I’m a huge fan of superhero movies and shows. So it should come as no surprise that someone like me would be excited about the new Deadpool (2016) movie.
Deadpool is produced by 20th Century Fox, based on the Marvel comic, part of the X-Men film series. Unfortunately, unlike others in the series, Deadpool is rated R due to “strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.” One website reports that it grossed $12.7 million on opening night, scoring the largest preview number ever for an rated-R film.
On social media, Christians are debating whether or not it’s appropriate to see the film. Is it permissible? Is it wise? Is it legalistic to say no? What follows is a lightly edited transcript from John Piper on why he is committed to abstaining from movies and shows he knows contain nudity. We’ve cast them in terms of seven questions to consider.
1. When Will I Tear Out My Eye, If Not Now?
Jesus said everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:28–29). Seeing naked women on the screen — or naked men — causes a man, or woman, to sin with their minds and their desires, and often with their bodies. If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say, “Don’t watch it!”
2. Am I Longing to See God?
I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.
3. Do I Care About the Souls of the Nudes?
God calls women to adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9). When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls. They disobey 1 Timothy 2:9, and if we watch, we say that’s okay.
4. Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role?
Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand, they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand, they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.
5. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?
Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.
6. Am I Assuming Nudity Is Necessary for Good Art?
There is no great film or television series that needs nudity to add to its greatness. No. There isn’t. There are creative ways to be true to reality without turning sex into a spectator’s sport and without putting actors and actresses in morally compromised situations on the set.
It is not artistic integrity that is driving nudity on the screen. Underneath all of this is male sexual appetite driving this business, and following from that is peer pressure in the industry and the desire for ratings that sell. It is not art that puts nudity in film; it’s the appeal of prurience. It sells.
7. Am I Free from Doubt?
There is one biblical guideline that makes life very simple: “Whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:32). My paraphrase: If you doubt, don’t. That would alter the viewing habits of millions, and oh how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience.
So I say it again: Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence, and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand.