Piper on movies

John Piper has an interesting take on consumption of culture – particularly trivial culture – similar to Philip Jensen’s thoughts that I posted a while back, and quite different to Mark Driscoll’s. Mark Driscoll should get a comission from Tivo he talks about it so much… Piper says he doesn’t watch TV because it’s trivial – but if he does he takes the following position…

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

This is one of those points where I come down on the Driscoll side of the equation – I think understanding culture involves understanding what people are filling their minds with. But I tend to feel the same way as Piper. Violence and swearing don’t really bother my Christian sensibilities.


Mark says:

But to understand it do you have to do it?

That argument could be used to justify indulging in “name sin of choice” so as to “understand” sinners.

I think Christians should be consciously aware of the intersection of cultural issues with Christianity, but that doesn’t mean that every Christian has to experience every known cultural expression in order to be relevant to our culture.

I appreciate that there are Christians that can interact more directly in different areas, and raise the relevant issues for those for whom it could be dangerous – and really shouldn’t “see how far they can go”.

For instance, I wouldn’t watch Watchmen beacuse it’s current and at the cutting edge of cultural expression – but I appreciate your review and comments.

Also, while I don’t have anything against drinking, I wouldn’t get drunk just to understand and engage Aussie culture.

Nathan says:

You make a good point – I think it’s the old license, liberty, legalism trifecta, and as in all things I want to sit in the middle ground and listen to what those on either side of the equation have to say in order to moderate my thinking.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the Puritans lately (and this will probably make it into a post of its own soon) – it seems to me that evangelicals appreciate the Puritans as a “moderating” force that helps pull us towards Godliness – while dismissing living completely like them on the basis that they’re too legalistic and purposefully culturally disengaged.

Leah says:

But to understand you don’t have to do it.

I’m not talking about not watching movies or TV at all because if you do that then you’re probably not going to understand at all. But you don’t have to watch the same amount or same intensity of bad language/violence/nudity/whatever as the rest of society to understand what they’re absorbing.