- February 1, 2017
Movies are wonderful. No matter your age or preferences, there is always something to love about the movies. A trip to the movies offers buckets of popcorn, side-splitting humor, breathtaking adventure, and more. You don’t even have to go to the theater to enjoy a film on a rainy night. There’s also the added bonus for parents that movies can sometimes entertain the kids while they take care of other things. But how can you be sure that a movie is safe for your Christian family?
It turns out that there are actually a few ways to be sure. First, you need to be in the know.
As they used to say in the old G.I. Joe cartoon, “knowing is half the battle.” It can be hard to make good decisions when you don’t have all of the information. That’s why it’s so important to know what your Christian family is about to buy tickets for or place in the DVD player. It all starts with the rating system.
Check the Rating
The least you can do when thinking about watching a movie with your Christian family is to look for the rating. It’s a pretty simple system, but just to refresh your memory, it breaks down to G, PG, PG-13, and R. Sometimes you’ll see a rating even worse than R (NC-17), but it’s safe to say that won’t be one for you to take the Christian family to.
In layman’s terms, G is safe for everyone, PG means the film is probably alright for kids old enough to be in school, and so on. You might find the occasional R-rated film that you don’t mind watching with your teenagers, but we suggest a lot of thought goes into that decision. If a movie is really old or it’s a special release, it may just say “Unrated.” This is pretty rare, but it means that you’ll have to do a little more investigation.
Beyond a simple letter grade, films are also given a description for their content. Next to the rating, you might find items like “disturbing images,” “bloody violence,” or “language throughout.” These are generally brief descriptions, but you can at least get a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
The Motion Picture Association of America is the group responsible for these ratings. For what it’s worth, the members of this body generally rate films from a conservative standpoint. It’s important to remember, though, that no one knows your preferences for your family quite like you do. Also, if you’re watching a film from a different decade, keep in mind that these ratings came out at a different time. What we find offensive today isn’t always the same as what was taboo in the 80’s.
Read the Synopsis
You may not even have to check the fine print on a rating to know it’s not for you and your Christian family. Sometimes, just seeing what a film is about is enough for you to vote one way or the other. Take this plot synopsis, for example: “A group of camp counselors is stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child’s drowning.” It’s a pretty extreme example, but this is a good way for you to know “Friday the 13th” probably isn’t the best viewing choice for movie night.
While that choice seems obvious, you may come across a film you’ve never heard of and by simply reading the synopsis you will be better informed.
We’ve all asked a friend for a second opinion, maybe even when it came to entertainment options. Staying on top of all the movies out there can be difficult, so why not use your connections to find out what other people thought?
Of course, this is a tactic best used when it comes to brand new movies playing at the theater or films that your kids have been begging you to see. Ask a friend at church or someone else who holds similar values for their opinion. You can still do your own research, but it never hurts to get another perspective.
Resources for the Christian Family
Fortunately, there are actually some companies that are way ahead of you when it comes to finding the right movie to watch with your family. Christian review websites like Plugged In give you an in-depth summary of what objectionable content may be found in a film.
The biggest name in the game when it comes to Christian reviews, Plugged In has a large catalog of movie reviews that go back well beyond a decade. These reviews speak to the quality of the film, but address specific issues within each film too. Plugged In breaks down a film’s content when it comes to violence, language, sexuality, and spirituality. These reviews are thorough and might just give you the peace of mind that you’re looking for. You can find reviews on video games, music, and television on the site as well.
For even another opinion, you can check out Crosswalk for their reviews.
Outside of websites intended solely for Christian audiences, there are a few secular companies that could be a good resource for you. One of the most informative movie sites out there is the Internet Movie Database. Aside from sharing the latest movie news and giving out details about who made what film, there is also a way for you to see what questionable content is in a film. Simply search for the film you want to know more about and scroll down to the link that says “View content advisory.” One important note to make here is that this parental guidance tool is compiled by user submissions. That means that regular people like you are filling out this form that details what negative elements a film contains. Two problems with that are 1) Not everyone has the same convictions as you and 2) This list is only going off of what the viewer remembered from the film. Still, this is a nice feature for the website to have.
Father Knows Best
At the end of the day, you are the one who has to decide what films are safe for your family to watch. There is more than enough information out there to help you make that choice, but you’re the one who is accountable for your family. Everyone has their preferences and every family’s situation is different. The best way to make sure that your family is watching morally upstanding films is to support Christian entertainment whenever you get the chance. You may be surprised to find out just how many good Christian movies are out there.
Show yourself a little mercy when it comes to picking out the right movie for your Christian family to watch. Parenting is about so much more than just making sure no one ever sees a questionable movie. Do your best by researching a movie or asking for an informed opinion.
At the K-LOVE Fan Awards, we know how important it is to find Christian entertainment that is fun and promotes Godly values. That’s why we celebrate the musicians, athletes, authors, and more who are making the biggest impact each year. Find out how your family can enjoy the ultimate fan experience by clicking on the link below.