The Effects of Horror Movies

When I was young I would go barefoot. With the arrival of warm weather, I shed the shoes and enjoyed the cool sensations. There were dangers associated with exposing my feet directly to the elements. Sometimes I encountered sharp stones or broken glass. But even when there were no wounds, the feet were being desensitized. By the end of the summer, a thick layer of callous had built up, and pinpricks on the bottom of my feet produced no pain at all.
In our society people are more frequently exposing their psyches to abrasive and jarring phenomenon. On purpose. A week ago today, “30 Days Of Nights” opened in movie theaters across America. In raking in almost $16 million dollars in that first week, it became the most-watched film in our land. Today is the opening for “Saw IV,” another horror flick sure to draw large crowds. I can’t tell you anything about either of these movies, but if their content is anything like their advertising, be prepared for fright.
“They’re just movies,” some will protest. “Why get all ‘righteous’ about something so harmless?” Are such movies harmless? A few years ago researchers at the University of Wisconsin interviewed college students about their experiences. They found that “… 52 percent of the sample reported disturbances in normal behavior such as sleeping or eating after viewing a frightening film or TV program.” For a significant number, the effects of watching disturbing scenes lasted for days, weeks, or months. It was hard for these bright young minds to quickly dismiss what they had seen, though they knew that what they were watching was not real. (
“Keep your heart with all diligence,” wrote the wise man, “for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NKJV). Had he counseled “Keep your feet with all diligence,” would I do well to go barefoot? When I expose my heart to gory and heart-stopping clips, do I do well? Is a layer of callous developing around my heart?
What God desires to give us is mentioned by Paul in Philippians 1:2: “Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Paul uses virtually the same words in every one of his epistles.) Just as God desires to give us his saving grace, so he also wants us to have calming peace. Why should I jeopardize this precious gift by purchasing tickets to see images no person ought to experience?
Before closing his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul urged them to focus on the positive aspects of life. He mentioned things that were true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report: “… meditate on these things,” he urged (Philippians 4:8). I imagine it’s hard to obey that command while watching “Saw IV.”
People often bristle when preachers start talking about the movies they watch. That’s okay, for preachers don’t know everything. But God knows everything. Are we considering his advice?

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