I am a Baptist by conviction.  Among other things, I believe in the doctrine of Individual Soul Liberty, which holds that God may give one person different convictions than He gives to others.  I am not judging or criticizing anyone, whether they believe it’s right to watch movies or not.  Feel to weigh in if you feel that I have gone too far.

I was recently informed that a drive-in movie theater was still open not far from our home.  It brought back happy memories of a childhood when our parents would take us to see Don Knotts or John Wayne from the comfort of our Rambler.  My wife and I watched Star Wars on the outside screen, and we took our kids to see Snow White (in the rain).  All of those memories bring a smile to my face.

But there were many times during my life when I was not allowed to go to the drive-in.  The first two churches I was in taught that going to movies was a sin.  Some of the schools I taught at included clauses in the contract that forbade us from attending movies.  As a younger, less discreet (or more rebellious) person, I sometimes challenged people as to what the difference was between watching a movie in the theater, on television, or on film or videotape in church.  The best response I remember getting was when I was told that “…movies are shown in theaters, and we don’t go to theaters.  But at home or in church, it’s acceptable to see films.”  I only ever met one person whose consistency would not allow them to watch a movie even if it was aired on network television.

If people cannot watch movies confidently and to the glory of God, then they shouldn’t do it:  what’s not of faith is sin.  But for those who are not so convicted, since the Bible does not include clear prohibitions against clean, decent, uplifting entertainment, then I say go for it–provided of course that it IS clean, decent, and uplifting.

As times and churches have changed, however, so have movie theaters.  You used to be able to walk into a theater showing Muppets Take Manhattan and anyone who saw you go in knew what you were watching.  With today’s metroplexes, however, there is always the possibility that a weaker brother could see you enter and draw wrong conclusions about what you intend to see–and I think that that goes back to the origins of Christians banning theater-attending in the first place.  Before there were movies, there was vaudeville–which might or might not include bawdy or risque acts.  It made sense for Christians to avoid going to a theater where they might be unintentionally exposed to indecent and ungodly influences.  Early movies sometimes included nudity (and there were no MPAA ratings back then) until the industry was forced to censor itself.  It made sense for churches serious about holy living to preach against going to theaters or seeing movies.

Which brings us back to the drive-in.  Today, once again, a Christian who feels comfortable with it can go to a movie, knowing what to expect, and leaving no question about what they are seeing.  And those are good things for believers who want the uplift of seeing a good movie without doubts or qualms.

Just a note in closing:  I mentioned seeing Snow White at the drive-in when our kids were little.  We were attending a church that frowned on movie-going, but did not forbid it.  There was nothing in my contract saying I couldn’t go.  There was a double-feature of Disney movies–in addition to Snow White, they were showing Homeward Bound–both good family movies.  We made our plans to attend, but didn’t tell anyone because we didn’t want to be a stumbling-block to church folks who might not understand.  Imagine our surprise when another church family pulled in next to us.  And another on the other side.  And two others in front of us–by the time the movie started, it seemed like half the church was there!  Yet, no one made an issue of it, no one lost their sanctification, and the church did not split.  And we didn’t feel like co-conspirators:  we had fellowship with the other parents, and we knew where our kids were. And for me, that wasn’t a bad thing.

In order to check as to whether a movie really is clean, decent, and uplifting, you can go to kids-in-mind.com which will identify any objectionable content.  Be wise–please God.

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