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Women Living Well Blog: My Movie Standards

Women Living Well Blog

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Movie Standards

I grew up in a home that some called "strict". To me as the child inside the home, it was a loving, God honoring, Christian home. My parents admittedly were strict - but they were amazing listeners and communicators. They always fully explained why they made the rules they had and they always accepted me unconditionally.

So when my husband called me for our very first date at the age of 17 (exactly 17 years ago last month) and he said "Do you want to see a movie?" I answered "Sure." The only movie that fit my parents standards was Disney's Aladdin - rated G. My future husband was from a home with no rules - so he definitely found this to be a bit alarming but respectable.

Rewind 4 years to me at the age of 13 at a slumber party with my cheerleading squad. The girls have just put the movie "Top Gun" in and I'm sitting there thinking - UH OH - I'm not allowed to see PG-13 movies...what do I do? I did the only thing I could do - I faked sleepy, yawned, laid out my sleeping bag and for two hours laid there wide awake but faking sleep.

Through a loving relationship, my parents were able to transfer their convictions to me. They taught me "garbage in/garbage out". That we must protect our minds. I am SO thankful for this gift they gave me.

Fast forward now with me to the age 20. I am now a Senior in college and I am with a group of Moody Bible Institute Students on a missions trip to Key West. It's our spring break and we are there to do beach evangelism. The group has decided to go see a movie. I'm excited and in! We arrive at the theatre and to my astonishment - they choose an R rated movie! There I stand, knowing I've never seen an R rated movie and that my parents would not approve. Faking "sleep" would not work in this circumstance. lol!

I'd been in this situation many times between the age of 13 and 20. Most of the time it was when I was with non-Christian friends so it felt okay to be misunderstood. But here I stood with a bunch of missionary and pastoral majors...hmph - now what's my excuse? In one quick second, I caved to the peer pressure of my Christian friends and into the movie theatre I went.

You can bet 2 hours later I emerged from that theatre feeling miserable. Why in the world did I watch such wretched behavior on the screen? It was not entertaining at all for me. The words of my parents went through my mind. These are the movie standards they passed onto me (paraphrased):

1. I remember mom saying: "If a couple who was unmarried came into your living room, would you allow them to make love on your couch? Certainly not! Well, that's what you are doing when you play a movie in the privacy of your home that has fornication in it. You have invited this couple right into your home to do such things!"

2. "If you were taking Jesus in the flesh with you to the theatre - would you take him to see this movie or be embarrassed of the sin displayed for which he was beaten to a pulp and then nailed on a cross for? Jesus died on the cross to save us from these very sins we entertain ourselves with. Would you take Jesus with you to see this movie? If Jesus can't see it, neither can you!"

3. Your eyes take in images that your mind locks up and cannot erase. Do not play before your eyes images that pollute your mind. (Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.")

Does this seem extreme in our culture? Yes, it does and I took a lot of flack as a teen for this stance in a public school - and even inside Christian circles. But do not underestimate your children and their convictions. Proverbs 22:6 says: "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." These are the same standards we hold to in our home today.

Start while your children are young talking to them about what is best for their eyes to see on television, their ears to hear on the radio and their minds to take in at the movies. Talk talk talk talk talk about these things. And don't be afraid to be "strict" as long as it is Bible based and balanced with a loving relationship. I can testify as a product of parents who lived out their strong convictions with love - that I am sincerely thankful for my parent's strictness. Will the world change your children or will your children change the world? The answer to that question is in your parenting.

Walk with the King!

Ps. An excellent resource for previewing movies is: Focus on the Family's Plugged In Movie Reviews. You can know in advance the content of profane language, violence, etc.



Blogger Clare said...

Oooh. Good one. While my parents never had strict standards, I think I imposed them on myself through high school. I remember getting to college never seeing "Dirty Dancing" and my friends being shocked! (I admit, I did watch it)
Often I've rented a movie from redbox and after the fact, come home, do my research (via pluggedinonline!) and we end up not watching the movie.
This may sound odd, but violence doesn't bother me as much as sexual sin and nudity in movies--especially if I"m watching with my husband. So I am real careful about this. I think the important thing is that you watch for the guidance of the Holy Spirit--and if you feel that nudge to not watch it--you best turn it off!
On a final note, I can't help but think do these standards apply to our tv watching? I am guilty of taking in some of the silly tv shows of the day--which of course are all reality based now. There have been times when I sit back and think about what I'm supporting (and these shows don't even have to be on cable channels!). It's a hard area for me to gauge sometimes..,

March 5, 2010 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger Dernhelm said...

Excellent post. I wholeheartedly agree. Also, Clare (above) I do believe it applies to tv, or any sort of media you set before your eyes. Also, perhaps with know it is fake, whereas other stuff like nudity, sexual sin, bad language is *real*.

Very encouraging post, Courtney :-)


March 5, 2010 at 7:50 AM  
Blogger Clare said...

Dernhelm--I do agree that it applies to tv. I was asking the question more rhetorically b/c I find it's easier to let those standards slack in tv than in movies!!! Yikes!

March 5, 2010 at 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the link to "Plugged in Movie Review". I didn't know about that and it's a great resource.We are watching a movie night and I just went and read their review.

March 5, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger NJohnson said...

AWESOME!! Thank you so much for this post! I feel that I was the only person with these standards. It's very encouraging to know that there are others out there with these same values. Thank you so much Courtney!!

March 5, 2010 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Dernhelm said...

Call me Susan, or Suzi, Dernhelm is just my 'blog's' name.

We don't have a tv for the reasons you said, Clare, 'cause you can sort of just let it all 'blurt out' in your front room!!

This summer though we will get a licence as it is the World Cup (soccer), but it is always tricky with all the adverts they put in, especially now my boys will probably want to watch too!

Another good site to review films is You don't need to register unless you want all the current films at the cinema, scroll to the bottom of screen and click 'no thanks'. The only problem is that the detail is immense, but if you know what your standard is it is a quick way to find out what words/scenes might not be appropriate for your family.

Oooh dear I've typed too much and lunchbreak is nearly over. But, I'd be interested in how everyone handles having different views to their husband when it comes to movie watching?


March 5, 2010 at 8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Courtney, I whole-heartedly agree. I do have two young teens, so this is certainly a concern for us. I want them to evaluate movies, tv, books, thoughts, electronic games etc. on Jesus' standards not the world's. We need the Lord moment by moment to guide us. Thanks for the great post!
P.S. I can also be hard when your spouse doesn't exactly see eye to eye on what's acceptable.

March 5, 2010 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I agree with these completely. If it's not on PBS then my kids are not allowed to watch it. Problem is my husband does not agree. So on the weekends he lets them watch things that I never would. So come Monday morning I get a lot of grief because Dad lets us do it. UGH!!!
Is one parents standards enough???

March 5, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Myra said...

Courtney! This is a fantastic post! So many good points!

I'm thrilled that you are speaking at Relevant '10! I'm planning on being there!

Can't wait to get to know you better in the meantime!

March 5, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Mama Lamba said...

Great post. Our media standards are very similar to yours. Growing up, though, my parents didn't have movie standards, and, to my own detriment, I saw many inappropriate movies/tv shows. I regret them, because, as you said, those images are locked into my mind.
Plugged In is a great resource, and has saved us big time at the theater. There just aren't many movies that we would take our children to, but when a good one shows up, it's a fun time for us. Usually, we only get to go once or twice a year, due to the lack of good movies. We got rid of television years ago, and simply do not miss it.

March 5, 2010 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger The Proverbs 31 Lifestyle said...

Hi there! I completely agree with this stance and it's freshing to see someone else write about this and bring this to light. Why do Christians compromise in this area so much? I do not know, but I can tell you that about 3 years ago the Lord took me through a process where He literally "rid me" of the desire to watch rated R movies. It happened through a 2 month media fast I was on. I had never fasted media for that long before. As I spent extra time filling myself with the Word and time in prayer those two months, it was like I had no desire for those "things" anymore. Since them I have not watched a rated R movie and my husband and I are very cautious about which PG-13 rated movies we watch. I also only watch one TV show.

This is of course extreme. You see in high school I struggled with my language. I was a pastors kid and grew up in ministry my whole life but I had a potty mouth! Naturally watching shows and movies with bad language only fueled the words that came out of my mouth. Even into adulthood it was a struggle until the Lord set me free! Part of that of course, means I abstain from rated R movies and TV shows with cussing.

My motto is: it's extreme, but I'm free!

Bless you!
Lydia Ingegneri and fellow blogger...

March 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Traci Michele said...

Such truth Courtney!

I too, grew up with godly parents, that instilled godly values...

They very rarely let us sleep over at friends house. I remember them saying "it's just not necessary."

Now that I am grown, with a family of my own, I see the wisdom in what they did and taught.

They also said "every act of obedience brings blessing, and every act of disobedience brings a consequence."

Praise the Lord for our godly heritage. May we be those parents to our own children!

Love you!


March 5, 2010 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

our eyes take in images that your mind locks up and cannot erase. Do not play before your eyes images that pollute your mind. (Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.")

This spoke VOLUMES to me...VOLUMES.

As one that was exposed to pornography at a VERY very early age, sigh...I can attest to this "mind locks up and cannot erase"

praise God for His deliverance, salvation through Christ and giving me the mind of Christ.

Thanks so much for sharing POWERFUL truths, that your right, the world just doesn't get..and even some of us Christians have a difficult time with...

March 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is what I don't understand, if you don't homeschool children sometimes schools unfortunatly will show things that I wouldn't call appropriate.. did you hear about the school that showed a film saying it's okay to cross-dress and have 2 daddies/mommies as parents? this makes me so upset. I agree with you 100% about movies/tv programs and I think that how to worded "if jesus was with you, would you still see it?" it was great! thanks

March 5, 2010 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Great post Courtney. Dove Movie Reviews are also a good resource.

By the way, I think we may have very well been on our first dates on the same day! My hubby and I had our first date in February of 1993. And we saw Aladdin!

March 5, 2010 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Here I thought we were the only family that had these standards! My kids think we might be. ;) Even our dear Christian friends take their younger children to see movies that I won't even see. :( It is frustrating (for my son,mostly). I never trust a rating and always look for reviews. Kids-in-Mind and Screen-it, usually. Over the years what is 'acceptable' has slipped tremendously and PG means very little to me anymore.
This is huge in our life because prior to becoming believers, MOVIES were something that we really spent a lot of time watching!
As far as TV - we don't have it right now but when we did we change the channel during commercials. We just do NOT watch them.
Traci - love that quote from your parents about obedience. :D
Thanks, Courtney for this post!

March 5, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Queen Los said...

It so awesome to hear you say that. I was just talking to a friend last night about my movie "rules". It's hard being younger and having stricter rules beacuse even christians seem to watch anything theese days and i just am so glad that my husband and i have decided to be a lot more careful with what we watch! Thanks for encouraging us all and we can have peace that though we may miss out on some so called "fun" things we know that the reward is far greater!

March 5, 2010 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

Great post!

I also grew up with *strict* parents~I actually wasn't even allowed to go to the And while I have not always guarded my eyes/ears as well as I should have at times, I am now that *strict* parent myself:) I am appalled by what the parents of my children's friends allow them to watch. Some of it is not even what I would consider wrong, but completely NOT age appropriate. I cannot understand why parents of 5 & 6 yr olds allow them to watch/imitate celebrities who are teens. Then we wonder why our kids "grow up too fast". Many moms/dads are practically pushing them to do so.

March 5, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

Spot on! I have been in those same circumstances! At Moody, I even got the name "Apostle Paula", for standing by my convictions (like you, it was those missionary and pastoral majors that were trying to convince me that dancing once or going to see a movie was no big deal....but at least when I went we had signed something that said that we wouldn't engage in those I couldn't do them with a clear conscience). However, those friend who teased me, have grown up a lot, and now thank me for sticking by my guns!
Good ol' MBI! :)

March 5, 2010 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I had a similar experience which I am very thankful for. As a third grader, I went to a sleepover where they showed "Pretty Women!" THIRD GRADE! I faked sleep and cried to my om about it the next day.

Thank you for this bold post and for listing Plugged In - we refer to them whenever we are interested in a movie!

March 5, 2010 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Awesome feedback today guys!! It feels so good to not stand alone!

As far as dealing with differences of conviction inside of marriage on this - I think I will make that the topic of Marriage Monday - so watch for my response next week.

And Joy - I signed the same rule book at Moody - "NO movies while in school and living on campus" - but when we were on breaks - Christmas, Spring and Summer we were released from those rules - hence - I couldn't use it as an excuse - and ya, did I mention faculty was with us? But I LOVE Moody! LOVE IT! So this is not against them whatsoever! Just a wierd situation that week!

Much Love,

March 5, 2010 at 4:53 PM  
Blogger Life Is Crazy Beautiful said...

Great post. Thanks for honestly sharing your convictions. My husband is a youth minister and I catch a lot of grief, not just from teens, but their parents and other Christian adults about my standards. I constantly remind them that I do not judge them for their choices, but would be happy to share with them why I make the choices I do for myself & family but they almost never take me up on it (and I get used to shrugging off the eye-rolls). I am also proud of my 17-yr-old daughter, who is not ashamed to tell her friends "I don't watch those movies".

I enjoy your blog. I have been an inconsistent reader & blogger, but developing more consistency in both. Have a great weekend!

March 5, 2010 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger HeathahLee said...

I hopped over here from Sarah Mae's...I'm so glad I did!

My mom had the same strict rules about movies (not to mention music) that your parents did, and my husband and I are trying to instill those same convictions into our son. He is already so strong in his convictions about what his eyes see. His daddy has already taught him to turn away when he sees "scantily clad" women on t.v. commercials (not to mention sports events), and he makes sure he turns his head or hides his eyes when we pass the ladies underwear section of department stores. And he's 10! I pray we continue to encourage him to stand up for his convictions as he gets older. The stronghold of sexual sin, no matter what it is, is begun by opening one little door.

Sorry for the novel. I want to copy and paste your rules for t.v. and movies for our home so that he (and we, for that matter!) can SEE written down WHY we don't watch certain things. Those were great!

March 6, 2010 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Dusty said...

What a wonderful post! My hubby and I disagree on this subject quite often, but over the years he has seen the benefits of shielding our children from some things. Neither of us grew up in a super strict home, but I have a deep conviction about what I want my children to take into their hearts and minds. Purity goes beyond your body!

March 6, 2010 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger mom429420 said...

I am so glad to see that my family is not the only one that lives by the same rules! What an encouraging post! Unfortunately, my family is not Christian and do not understand why we believe this way about movies; I think I will link your blog to mine if you don't mind because you explained it so much better than I ever could! Thanks again for the encouragement! Blessings to you and your family!

March 6, 2010 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Jacob said...

My upbringing was just the same as yours. I had several uncomfortable moments as a young teen when I had to stand up for the family rule.

One time I did not honor my parents' wishes to call home and ask permission. I watched "Hook" (probably PG?) at a friend's house and later secretly confessed to my brother. Well, he tattled and come to find out, my family had rented that movie while I was at the sleepover at my friend's!!! I was punished for dishonesty, and was so ashamed that I hadn't just called and asked. Lesson learned. :)

March 6, 2010 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger becca said...

The above comment by "Jacob" was me.

March 6, 2010 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger jsprik said...

we recently bought a clear play dvd player for this reason. movies we liked but had too much bad language or showed more sexual content than we are comfortable with, we can now enjoy more because this dvd player actually "cuts" out the things we don't care to see or hear!! :)

March 10, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

jsprik - wow!~ I didn't know that such a thing even existed! Thanks for sharing!

March 10, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger EM said...

Hey Courtney,
I agree completely with your post. I would love some advice on what to do when I'm caught in the same situation that you were with your mission group, except it's with my husband.
I have always been sensitive to movies and books and music, but since having children I am even more so. We live in a 14'x 60' mobile home. Our walls are paper thin and even when our children are sleeping I'm uncomfortable with the words and sounds coming from the computer/tv when my DH chooses a show that compromises the standards you've just described. My best response to this kind of situation is to leave the room, read my bible, pray. I've talked to my DH about the "garbage in, garbage out" and I've shown him the Plugged in site at FOTF. He just doesn't seem to think it's a big deal, especially when the kids are in bed (hopefully sleeping). At times I stumble, because I get interested in the shows he watches (I can hear the story lines from my room), and I want to sit on the couch and spend time with him, watching what he is watching. When I bring up this issue it sometimes seems trivial, but it boils down to respect and protection and love... any further advice? I truly value your wisdom.

March 12, 2010 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

EM - tomorrow's video blog is going to answer this question! So check it out on Monday!!!

March 14, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

I've started paying attention to the labels on the back of movies. I'm not sure when they began this, but DVDs now have the reasons for the ratings on the back of the movie next to whatever the rating is.

I also look up movies on Plugged in Online and get a feel for what's in a movie before checking it out.

A movie might have a higher rating but not having problems with bad language or sexual stuff, just as a "children's" movie that's rated PG might have sexual innuendo and words I wouldn't want kids to repeat. Reading the labels and doing a little investigating really helps weed out the good from the bad.

March 15, 2010 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Courtney,

I am a stay-at-home mother of 3 children. My daughters are 4(as of today) and 2 1/2 and my son is 11 1/2 mo. My question is this, I am struggling with parenting and "training" as I find myself getting frustrated with the littlest things. I was raised in a VERY strict Christian home but there was no talk talk talk ther was just the rod of discipline and I grew up in fear of doing something wrong. I always feared I would do the same as a parent and now that my daughter is 4 today, I have been noticing that I am beginning to do the very things I didn't want to do. How do I balance training my children, disciplining them and yet doing it in a loving way and keeping that communication open with them. I do not want my children to grow up in fear of doing something wrong or in fear of asking a wrong question (whether it's wrong or not). I'm REALLY struggling with knowing how to change what I've been doing for 4 years and if I can change any of the damage I've already done in my girls. My son is young but already I can see him yelling and screaming and it's as if God is holding a mirror up to me. Most hurtful is that my middle daughter sometimes cringes when I even walk past her with a spoon because she thinks she's going to get a spanking EVEN when she wasn't doing anything wrong and I was just stirring the pasta and still had the spoon in my hand. I want to change, I NEED to change, I just don't know where to start. I want to be like you and your parents and balance the love and discipline. I want to talk and be open with my children and them not have any fear of getting in trouble. Thank you for any advice or direction you can give me.

July 18, 2010 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Anonymous - you are not alone in your struggles to be a gentle mother.

I struggle at times with finding a gentle approach and have blogged about it multiple times - please read a few of these posts:

I hope they help and show you that you are not beyond changing - maybe print these out and study the verses in them...the Lord will transform your home when you yield to the Spirit!

Walk with the King!
Ps. Also, my video on smiling might help:

July 18, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

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