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Is All Art Appropriate?

Is All Art Appropriate?
Should a Christian refrain from viewing, listening, or reading a piece of art because it is vulgar or offensive . . . no. If I had to pull one aspect out of the Christian faith that is the biggest thorn in my side it would be this very notion, the notion that Christians should abstain from anything that is even remotely distasteful. I believe that the idea of refraining from art that is possibly offensive makes one sheltered, and being sheltered breeds ignorance which in turn makes the Christian a less useful tool for the Lord to use. We are called to be a light in the darkness. How can we possibly be a light in the darkness if we are not aware of this darkness or unable to understand this darkness?
Refraining from certain offensive pieces of art not only cripples us as tool for God it also stunts who one is as a person. Most movies or books that are what some might call distasteful are fashioned this way so that the point the creator wants to hammer home is all the more real. A good example of this is Schindler’s List, a movie on the holocaust of World War II. This movie is rampant with violence, nudity, and language, yet each of these aspects is needed to portray the horror of what happened. We can learn something from every single piece of art ever made. Whether it is understanding how an evil works or understanding how one can be a better person, we become less ignorant and a more complete person.

Scripture instructs not to be ignorant as the Pharisees. Ephesians 4 talks in great detail about this. One particular passage that truly spoke out was Ephesians 4:18, ?They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.? The Pharisees were an ignorant and pompous group of leaders that were not aware of the present situation of the people. For this reason they constantly tore down the Jews instead of understanding their situation and helping them. As Christians to effectively minister to those lost in the darkness we must not be ignorant as the Pharisees but instead we need to understand their situations so that we can help them.
Equus was a very disturbing book, but this was the author’s intention so that his points would be striking and powerful. I did not particularly enjoy reading the play, but as I finished the book I was convinced my ideas that a Christian should indeed be exposed to all art not just that which some might call ?appropriate? was indeed correct. Equus exposed and educated me on matters that will allow me to better understand others’ problems as well as make me a more complete person.

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In particular I learned about the darkness that I am commanded to be a light in. One aspect of darkness that I was exposed to was immoral sexuality. Alan having sex with horses, Alan almost having sex with the Jill, and the Frank’s pornography problems. Another aspect that I learned about was idolatry. I saw the terrible results of idolizing something. I also found the line where one should deem an object ?off limits?. This line can be drawn when a ?cultural artifact? becomes an object which causes ones mind to wander to immoral thoughts. This can be seen when the boy began to think sick thoughts about the horses.

While I condone exposure to all art I am aware of the fact that some vulgar issues may pose as stumbling blocks to Christians. I think that discernment comes into play two fold here. If a Christian knows he has an issue with something he should avoid exposure to it. For example I would not recommend bringing the Frank to a movie that involved a lot of nudity. The second half of discernment is what we take away from what we have been exposed to. For example, in our reading of Equus we should not come away with a desire for sex or idolatry, but instead we should take away an understanding of the problem and the negative effects they


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