Answering the Puritans Part 6

In this series (click here for Part 1), I’m looking at 5 questions about arts based on something a Puritan wrote and giving some answers. If you want, you can also read my thoughts on the previous question, Part 5.

Question (5 out of 5): Do we sin by approving of stories where sinful things happen?

Answer: Unless a story glorifies sinful actions (makes them seem good), we do not sin by approving of them.

I commented in Part 2 of this series that stories can portray sinful things and make the point that sin is bad.

In those cases, we certainly don’t sin by approving of them.

In fact, we need to find those stories because they can help us think through what sin is really like. We can hopefully use that knowledge to deal with sin better.

Paul Legget made some interesting points on this topic in a book he wrote about filmmaker Terence Fisher.

In this book, Terence Fisher: Horror, Myth, and Religion, Leggett admits Fisher made horror movies (like The Horror of Dracula or The Devil Rides Out) which showed evil as a seductive thing.

However, Leggett points out that these movies always showed a strong Christian outlook: evil looks good but turns out to be destructive.

Stories like that help people realize evil isn’t always obviously wrong, sometimes it looks good and we have to be strong enough to stand our ground in spite of temptation.

Admittedly, there are other stories that show sinful actions as being acceptable. In that case, we have to start talking about the difference between “aesthetically good” (the story is well-made) and “morally good” (the story shows good values).

If we find a story that clearly shows immoral things in a way that makes them look nice, we definitely need to recognize that. Trying to excuse poor values is a sinful thing to do.

But we can still recognize whether the story is well-made or not without sinning.

At that point, we’re not trying to excuse anything. We’re noting someone’s skills while also admitting their morality is skewed.

In doing that, we’re choosing to be mature readers and viewers, people who understand storytelling well enough to know badly-made from well-made as well as immoral from moral.

Thanks for reading. What do you think about this topic? Let me know in the comments

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