Should You Watch Violent Movies or Play Violent Games as a Christian?
Have you ever watched a violent movie and wondered if it was the best form of entertainment? As a Christian, how do you respond to violent films and games?
The short answer is probably no. Violent movies can desensitize viewers from violence and, sometimes, encourage it. In addition, violent video games have been documented to inspire aggressiveness and depression in users. However, some violent scenes give us a glimpse of the reality of the fallen world and a desire for heaven where there is no violence.
Violence is such a broad word, and it serves different purposes in the world of film. Sometimes it is the means of ending injustice, as depicted in Brave Hearts. In other TV shows, it is the main point, for example, Squid Games. Violence, especially violence for the sake of violence, has a mental and spiritual impact on you.
How Violent Movies and Games Affect Viewers Mentally
There is evidence of the negative impact of exposure to simulated violence on TV, in movies, or video games. In addition, exposure to fictional violence increases the risk of violent behavior for viewers.
Other studies have also highlighted the negative impact of simulated violence on mental health, including:
· Aggressive thoughts
· Development of anger
· Aggressive behavior
· Physiological arousal
· Desensitization to more violence
Repeated exposure to fictional violence produces a similar negative impact as growing up in violent neighborhoods. This is to say that the brain does not discriminate between imaginary and actual violence.
As a Christian, you probably do not want to put yourself in situations that increase your likelihood of sinning. If watching violent media produces feelings and thoughts of anger and aggressive thoughts, it is best to avoid them.
However, not every person who watches violent media becomes violent. If that were the case, people would have slaughtered each other to extinction. A significant percentage of films today fall under the category of ‘violent.’ Still, only a tiny percentage of people engage in violence.
Having aggressive thoughts does not mean that one will become violent.
How Violent Movies and Games Affect Viewers Spiritually
Evidence might not point to people becoming aggressive after exposure to violent media. However, it is undeniable that violent media might have mild to severe consequences on your spirituality.
One consequence is growing desensitization to violence. Can you sit through a whole episode of Tribes of Europa without clinching from your seat? Has the violence in the Walking Dead stopped bothering you? You may be desensitized.
As Christians who are foreigners in this world, we are to be aware of the evil in the world without it entertaining us. Therefore, if the use of violence in a film does not convict us of the battle between evil and good, the violence may only be draining you mentally and spiritually.
Another cause for concern is the usage of time and resources. Films and TV shows have resorted to using violence as an end, as a course for entertainment. If you spend your precious time consumed with violent media as a source of entertainment, you might think less and less of Jesus.
Entertainment is an essential part of taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle, but it may not be worth it if it stands on our way to holiness.
Is Violent Media a Loophole for Demonic Manifestation?
Wow, here we have to be careful not to describe something God in his word has not expressed. Demons are real. The Bible is awash with evidence of this. For example, James 2:1 says, “You believe God is one, you do well. Demons also believe and shudder.” So Jesus cast out demons meaning they are real.
It is essential to understand the powers and limits of demons. For example, demons cannot possess a Christian since the Holy Spirit dwells in all believers. Similarly, demons cannot pass through media and have or manifest to a viewer.
If that were the case, the devil could possess the massive percentage of the world who consumes violent media.
This is not to say that the devil and his minions cannot use violent media to undermine God’s work on you.
Ephesians 6:10–20 is quite helpful. The devil and his minions target our faith through deceptions and lies. For example, he could deceive you that you need rest and violent entertainment will grant it.
However, with the weapons such as the belt of truth, Christians can decipher lies from truth. The fact that you are seeking knowledge on the impact of violent media is the first step. The battle is in mind, so guard it jealously.
So Should You Watch Violent Media?
That depends. It is a decision you have to make on a case-by-case basis. For example, even one of the most watched films, The Passion of Christ, has been ranked as one of the most violent films ever made. It is rated PG18. Therefore, creating a rule that says you should never watch violent media would be legalistic.
You could use the following three rules to determine if to watch violent media:
1. First, is violence a means to an end or the end itself?
Have the producers used violence to tell a story of good versus evil? Is the end goal of the violence a noble one? Does the film or TV show describe gore excessively? Does the film give a realistic view of reality without glorifying violence?
2. Has watching violent media contributed to my aggression in the past?
Have you previously struggled with aggressive thoughts, physiological arousal, or anger from exposure to violent media? Does fictional violence trigger aggressiveness or a painful memory?
3. What does my conscience say?
God gave a conscience for a reason. It acts as a moral compass when we are conflicted. So do not ignore your conscience if it says do not watch a specific movie.
On the other hand, if your conscience is clear that you are not violating God’s will, you can enjoy the film.
In summary, you probably should not watch violent films, TV shows, and video games because of the negative impact on your mental and spiritual wellbeing. However, no rule explicitly states that you cannot watch a violent film.
Violent media has been linked with an increased risk of aggressive behavior by viewers. Others experience aggressive thoughts and feelings of anger. Before watching violent media, ask what the aim of the violence in the film is and what your conscience tells you. Ultimately, this is an individual decision.