As a Christian, how do you make Scriptural entertainment choices? As a parent, I often check several online reviews before letting my kids watch a new-to-us movie. I want to make sure there isn’t any scary or questionable content, or be aware of things I may need to discuss when them after the movie is done. However, I’m often less careful about my own viewing choices. I mean, I’m an adult, right? It’s not like I’m going to have nightmares after a movie.
And yet, there are times when movies have made me uncomfortable, or when I’ve chosen not to watch a movie based on the cover or description. When I saw Cap Stewart’s online course about a Christian’s response to sexuality in movies, I was intrigued. This course addresses something I’ve been thinking about for years, without the words to articulate my hesitation.
Personal Purity Isn’t Enough: the Long-Forgotten Secret to Making Scriptural Entertainment Choices will make you think much differently about nudity and sex scenes in movies. Cap Stewart describes his course as “a paradigm-shattering exploration of the Christian’s forgotten duty when engaging with popular culture. This course is the first and only of its kind—eschewing a self-centered legalism on the one hand and a freedom-toting licentiousness on the other.”
I was compensated for my time in writing this post. All opinions expressed are my own; I was not required to write a positive review.
Personal Purity Isn’t Enough: an overview
Through a combination of video and text, Cap Stewart explores the topics of nudity and sexuality in Hollywood through 10 online lessons. The lessons are about half an hour each and provide plenty of food for thought in making Scriptural entertainment choices. Each lesson has a video intro, the lesson itself in audio and text versions, questions for reflection (with Scripture references), and then a suggested movie (with Cap’s commentary on it).
For example, the suggested movie for Lesson 4 on sexuality and agency was Room, based on the book by Emma Donoghue. I’ve read and viewed both the movie and book, and enjoyed each. Cap acknowledges that the directors of this movie actually do a great job of keeping the abuse and sex off-screen (its R-rating comes from the language used). And while Room illustrates an extreme violation of sexuality and agency, it does provide food for thought. I appreciated Cap’s analysis of the movie and how it relates to the material he presents in the lesson.
Topics covered in Personal Purity Isn’t Enough include:
Introduction: a paradigm shift
Lesson 1: pulling back the curtain (on Hollywood)
Lesson 2: the stumbling block principle
Lesson 3: a violation of privacy and dignity
Lesson 4: a violation of sexuality and agency
Lesson 5: the Gospel solution to objectification
Lesson 6: Jennifer Lawrence, a case study
Lesson 7: “But what about consent?” (Objection #1)
Lesson 8: “But cinematic sex is only pretend!” (Objection #2)
Lesson 9: “But the story requires that scene” (Objection #3)
Lesson 10: the transforming power of a new paradigm
Making Scriptural entertainment choices
In the first lesson, Cap mentions that many of us use movie review websites to decide whether a movie has objectionable content (as I already mentioned) and to help us make Scriptural entertainment choices. We may decide to watch a movie anyway, skipping the questionable scenes (or closing our eyes). However, he says this might honour what Jesus called the greatest commandment (loving God above all else), but it doesn’t honour the second greatest commandment: loving our neighbours as ourselves.
Those who create entertainment for us should be viewed as our neighbours. And if we are loving our neighbours as ourselves, then we should be concerned about what they are required to do to entertain us. For example, it’s no longer okay for gladiators to kill each other for sport, as it was in Roman times. However, as Cap shows in this course, many actresses are being sexually harassed “for the sake of the movie.”
I was shocked by how many quotes Cap shared, from mainstream media interviews with big-name actresses (many of whom I know and like), about how those actresses really feel about the sex scenes they’ve acted in.
Any other work environment that required sexual acts which encroached on a person’s sense of propriety would be called sexual harassment — possibly even sexual assault. However, because most audience members don’t know what often takes place on a film set, and because of the normalization of sexual content in practically all forms of media, we are numbly and blithely unaware of just how much emotional, physical, and even sexual damage actors experience — all in the name of our entertainment. ~ Cap Stewart
I often share movie reviews here on the Koala Mom, and I’ve been super excited recently by some great movies coming to the big screen. I always say it’s important for us to support family-friendly, God-honouring movies in theatres to show movie producers that we want to see movies like this. At the same time, it’s also important that we don’t support movies with questionable content.
You see, when patrons like us support sexually explicit entertainment, we are perpetuating the sexualized culture we say we deplore. … It
does not matter if you skip over, or avert your eyes during, scenes of sexualized nudity and sex scenes. At the end of the day, the entertainment industry cares about financial profit and TV ratings. ~ Cap Stewart
The ideas Cap Stewart presents about making Scriptural entertainment choices in Personal Purity Isn’t Enough aren’t unique to him. He shares how he was first introduced to this topic by Pastor Wayne Wilson’s book Worldly Amusements: Restoring the Lordship of Christ to Our Entertainment Choices. He also quotes William Wilberforce, who apparently had strong opinions not just about slavery but also about movie making.
Any person would be rightly condemned if he sought amusement through the slaughtering of humans for sport. And yet Christians today find no problem with entertainments produced at the risk—if not the absolute ruin—of the eternal happiness of their performers! ~ Wilber Wilberforce paraphrased by Cap Stewart
Personal Purity Isn’t Enough is an online course written for Christian teens and young adults (ages 15 and up) about rightly dealing with pornified entertainment. I would strongly recommend going through the course yourself before letting your teens take it. You could even use the material in the course to start discussing Scriptural entertainment choices with your tweens and teens. As I worked through the course, I tried to decide at what age I’d let my kids take it (and I do want them to take it someday). While Cap does handle the topics delicately, it still contains “mature subject matter.”
More about Cap Stewart
I was delighted to learn that, like me, Cap Stewart is a homeschool graduate. Now, as an author, speaker, and entrepreneur, Cap continues to challenge the status quo. He has written for numerous print and online publications. Over the years, Cap has developed his love of stories through drama, radio, freelance writing and editing, videography, independent filmmaking, and collecting and reviewing film scores.
To find out more about Cap Stewart, drop by his blog. He’s got a ton of articles there that are related to the content of the course. In fact, his recent post explains how his ideas about “loving your neighbour” in watching movies has translated to “loving your neighbour” during a pandemic: “Because my wife and I have been developing a more neighbor-centric posture in our movie watching habits, it wasn’t a hard pivot to change our recreational and dining out habits.”
Save 40% on the course with coupon code Homeschool. That makes the course only $29 (or $20 dollars off). Coupon valid through December 25, 2020.
Do you have criteria for choosing what movies to watch? How do you make Scriptural entertainment choices?