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Why I Will Not Watch the Joker or Movies Like It (and Neither Should You)

I’m not sure that anyone who usually reads the blog here at Religious Affections has an appetite for this movie to begin with, but, should you be tempted, there are several reasons not to see the newly-debuted Joker (or movies like this one). I’m sure that if I were to watch it, I could offer a hundred more. (And while some choose to be the filter for others by watching movies like this one and warning them of the content therein, I would suggest that Spirit in us as Christians is the better “filter,” leading us not to watch this kind of thing to begin with. Cf. Galatians 5:16–26.)

Here are at least three reasons not to watch the Joker:

First, Hollywood has no design for your edification as a Christian. This is said for even “better” movies that seem to have fewer objectionable scenes and themes for your mind’s consideration. To intentionally put one’s mind for 120 minutes towards a movie that entertains and climaxes on one sinful moment after another seems to be anything but obedience to passages such as Romans 12:1–2 and Philippians 4:8.

Second, it offers as entertainment the very violence it says that the film is supposed to condemn. One is supposed to abhor the violence that makes a man into being the villainous Joker. But then the movie is said to revel in his revenge through violence upon those trod him down. I read in the news that the lead actor left an interview because he was asked if the movie actually promoted the very violence that it says to condemn. He apparently didn’t know how to answer the question. Besides this actor’s naively playing such a role and apparently (at least initially) not being able to care less as to what impact his production has upon you as the viewer, the very fact that the question was asked betrays that the answer is, incidentally at best and intentionally at worst, yes. In the end, yes, you as the viewer will be tempted or told to glory in the Joker as he robs the Lord of vengeance and sinfully retaliates against his aggressors.

Third, there are better ways of redeeming the time before the coming of our Lord (cf. Ephesians 5:15–16). Do something intentionally Christian. Or enjoy the natural things of this world with a view to glorifying God in His creation. Read a good book. Spend some time with your family. Or at the least, for the few that are out there, maybe just choose a movie that has some wholesome qualities.

What I’ve said of the Joker above could be said for thousands of movies besides. Please know I write these things as one Christian to another and as a pastor who simply desires that we glory in what is truly worth our affection. Whether we eat or drink or watch a movie, we should do all to the glory of God, but only in a manner that is truly glorifying to Him.

David Huffstutler

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

7 Responses to Why I Will Not Watch the Joker or Movies Like It (and Neither Should You)

  1. So basically your saying we should just do everything that glorifies God no matter what? That’s no different then being a puppet. Watching movie isn’t doing anything wrong. It doesn’t matter what the content is. Unless it is based on true events, all these movies are FICTIONAL. If we just ignore sin in itself and keep away from it like you say, how will we grow as human beings. We would become a society that looks down upon others for making a mistake and having less compassion for others. Secondly we shouldn’t live our lives according to God. We should live our lives according to what is morally right or right in our hearts. You can still believe in God but if you are living by his rules then you are no different then puppets trying to please someone you can’t see or hear really, or for one even exist. What if God was someone who wasn’t all about love and hated humans and wrote laws that would allow us to indulge in the worst of ourselves, would you still blindly follow him?

  2. Madison, thanks for taking the time to respond. I know God exists, that He is just to punish sin, and that He is merciful and compassionate to have sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins. The Bible reveals to us who God is. I gladly believe in Him and follow Him as He commands. My faith gives me the certainty of what I cannot see, that Jesus died and rose again, and that one day I will see the face of Jesus when He comes again to judge the world. I am no puppet, but without my Savior, I would indeed be a puppet and slave of sin, deceived by my own sinful heart to think that I could reject Him without any thought of the eternal punishment that I would face.

    The Bible commands us to guard what goes into our minds and hearts because what goes in will eventually come out, whether in thought, word, or action. I realize that people who reject God and the Bible will think I’m strange because I do not watch the things that they do. I pray that they would come to know God through Christ and glorify Him, whether it be in watching a movie or whatever the matter may be.

  3. I disagree (quite strongly!) and while I absolutely respect your opinion to dislike this and other Hollywood movies in general, I would encourage fellow Christians to refrain from legalistic statements (Romans 14) on disputable matters like “and neither should you”. As for your reference to Philippians 4:8, we hand a book to our children filled with rape, excessive violence, incest, idolatry, and every vile sin known to mankind, yet when films contain these things, Christians condemn them and the audiences watching them. If a film that contains these things is inherently evil, how do we justify reading a book with such wicked things? That doesn’t sound like “good, honorable, worthy of praise”. Well, the Bible is justified because it portrays a realistic humanity and amidst the darkness, teaches us good things. The same can be applied to some of the most infamous of movies.

    I absolutely agree there is a lot of garbage out there we don’t need to waste our time on, (You also said you haven’t seen the film so you may not know the finer details/plot points) but there are also many incredible films that are emotional, passionate works of art, despite the ugly world they might create. You encourage readers to pick up a novel as if it is an inherently better, more “Christian” thing to do. Books and movies are both merely vessels for storytelling, and both are their own art mediums. Books do things that film cannot and vice versa. Back to the topic of discussion, Joker is a story about how a cold, uncaring society not unlike our own can break those who are less mentally/physically/financially equipped to face this life. When the downtrodden do not receive love from their fellow man, they become angry and jaded. Joker offers sympathy into the life of someone most would dismiss and later clamor for his execution. His actions are not condoned or justified, but understandable given his conditions.

    I’m thankful to God for the art of film and storytelling, and while many mainstream movies promote negative ideas, there are those that are emotional and beautiful masterpieces, and I would count Joker among them. I don’t imagine I’ve changed your mind at all, but I offered my rebuttal so that you would understand not every Christian who watches these kind of movies is just weak-spirited and conforming to the world. Some watch because they are art, and God gave us the privilege to enjoy art. God bless.

  4. Zack, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    The Bible in all of its artistically presented words is meant for salvation and sanctification (2 Timothy 3:16-17), bad examples included (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11), something far from the design of the producers of the Joker. Scripture is divine revelation. The Joker is not. Scripture’s record of these evil examples is not an excuse to make films that imitate and glorify evil, whatever moments of common grace may be observable to a more thoughtful viewer (e.g., sympathy for the suffering).

    While the Bible provides the light of the gospel to a sinful and broken world, I believe that the Joker is a dark movie with a couple of rays of light to those who suffer, quickly extinguished for most who watch it because they are simply enjoying the movie for what it is—a popular means of entertaining one’s self with violence and vengeance.

    I’m disappointed that Christians disagree over what seems to me to be something so obviously sinful. We’ll have to continue to disagree.

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