Monday, January 20, 2014

Bloody Warfare: The Christian and the Graphic Depiction of Violence


 Who on earth could take pleasure in a graphic and bloody depiction of war?  Some do.  At what point does violence exceed the bounds of propriety? I know that such things happen and that at times ordinary men and women have to face horrible things, but I do not consider that the depiction of blood, guts, and death to be a valid or safe form of entertainment. 

There is a moral issue involved. How does the depiction of graphic violence affect the soul, the interior man? Does it harden him against “what is whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable?” [Philippians 4:8]. 

For some it may create courage, for others terror, but for others it creates a distaste bordering on disgust. Some by sad experience have become inured against the horrors of war; after all, after you have watched several people die a bloody death, what’s a few more? For the average person is such a process of hardening a healthy thing, or does it draw him needlessly into a dark place where he ought not to have gone without special preparation?

Take for instance the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Emotionally and spiritually defenseless people who feed on the violence and immorality depicted in that type of film will eventually come to accept it as within the bounds of normal morality.  During the Vietnam conflict we saw on the evening news the first video cut of a kneeling soldier being shot in the head. Now that kind of violence is the everyday bread and butter of American moves and media news. Let me quote a friend of mine who walked out of a showing of a war movie and said, “That’s too violent for me. I don’t need to expose myself to that.” That is a wise man with a healthy respect for his everlasting soul.

There is violence in many books, but you are not subjected to it visually. Word pictures are only words and the pictures they invoke in the imagination are only those that can spring from your own imagination. In a graphic and violent movie you are subjected to terrible things that extend far beyond word pictures. You know the old adage; one picture is worth a thousand words?  The question is; do you really want to do that to your inner person, your soul?  Eventually we become what we continually behold.  That is a sound spiritual principle.