Star Wars & Christians - Part 1
This series is adapted from episode 11 of the Reason Together Podcast found here.
Can a movie make you become something else just by watching it? That question requires some qualification, but it should be dealt with because it seems many Christians are concerned about Star Wars turning Christians into Buddhists apparently by being anywhere in the vicinity of a screen on which it is playing.
Now, before you immediately conclude that I am somehow suggesting there is nothing wrong with Star Wars and that all Christians should be fine with watching it, hear me out. My biggest concern with Christians and Star Wars is less about the morality or propriety of the issue (though we will deal with that in a future post), and more about using sound, Biblical, logical, arguments for whichever position we take. My goal in this post is to begin to provide you with better and more consistent arguments because Christians should be thinkers… about everything! And, these points will apply to Star Wars in particular and entertainment in general.
As with many topics, there are two apparent extremes on the issue. One side takes total abstinence from the films. The other side takes full liberty. To demand that someone take a side presupposes there is no third option. This choice is known as the fallacy of the false dilemma and we should be careful not to get caught by that. So, we will examine if other options exist.
I don’t plan to deal with in this article the issue of Christians and movie theaters. Instead, I plan to deal only with Star Wars itself as a source of entertainment since it has created it’s own subculture and it is influential in some ways.
Entertainment is not inherently sinful in proper balance. Clearly, a Christian ought not spend so much time golfing or watching movies to the neglect of employment, Christian and familial duty, and the pursuit of personal improvement. Not only is that Biblical, it’s sound logic!
A common argument is that Star Wars is wrong because it does not glorify Christ. While I agree with the antecedent of that argument that it does not attempt to glorify Christ, it is not a consistent argument for not watching Star Wars. Watching an NFL game doesn’t glorify Christ either. Let’s not even mention golf. And this argument would mean that pretty much all entertainment apart from Sword drills or Bible trivia is sinful. We need to use good arguments. Better questions might be: What kind of content does your entertainment have? How often do you engage in it? What is your reason for watching it? And, what should be the Christian response to it, if any? Throughout this series we will answer these four questions and also look at some common arguments that fall short. We will also attempt to build sound arguments. Some sections will go quicker than others, but here is a preliminary overview of where we’re going with this.
I. What is the content?
A. Are there dangers to moral purity?
B. Are there dangers to behavioral and social expectations about violence?
C. Are there dangers to ones Biblical theology?
II. What is the frequency in which you watch it?
A. Are there dangers to your time, productivity, and growth?
B. Are there dangers of being identified with its culture?
C. Are there dangers to your financial stewardship?
1. What about boycotting Hollywood?
2. What if you have “disposable” income?
III. What is your reason for watching it?
A. Can entertainment have a Godly reason?
B. Can escaping reality be a healthy form of entertainment?
C. Can nostalgia be dangerous?
IV. What should Christians do about Star Wars?
A. Is isolation from it the answer?
1. Can you have education in isolation?
2. Can you hurt your testimony by isolation?
B. Is having no restraint the answer?
1. What do you think you can “handle”
2. What do you think about future generations and moderation
Let’s examine each of those. In this part we will consider just the first question regarding the content of the films and if that makes them something Christians should avoid, embrace, or some middle option.
What is the content?
Are there dangers to ones moral purity in the content?
There is a roughly 30 minute portion of Star Wars- Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) that is completely unwatchable because the character Princess Leia is scantily clad. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you already are familiar with Biblical thought on the issue of protecting ones eyes from things that would cause a man to lust after someone who is not his wife. No Christian should allow a mental file box to be created in which are images of women other than his wife. Does that make the other films in the original trilogy unwatchable, or even the rest of ROTJ? It’s arguable that it does not, only that specific portion of the film. However, we have not examined our other questions yet.
It is also worth noting, and many will think me old-fashioned for this, that in the entire original trilogy there are a small number of brief, romantic kissing scenes between the characters Han Solo and Princess Leia who are not married. As prudish as it sounds to bring this out, this has certain potential to influence the purity of unmarried young people into thinking that this is somehow normal and expected behavior among unmarried people who like each other. Never underestimate the ability of “seemingly innocuous” things to chip away at ones conscience about moral behavior over time. Remind you of Lot? Does that make the whole series of films unwatchable? To be fair, it’s arguable that it does not, only those portions. But again, let’s keep examining Star Wars based on our beginning questions and see where it takes us.
As with many things, we must often consider multiple precepts and principles in order to draw one conclusion. And, since the Bible makes no mention of Star Wars or movies at all, we must be thinkers who create Biblical filters in our reasoning to pass information through on a given subject. Over the course of this series we will see what comes out on the other side of our “filter”.
In the next post will we try to cover a good but more ground on our outline.
Pastor Thomas Balzamo is the pastor of Colonial Baptist Church of Norwich, CT and one of the hosts of the Reason Together Podcast. This series is adapted from episode 11 of the podcast which is found here.