Acceptable films to watch

Hi there.

I struggle with the issue of where to draw the line in terms of acceptable films to watch.
Most films today have some form of a “love scene” which most people take for granted.
The definition of pornography from the catechism refers to anything that involves the sexual act - either real of simulated.

An example I would use is the film Titanic which is a really good film with a brief sexual encounter - but of you were to take the definition from the catechism literally it would be a mortal sin to watch the film Titanic.

Common sense tells me what is really pornographic and damaging, but many good films have some level of mild sexual content.

I looked up the catholic news agency which is a catholic review service and very few films are considered morally objectionable with most films which have some sexual contact filling somewhere in the middle. They seem to take a sensible position on this. If you were to take the definition from the catechism literally it would mean that you could literally watch few films that are produced these days.

I assume it is ok to use common sense on this issue.

You assume correctly. You will probably want to avoid R rated films entirely; that rating is a give away for objectionable content.

I have a hard-line view on this, taken from a Fr. Chad Ripperger: any actual sin being committed on screen, and the movie goes in the garbage. :slight_smile:

Now, you make the comment that, taking the Catechism seriously, one would be able to watch very few films.

Well … so what? I mean, your priority is whether or not something is moral, right? And we understand that morality is not rooted in common cultural expression, and it’s not voted in, and it’s not rooted in the collective rule of the people. The moral law, rather, exists because God set it up, and we should conform ourselves to Him, and not Him to our desires to be entertained. Right?? :slight_smile:

So therefore, I would encourage you to explore whether or not your position might actually be a bit laxist. I admit, my “hard-line” view might be seen as being rigorist, and you and I both want what’s in the middle, since laxism and rigorism are basically heretical. But if you explore a bit, and look at the principles involved, you’ll at least be more informed in your decisions. After all, we don’t make moral judgments based on “common sense” but on our conscience. And our conscience—a word which implies doing something “with knowledge”—must be formed to HAVE knowledge in conformity with solid theology.

To that end, I would recommend Fr. Ripperger:

Keeping in mind his “PenanceWare” concept, do a CTRL+F search for “movies” and also for “music.” Have a good listen to both, putting aside for the moment whether or not you agree, and THEN make a decision on all of this. :thumbsup:

I realized a long time ago that movies for entertainment are not necessary for my emotional well-being. IOW, it’s just entertainment. After I realized that, it was easier to walk away from stuff I didn’t want to expose myself to.

We have a lot of great, wholesome ways to relax nowadays with the advent of technology, the internet, and transportation. You can read an ebook, go to a park, play a sport, learn a hobby, etc… No one on their death beds will say, “I should have seen more movies.” And plenty of people who watch too much TV will say, “Where did the time go.”

Is it really? I don’t think so. It was commercially successful, but that does not make it “a really good film.” I think that it was soap opera trash.

No one on their death beds will say, “I should have seen more movies.” And plenty of people who watch too much TV will say, "Where did the time go.


That’s funny.

We rarely watch modern movies because of the sex & profanity. What we do watch are older movies & TV shows on DVD. We’re into the second season of Wanted: Dead or Alive starring the late, great Steve McQueen.

Our recent “play list” has included The Mission, The Wrong Man, Support Your Local Sheriff, Independence Day, The Santa Clause, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and more I don’t recall off hand.

Many we get from the public library, others I bite the bullet & pay for.

I agree - I watched it when I was 14 when it came out, and immediately thought “There’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back!” and I’ve not watched it since.

any actual sin being committed on screen, and the movie goes in the garbage.

A far too restrictive approach than is justified. For one thing, if a sin is committed on screen but that act is shown to be sinful and the character shows guilt for it, that can even be a positive thing. Not watching any film where anyone does anything wrong would even exclude many Bible films.

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Right. There’s a big difference between the depiction of sin and the celebration of sin.

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I think that if these scenes are an occasion of sin to you, avoid them. Stick to some of the older films that maybe insinuated it but never showed it. If you’re a guy, there’s lots of adventure, war movies, etc. that you’d probably enjoy, and some are shown in Netflix. You probably could also purchase the DVDs. I love the old musicals and films of the 50s like the Alfred Hitchcock ones. That said, not too many movies being released today omit these scenes.

Does a film entice you to sin? Don’t watch it. Otherwise, use some common sense.

“Requiem for a Dream” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Rated NC-17 by the MPAA and O by the USCCB bureaucrats. If you took anything in that movie as an endorsement of its contents (which the USCCB bureaucrats seemed to think), you completely missed the point.

What I was actually posting about is the DIFFERENCE between the catholic news service - which rates any immoral film as “O” - assuming they are wrong to watch. There are many good films with slight adult content - some of which have been recommend in the vatican top films e.g. Schindler’s list.

I’m looking for a sensible approach to this. I feel myself that the catholic news service provide a sensible view which allows us to live in this world and still adherie to the morality of the church.

I don’t understand your question. It seems you have no problem with following the advice of the Catholic News Service. Is your question that you don’t really want to follow it? Do you want stricter guidelines or looser ones?

Assuming you are an adult, why would you let anyone tell you what to watch and what not to? Watch and make your own choices. If a film offends you, walk out, or just don’t watch similar films in the future. I don’t know that a movie is capable of really “tempting” - but if one tempts you avoid it. Why surrender those decisions to some website written by people you don’t know, using criteria you don’t control?

The sermon from Chad Rippenberger says explicitly that not all depictions of sin are intrinsically bad. He says that an action which is only a simulation of sin and which does not induce others (by reasonable standards) to sin is not bad. However, things that are actually sins or which cause others to sin in watching them are bad. So for pornographic scenes like in Titanic, the actors even if they are only simulating sex, are inappropriately exposing themselves to each other and on camera, the audience is sinning in viewing pornographic material.

I mostly stick with PG films/shows. If I happen to watch a PG-13 film/show I am ready to hide my eyes at objectionable content. If it’s a lot of bad language, I turn it off. I don’t allow my grandchildren to watch anything more than PG.

I stick with movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
No nudity or foul language. yes there is adult content - but nothing like today’s movies or the past 40 - 50 years.

I love Fr.Chad Ripperger

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Basically, avoid occasions of sin, and don’t do your head in in the process!

St. John Paul II screened ‘Life is Beautiful’ to the public. There are many other great films. You just need to do some digging. Steven Greydanus writes some good reviews (check out his site ‘Decent Films’ if you haven’t already).

I find that MA movies and above are generally unwatchable, but the ratings vary from country to country.

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