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What’s the big deal about going to the theater?


What’s the big deal about going to the theater?

Steve Answers:

Let me suggest 10 points to consider when it comes to your question, “What’s the big deal about going to the theater?” Please understand that these are not 10 commandments!

Point 1: Have you seen the movie yet? Sometimes there’s a lot of hype about the release of a new movie. The promoters hope to make lots of money on it, so they try to develop a buzz about it to make people think, Everyone’s seeing it!

If the promoters have developed that buzz, you might feel like a loser if you haven’t seen it. You might also think that you’re totally cool, intelligent, good-looking, and hot if you have seen it. It also gives people something to talk about when they can’t think of anything to say.

Point 2: Who are you with? A lot of people go to the theater just to hang out, even to play video games, with friends. Oftentimes this is the real reason people are at the theater. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to be with a special someone, and you might make it a bigger deal than it is. Or it might become a bigger deal than you wanted it to be.

Point 3: Going to the movies costs a lot. Movies are expensive to make, and the movie industry is more about making money than about shaping people’s values—although both happen. In order to make money, people get charged money to see a movie. The amount of money you spend on a movie and snacks is about the same as it would cost to purchase a DVD of the same movie in just a few months. It’s a big deal to spend all that money, unless you’re loaded with cash.

Point 4: Remember: garbage in, garbage out. A lot of movies shown at the theater are garbage. It’s entertainment, because the creators are trying to make you laugh, cry, scared, amazed, etc. To do that, all kinds of junk gets shown in the process.

Some people are offended by swear words or how much skin is shown. I’m more offended by the worldview presented—women are sex objects, blow away anybody who gets in your way, laugh at somebody else’s expense, reinforce stereotypes, etc.

The more this stuff is dished out to you, the more you will dish it out to others. Yes, it does affect you. If you’ve fooled yourself into thinking it doesn’t, you have a major blind spot.

Point 5: Don’t believe that evil is only in theaters. Some people have made such a big deal about the junk in theaters that you might think evil is only in theaters and nowhere else, and as long as you stay away from the theater, you’ll be staying away from evil. Actually, the devil isn’t limited to the big screen. You can find him in many other places, including your heart.

By the way, Jesus isn’t limited from entering a theater or even taking over the theater. Don’t forget that He cleaned out the temple when it was all an act. You can read about it in John 2:13-17. And, He did it more than once—read Mark 11:15-17.

Point 6: Not going to the theater is based on tradition. For more than 100 years, Seventh-day Adventists have taken a clear stand against going to theaters, even though an increasing number of Seventh-day Adventists are now attending theaters. To make a break with tradition is a big deal, especially to those who believe tradition, in general, is a good thing, and for those who consider this specific tradition to be a good thing.

At times the question is raised or simply understood, “If you go against tradition, what will you have left?” Usually this question is more important to adults than to young people.

Point 7: Don’t major in minor stuff. About 20 years ago, Insight published an article called “Patrolling the Do-Not-Go Line.” This article likened keeping people out of the theater to the World War II Maginot Line that protected France from Germany.

France mistakenly thought that by sending all their troops to the French-German border, the Maginot Line, they were protecting their country from Hitler’s military. In the meantime, Hitler marched his troops through the Netherlands and Belgium and walked into Paris, France, with hardly a fight. the French were ready where the battle wasn’t being fought.

When we focus on the theater, we miss out on what the big deal in life really is. In case you’re wondering: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV).1 And, just as important, read all of 1 Corinthians 13—“the love chapter.”

Point 8: Bigger is better. I’m amazed by all the hype about watching a movie on an iPod. An iPod screen is smaller than even the tiny black-and-white TVs I remember from my childhood. Maybe it’s my age, but there’s no appeal to me getting a magnifying glass out to add to bifocals so I can watch a movie on a mini screen.

The theater offers a truly big screen, with a high-quality sound system. Home theater systems are only trying to immitate this. Imagine a hungry lion charging toward the camera. Does that look any different on an iPod than it does on the big screen in a theater?

Point 9: Don’t you have anything else to do? “I don’t have anything else to do” is an excuse I’ve heard for why people go to a theater. It seems like a terribly weak excuse, and it exposes a real lack of creativity.

I’m not opposed to the idea of watching a quality movie for entertainment. But if you’re unable to ever think of anything else to do, just go to Google on the Internet and type “fun things to do.” I got more than 21,000,000 Web sites in .18 seconds. By the way, interaction with other people is usually better than sitting merely as a spectator, but you have to be willing to take risks.

Point 10: Is it wrong to make movies? Seventh-day Adventists now teach people how to make movies. You now can get a degree in this field at several Adventist colleges and universities in the United States. Some of these schools even position themselves as safe places for Adventists to thrive and to continue with the traditions of the faith (see Point 6).

I think the reason Adventist schools are teaching people how to make movies—I mean “films”— is because there are talented Adventist young people who want an Adventist education in “film,” and because these education centers view “film” as a medium that can be used for good or for evil, just like so many things—words, music, books, traditions, Internet, etc.

As you consider these 10 points, keep in mind these two passages from Scripture: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, Message).2

“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matthew 10:16, Message).

1Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

2Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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