I know many women, and I assume many men, struggle with watching scary movies, TV shows, etc. When they watch something that is scary, they allow it to scare them to the point that they doubt God’s sovereignty as a “result.” They thus limit their Christian freedom by refusing to participate in scary media. I do not think such people should violate their consciences; but, I do think they should better inform their consciences.
First, scary movies are not the reason why you doubt God; rather, scary movies merely bring to the surface the doubt that is already there in your heart. If you are incapable of watching scary movies without doubting God’s sovereignty, what will you do whenever scary situations come to your door step, unannounced and uninvited? The answer is that you will doubt God yet again because you have foolishly thought the problem was outside of you. Your heart (will, mind, thoughts, everything about you) is the problem, not scary movies (Rom. 3:23).
In limiting your Christian freedom by refusing to watch scary movies, you assume that the problem is outside of you, when in reality, the problem is inside of you. Until you deal with your doubting heart, your fear of man above the fear of God, you will not be filled with the Spirit in this area of your life. Whenever you face scary situations: disease, illness, broken bones, surgery, physical harm, mental harm, etc., you will doubt the Lord all over again because you have not dealt with the problem: your heart.
The answer to your sin problem is not attempting to minimize your outside influences. You should be able to face scary situations, whether voluntary or involuntary, without doubting God. Rather, your answer should be to pray, memorize Scripture, and face voluntary fears while believing what God has said in His perfect Word. Like David, we must treasure the Word of God in our hearts so that we might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11).
Finally, for those reading this that are clinically depressed, I want you to know that a doubting heart is not a disease, but is rather a sinful choice. Although there will be elements of your depression that are out of your control (still hotly debated today in Christian and secular counseling), you must make sure that you are controlling what you are able to control. Remind yourself of the truth found in God’s Word: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10),” “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6),” etc. (My mother is clinically depressed to the point of continual physical pain. There are many elements of her depression that she cannot control, but some elements that she can.)
We must make sure that we deal with our wicked hearts. “How we react to every situation in life reveals who/what rules our hearts (David Powlison).” This includes our reactions to scary movies and scary situations. The answer to our doubting hearts is not to limit our Christian freedom, but is rather to 1) run to Christ, 2) trust in His finished work alone for our salvation and sanctification, 3) treasure His inerrant Word, 4) believe it beyond our outside and inside influences, and 5) trust Him to rule our hearts for eternity.
What are your thoughts about this issue? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Jared Moore is 32 years of age, and has served in pastoral ministry in a Southern Baptist context for 12 years. He currently pastors New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is happily married to Amber and has three children. He has authored one book 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is also a regular contributor at SBC Voices, Servants of Grace, Sermon Central, and Church Leaders, and occasionally writes for Speculative Faith, Credo Magazine, Gospel Husbands, and SBC Focus. I have a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Trinity College of the Bible, an M.A.R. in Biblical Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. in Christian ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), a Th.M. in Systematic Theology (ABT) from SBTS, and I’m currently a PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS.