Cinema and the Sabbath: part 1

Posted: November 10, 2014 by jperritt in Uncategorized
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Remember-Sabbath1[This post might rub some readers the wrong way, but that’s not its intent.  In all seriousness, this is something I’m wanting to think “out loud” about and learn from discussion.  So please, kindly respond with your thoughts in the comment section.]

An issue that seems to be continually on my mind is the Sabbath.  Sadly, I feel that the idea of sanctifying the Lord’s Day is something more Christians don’t seem to care about.  There are those Christians who would be on the Pharisaical side of the discussion, but then there are those who would lean toward an antinomian end of the spectrum, as well.  While I don’t want to try and earn my righteousness by following man-made laws, I also don’t want to ignore the Law that God gave his followers. (i)  Therefore, by God’s grace, I want to strive to know how I can best honor him on a day he set apart for his people.

So, here’s my question: Is watching a movie the night before the Lord’s Day worship a bad practice for Christians?

Let me say from the beginning that I think, doing almost anything, that keeps you up late to ensure you’re tired for worship the next day is a bad practice.  Whether it’s going to a party, watching television, attending a football game, reading a book, etc. – if you stay up late and you’re weary for worship, why go?  As Christians, we need to be as proactive as possible to ensure our worship honors the Lord.  This not only involves going to bed at a decent hour, it also involves – and this would be primary – preparing our heart, which gets to my question.

Let me go ahead and state that I don’t want to bind anyone’s conscience on this issue.  Therefore, if your conscience is free to watch whatever you like (within discernible biblical wisdom) the night before Lord’s Day worship, then that’s between you and the Lord.  However, what I have found to be true in my life, is that I often reflect on a film the following morning.  And, while I feel free before the Lord to watch certain films, there are films I don’t want to be reflecting on during worship.

There may be some who object to this and say, If you don’t want to reflect on these films in worship, why would you want to reflect on them at all?  This is a valid question, and I would simply say that I want to strive, by the Spirit, to keep my mind whole-heartedly devoted to the Lord and not reflect on much other than my sin and my Savior in worship.  In other words, I don’t want the Lord’s Day worship to be hindered by reflection on a temporal movie.

I also understand that there are some movies that stay with us a bit longer, so reflection on a film still might take place during worship even if there’s a day in between viewing.  Let me go ahead and state that there are also endless thoughts of movies from our childhood that may pop into our heads while sitting in worship.  Therefore, there’s no sure-fire practice to guard our broken minds from being distracted on the Lord’s Day worship.

Here’s what I do know: it doesn’t help my mind on Sunday mornings to watch a movie the night before.  You see, whenever discussions like this begin we often quickly dismiss them and attempt to assert our Christian liberty.  As I said, I don’t intend to assault your liberty or assert a pharisaical practice in your Christian walk.  All I can say is what I know to be true of my heart.  But, what I do know about my heart – and yours as well – is that our hearts are distracted.

However, our hearts are more than distracted, our hearts are at war.  Our hearts are at war with our flesh, the world, and the Devil.  This is always true, but I would say it’s especially true as we walk in the doors of God’s sanctuary.  Therefore, I don’t want to give my flesh something it can use against me the following day.

While I have more thoughts on this matter, I will end the matter for today.  These are thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head, so I figured I’d allow them to bounce around on the web for a while, and hopefully in your mind as well.  You’re welcome.

i – I also understand that there are many discerning believers that interpret the Sabbath day in a number of different ways.  For more on this, check out Perspectives on the Sabbath by: Christopher John Danato.

  1. Brenda says:

    I understand where you are coming from and enjoyed reading your honest reflections on God’s commandment. How do we put it in perspective? Well first of all, we know the two greatest commandments. As for this one, God does not measure holiness by days of the week, but by every moment of our lives. Being conscious of what we do before, during and after the Lord’s day is good! But I feel that will not satisfy you…however, if you let go of the attempt to “strive to know how I can best honor him on a day ” and make it your sincere prayer that the Holy Spirit lead you to holiness you will feel the fulness of what a day of rest is meant to be for us, as much as it is meant to be for the Lord. Our desire needs to be our willingness to abandon all that keeps us from entering into His presence with purity of heart and experience the miraculous renewing of our minds.

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