In Defense of (Some) Sex in Movies

Hollywood needs to deal with sexual themes in its movies. Not all of them, of course, but some of them.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you might find that statement—and this article’s title—surprising. After all, I’ve been campaigning against both the use of porn in mainstream entertainment and the abuse of actors that said porn often necessitates. Actors are people too, and their emotional and spiritual well-being should be the concern of every Christian moviegoer.

That being said, it’s possible to take any argument too far. Some readers might interpret me to be saying what I am not saying at all—that any and all references to sex or sexuality should be eliminated from public storytelling. Yes, some prudes are Christians, but not all Christians are prudes. As a Christian movie patron, I hope to act with prudence, not prudishness.

Why support the prudent portrayals of sexuality in films? Because both the uses and abuses of sex are a part of life. To ignore sex and sexuality altogether would be a disservice to human experience.

All over the world, people fall in love and get married. All over the world, people have children, sometimes in and sometimes out of wedlock. All over the world, people fall into various forms of sexual temptation. Virtually everyone reading these words can be found in at least one of these “all people” categories. To completely ignore sexuality in our films would be to ignore a very real part of the human condition—a condition created by God Himself.

Furthermore, because sex is God ordained, we need to take it seriously. It isn’t a random or trivial aspect of the created order. Sex was designed as a powerful tool to glorify God, serve one’s spouse, and receive pleasure to boot. One of my problems with much of modern film fare isn’t that it deals with sexuality, per se, but that it does so with little to no seriousness. Especially in the comedy genre, sex is treated as not much more than a joke or a gimmick. Something with such dignity and gravitas shouldn’t be treated so casually.

When it comes to sex, we need more films to deal with the beauty of its right uses and the horror of its misuses. Even Scripture, which is far from a seedy tabloid publication, does not shy away from dealing with sex in all its forms. It even includes a love poem that celebrates the beautiful intimacy of conjugal relations. If the Bible itself deals with the human condition in all its forms, shouldn’t at least some of our stories do the same?

I’m aware that Hollywood as an industry isn’t founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. I don’t expect every movie to conform to a Biblical standard. What I do expect, and hope and pray for, is that Hollywood treats the power of storytelling with greater responsibility.

It has done so in the past. That is, it has shown an ability to deal with sexual themes—even dark ones—with respect for both actors and audiences. This includes movies that have had a deep impact on me: Casablanca (adultery and sexual manipulation), Cape Fear (the original!) (sexual predation), and Unbreakable (adultery and rape), to name a few.

When I blog about Hollywood’s abuse of sex, it’s not because I have a vendetta against the film industry. On the contrary! Much of my scholastic and recreational endeavors have had to do with video and film production. I love movies. I will continue to be a (cautious) patron of Hollywood. In the future, as I continue to take filmmakers to task for their irresponsible treatment of sexual themes, please know that it’s not because I hate films or God’s gift of sex. In fact, it’s because I love and respect them so much that I want to critique the ways in which they are abused.

So yeah, sex in movies is fine. At times, it may even be necessary. But the abuse of sex never is—not in real life, and not in our entertainment.