Lately, God has been convicting me about the type of media I take in. Not long ago, I watched this movie called John Wick. Only now have my eyes been opened to the sinfulness of this movie.
The following is my conviction, and I’m not intending to enforce my own morality on others. I recognise that we all are at different stages of our journey. In saying that, I write this just to challenge the common thinking. I write this to explore the morality of what we see on the big picture.
John Wick is a very popular movie. There's now John Wick 3. If you reference it, more often or not, people will understand.
The plot goes something like this:
A legendary retired assassin is married but his wife suddenly dies. Then a mobster steals his car and kills his dog. The dog was a gift from his late wife and was something he remembered her by. This launches the assassin, John Wick, on a merciless killing spree.
It’s not one person he kills, nor ten. In the first movie alone, he kills seventy-seven people. This is mass murder. What is the cultural reaction to this? He's so cool! Give me two more movies!
We need to remember the engraving on the tablet that reads: "you shall not murder" (Exodus chapter 20, verse 13)
If you think about it, John Wick is actually a serial killer in a black suit.
In this movie, and in many others, we are entertained by the depiction of a capital sin. In some movies, a team of 'good guys' storm the enemy’s base and shoot all the henchmen in a flash. They move on as if it was merely an inconvenience. But it's another case of group murder.
Why is this entertaining and not unsettling?
It seems to be so entertaining that we can create a whole genre around this, namely action.
What happens when there is a sex scene in a movie? We would look away or skip forward. We turn away because we don't want to subject ourselves to impurity. Yet, we will freely watch a scene with the protagonist ending lives. Not only that, but we begin to admire the character for executing justice according to their own will.
Why do we react differently? Is murder not as severe as impurity?
Indeed, there are worse sins than others. All sins equally separate us from God, and all sins are evil, but not all sins are the same.
“The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke chapter 12, verses 47 to 48)
From this we gather that there are different degrees of punishment. If there are different degrees of punishment, there are different degrees of culpability. So, we can conclude, no, not every sin is equal. Some sins being worse than others.
Murder is a terrible sin. It should appal us.
I hope that you wouldn't read this and think that I am accusing anybody of vicariously committing the same deed. I don't mean that people are participating in some way just by watching it. I’m saying, how on earth is this so appealing? How on earth can this be cool when our Lord has marked this a terrible sin?
Some say it is merely a depiction. But, should we deny the power media has on our minds? Do we watch The Passion of the Christ and use the same logic? it’s just a depiction. It’s just a movie. Do we watch the recent Pilgrims Progress movie and say it’s just a bunch of images stitched together?
As I look back, I'm so glad that God has opened my eyes. Again, my intention is to point out how desensitised we are to violence. I'm not saying we are participating. I'm saying, what is the appeal? Why isn’t it unsettling?
I never intend to make people feel guilty, because guilt only makes us hide. Shame makes us shut down. I would only wish people to re-evaluate and to think deeply about how we can swim with the culture so automatically.
This has been a delineation of the reasoning behind my own repentance because I believe that the call of holy living extends to the movies we watch and the way we entertain ourselves.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html