Watching/reading movies and books a sin? I've gotten different answers


Is it a sin when they have blasphemy and anything impure etc? I am confused because some say yes, others no. I listen to Fr. Rippergers sermons on youtube and he says it’s a sin to watch such movies while others say it’s not so long as it’s not an occasion of sin for you.

I’ve tried to find official church teaching but nothing. I’ve even read that The Vatican has reviewed some movies with this sinful content in them.

The problem I have is that I value Fr. Ripperger’s sermons and agree with him on many things, and I am having trouble seeing if this is just his opinion or the church’ and whether it’s better to follow it. I’ve seen priests say that’s it’s ok to watch movies but then again, they might be lax. I am scrupulous, but even other people, not only Father R. is saying that it’s a sin to watch movies/books. Do you guys know of any church teaching or document on the subject?


Joanna you are very probably scrupulous. This is a debilitating disorder, all too common on this forum, which causes excess concern about minor matters in regard to sin and faith. Please speak to a priest and mental health professional immediately. I would enjoin all other well-meaning posters on this forum not to respond.


This is the worst possible reply you could give to a scrupulous poster. Please reconsider.


What INP said. You need to find a confessor and trust him.


Is Fr Ripperger your pastor? Is he someone whom your Bishop has placed in authority over you?

He is a priest with some very strong personal opinions and a small following on the internet.

Speak to YOUR pastor.

No, movies and books are not intrinsically evil. Arts and entertainment are not intrinsically sinful.


I have learned so much from Fr. R and I am very grateful, but sometimes it seems like his advice is overgeneralized.

There are some people who should avoid some books, it is true, but not everyone needs to avoid any book with any bad content. (Personally, I just skip any scenes about details which ought to remain private.)

As a Lit student I know pointed out to me, Anna Karenina does involve a lot of bad behavior, but so does the Bible.

The question is does the book affect you so that you react badly in any way? Is your imagination stirred to sin? Does Oceans 11 make you want to rob banks; does Harry Potter make you yearn to follow Alestair Crowley; does half of television cause you to lust?

I like St Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation:


what about the fact that in some way, we’re cooperating by giving views or money to this films and risking other people by occasion of sin? That is what bothers me.


If you feel that God is calling you to boycott certian books and movies, then it is ok to not read/watch them


Reading porn is sinful. Everything else is cool


What you are talking about is extreme remote cooperation. If we are going down that trail, it ends with living completely off the grid, not purchasing anything but carving your own dinner plates from trees and having bees to make wax for the candles you use as light.


If something is sinful for you, that does not mean it is sinful for everyone. And if it’s sinful for you, you will be avoiding it and not giving them money, right? So this is an issue you do not have to worry about.

If you were to buy something, and afterwards find out it is sinful for you, then you have just made a mistake: no sin there either.


I think you are worrying too much. When something is expressed in a work of art (book, film, play, painting, sculpture, piece of music, etc.) it does not necessarily follow that it is being promoted or condoned. If you read the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe or the novels of Dickens and Hardy or listen to operas by Verdi and Puccini you will see the full range of human experience and emotions. But if you go to the theatre and watch Othello it does not mean that you are in some way supporting men murdering their wives.

The most that you may want to do, if it really worries you, is decide where you draw the line in terms of what is and is not acceptable for you. For example, perhaps you do not want to watch the Godfather trilogy because the films are extremely violent (although they do not condone or glorify violence). Or you may feel uncomfortable with the violence and sexual content in the James Bond series. That is your personal choice and has nothing to do with sin.

Perhaps a positive way forward would be to get suggestions for books and films that people think you may enjoy. For example, have you read Brideshead Revisited or seen the exceptional TV series based on the novel? Or have you seen the beautiful film Ida by the great Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski?

But in general I can assure you that books and films are not sinful. Quite the opposite. The Church wants us to be open to enjoying and benefiting from secular culture. I have known many priests and male and female religious and clergy of other denominations who take a very active interest in literature, film, theatre, music, and art.


I skip graphic sex scenes in movies and tv shows. I will avoid erotic literature and of course any pornography. If I hear blasphemy on the tv I just mentally say forgive them Lord. It’s a very different matter between seeking things out and them just popping up unawares. Be in the world not of it.


So in other words, use your discernment and if you’re worried speak to Father to get help if you suffer from scrupulousity


“What might be bad for you might be good for me.” No. Wrong. That is called Relativism.

I remember closing my eyes for nudity, blood and gore and ‘suggestive scenes,’ like when a couple hops into bed - unmarried. And even if they were married, that is not meant to be shown.

Nudity is right out.
Sexual situations are right out.
Bad behavior is not to be enjoyed like it’s normal or average or OK.
Profanity is right out. They are still bleeping out the words during a comedian’s “act.”

It’s not rocket science. I got rid of my TV. The radio in my car stays off. I get my news and other information from specialized sources. I prefer pre-1965 movies and TV shows because they are clean. I keep track of the increase in all the bad stuff to warn people. It was slow and gradual, starting in 1970, to get people used to a little bad, then a little more… so we would build up a tolerance to it, or better yet, stop caring about good and bad. Don’t do that.


The Church used to have an index of books that Catholics were forbidden to read, but I believe it has long since discarded. At least I think it has…


Be careful about using 1965 as a yardstick to measure which films are OK to view. Films made prior to the adoption of the Hays Code in 1934 were often quite salacious. There is a whole sub-genre of films, labeled ‘Pre-Code’ and filmed between 1929 and 1934, that are notorious for their degenerate plotlines and deliberately titillating scenes of near-nudity and simulated sex. Even many films from the 1950s sport a distressing aura of perversity and prurience. You should carefully vet ANY film you plan to view. You can look them up and read about them on the IMDB website. You can also see if Stephen Greydanus has written a review. His website is


This is silly if you think about it for two seconds. Of course something can be fine for one person and not another. Would you tell a 35 year old man he can’t have a beer? Of course not. Ok, does that mean that a beer is okay for a 4 year old? Of course not: that’s not relativism, that’s recognizing that their situations are not comparable in a fundamental way.


I know. That’s why the Catholic Legion of Decency was formed in 1933. I thank God for the Motion Picture Production Code. And yes, some J. D. films were produced in the 1950s. The Legion of Decency rated films and a number fell under the Condemned category.

J.D. = Juvenile Delinquent. When I saw them offered on VHS, I didn’t buy any.


Not just JD. A cross-section of films in the '50s, including several supposedly squeaky-clean musicals, have a disturbing undertone of prurience. And any film based on the writings of William Inge, like Picnic(1955), The Dark at theTop of the Stairs(1960) and Splendor in the Grass(1961) is concerned mainly with sexuality and should be avoided by those with good taste.

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