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Three Views on Christians and Horror: 2 – Christians can participate in horror genres with limitations

Posted by on Jul 27, 2011 in discipleship | 4 comments

Three Views on Christians and Horror: 2 – Christians can participate in horror genres with limitations

As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, I have invited three authors to write essays concerning this question: “Should Christians participate in the horror genres?”

I defined “participate” as follows: “We’re defining ‘participating in horror genres’ as reading/writing articles/stories/novels, watching shows/movies, viewing/creating websites, participating in forums, viewing/buying/creating art related to horror genres.”

Finally, instead of simply replying with “I agree” or “I disagree,” I encourage you to engage the authors by answering these three questions: 1) What is this author’s argument? 2) What are the strengths/weaknesses of the argument? 3) Is the argument persuasive/convincing? Why/Why not? Then, feel free to respond as you desire (within the realms of civility that I spelled out in the intro post).

This article was written by Bobby. You can contact him at his website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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Christians can participate in horror genres with limitations

I love Jesus and I enjoy watching horror films. Granted, I didn’t grow up in a very religious household, in fact, my parents never read the Bible to me or took me to church. But I would hop on the first church bus/van that drove by on Sundays and off I rode. A heathen on my way to hear about Jesus with visions of Fred Kruger or Jason Voorhees in my mind.

Things are a bit different now. I’m all grown up (well, sorta), I have a family of my own. I read the Bible and pray with them. I love Jesus much more than the snot nosed kid I used to be. So much has changed in my life because of Christ. I’m not one of those dudes who gave his life to Jesus and then joined the religious gestapo. In fact, I can’t remember ever trying to change any part of who I am without it being a miserable failure. Nonetheless I am different and if there is one thing I know for sure it is that I didn’t do the changing. Christ changed me. I was having as much fun as a heathen could have before Jesus put the brakes on.

So why tell you all this and why should you care? Only so that you can have a dim glimpse of the guy that’s telling you that it IS possible to love Jesus and enjoy horror. It’s important because I know enough about the Bible that I could write a lengthy post about why you should never indulge yourself in anything within horror genres. But if I did, I would be a manipulator and a hypocrite and that means I would hate myself. I try not to do things that make me hate myself. So instead, since I’m not naive about what the Bible says and I’m fairly confident that I have heard all the arguments before that say otherwise, I’m gonna tell you why I think it is cool to enjoy horror and love Jesus at the same time.

Jesus doesn’t want His followers to clean up their act in order to be worthy of Him. We don’t have to jump through hoops and keep a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts in order to faithfully call Him our Lord. He is not looking for followers who think they can do it on their own nor does He desire followers who try their best to do it on their own and give Him credit for it. On the contrary it is the broken and humble folks that He has in His flock. He wants us to trust and depend on Him completely. Jesus takes us as is, with all of our imperfections, and makes us His own. We are not perfect but we are being perfected. The crazy thing is that even though we are not yet complete, in Christ we are still considered saints. Our old self is hidden in Christ and we are a new creation. In Christ is who we are and no movie or book preference can change that.

So, as the Apostle Paul said “I consider it a little thing to be judged by you, in fact I do not even judge myself”. I do not regard myself according to what I think I am doing right or wrong. I regard myself as in Christ and although I haven’t arrived at perfection, I know I am on my way because He is faithful and He has promised to bring me there. We don’t have to do more of this and less of that. We do not have the authority to say what is and is not acceptable according to our preferences and opinions. We are bound by our conscience as it is informed by the word of God. We must let the Spirit of God lead us as He will and we must no longer regard one another according to the flesh but rather as a new creation in Christ.

Who knows, maybe the Lord will use something that one of my Christian brothers writes on this subject to convict me that horror genres are something that the He is desiring to put away from me. Thus far I remain unconvinced that my enjoyment of these things is somehow detrimental to my relationship with Him. My experience is that our relationship is based all in His grace and not my own works. My growth comes directly from the power of His Spirit within me. For that I am thankful because if it was based on me I’d be in a perpetual downward spiral.

For what it’s worth I think a person can love Jesus and still enjoy horror. Either I am a living example of that or my enjoyment of horror proves I have no idea what life in Christ is actually about. There is no in-between. I’ll let the Lord be the judge of that. Till then I will continue to trust in Him wherever He leads, even if that means that some of my brothers in Christ want to hurl insults and judgments at me. No biggie, Christ is my shelter and my shield from both the walking dead who are clothed with Christ and from the zombies on my tv screen.

(This post and the other posts in the series will also be published at “Zombie Theology.”)

Christians and Horror


4 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-27-2011

    So what are the limitations?

  2. 7-27-2011

    Scott,

    I purposefully did not spell out particular limitations that apply to everyone. The only limitation I had in mind and attempted to convey was summed up with this sentence:

    “We are bound by our conscience as it is informed by the Word of God.”

  3. 7-27-2011

    1)Bobby seems to be saying that, based on his experience prior to regeneration in Christ, he was into horror, and nothing has convinced his Spirit-led conscience that horror cannot be enjoyed from his new perspective on life. (I agree, but surely there must be some aspects that you find distasteful. What are those. You are a new creation after all.)

    2)While I agree that we are bound to our conscience, our hearts are sometimes deceitful. Ultimately, then we must use scripture to determine right from wrong. One question for you, Bobby, is where you see horror justified in scripture and where you are challenged by verses that may say otherwise.

    Also, while I agree that Jesus doesn’t require us to clean up our act to become worthy of him, he does tell us to clean up our acts after our faith in him has made us worthy. Can you honestly say that writing horror is part of trying to live more righteously? I am not criticizing you or your argument, but feel these points would be interesting to read you address.

    You said, “I remain unconvinced that my enjoyment of these things is somehow detrimental to my relationship with Him”. How is your enjoyment of these things beneficial to your relationship with Him, considering your next sentence about His grace?

    3) You said, “Our old self is hidden in Christ and we are a new creation. In Christ is who we are and no movie or book preference can change that.” I’m not convinced from your argument that being in Christ means we can read and write horror, even though I believe we can and should if that is a spirit-led taste. I see what you are saying about it being a part of your past that didn’t change after salvation, but that doesn’t inherently make it acceptable before God. I guess I see what you are saying with the fact that in Christ, we have the Spirit to convict us when we are wrong, and He apparently hasn’t, so for you that is currently acceptable before God. I respect that, and agree in my own life.

    I have to play the Devil’s advocate (have been for most of this post, I’m afraid, and I hope you take it as constructive), and say that sometimes believers resist the pangs of the Spirit’s conviction so long that they become immune and calloused. Be honest. Don’t you have any doubts about reading and writing horror? I do, but I’m feeling my way around certain writers and movies that are and aren’t acceptable to me. As well, I’m still praying through my inclusion of swear words and sex, which is common in horror, though hasn’t to date been necessary in my own fiction.

    I was in step with your thoughts, in that I think Christians should read and write horror to see how God can help those who are imperfect, in imperfect situations, by showing that His power is strong enough to lift us out of both – no matter how imperfect they both can be.

    What I would like to see you write, is how being an imperfect vessel for a perfect Savior makes writing and reading horror not only acceptable, but beneficial.

    Also, you told Scott that the limitations are based on individual consciences, but what then are yours?

    I’m glad I stopped by, and I look forward to getting to know you more as it seems we have a good deal in common. I’ll be checking out your Zombie Theology as well.

  4. 7-28-2011

    Tim,

    I decided to take Alan up on his offer to write on this subject because I have been recently examining  my own liberty in this area.  My hope was to write from my own perspective as of the present in order to be challenged by others.  You have answered that hope and I thank you.  

    I’m working on a response that will be too long as a comment so  I’ll post a link here to my blog when it’s finished. Thanks for your response and your challenge.