Ask the Editor: R-rated movies


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, May 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time now for our monthly Ask the Editor segment. This is when WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky explains what makes us unique and how we make decisions.

EICHER: Today, he will respond to one of the most common questions WORLD readers and listeners ask: Why do you review movies with objectionable content that many may not want to see?

Here’s Marvin to explain.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: We’ve wrestled with that question from the beginning. Over the years we’ve developed a policy guide for reporters and reviewers. Here’s what we say:

Make sure it’s necessary to review a particular R-rated film. It has to be important culturally–or so popular that we need to bring biblical perspective to it. In other words, we have a higher hurdle for R-rated films. We tell reviewers to warn readers about troublesome elements, particularly sexual suggestiveness and bad language.

Sometimes we fail to heed that high-hurdle standard. I regret that. But the reason to report on some bad movies and bad deeds goes to the heart of our biblical understanding.

We’re well aware of Paul’s injunction to the Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”

That’s our goal. But what exactly does that mean? We know that Paul thought and wrote about sexual immorality in Corinth. He wrote about idol-worship in Athens. Legalism in Galatia. Hypocrisy in Jerusalem– and many other false, dishonorable, unjust, and impure practices.

If Paul was saying we should only think about the good, he would have been a hypocrite, because he thought and wrote about those evils. Here’s how I think about it: A family heads to the beach on Saturday, or to church on Sunday. On the way it passes a garbage heap.  Should parents and children be depressed? No… they should concentrate on what is lovely. That’s the goal, so as not to drown in the sewage of the world.

And yet, the world will be a better place if a newspaper columnist on Monday describes that garbage heap and insists that it be cleaned up. Or if a movie reviewer writes about what’s bad in a much-talked-about movie but also what’s good. The goal is discernment.

So here’s what we tell our reporters and reviewers:  “Reporting and writing for WORLD is based on the understanding that God is holy, we are sinners, and Christ’s sacrifice bridges the gap. The heavens declare the glory of God but the streets declare the sinfulness of man. Biblical journalism emphasizes both God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness.”

Still, we know at the end of the day that some people will choose to skip some sections of WORLD–or segments of this podcast. At the same time we hope they realize that other readers and listeners find those sections and segments valuable in understanding the broken world in which we live.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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