How Christian Entertainment Ignores Evil
Start writing a post

How Christian Entertainment Ignores Evil

We're avoiding darkness instead of facing it.

How Christian Entertainment Ignores Evil
Matthew Kane

Let’s play a game.

I’m going to present a scenario I used once before -- let’s say I’m sitting in front of you, with two objects in my pockets. I take out both objects and show them to you. One object is a sex education film, the other's a porn film.

What's the essential difference between these objects? They’re both about sex, they’re both low budget, and most people don’t mention either in polite conversation.

The difference is the point each film makes. A sex education film shows how humans sexually relate to each other and argues humans should pursue healthy relationships. A porn film shows a fantasized version of sex and promotes unhealthy relationships.

In other words, the devil’s in the details, not the subject itself.

This principle is also true of art (books, music, any entertainment traditionally viewed as art). While questionable content is sometimes thrown in for no reason, many art pieces portray violence, and other evils without actually promoting them.

Too often, Christian entertainment doesn’t understand this principle. Rather, Christian entertainment seems to assume that any time art portrays evil, it’s praising that evil.

Multiple people have criticized Christian films for simplistic plots where problems get solved easily and no one struggles.

Steve Turner commented in his book “Imagine” that Contemporary Christian Music routinely describes the happy, victorious spiritual moments but rarely the moments of spiritual struggle.

Author Simon Morden noted in a 2005 speech that publishing houses which release Christian Fiction novels have strict guidelines barring “bad language, out-of-marriage sexual situations, the consumption of alcohol and other recreational drugs… Violence must be treated very carefully -- they would rather it happens off-page than on.”

Morden also pointed out it’s extremely hard to write modern-day characters or situations under those guidelines.

This all raises the question where the misconception about evil came from originally.

On one level, the answer is simply that Christian entertainment is marketed to Protestant evangelicals, and many Protestant evangelicals prioritize comfort above living mature Christian lives. Making art that doesn’t deal with real-world issues feeds that desire and has helped Protestant evangelicals build a sub-culture where they don’t have to interact with the real world.

On another level, this misconception is a classic one Protestants have made in the past.

Turner noted that while the Protestant Reformation benefitted some artists, some early Protestants made a point to criticize specific art forms. The Puritan movement attacked stage plays, claiming among other things that stage plays were immoral since stage performers often acted out immoral actions. In other words, plays promoted evil because they portrayed evil.

What makes this misconception particularly foolish is other denominations have clearly benefitted by ignoring it. Protestant evangelicals might be excused if other Christian groups avoided depicting evil in art. But there is actually a long tradition of Christian art that depicts evil, still going on today.

Catholicism has a long history of such art -- in fact, Catholicism seems to actually equip artists to discuss pain and evil in their work.

Writer Mark Millar drew attention to this in a 2009 interview by “The Scotsman.” “I was talking to Mel Gibson," Millar said, “About [his film] The Passion, which was called the pornography of violence. It didn't seem violent to us because we grew up with the stations of the cross." Millar and Gibson both attended Catholic school, which introduced them to artwork showing Jesus' crucifixion.

Filmmaker Scott Derrickson (who recently directed “Doctor Strange”) commented on dark Catholic art in 2005. Derrickson noted that American evangelicalism has largely abandoned gothic imagery, which blends darkness with beauty and meaning, while Catholic artwork like Dante’s “Inferno” and church gargoyles embraced that aesthetic.

Many modern Catholic writers have continued that tradition of blending darkness with light. Flannery O’Connor’s acclaimed stories are often described as “southern gothic.” William Peter Blatty wrote about demons in modern-day America fifteen years before Frank Peretti did in “This Present Darkness.” Dean Koontz’s bestselling thriller novels sometimes have horror elements.

By ignoring evil, Christian entertainment has placed artists in a difficult place. Artists who naturally create family-friendly work survive and thrive. Other artists must either work against their strengths or play to those strengths and be viewed as “not really Christian.” A few, such as Ted Dekker, may beat the system, but still face an uphill battle which shouldn't be faced in the first place.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.


Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less
Leilani Encarnacion

Philadelphia has its beauty, but some of you may have not been to some of the most beautiful hidden spots in the city. This summer is a chance for new adventures and exploring, so here are a few places that I highly recommend you should visit at least once.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments