would draw the line at which something crosses into sin, walk back from there! I am not going to tell you that you should never watch any films. However, there’s an old test that I think may be worth considering for you. Would you be willing to watch that film and experience its effects with the Lord Jesus sitting next to you and your girlfriend? If not, switch it off, because by his Spirit he knows what is taking place in that room and in your heart.
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