“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. …So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them” (Gen 6:11, 13 NIV).
Psalm 11:5 says that the LORD hates the one who loves violence. Ezekiel prophesied that disaster would come to Israel because the city (Jerusalem) was full of violence (7:23). There are quite a few references in Scripture that talk about the sin of unjust violence, brutality, and bloodshed. Commenting on the 6th commandment, the Westminster Larger Catechism says it requires the preserving of life by “just defense thereof against violence” and it forbids unjustly “striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any” (Q/A 135-136). In a word, Christians should take a stand against unjust violence.
Speaking of violence, many movies and TV shows come to mind. A few examples: “American Sniper” has around 60 violent scenes (bodies blown up, shot, lying dead, etc.) in around 190 minutes. “Shooter” has around 70 violent scenes in around 190 minutes. “The Expendables” has around 70 violent scenes in 100 minutes. In “Die Hard 2” there were 264 deaths/murders. The list goes on – and on! Note: I haven’t seen these movies – I found most of this info on a website (see below). On top of violence, these movies also have blasphemy, cussing, sex scenes/nudity, and other things like that. When you put it on paper, it sounds pretty bad; here are a few examples of violence:
“A person is shot in the head and blood sprays out.”
“A person is having a power drill put into their leg.”
“A power drill is being pressed into the person’s head.”
“A room contains severed body parts.”
“Human heads are sitting on a shelf.”
“A child is shot with a gun.”
“Several people are shot and fall in rapid succession.”
“A body of a dead child can be seen laying in a pool of blood.”
Of course the list goes on and some of those phrases happen many times in a single movie. I appreciate Kent Hughes’ words on unjust, sinful violence (by the way, “just” violence would be, for one example, the government using the sword rightly per Romans 13). Here’s Hughes:
“What the Bible prohibits is the cultivation of a violent heart. In Scripture’s language, God is opposed to ‘the one who loves violence’ (Ps. 11:5) – those whom ‘violence covers …as a garment’ (Ps. 73:6), and those of whom it is said, ‘the desire of the treacherous is for violence (Prov. 13:2). The Bible rejects those who glory in violence as did Lamech (Gen. 4:23-24), and Simon and Levi, whose genocidal spree earned them a curse (Gen. 49:5-7)….
“In effect, the Scriptures declare an ominous ‘woe’ to violent hearts that glory in violence and promote it in the world. There are no beatitudes for the violent. Only ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’ (Mt. 5:9).”
Hughes later writes about violence in the media and notes a study that said an average child sees around 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts on the screen before finishing elementary school – and these numbers more than double for a teen graduating high school. Hughes speaks a blunt word to Christians: “Woe to those in Christ’s church who passively view it [violence] – who fail to protect their homes and their children from its degenerating effects. Woe to a church culture in which Christian young people view violence at the same rate as the rest of the culture.”
Even if we think Hughes’ “woes” are too harsh, I think the point stands. We do have Christian liberty, for sure, but I’m not sure these types of movies include the “whatever is just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise” list we are to think about (Phil. 4:8). I did watch those types of movies in the past, but no longer do – and I won’t let my kids watch them even though (they say) “all” their friends watch them. I don’t think this is being overprotective; I do think it would be displeasing to the Lord if I let my child see 50+ murders, 10+ blasphemous phrases, 4 sex scenes (etc.) in a 2 hour movie. Agree/Disagree? This surely is worth thinking and talking about!