Can Christians Watch Movies With Nude Scenes?

Much has been made of Jennifer Lawrence’s confession that she had to get drunk before filming the sex scene in Passengers. In interviews, Lawrence has revealed that she felt so guilty after shooting the scene with the married Chris Pratt that she called her mother. Some have astutely pointed out that this amounts to the gross sin of sexual exploitation. Going a step further, at least one blogger has named the sex scene in Passengers as sexual assault. Regardless of whether or not you agree that Jennifer Lawrence was sexually assaulted while filming the movie, the fact remains that Christians interested in watching Passengers need to do some soul-searching before purchasing a ticket.

Sadly, many professing Christians consume movies that contain sexually explicit content with minimal concern for the holiness of God and the command for Christians to “strive … for holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Thankfully, God hasn’t left His people in the dark about His thoughts and expectations regarding sexuality and holiness.

The Bible has quite a bit to say about sexual sin. For starters, and as a baseline of sorts, discussions among Christians about sexual sins have to acknowledge the Apostle Paul’s admonition that “every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sexual sins are not to be taken lightly; sexual sins are destructive, both for the person(s) committing them and for the community in which the person(s) worship. Sexual sins destroy the gospel witness of churches.

The gravity of sexual sins is belied by the manner in which many Christians flippantly engage entertainment. Adamantly denouncing porn, they blithely chomp on popcorn while a mainstream actress sheds her clothes for their entertainment. Seemingly unaware of this blatant hypocrisy, they allow sin to gain a strong foothold in their heart and life while encouraging and entering into the explicit sexual sins of others. Echoing the words of Paul, failing to treat sexual sin with a level of grave concern is dangerous.

While delivering his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid down the gauntlet of holiness in respect to sexual immorality. Challenging the self-righteousness of the community, Jesus gravely declared, “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

There is a reason that the biggest selling issue every year for Sports Illustrated is the Swimsuit Issue, and that reason has little to do with purity, holiness, or the desire to heed the words of Jesus. However, crafting an argument to convince readers that many most men “like” the female body seems a waste of words. So, frankly and plainly, men lust. In fact, many non-Christians embrace and defend their lust. And many Christian men struggle with lust in silence.

Fear of man is one of the devil’s great tricks. Confessing the sin of lust is often an embarrassing task. A friend once told me that he wallowed in his lustful activities for years because he was afraid of how his church family would react if he obeyed the command “to confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16). Upon seeking the help and prayer of his church, he was rewarded with unloving glances, gossip, and even ostracization.

Whenever I bring up the subject of nudity in movies, I have to combat sinful anger upon hearing the inevitable, “if grown men can’t handle seeing boobs, they need to grow up.”

For starters, my heart aches for my brothers in Christ who are already struggling under the weight of shame and guilt because of their lust. Shaming hurting Christians and giving them a reason to justify their excuses for not confessing their sin in order to rationalize watching movies that contain nudity is the exact opposite of what Jesus meant when he commanded us to love one another. And then there’s the fact that there is zero justification to begin with for Christians to watch movies with explicit sexual content, whether they allow the rotten fruit of lust into their heart or not (for the record, when a man tells me that he can look at beautiful, nude women without ever lusting, I don’t believe him).

Engaging in the sexual exploitation of others is a sin. Arguing that nude and/or sexually explicit scenes in movies aren’t sexual exploitation is a hard argument to make. No matter how an individual justifies watching the movie, the fact remains that Hollywood knows that sex sells. In fact, everyone knows sex sells, even those who are blustering “you’re wrong, John!” as they read this.

Whenever you watch a movie with nudity, you are propping up the sexual exploitation of others. Actresses and actors who are nude in movies are, well, literally nude; there’s no “acting” about it. And they’re compelled to be nude for the entertainment of many and for the financial profit of others.

Regardless of how willfully and willingly actors and actresses strip off their clothes for the camera, entering into their public nudity with them violates the Bible’s teaching about nudity. The Bible is clear that nudity is to be reserved for the marriage bed. One of Adam and Eve’s first responses to their sin was shame at their public nudity. Throughout the Bible, public nudity is presented as shameful. Priests were required to take extra precautions so as not to accidentally expose themselves while tending to the altar (Exodus 20:26). Public nudity was one of the punishments meted out by God on sinners (Isaiah 47:3, Hosea 2:9-10, Nahum 3:5). On the opposite side, God frequently uses the imagery of covering their nakedness and hiding their shame as an analogy to His love for His people (Ezekiel 16:8). Finally, and very applicable to this article, God curses those who devise ways to look on their neighbor’s nakedness (Habakkuk 2:15).

Public nudity violates the holiness of God. To that end, movies with nudity and sexually explicit content are off limits to Christians who are called to strive for holiness. Following up his revelation that lust equals adultery, Jesus suggests that “if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out” (Matthew 5:29). In other words, if drastic actions are needed to overcome sin, take drastic actions. Canceling your Netflix account and avoiding going to the movies may be the drastic measures that you need to take if the temptation to watch movies with nudity is too great. Above all, for the sake of your eternal soul, stop justifying sin for the sake of entertainment.

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