IFB Movement's Aversion to Media Consumption; Violence, Rape, and Abuse in the Bible
The Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Movement's aversion to media consumption, particularly television and movies, is a topic that has garnered attention within the Christian community.
IFB Movement's Aversion to Television and Movies:
At the heart of the IFB's stance on media is a concern with content that might be considered sinful or worldly. This includes not only explicit content such as violence, sexual content, or profanity but also more subtle themes and messages that might be perceived as contrary to biblical values. The belief is that exposure to such content can lead to moral decay, spiritual weakness, and a blurring of the lines between the sacred and the secular.
One manifestation of this aversion is a specific rejection of movie theaters. For some within the IFB movement, movie theaters represent a space where worldly values and influences are magnified. The communal experience of watching a film in a theater, surrounded by others who may not share the same moral convictions, can be seen as a potential threat to one's spiritual integrity. This aversion to movie theaters is not merely about the content of the films themselves but also about the environment and the associations that theaters may carry.
The IFB's approach to media consumption also reflects a broader emphasis on personal holiness and separation from the world. This separation is not only physical but also mental and emotional. By avoiding certain types of media, IFB adherents seek to create a buffer between themselves and the influences of secular culture.
Philippians 4:8-9 and Media Consumption
A key verse often cited in support of this stance is Philippians 4:8-9 (KJV), which emphasizes purity, virtue, and positive thinking. However, this perspective raises questions when compared to the content of the Bible itself.
Violence, Rape, and Abuse within the Bible
The Bible, as a complex and multifaceted text, contains numerous stories that depict violence, rape, and abuse. Far from being sanitized or hidden, these stories are presented openly and honestly, reflecting the complexity of human experience and the brokenness of the world.
One of the most disturbing accounts is found in Judges 19, where the story of the concubine of Gibeah unfolds. A Levite's concubine is brutally raped and murdered by the men of Gibeah, leading to a horrific act of dismemberment and a bloody civil war. The text does not shy away from the gruesome details: "But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go" (Judges 19:25, KJV).
In Genesis 34, the story of Dinah reveals another instance of sexual violence. Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, is raped by Shechem, the son of a local ruler. The text states, "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her" (Genesis 34:2, KJV). The subsequent actions of Dinah's brothers, who deceive and slaughter the men of Shechem's city in revenge, add further layers of violence and complexity to the story.
The conquests of the Israelites in the Old Testament also contain graphic descriptions of warfare and destruction. In the conquest of Jericho, for example, the Israelites are commanded to "utterly destroy all that [is] in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword" (Joshua 6:21, KJV).
These stories, and others like them, are not mere historical accounts but are woven into the theological fabric of the Bible. They raise profound questions about human nature, justice, revenge, and the sovereignty of God. They challenge readers to grapple with the realities of sin, suffering, and redemption.
Christian Engagement with Modern TV and Movies
The question then arises: How should Christians approach similar content in television and movies? While some content in modern media may be gratuitous, art and storytelling can explore complex themes and provoke meaningful reflection. The focus on avoiding "worldly" content can lead to an uncritical acceptance of Christian media, regardless of its artistic merit. The IFB's aversion to movie theaters also reflects a fear of communal engagement with secular culture.
Navigating Media with Discernment and Wisdom
The IFB's stance on media consumption represents a tension between engagement with culture and the desire to maintain purity. Christians must navigate the complex landscape of media with discernment and wisdom, recognizing that the Bible itself contains challenging and complex themes.
The call to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8-9) does not mean avoiding the realities of the world but engaging with them thoughtfully.
In a world filled with both beauty and brokenness, Christians, including those within the IFB movement, are called to be thoughtful and nuanced in their approach to media. This discernment extends to all aspects of life, reflecting the complexity of the human experience and the redemptive power of grace.