This last semester, I had to write a movie analysis for my Small Group Communication college class. To my surprise, the pre-approved movies had “R” or “PG-13” ratings. A mature-rated movie was not necessary as any movie featuring a leader would suffice. I was shocked that my Christian university would only suggest graphic movies. After researching the PG-13 movies, I quickly determined that their graphic content violated my entertainment standards. Thankfully, I was able to choose a different movie with my instructor’s approval.
I think my university selected these movies because their students are adults, and supposedly adults should be able to handle “PG-13” and “R” rated movies. According to our culture, it is suddenly appropriate to watch graphic movies upon turning eighteen. For some reason, I think that people feel more grown up when they watch movies with graphic content. However, watching “R” or “M” rated movies does not make someone more of an adult. Rather, vetting entertainment choices and setting personal boundaries makes a person more mature.
I’m not saying that we should judge movies just based on their official rating. I think that everyone (once they reach an appropriate age) should see The Passion of the Christ and Unplanned, both of which have an “R” rating. I’ve also learned a lot from anti-sex trafficking documentaries which are worthy of an “R” rating.
Each movie must be judged on an individual basis. I have a basic rule for determining if I will watch movies with graphic content. I carefully avoid movies that use gratuitous content just for shock value, but I will consider viewing movies that contain graphic content if they are recounting a historical event or exposing a real-world issue. These movies have a purpose for their graphic content beyond just hooking the viewer.
Everyone is responsible for setting their own standards in alignment with their moral convictions. Christians should study the Bible and make entertainment choices based on Biblical principles. Whether or not someone is a believer, they are responsible for determining their own standards, then standing firm on those standards.
Don’t ever be afraid to stand by your standards. When I have rejected movies due to questionable content, I have been pleasantly surprised at how supportive people were of my decisions. But even if people are not supportive, it’s their problem, not yours. Protecting our minds from toxic content is always worth the extra effort and the risk of being rejected by the people around us.