My problem with Netflix

(Photo: Unsplash/Sayan Ghosh)

The multi-billion dollar online streaming industry has taken the world by storm. The pioneer startup, now giant, Netflix, has changed the home entertainment industry forever. With some 125 million subscribers, families across the globe feed on Netflix like a 9 year old in a candy store, which is actually right in your living room. If only Netflix was trustworthy and family-friendly and not stewing their cutting edge monopoly in pornographic content and sexual depravity of all kinds.

Netflix is a mess

Parents Television Council, a California based non-profit, has actually run the numbers. A 2017 analysis showed that almost 60 percent of Netflix's original offerings were rated "16+" or for mature audiences only. "Just 1 percent were rated for general audiences, and only 8 percent were rated PG," Tim Winter, the President of Television Council reports.

In his pointed article featured in USA Today's opinion pages, he notes the presence of pro-suicide content, graphic p0rnographic and pro-masturbation content at times involving children and a dangerous mixing of adult and child titles. He concludes, "Netflix can't be trusted. Its choice of content proves it has turned its back on families," and I certainly agree.

I would hasten to add that the ubiquitous promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism, epitomized by the shocking LGBT makeover of 'Designated Survivor', a personal favourite, virtuous, riveting and untainted series, when ownership was obtained by Netflix for Season 3. I didn't bother to watch it.

I want to take the discussion a little further though. I think we understand that children should be monitored closely regarding what they watch but many Christians, including myself, own Netflix accounts for our own entertainment too. With the understanding that pornographic material is a poison to the spirit, how do Christians navigate the Netflix terrain? Here are a few points to consider:

The ratings barely apply

It's really deceptive, if you think about it, to call something with graphic sexual content '16+'. Believers are going to have to decode this message and not simply apply our age as the criteria for eye feasting. Maybe we should interpret it as 'definitely not for children but probably not for Christians either'.  When we see that rating anywhere, including the rating 'R', we need to ask why.

Is the rating because of graphic violence, graphic language, graphic sexual content or nudity? Now I love myself a well written, quality action or thriller movie (minus all demonic and magic-based themes). I'm not a fan of graphic violence, but I may shout 'WHY?!' and look away the next couple times, and may need to just turn it off too.

But gore I think is a part of real life (war, slavery etc), and interestingly, if the book of Ezekiel were to be made into a film, true to form, it would be pretty filled with gore. If the language is not too bad I can try to mute every curse word, which I definitely do when watching with my mother or my wife, but that can be frustrating, so may just switch to a better viewing option too. But if there is graphic sexual content, there is no question that watching that would be a sin, and yes, even though I'm over sixteen! I think 1 Corinthians 14:20 is a good verse to keep in mind in this context: "Brothers and sisters stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults."

And it makes sense, because some of these PG 13 shows are outrageous!

We are at war

The destructive nature of pornography has been extensively studied. When the Lord said "sin leads to death" (Romans 6:23), pornography was at the head of the class in the 'seemingly innocent addiction' category. Fight the New Drug is a cutting edge NGO dedicated to scientific research on the topic and has highlighted a plethora of negative outcomes, categorising them into the destruction of the brain, heart and world. You may think they are exaggerating, but the findings are staggering.

They have highlighted, among many other studies for example, a 2018 study titled 'Pornography Use and Marital Separation: Evidence from Two-Wave Panel Data'. The summary reads "persons who viewed pornography were more than twice as likely as those who did not view pornography to experience a divorce, even after controlling for marital happiness and sexual satisfaction as well as relevant sociodemographic correlates." This means that pornography can contribute to the destruction of your marriage, even before you're married! The enemy of our souls would love to destroy our families and our societies in this way.

Preparation is key

Now that we know, we must act responsibly and carefully. It means we can't just follow the hype and jump at a new Netflix Original. I learnt that the hard way with 'Bright'. My whole family was at a retreat and we were so excited about this new Will Smith premiere.We didn't check the rating or any Christian movie review site such as which would have highlighted the occultic overtures, nudity and graphic language. Needless to say, my parents were horrified.

Be ready to run

Let me state categorically, we are clearly instructed to run from the very appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). This sets the bar extremely high for every single believer!  There is no excuse for feasting on pornographic content in the name of Spartacus, Game of Thrones or any popular TV series or viral new movie offering. We have to operate with the premise that others can, but we, the people of God just can't do it.

The truth is, some movies really just have one completely unanticipated scene that thank goodness you can skip over quickly, but we definitely should never just sit there and guzzle evil because it's on. Let's give the Holy Spirit some much deserved respect and set our hearts to the possibility that we may have to abort this series or movie. And of course, some of these series and movies with rave reviews should never be viewed by any Christians at all.

We must fight for purity 365 days a year!

Courtesy of Press Service International