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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Movies and TV

by Catherine Frakas 21 Feb 2001

Movies and TV QUESTION from Konrad on January 29, 2003 Since most of the movies these days contain at least some morally objectionable content, ie, sexual impurity, swearing, etc. shouldn't Catholics, adults as well as the young, just stop watching them? Even TV comedies, sitcoms and talk shows can be awkward to watch in mixed company. Complaining to producers and advertisers does nothing if we continue to watch offensive programming. Agree or not?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on February 7, 2003 Dear Konrad:
I agree that people need to put there viewing habits where their convictions are. That is especially the case if one is chosen to be one of the Neilson Rating households -- that has direct impact.
However, letter-writing campaigns and the like can and have had an impact as well.
As for whether one should boycott all movies and TV shows that have ANY objectionable material in it, even one scene, it would not kill anyone to do that and in fact it would probably increase the level of emotional maturity, intelligence, and spirituality of the individual and, if done by the populace en masse, would create a better society.
In the specific, however, we cannot and should not mandate this. It is a matter of personal conscience unless we are talking about a porno movie or something like that.
The general advice I think must be this:

Adults should consider, as the better part of valor, not watching any movie or show with objectionable material as a general rule -- even if only one scene -- unless that one scene can be edited out. By objectionable and inappropriate material, by the way, I am referring to more than sexuality explicit images or talk, but anything that offends the Christian worldview. This will include soap operas, some of these reality shows and dating shows, and other movies or shows that appeal to prurient interest or to acceptance or promotion of ungoldly worldviews.
St. Paul warns us to guard our senses and we need to be careful about an arrogant presumption that we can handle it. The old phrase garbage in garbage out is appropriate here. What we allow into our minds through our senses are images, sounds, and thoughts that Satan can use to harass us.

Children should certainly NOT be exposed to even the one scene that is objetionable or inappropriate. Thus any movie or TV show that is otherwise suitable for the age of the child should not be viewed by the child unless the inappropriate scenes can be edited out. Movies and shows that as a whole are not really fare for the age of the child, or as a whole cannot be made appropriate through editing, or are inappropriate as a whole, should not be viewed by the child at all.

If an adult has a pre-existing problem, such as a sexual addition, or is otherwise placed in the near occasion of sin by even one scene, then the adult should make a point to not watch that movie or show unless the objectionable material can be edited out (by someone else) before watching it. It the movie or show, as a whole, places an adult in the near occasion of sin, then it should not be watched at all. As Jesus said (paraphrased), What good is to watch these things and damage your soul or even lose it.

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