Movies and sin



When does watching movies become sinful? I am asking because on sometimes I will watch a movie with scenes with some form of sexual content (for example, The Terminator) while always skipping any scene with sexual content (and never even remotely considering watching those specific scenes), but it has really started to bother me lately. So where should we draw the line in visual media considering the possible occasions of sin as well as the possibility that we could be partaking in the possible sins of those who made the movies when they created sex scenes as well as other objectionable elements in movies?


I think it would depend a lot on where you’re at personally in your journey.

I’m reminded of the 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. It talks about eating meat offered to idols. Paul says that there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, because idols aren’t real gods. But he also cautions that sin is not just about the inherent goodness of things. We can sin using good things if our intentions are bad.

It seems like you may have doubts about these movies, and so maybe you shouldn’t watch them until you can confidently say that they’re not sinful. For you personally they may be too much of a temptation, where to someone else they wouldn’t be a problem.

Also, talk to a priest, who’ll be able to give you guidance on how to discern what’s sinful.


Why not listen to this audio sermon on movies?

Don’t watch such things! Or listen to what takes Our Lord’s name in vain.


How about driving down the street and you happen to pass a car where the driver is playing Rap music where every other word is a cuss word? You are at a stop sign and can’t get away from it till the light changes?


Something isn’t a sin unless we seek it out, knowing that it is wrong.

If you knew that a film contained sexual content, and sought it out for that reason, that might be confession country.

But we are not required to avoid all contact with carnal stimuli. For that, we would have to live life blindfolded, earmuffed, nose-plugged and bound.

Ask a priest you trust about near and remote occasions of sin.



Or in a plastic bubble, like the dog in the heart worm medicine commercial.


Dear Shin,

Cordial greetings and a very good day. Hope all is well with you. Jolly well said.

Our lot is sadly cast in an age of widespread moral and cultural deterioration and it behoves those who profess Christ’s holy religion to avoid all distracting and demoralizing influences, as much as they are able - “Evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor. 15: 33). Unwholesome films, video games, music etc. should be given a wide berth by those who are in earnest as regards the pursuit of holiness, for they poison the mind and demoralize the life. Living a holy life is difficult enough business as it is in this fallen world, without us adding to the difficulty unecessarily.

God bless, dear friend and thankyou for your link.

Warmest good wishes,


In Christos


To avoid all remote occasions of sin, in the bubble, you would still require a blindfold.



This should be a black and white issue. In the past, science fictions movies were made without partial nudity, sex scenes or profanity. There was no guessing or closing your eyes during the obviously bad parts. Take the otherwise brilliant Terminator 2. Lots of profanity - too much profanity. The original Terminator had the useless sex scene.

Trust me. As a professional editor and writer, I have watched Hollywood go from bad to worse, and some people, including Catholics, coming up with any excuse to watch movies that harm our natural hearts and consciences.

Hollywood used to have a code that promoted decency in movies. They have abandoned most of it. That’s just a fact. It’s not progress to see anything or hear anything immoral in any movie.

It’s a long-standing problem where the Catholic Church, Protestants and others sought to rein in Hollywood by reminding motion picture producers that they had a responsibility to society.

"The Needs of the Entire Catholic World

"The subject, however, is of such paramount importance in itself and because of the present condition of society that We deem it necessary to return to it again, not alone for the purpose of making particular recommendations as on past occasions but rather with a universal outlook which, while embracing the needs of your own dioceses, Venerable Brethren, takes into consideration those of the entire Catholic world.

It is, in fact, urgently necessary to make provision that in this field also the progress of the arts, of the sciences, and of human technique and industry, since they are all true gifts of God, may be ordained to His glory and to the salvation of souls and may be made to serve in a practical way to promote the extension of the Kingdom of God upon earth. Thus, as the Church bids us pray, we may all profit by them but in such a manner as not to lose the goods eternal: “sic transeamus per bona temporalia ut non admittamus aeterna”. 2

"Now then, it is a certainty which can readily be verified that the more marvellous the progress of the motion picture art and industry,the more pernicious and deadly has it shown itself to morality and to religion and even to the very decencies of human society.

"The directors of the industry in the United States recognised this fact themselves when they confessed that the responsibility before the people and the world was their very own. In an agreement entered into by common accord in March, 1930, and solemnly sealed, signed, and published in the Press, they formally pledged themselves to safeguard for the future the moral welfare of the patrons of the cinema.

"It is promised in this agreement that no film which lowers the moral standard of the spectators, which casts discredit upon natural or human law or arouses sympathy for their violation, will be produced.

"Promises not carried out

“Nevertheless, in spite of this wise and spontaneously taken decision, those responsible showed themselves incapable of carrying it into effect and it appeared that the producers and the operators were not disposed to stand by the principles to which they had bound themselves. Since, therefore, the above-mentioned undertaking proved to have but slight effect and since the parade of vice and crime continued on the screen, the road seemed almost closed to those who sought honest diversion in the motion picture.”


Of the very few movies made each year that fulfill most of what should be decent, they are generally aimed at children. I suggest you get a copy of Forbidden Planet (1956). Listen to the words.

God knows I’m a sinner but I own very few movies on DVD.



No matter how hot is, I roll up my window. And you can turn on your radio to a Catholic station. It helps.



Thanks to the media, those suggestions have some merit (except for the nose plugs). And just saying, “Don’t watch it if you don’t like it” is not an option. If no one complains about the dirty, filthy, gore-filled movies, others might think: “No one I know complained so it must be OK.” That’s called moral relativism. We should, as best as we are able, train ourselves to turn away from immoral, depraved and dysfunctional media. Media that depicts immoral behavior is not entertainment - the same with music like rap or hip-hop.

God knows I’m not perfect - no one is - but to just slide into your chair and watch hours of the ‘worst of humanity’ or blood and gore (like the Walking Dead) is meditating on it. That’s not entertainment.



I have been for some time an appreciator of country music. But I’ve had to give it up due to the content of some of it. Same for some pop music even from the 1960s


The Rolling Stones were to be avoided. It was not until the late 1960s that veiled drug references began to appear. The Mothers of Invention were quite bad. John Lennon made his “more popular than Jesus” remark in 1966, which prompted protests. Poor John.



Dear ed,

Cordial greetings and a very good day. Thankyou for your excellent input to this discussion.

Since the permissive revolution of the Sixties, dear friend, people, including not a few professing Catholics, have become increasingly desensitized to that which is unwholesome and vulgar. There is a now a lowered public opinion and what at one time shocked public morals no longer does so. Back in 1967, for example, when the The Rolling Stones were touring America, they appeared on the Ed Sulivan Show and performed their then current single Let’s Spend the Night Together. They were requested to change that to Let’s Spend Some Time Together because the original title might be too suggestive for the American networks. People will respond by saying that times change and we are less prissy now and more liberated from the so called stuffy Puritanism of the pre-Sixties. The truth is that we have come a long way, immorally speaking, from more God-fearing times when a Christian consciousness ensured that decency prevailed within society.

Living now, dear friend, in a milieu saturated and dominated by moral permissiveness, it is taken for granted that we can assimilate a certain amount of unsavoury and immoral entertainment and never be adversely affected by it. It is tacitly assumed that if a Catholic has a sufficiently robust and rational faith then he will be grown up enough to sift the good from the bad and the very ugly, ignoring the unsavoury whilst relishing the good. How very sad that men numbly watch graphically dramatized murders of many human beings every week on film and television programmes, but yet are distressed and incensed by observing a dog being kicked on screen! Moreover, it is a dreadful reflection of the times in which our lot is cast that multitudes of people are ‘entertained’ by puerile comedy containing so called ‘nerd humour’. They derive enjoyment from the course wit, little realizing how a diet of laughing at what is profoundly unfunny will at length, if not immediately, alter their ability to understand the gravity of immoral acts and how offensive they are to our all-holy God. The urgent need of the hour is for the general public to recover the moral sensitivity of former generations, so that that the unsavoury content in films, television and music etc. shows up quickly on their radar and is seen for what it truly is.

Invariably in discussions of this sort, dear friend, men will argue that the magisterium of the Church is silent as regards what films/TV programmes and music is morally permissible and that it is all down to prudential judgment. This I would not stop to deny, but the Church assumes that the faithful will not have radically defective consciences and thus will be safeguarded from making catastrophic errors of prudential judgment. Clearly if our moral sensibilities have been dulled and blunted by repeated exposure to that which is unwholesome, then we will be wanting in a properly formed conscience and will be unable to make sound prudential judgements on a whole range of issues. At any rate the Church does give guidance in so far as it teaches against anything that is harmful to the innate dignity of man or which glamorizes sin and immorality. How does films and television programmes containing unwholesome content, or that debased sensory material known as rock and pop music, measure up to that criteria?

This whole issue, dear friend, must be viewed in the broader context of personal sanctity and separation from the godless culture in which we live and move and have our being. My counsel to the OP is ponder carefully this much broader context and also to consider that the entire course of this life is a state probation and that our objective is to enjoy the Beatific Vision of God forever. Far too many contemporary Catholics, owing to poor catechesis, have embraced a hand in hand with the world type of religious practice which makes little demand upon them in terms of the pursuit of holiness. This is surely the elephant in the room and where the debate should begin. This ‘Catholicism Lite’ approach to religion appears to see no great harm in descending to the level of the worldling, whose mind and outlook is manifestly circumscribed by that which is temporal (see II Cor. 4: 4, 18). According to St. Paul “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philipp. 3: 20). Heaven is the true homeland of the faithful, not this fallen world - we are in the world but not of the world. As aliens in this godless world we should avoid a life that is rooted in earthly things to which we owe no allegiance; to have one’s affections/loves deeply centred on this world, being wholly captivated by that which unwholesome and transient, indicates, in the words of Pope Francis, that one is only “floating on the surface of the Christian life”.

All Catholics, not merely a few “Puritan spiritual types”, are called to a life of sanctity and separation from the godless world (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, paras. 2013-2015). We are called to live up to the arduous demands of our most *holy *religion, not to a half-hearted earthbound lukewarmness that is desirous to cling on to dubious worldly pleasures at all costs. Materialistic values should not dominate the Church and we need, I think, to hear much more in homilies on “ascesis and mortification”, as well as renunciation of the world and spiritual warfare.

God bless and goodbye. May I wish all posters and viewers of this thread a jolly splendid and relaxing weekend.

Warmest good wishes,


In Christos


Dear Portrait,

You’re welcome, dear brother. As I lived through the obviously planned social upheaval starting in the late 1960s, all the evidence points toward a planned attack against Christianity by dissidents inside and outside the Church. For movies, it began slowly in the legitimate cinema. In the 1970s, graphic pornographic movies and magazines became legal amidst the already subversive “underground” culture, which created a far worse danger, and the planned addiction to it. Today, we are seeing those same pornographic elements from the 1970s in movies and on TV. That was the goal all along.

For those of us who realized what was going on and rightly opposed it, the movies being sold in fakely labeled “Adult Bookstores” in the 1970s were opposed by many Christians. However, they had well-paid lawyers on their side ready to defend their immoral products. Meanwhile, starting in the late 1960s, one has to realize that we who were there had grown to expect and practice “common sense,” “common decency” and “good and morally clean behavior.” The media had been our friend through the 1950s and most of the 1960s. The 5 year plan that ran from 1968 to 1973 was to topple all that, including efforts from certain elements within the Church. Believe me, I felt personal pain as I watched it all unfold - all the time not knowing who was behind this and why.

The internet added to the already permissive movies and created an outlet for far worse.

But let us return to the late 1960s and the starting point for the downward slide into the Desensitization of the West to sin in movies, and on TV. It had to be gradual. Self-proclaimed elite “movie critics” praised the changes in eloquent reviews. Certain creative people in Hollywood demanded more creative freedom. They wanted, as the phrase went, to “push the envelope.” The full phrase being “push the envelope of what people find acceptable.” Which people? Certainly not themselves. They wanted Christians and other men of good will to be exposed to the kind of world they lived in and/or wanted. It was easy at first, to avoid legitimate movies that contained immoral and objectionable elements. Then, more sexual elements, profanity and other offensive elements began to appear. We were led by the hand gently. I even naively thought that some great intellectual purpose or goal was the driving force for some of it. It turned out I was very wrong. Selling one offense, followed by selling one more, showing some skin led to showing more up to full nudity. Suggestive sex scenes in the dark became far less suggestive and well lit. This fake “freedom,” just like all the other “artistic” freedoms of the late 1960s led to today. Now let’s add graphic blood and gore, severed zombie heads and even a sympathetic serial killer (Dexter) to the mix. I am not waiting for the story of the lovable family of cannibals next door who still don’t have the “right” to openly purchase what they want.

To sum up, this is called film propaganda. An effective way to train soldiers and to change the hearts and minds of the masses. The method is simple: some of it is good and worthwhile, while other parts are vile. While other parts are presented as “this is just the way things are.” For those who did not live to see cohabitation and other immoral activities become open and actively promoted, over the advice of Church, family and relatives, they have, as each generation grows up, come to accept, at the very least, the ‘old stuff’ from the late 1960s and 1970s since it wasn’t as bad as what we have today – but that was the whole point of the counter-culture of the late 1960s, wasn’t it? Mom, dad, priests, nuns, the teachings of the Church? All tossed in the dustbin and even reviled.

We have parental advisories and a rating system for movies today, but honestly, is what was rated R 10 years ago still going to be rated R today? Generally, no. And the young are the targets and are worse off emotionally and spiritually.

The poison was dripped into our veins slowly. Do we share some blame? Yes. But literally billions of dollars have been spent by Hollywood to further what is obviously an agenda which, unless we act, both as individuals and as groups to oppose, will continue on its perverse way.

Take heart, dear Portrait. It seems whatever the Israelites did, God always left a remnant and Revelation tells us a remnant will remain till the end. In the meantime, let’s not hide our light under a bushel. See Matthew 5:15

And let us be aware of our habitual behavior and know what the movies were like in the past, in all genres. A lack of knowledge, both sound Christian teaching and historical, is harmful to moviegoers today.

Finally, we have to know that the Catholic Legion of Decency, existed from 1933 to 1970. Coincidence? Definitely not. I can watch most movies from the period and feel joy, wonderment and, looking back, a profound appreciation for their positive influence on me and my generation.

We must be honest and never succumb to peer pressure or vague appeals. When the apple is rotten, should we consume it?

God bless and my best wishes,



I watch movies with sex scenes in them, but I do not enjoy these scenes, or feel attraction to them. I don’t believe it is sinful for me to do this because they do not tempt me, but if they did, perhaps I would view it as a sin.


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