The Line: Six questions to consider before seeing a film (Or why I won't be seeing Fifty Shades of Grey)

The Line: How do you choose a film? 

Many have asked if I will go to see 50 Shades of Grey. As a film critic, there are films that I see that many might not desire to see. Even within this business I have to determine 'the line' for what films I might see or might not see. 

If you have read my reviews, it is not hard to guess that 50 Shades of Grey will not be on any of my must see lists. But, this film opens an obvious door to this discussion. 

Not to spoil anyone's fun or love of film, but this is a discussion to challenge people to think deeper about the films they should attend.

Most of the content is based on an article by Brett McCracken's book Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism & Liberty (Baker, 2013). 

Here are the six questions that I take into consideration before going to see a film.

1. What does the Bible have to say about discernment? 

Romans 14: 1-4,13-15
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 

1 Corinthians 6:12  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 

2. What is your weakness? What is too far for you?
We all have different issues that cause us to sin. There are obvious things that should be considered by all, but people need to understand what is 'too far'. 
For me, I cannot go to film with excessive nudity/sex, but for others it might be other areas. 

3. What are the weaknesses in your community? 

Watching film is usually a community experience. It is worth considering what might be an issue for those you take with you to the cinema. What are the issues of those you go with to the cinema?

4. Is it beneficial? 

This is not a hard question for most, because film may not be a priority for you. For those who love film, like myself, it is worth taking into consideration if the time would be better spent doing other things. 

5. Has the filmmaker earned the right? 

Due to some objectionable material, not all R rated films are bad. Sometimes, like the Bible, the story contains things that allow the artistic benefit to outweigh the rough content. There can be a purpose for the potential objectionable material. Passion of the Christ, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Gladiator, Schidlers List are examples.  

Also, there are many different resources to help you with this area: Movieguide, Hope 103.2 and Russelling Reviews

6. Have you prayed about it?

“Everything that is debatable or questionable must be taken first to prayer.”
Rebecca -McSparren from LA Film Studies Centre

This may seem the last thing that you might do prior to going to see a film, but maybe it should be the first thing you do.
The Line: My friends, you do need to determine the line for you when it comes to entertainment. Take time to think, pray and determine the line for you. 
You might ask: Isn't that a lot to consider before going into a movie? Doesn't that take the fun out of it all?

That is not my goal, but let me ask you something else.

Is it better to think about these things prior to going to the cinemas as opposed to not going through these steps and having to walk out due to content of a film or having to apologise to someone for taking them to this film? On the other side of the discussion, these steps could allow you to see a great film. 

Honestly, Fifty Shades of Grey has no appeal to me. I do not need to see it to know that it is porn dressed up as a twisted romance. But, I think that people need to learn to discern for themselves, in picking out film and in life. 

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider? 
1. What are your thoughts? 
2. What films would you choose or avoid? 
3. Why would you choose or avoid those films? 

Article by Russell Matthews @ Russelling Reviews