Video Seduction

© Moody magazine, March 1995
Used by permission.

I tried to tell myself that it wouldn't affect me.

My actions seemed so out of character for a Christian leader, an ordained minister. What had happened in my mind and conscience? I wondered. How had Satan's fiery darts penetrated so deeply?

It all started so innocently. The videocassette recorder was a gift to enhance my ministry. I also hoped it would provide some harmless entertainment.

I seldom attend movie theaters. West Side Story, Ben Hur, and Chariots of Fire are among the few films I have seen in a theater. With the VCR, however, I had access to thousands of titles. I could rent some of them for as little as a dollar an evening.

During the first months, my family and I viewed several Walt Disney classics -- Mary Poppins, Swiss Family Robinson, Peter's Dragon. But as I selected our family movies at the local video shop, an exciting selection of adventure films caught my eye.

I recognized that most were unsuitable for family viewing. But they didn't seem to be "bad" movies. Besides, I had heard Christian friends talk about watching them.

So I would select a family movie, and one of a more mature theme for my wife and me to watch after the children were in bed.

I enjoyed the action in these films, but I was also troubled. The actors used profanity. The women often wore skimpy clothing. Some scenes portrayed violence and sexual immorality. I tolerated these portions because the films were 90 percent wholesome entertainment. Before long, however, I found the sexual scenes more enticing and less offensive.

My son once noticed I had an extra movie and asked if he could see it, too. I explained that it wasn't a movie for kids because it had some bad language and things that were not very nice.

"Then why are you watching it, Dad?" he asked. I had nothing to say.

I had yet to rent an R-rated movie. Then one day I did. I was drawn by the title and the suggestive picture. I told myself that sex was not the attraction.

Before I realized it, I was watching a movie a weekend -- sometimes two. I found myself less interested in reading. I would pick up a book and page through it, but what I really wanted to do was watch another movie. There were several titles I couldn't wait to see. So came the midweek video.

During my video seduction, I experienced a perplexing spiritual struggle. I rationalized viewing discrete sex and partial nudity. I'm mature enough to handle this, I thought. There's nothing wrong with merely viewing these things. I'm not the one doing them. Yet deep within my heart, I knew I was guilty.

It was especially difficult to carry out an effective ministry during this time. Although I continued my personal devotions out of habit, I knew that my Scripture reading and prayer was a sham. My enthusiasm for teaching and preaching the Bible waned. I lost boldness in speaking on biblical commands against sexual immorality.

On several occasions I determined that I would not view another R-rated movie. I didn't like the profanity The stories were inane, never providing the satisfying entertainment I had anticipated. But then, while browsing the shelves in the video shop, I would see something I didn't want to miss.

Video was becoming a necessary element of my life. I looked forward to the midweek movie as a chance to "put my mind in neutral" and relax after a busy day When my wife was busy with housework or Bible study, I watched the movie alone, often selecting a sexually suggestive title.

Her moral sensitivity and presence in the home prevented me from viewing some of the more sexually explicit movies I noticed in the video shops. Then came a weekend when she was to be away at a women's conference. This was my chance to view an X-rated film alone.

I contemplated this decision for at least a week. I did not want to give in to the temptation. Yet I could not seem to get the film out of my mind.

On Saturday night I went to the video shop, intending to get a family movie. But I found myself laying $3 on the counter for an X-rated movie. It's just curiosity, not lust, I told myself. Perhaps as a Christian leader I should be aware of what the world is consuming.

What I saw that night was ugly. The film degraded men and women. The beauty of human sexuality as God designed it and as I had experienced it in marriage was absent. I felt empty, cheated, and defeated.

IT WAS AT THIS POINT that God brought me to my senses. He had been calling me to repentance all along, but I had been ignoring Him. Shocked by my failure, I realized that I was in danger of destroying my life and my ministry. If I hardened my heart and harbored this sin, what would entice me next?

I did four things that night before going to bed. First, I destroyed the identification cards that video shops require when renting tapes. Second, I wrote a letter to my wife, confessing my failure and asking her to pray for my spiritual recovery. Third, I confessed my sin to the Lord and appropriated His cleansing. Fourth, I made a decision before God to stay out of video shops.

Later, I took another step. I made myself accountable to a friend -- a pastor I greatly respect. I confessed my sin, asked for his prayers, and promised to let him know if I sensed I was slipping. We agreed to ask each other regularly about our spiritual lives.

I'm writing this not to provide a catharsis for my soul, for I'm assured of God's forgiveness (1 John 1:9), but to warn other Christians. No Christian is immune to the temptations of video seduction. Here are some commitments I've made to avoid the misuse of my video recorder:

I have stopped frequenting video shops. Even though I may not intend to rent an R-rated film when I enter the shop, I often come across those items on the shelves. Browsing for movies in secular video shops gives Satan the opportunity to get in some licks. I may escape without renting a compromising film, but I have exposed myself to suggestive titles that may come to mind when my guard is down.

Many Christian bookstores now rent family films. By renting my videos there, I avoid unnecessary temptation. If I must rent from a secular video shop, I call ahead to reserve the title I want and pick it up at the counter.

I have stopped watching video movies alone. When I'm planning to watch a video movie, I arrange to watch it with my wife, children, and sometimes another family. This helps me to be more selective in my choice of films.

I have limited my video viewing. Leisure and entertainment have their place, but I often gravitate to extremes. "If watching one video a month is enjoyable, one a week might seem even more so." Very few secular films, however, are worth spending two hours to watch. I have decided to save my viewing time for the few high-quality films that are released yearly I use other leisure time for reading, games, and more interactive recreation.

I'm cultivating opportunities to use my video equipment for ministry. Hundreds of evangelical films are now available on videotape, including Bible teaching series, tips for family life, Christian biographies, and children's stories. We look for occasions to share such materials with a friend or family.

I'm seeking to cultivate God's attitude toward things I view on video. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists the kinds of evil that God hates: lies, bloodshed, and wicked plans. These very evils are emphasized and exalted by the film industry I'm sad to say that I ha~e sometimes been entertained by activities that the Lord hates. Solomon reminds me that "to fear the Lord is to hate evil" (Proverbs 8:13). And the psalmist exhorts us, "Let those who love the Lord hate evil" (Psalm 97:10).

I'm limiting my viewing to films that meet the criteria of Philippians 4:8. Paul writes, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure whatever is lovely whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." If my video viewing meets this standard, it won't dishonor the Lord.

I forget many things -- phone numbers, names, Scripture references -- but explicit and violent scenes of some movies still remain in my mind. I now want to protect my mind from the stain of that corruption.


This article first appeared in the May 1987 Moody. The author wishes to remain anonymous.


Note from the Webmaster: I think the safest recourse in dealing with unwholesome videos, movies and shows is to avoid theaters and no longer have TV, VCRs or such equipment. That is the course of action, that is the lifestyle I heartily recommend.


I invite you to read three more articles along a similar vein as this, by three other authors:

A Call to Thought Purity
Handy Pornography!
Letter to the Other Woman

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