By Parnell McCarter


The internet blogspot http://sycamorerpc.blogspot.com/ provides a case study in ecclesiastical response to movie entertainment.  At this site, Rev. Barry York of the RPCNA explains the situation he faces with many of the youth in his church, based upon his review of their internet sites:

“…Look at how many R-rated movies you or your friends have listed as favorites. Do you really mean to use your internet space to promote publicly these films with their shameful scenes and blasphemous expletives? If even the world blushes a bit in rating a movie as sexual or violent, how can you not be ashamed to say to all your friends, "This is one of my favorites"? You appear to be engrossed with promoting what comes out of Hollywood. That's the witness you want to have? Consider the lyrics and lifestyles of the music groups. What if I used my blog to record the antics and lyrics of these groups, then typed your name next to them as one who gives public endorsement? Do not try to excuse yourself by saying, "Just because I list a rock group does not mean I endorse all they do." You and I both know that when we see the guy walk by wearing a T-shirt with Linkin Park or Smashing Pumpkins on it, he is not just promoting the one or two half-decent songs ("decent" here not describing the quality of the music but its lyrical content) on their latest CD. He is advertising the group. And so are you when you list a group under "Favorite Music" on Facebook…”

Rev. York admonishes them, and expresses his grief at what he has seen, while at the same time assuring these youth he is confident they are converted believers and that he is not embracing what he regards as a legalistic position:

“…I do not doubt your love for Christ. I'm just calling you to a truer experience of it…”

“…the acceptable amount of "immodesty, cursing, or violence" any given movie may have depends on so many variables (age of viewer, purpose for viewing, way the director presents it, personal sensitivities, etc) that wisdom is needed in deciding on whether to watch a film or not. Finally, the previous sentence is still no excuse for the pervasive nudity, crudity and lewd-ity in many of the movies I saw listed. To outlaw all would indeed be legalistic; but to allow all is licentiousness…”

In response to this public matter, I have addressed the following letter to Rev. York:

Dear Rev. York:

I have read your blog addressing entertainment among a number of the youth in the church where you labor, and I applaud that you did not turn a blind eye to the situation you describe.  Too many ministers today simply ignore what is happening around them, and this is a shame.  Nevertheless, I have some questions and concerns regarding your response:

·       Why do you regard it as legalism for the church to forbid movie entertainment?  (Note: please see resources at http://www.puritans.net/movie%20reviews/moviereviews.html where I address why it is Biblical and appropriate that movie entertainment be prohibited)

·       Are you sure you have sufficiently called your congregants, especially those you describe in your blog, into self-examination of whether they really are converted?  In other words, do they sufficiently understand that the manner of behavior you describe may not simply bring into question their testimony before the world , but also brings into question whether they have been converted by the Lord?

·       Is it the case or not that if some persist unrepentantly in the behavior you have described, that excommunication will be necessary? 

·       Are you suggesting that it is all right in certain cases to be entertained by R-rated movies, albeit not in the way you observed by some of the youth in your church?


Parnell McCarter