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I'm a Christian and I Just Watched a Steamy Movie About Porn

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I'm a Christian and I Just Watched a Steamy Movie About Porn

Adrian Patenaude

Sexually explicit movies aren't exactly my usual fare. As a home-schooled Southern Baptist missionary kid, I'm not one to seek out violent, crude or erotic films for their own sake. I don't particularly like hearing cuss words and I find sex scenes just as awkward as the next person. But I do admire films that tell the truth about this broken world, especially ones that manage to do so without glorifying the darkness.

That's why I admire Don Jon, a film about a man addicted to porn. While the movie is rated R for foul language and graphic sexual content, it contains a surprisingly truthful message. 

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed the film to explore how media affects our expectations for real-life relationships. He describes the film as being about "a boyfriend and a girlfriend; he watches too much pornography, and she watches too many romantic Hollywood movies" (NPR). He stars in it as porn-addict Don Jon, opposite Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

Meaningful message or not, many of you are probably still hesitant about the morality of exposing oneself to graphic images that can't be unseen. I was, too. But after considering it for several weeks, I felt at peace with watching it. Before I did, though, I prayed for God to protect my heart and give me discernment should I need to stop at any point. 

The Bible is very clear that it’s important to keep ourselves holy for the Lord. In Leviticus 11:45, God says “you must be holy because I am holy.” However, I do think it’s possible to engage in candid conversations about sin while maintaining a pure heart. In fact, I believe Christians should make a point to watch and discuss some R-rated films. Here are a few compelling reasons why:

1. We need to confront sin directly.

don-jon

There’s no getting around the fact that a lot of graphic material was presented in Don Jon. Porn, seductive dancing, sex scenes and crude sexual language were all shown on screen. At times, it was hard to watch. But then again, so is sin. 

Much too often, we sugar-coat these issues or simply ignore them, but this film portrays broken behavior in all its ugliness. We are forced to look it in the eyes, recognizing its presence in our world, our families and ourselves. By confronting sin directly, we have a better chance of both identifying it and fighting against it. Sin doesn’t stand a chance once it’s in the light.

2. We need to examine ourselves.

We often talk about purity like we have to protect ourselves from being tainted by outside forces, but Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for that perspective: “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? ...For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come...” (Mark 7:18, 21).

Movies often provide keen insight into human nature. So if a movie draws out unclean thoughts in us, we can’t blame it: it’s a reflection of ourselves. Let’s stop throwing Hollywood under the bus and take responsibility for our own dirt.

3. We need to listen to the world.

Filmmakers have long been called the philosophers of our time. As such, it’s extremely important that we think critically about what they are saying. We don’t have to agree, but we do need to understand. Then we’ll be able to join the conversation and maybe even extend a few answers.

We also need to realize that secular filmmakers can arrive at truth on their own, and do so surprisingly often. It’s refreshing to see them do this in the absence of clichéd religious language. If we give them a chance to tackle some big issues and take the time to listen, it’s likely we’ll learn something for ourselves as well.

I definitely drew some profound truths from Don Jon. It taught me about the consequences of unhealthy sexual lifestyles and convicted me about the damage of self-centeredness in relationships. Most importantly, it taught me about the joys of selfless love, sexual and otherwise. All from a movie with porn in it.

My point is this: please don’t discount a movie because of its rating. You might be missing out on a priceless conversation about life and truth. 

Don’t give up on Hollywood just yet.

Disclaimer: I fully respect your decision if you don't think you should see Don Jon. I recognize there are times when Christians should avoid certain kinds of content when they are vulnerable in a particular area. But either way, I don't want you to miss out on this excellent study of human intimacy. In a later post, I'll summarize the important scenes and messages of the film.