Do horror films bring glory to God?
As with most ethical questions, the answers are never as black and white as we would like to make them.
Some of my favorite movies of all time are suspenseful thrillers that may even be classified as horror films. My favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock. I have seen a number of “horror” films that I believe do in fact bring glory to God. I have also seen some that to say they “dishonor” God would be putting it very mildly.
When we ask whether or not horror films bring glory to God, what we are really asking is “is it okay to watch horror films?”
And for that matter is it okay to watch television shows, read novels, or play video games that are in the “horror” genre?
Here some may be quick to say that the Bible says to think on things that are pure, lovely, and true (Philippians 4:8). They would argue that monsters are not pure, lovely, or even of good repute. Thus, Christians should not “fill their minds with such trash.”
But may I present an alternative view.
Monsters portray sinful humanity. Dracula is driven by a lust for blood that causes him to bring death to any would be romantic relationship. The Frankenstein monster is symbolic of humanities brokenness. Humans attempt to play God and the resulting creation is an amalgamation of what the True Creator has made. Zombies are like people who have no relationship with God, they are wandering around as if alive, but inside they are dead. Even human monsters such as serial killers portray broken humanity. They are consumed with misguided notions of justice, truth, love, and the sanctity of life.
In many horror films, one sees redemptive qualities. Good overcomes evil, wrongs are righted in the end, and characters learn how to become better versions of themselves.
Though this is not always the case. In some films, evil wins. In some films, no one learns anything and as the credits roll, one is left with a feeling of unrest because more evil is expected to ensue.
I believe that horror films (and shows, books, etc.) can portray what is true, honorable, pure, and lovely. They do so through showing a broken world in need of redemption. Horror films illuminate the mind to our own in-humanity–our depravity. They then pick us up from there and call us to strive for something more–to strive to be better–to strive to live as God has called us to live.
Of course, to see this one must pick the right films, and one must be looking at the message, truth claims, spiritual claims, and character development through the plot to pick up on these things. In other words, we must engage the films with our minds.
So then, how do we know which films to watch?
Years ago one of my mentors/professors gave me three questions to ask when attempting to discern what things to partake in that are in our culture.
They are: 1) How will my participation in this affect my relationship with God? 2) How will my participation affect others? and 3) How will my participation affect the cause of Christ?
When a film glorifies sin, when it roots for the demonic, and when it claims as true the very things that are despised by God, then the film should not be viewed for our enjoyment. If you know a film does these things before seeing it, you should not watch it. If you begin watching a film and become convicted that it is doing these things, then you should turn it off. You should never watch something that the Holy Spirit is convicting you against.
If you can answer the questions above in a positive manner, and you have a good idea that the film will have redemptive elements in the end, then by all means….watch on!!!
Be mindful of those you are watching with regards to age appropriateness and with regards to how they handle the media. Be mindful of what the show will say about your character, and about your walk with Christ.
I know the pic at the top of the article is from a show not a movie, but season two of this show has one of the best portrayals of a Christian out there.
If you are in disagreement with me let me know and give me your reasons. If you agree, let me know too.
I end with a short list of great Halloween Horror films:
- The Frighteners
- The Village
- The Visit
- Frankenstein (The Original)
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Sleepy Hollow
- The Birds
- Pan’s Labrynth
- Shaun of the Dead