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The Invisible Man

Another Sex in Movies Thread

79 posts in this topic

Something has been on my mind recently and I would appreciate some input: How do people reconcile the explicit sex and nudity in a film like this one with Christ's words at Matthew 5:28 ("But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart")? Is "Breaking The Waves" really a film that Christians have any business watching?

Any takers?

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A) We have whole threads dedicated to this subject, don't we?

B)

How do people reconcile the explicit sex and nudity in a film like this one with Christ's words at Matthew 5:28 ("But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart")?

Well, if you can't watch the film without looking at the woman lustfully, don't watch it.

But the nudity in Breaking the Waves is not filmed in such a way as to provoke lustful reactions from the audience. Quite the contrary, actually.

It becomes an issue of individual conscience and self control.

What you have just quoted is not one of the ten commandments, but "Thou shalt not covet" *is* one of the ten commandments, and movies and television are FULL of things that have the potential to cause us to covet, whether it's a car or a woman or a haircut or a room with view.... Should we respond by not turning on the telly? Sometimes, if we know our weaknesses, yes. But how much better to develop self-control and maturity and discernment, so we can make wise choices and proceed out into a dangerous world that is full of temptation in order to live and work with and engage our neighbors and our culture.

(If you're really interested in these issues, Invisible Man, I happen to have a book to recommend to you...)

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: I didn't find the sexual content in BTW to be *at all* alluring.

Not even on the honeymoon?

('Twould be interesting to revisit this film, now that I've had a honeymoon of my own...)

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FWIW, I find Bess talking to Jan on the phone while he's out on the platform very stimulating. If I were him I'd be tempted to start swimming.

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Well, if you can't watch the film without looking at the woman lustfully, don't watch it.

But the nudity in Breaking the Waves is not filmed in such a way as to provoke lustful reactions from the audience. Quite the contrary, actually.

It becomes an issue of individual conscience and self control.

What you have just quoted is not one of the ten commandments, but "Thou shalt not covet" *is* one of the ten commandments, and movies and television are FULL of things that have the potential to cause us to covet, whether it's a car or a woman or a haircut or a room with view.... Should we respond by not turning on the telly? Sometimes, if we know our weaknesses, yes. But how much better to develop self-control and maturity and discernment, so we can make wise choices and proceed out into a dangerous world that is full of temptation in order to live and work with and engage our neighbors and our culture.

I can't quite see how this is a matter of conscience. Christ's directive either applies to us or it doesn't. To me, Matthew 5:28 sounds pretty categorical. There is no small print that allows for artistic appreciation or the like; there are no loopholes that exempt us in order that we may better "engage our culture" or "develop self-control". We are told simply and strongly to avoid temptation. To turn away from it.

Nor do I see this as a matter of maturity. How can you know before you sit down to watch a movie how it will affect you? A movie is usually an emotional experience. It is a magic spell. We might be fully aware that we are watching mere make-believe, but that doesn't lessen the intensity of the feelings evoked, does it? It doesn't stop us from feeling excited, frightened, happy or sad.

Moreover, once an actress slips out of her dress, she isn't merely acting the part of a naked woman. We have an immediate and intimate connection to the actual person. Those really are Kate Winslet's breasts up there! To say nothing of the fact that the nudity in movies tends to be predominantly female and frequently exploitative. Maria Bello's sudden and completely unnecessary full frontal nude scene in "A History Of Violence" springs to mind; or perhaps the much talked about gratuitous nudity in the recent "Babel" - a film liked and praised on this very board. There is an air of prostitution about such films.

(If you're really interested in these issues, Invisible Man, I happen to have a book to recommend to you...)

Yes, I'm really interested, and I would, of course, be interested in anything you would care to recommend (just so long as it isn't one of those books that bends Christ's words into trendy new shapes in order to manufacture small print and loopholes).

Edited by The Invisible Man

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The Invisible Man wrote:

: Maria Bello's sudden and completely unnecessary full frontal nude scene in "A History Of Violence" springs to mind . . .

Oh man. "Completely unnecessary"? I can't agree. Now that I've been married for a couple of years, there is something about a scene in which a woman walks naked right past her husband that makes a certain kind of sense to me... I mean, how much of the nudity in my own household would I call "necessary"?... and the scene in question ESPECIALLY makes sense to me because the POINT of the scene is that the intimacy of this marriage has been damaged, and what SHOULD have been a by-product of marital openness is now a sort of confrontation...

I am vaguely reminded of a scene in Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage where the husband comes home, tells his wife he's leaving her for another woman, and then he strips down and gets ready for bed like he always does, while his wife lies there crying (or fighting back tears, I can't remember which). I think it's the first time we EVER see nudity in that film (and it happens to be male nudity, FWIW), and it has a special dramatic power because, again, what used to be a casual mark of marital intimacy is now just salt in the wound of a broken marriage.

I agree that there are legitimate concerns regarding the use of nudity in film, especially in a sexual context, and that these concerns are much much more pronounced than those regarding the simulation of violence. But to say that such scenes are "completely unnecessary" is, I think, simply wrong. They are certainly "necessary" from a dramatic point of view. The question is, Are they necessary ENOUGH to warrant something as potent and unusual as the public exposure of what we used to call a person's private parts? And sometimes, I do think the answer is "yes".

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Well, if you can't watch the film without looking at the woman lustfully, don't watch it.

But the nudity in Breaking the Waves is not filmed in such a way as to provoke lustful reactions from the audience. Quite the contrary, actually.

It becomes an issue of individual conscience and self control.

What you have just quoted is not one of the ten commandments, but "Thou shalt not covet" *is* one of the ten commandments, and movies and television are FULL of things that have the potential to cause us to covet, whether it's a car or a woman or a haircut or a room with view.... Should we respond by not turning on the telly? Sometimes, if we know our weaknesses, yes. But how much better to develop self-control and maturity and discernment, so we can make wise choices and proceed out into a dangerous world that is full of temptation in order to live and work with and engage our neighbors and our culture.

I can't quite see how this is a matter of conscience. Christ's directive either applies to us or it doesn't. To me, Matthew 5:28 sounds pretty categorical. There is no small print that allows for artistic appreciation or the like; there are no loopholes that exempt us in order that we may better "engage our culture" or "develop self-control". We are told simply and strongly to avoid temptation. To turn away from it.

Nor do I see this as a matter of maturity. How can you know before you sit down to watch a movie how it will affect you? A movie is usually an emotional experience. It is a magic spell. We might be fully aware that we are watching mere make-believe, but that doesn't lessen the intensity of the feelings evoked, does it? It doesn't stop us from feeling excited, frightened, happy or sad.

Moreover, once an actress slips out of her dress, she isn't merely acting the part of a naked woman. We have an immediate and intimate connection to the actual person. Those really are Kate Winslet's breasts up there! To say nothing of the fact that the nudity in movies tends to be predominantly female and frequently exploitative. Maria Bello's sudden and completely unnecessary full frontal nude scene in "A History Of Violence" springs to mind; or perhaps the much talked about gratuitous nudity in the recent "Babel" - a film liked and praised on this very board. There is an air of prostitution about such films.

Before I say anything, it might be good for people to know I have not seen the movie in question.

Here's where I stand. I think I-Man has a great point. I personally try to stay away from movies with any gratuitous sex or nudity,because one), I personally can't handle it, and two), I cannot figure out the difference between non-sexual nudity and any other sort of nudity. Nekkedness (as I like to call it) naturally and easily engages in an individual's mind; there is no way to see such things on screen, without it affecting a person's base instincts, especially guys.

Uknowingly being exposed to sex issues is part of life; it's often unavoidable. However, even if you can't stop a bird from flying over your head, you can still stop it from building a nest in your hair. Knowingly exposing one's self to the above-mentioned things is in all practicality inviting the bird to start laying the twigs and grass in your hair. If there is a person who can view another person totally exposing themselves, and not be affected sensually, I would say it is the very rare exception (if not non-existent), not even remotely the norm.

So back to I-Man's point, if a guy can't look at a naked women without some sort of sensual desire (which I really doubt), then onscreen adultery is hard to get around, based on Matthew 5:28. I say this honestly; I'm open to being proven wrong.

However, I know that the Bible also says, "Happy is the man who does not condemn himself in what he believes".

Am I wrong, did I miss something? Is there some sort of Biblical context that I never got in on? I have no scientific proof of my suggestions, persay. They are simply educated guesses. However, it doesn't take much for a guy to be educated in how the male brain views sexuality! I can't speak for everyone, but I can speak for the natural processes of the human brain! ;)

Should I always avoid magazine racks? Of course not--although that may be necessary for some.

Perhaps though, you should avoid specific magazines with known explicit material in them.

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How do people reconcile the explicit sex and nudity in a film like this one with Christ's words at Matthew 5:28 ("But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart")?

The way I understand that verse is "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman for the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

It is not simply the viewing of a naked body of the opposite gender. There are sometimes appropriate reasons to do so. But those who look at another person with the intent of lusting after them is committing adultery.

As I've heard it said, "The first look is never wrong. The second look usually is."

Furthermore, simply finding another person's appearance desirable is not lusting after them unless you cross the mental line into fantasy and begin imagining what an intimate physical relationship with that person might be like. For most spiritually and emotionally healthy people, there is a clear boundary that one must cross to do so. Unfortunately there are those who have trained themselves, often through the indulgence of pornography, lustful fantasies or libertine sexual history, to see everyone they meet as a potential sexual partner... and they cross the line without even noticing that they have done it. If you are one of those people, you should be very careful about the firms you see and the places you go or you will likely sin.

Edited by TexasWill

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Furthermore, simply finding another person's appearance desirable is not lusting after them unless you cross the mental line into fantasy and begin imagining what an intimate physical relationship with that person might be like. sin.
Ooooh, this gets tricky, because the line between finding a person's appearance desireable, and fantasizing is very, very thin. You are proving my point in saying that a person fully exposed is attractive to the opposite gender. You CAN'T get around it. I simply don't see how someone can look at nudity non-sexually. Nudity, what it exposes, is distinctly and exclusively sexual in nature. I don't get this whole non-sexual thing.

It is not simply the viewing of a naked body of the opposite gender. There are sometimes appropriate reasons to do so.

Appropriate reasons? Do tell! Because I'm a bit hard-pressed to see a good one.

Edited by Joel C

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The Bible itself is filled with violence, lusting (Song of Solomon for example), and even what was considered profanity at the time ... it is full of stories, just like films are stories themselves. I don't think we need to take it all so literally.

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It is not simply the viewing of a naked body of the opposite gender. There are sometimes appropriate reasons to do so.

Appropriate reasons? Do tell! Because I'm a bit hard-pressed to see a good one.

There are clearly areas where it's appropriate (e.g. medical care or law enforcement). There are positions in my profession where viewing porn is even part of a job.

There are clearly areas where it's inappropriate (e.g. personal gratification or fantasy).

Somewhere in-between there is a line, and I would argue that it is largely a subjective line. For some, it will be all the way to one side, for others all the way to the other.

Ok, let me restate that thought. Outside of a professional environment, which requires certain viewing of actual sexuality or nudity, I find it hard to see an appropriate reason to view such things.

What on earth would you do if you were majoring in the visual arts? I'm serious - you wouldn't be able to avoid life drawing classes. They're an integral part of learning to draw, paint and sculpt the human figure, both male and female.

Oh, c'mon, Ellen. There is a phenomenal difference between art, and a real human body. One is detatched from reality; one is inescapably planted in it. I think that the distance between sexuality on-screen, and standing in the actual room watching it, is a very small celluloid wall.

The Bible itself is filled with violence, lusting (Song of Solomon for example), and even what was considered profanity at the time ... it is full of stories, just like films are stories themselves. I don't think we need to take it all so literally.

I'd like to suggest that there is VERY BIG DIFFERENCE between written word, and imagery. Words affect the brain in a totally different way that images, pictures, film. Why do you think that pornography is such a big deal? Because it puts images into a person's head. Simply reading the word makes little difference.

Someone on Jeff's blog said it very well:

And while I'm ranting, I am so tired of hearing the argument that the Bible is full of sex and violence, so that somehow justifies our watching it and "appreciating" it in a film. God revealed himself in the written word because it is the realm of "truth" and ideas. We interact with the truth about sexuality and violence in the words of Scripture and our minds are able to determine right and wrong. God did not reveal his truth in a Holy DVD for reason. Image deals in the realm of impression, perception, and emotion. A strong image or impression, which is always subjective and biased to the image-makers viewpoint, formed from a film has the power to override conceptual, propositional, and even divinely revealed truth. I hope I don't have to justify this with any of many examples. It's just the way it is. That's why film is so stinking powerful, and can be important, but even more so, it can be dangerous, and overwhelmingly deceptive. Scripture is not dangerous. It is truth. We are to "speak the truth in love" (propositionally), and that is what makes us mature. We "renew our minds" with truth, to become like Christ. Is it any wonder that this new generation, raised on a gluttonous diet of video and images, rejects absolute truth and is "reconstructing" truth in its own image? You don't have to read between the lines to understand why we are rapidly entering a postchristian era.

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Joel, nude models have been a part of the visual arts for millennia, and are an integral part of life drawing classes. I think you're missing the point, which is that there *is* no black and white, hard and fast rule about this.

I think you need to be open to the possibility that what many of us are saying is actually true. ;)

And I'm not going to get into an argument about nude models and life drawing. i worked from them, and would again - and it wasn't a big cause for sin in my life. AT ALL.

But please let me say that the human figure - male and female - is endlessly fascinating. We are both fearfully and wonderfully made, inside and out. it's entirely possible to see that and *not* go over the line into lust, though every person is different in this respect (and age can play a big part as well - very much so, in fact).

In fact, if a student (or more than one) is concentrating primarily on figure drawing, painting and sculpting in advanced classes, there are usually models available to them. They're professionals, and there's even a union for artists' models, though not all models belong.

Cool? ;)

Cool enough, I suppose. There is a reason that this is a highly unresolved issue, though, Ellen. And I can respect your conclusions, even if I respectfully disagree with them.

I can't speak for the artist (or the model). I really don't know what to make of such modeling in art, regardless of the history. The argument that "it's been done for thousands of years, so it's accepted" just doesn't cut it for me. However, I won't accuse you of sin. "happy are those who do not condemn themselves for what they believe".

I totally agree that the human figure - male and female - is indeed "endlessly fascinating". God created humans as meaningful and purposeful beings, and he didn't make a mistake in any part of our human experience. There is nothing we should fear about sexuality. However, I've come to the conclusion that sexuality, and the context that it was created for, is a very sacred role, not meant for mass and public consumption.

I think I'm getting to the stage in this conversation where I'm not willing to go a lot further with the subject matter. Overall, I think we interpret differently how sexuality should be exposed (no pun intened). I tend to think, especially from a Biblical perspective, that it is a very private issue. I don't see a lot of reason to advocate a public expression of it, in any form. I really only posted here because I-Man seemed to be alone in his sentiments, I wanted to offer up the fact that this more "prudent" (if you'll forgive me, I can't think of a better word) expression of thought has a substantial presence as well. But as several of us obviously disagree on that issue, I'll leave it at that.

I think you need to be open to the possibility that what many of us are saying is actually true. ;)

Oh, I'm very open to it! But I don't see a good reason to accept it as fact. :)

Edited by Joel C

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Joel, i hate to sound like an old fuddy duddy (;)), but I have a feeling that your opinion on this might well change over time.

not coincidentally, I'm wondering if you've ever been to see a ballet or modern dance company? (Like Pilobolus, for which board member jfutral works.)

You know, I think you've missed my point, Ellen. My point is not that "nudity is bad". I think maybe some of the things sounded very black and white. I do believe that certain types of nudity are inappropriate, and for me, that means in the context of film especially.

But now we're just mincing words, and playing with ideas that could lead a million different places. Yes, I have seen modern dance. No, I didn't hold up a wooden cross and start casting out demons. But neither does that mean I found it totally edifying. We are all allowed our own conclusions about these issues, Ellen. And I really don't want to get in a meanial-details battle (ex., barely clothed, like Pilobolus, as opposed to totally bare). If you want to know my overarching stance, go back to my first post. Like I said, I'm open to being convinced. However, most of what I've heard so far is subjective opinion, which I will respect, but disagree with.

Perhaps the conclusion I come to is this: I understand how nudity can serve a story, such as in Scenes From a Marriage. However, if it's true what I said about sensuality effecting our brains, especially for guys, I can't see how people can come out clean. I simply can't understand how the end justifies the means.

Edited by Joel C

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I think what I'm saying is, if what I say is true, why shouldn't I at least suggest it? I haven't, at least in plain words, labelled anything as right or wrong. I've made no finalizing statements. But I have suggested a great bit of doubt.

I don't view this as something that "applies to this time in my life". I see it as a core issue that no one has given me, or I-man for that reason, objective, Biblical backup for how such things are acceptable. I simply reserve my doubts.

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Look, a lot of us are directly involved in the arts, and have had experiences that differ from yours. I'd love to see some more visual arts people weigh in on this thread, also folks like jfutral.

I know you're convinced at this point that this is a black and white issue, but ... it's really not. However, i do respect your personal choices.

I'm really not. Not at all. But you tell me to just take my doubts for granted. I'm a very rationally minded person. How I'm I just supposed to take your word for it? You've told me over and over again that what artists (and certain people here) create is not wrong. But since I'm in doubt, what I ask is not for you to repeat that over and over again. Tell me WHY it is acceptable. That I don't get. Again, I can't condemn another person's choice, I can only live in my own convictions. I have not, and will not, directly accuse anyone personally of being wrong. I said what I think for me personally, and you acknowledge that, for which I am in gratitude.

However, if you are going to try to convince me, then I will respond. And I will express doubt. That's part of good, rational discussion.

Edited by Joel C

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Joel, i'm not meaning to beat a dead horse - and what I said a bit earlier about other posters having pretty much covered the bases (often better than me) is true.

Well, it's just not enough for me. And that's ok. The good thing in all of this is that we are allowed our own convictions, and can allow others theirs. If I've said too condemnatory things in this thread, I apologize. I don't want to set myself up as the new sheriff in town.

But I still have serious doubts as to how this issue is understood.

I'm not saying that to discourage you - or anyone - from asking questions. but right now, I honestly feel that I've said about all I can say on the matter. That's not meant to be dismissive in any way, either. Am just not up for a point by point discussion at this time, and do feel that this is one of many areas where Paul's comments about eating (or not eating) meat sacrificed to idols holds true - i.e., much depends on the individual, and much is discretionary. Also that we're all called to care for one another and build one another up in love.

I wish I could suggest some books, etc. - perhaps others can? I'm blanking at the moment.

It's all good. I'm kind of tired at the moment anyway. No worries, like I said, I'm not going to point fingers. However, as there was a discussion, I'm not one to beat around the bush. I represent another side with which a lot of people here disagree. But as the discussion is fizzling out, I'll just leave it, and both of our convictions, at that.

Edited by Joel C

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Nekkedness (as I like to call it) naturally and easily engages in an individual's mind; there is no way to see such things on screen, without it affecting a person's base instincts, especially guys.

I agree. I find it hard to believe that the male gaze is ever anything less than predatory. No matter how hard we try to fight our basic instincts they are seldom very far below the surface, bubbling away, reminding us of our fallen state. I can't help but think of that speech Billy Crystal gives in "When Harry Met Sally" about men wanting to "nail" any woman they find attractive. Perhaps things are less intense for the marrieds, but I rather think that Harry speaks for all of us.

I also think that the cinema reflects this male gaze. It defines women by their bodies and presents sex as a commodity. Few actresses survive in the movie industry for long if they refuse to unbutton.

Edited by The Invisible Man

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Say, Joel, have you seen The Mission? I mean, sure, there wasn't any full-frontal nudity in it, but still...

Nudity CAN be portrayed in a non-erotically-stimulative (is that a real word?) way.

I watched Schindler's List when I was 15. No joke. Never once did I find the nudity tempting. Never. I found it genuinely unsettling, to be sure, but then the whole movie was.

The general exhortation in Scripture is to flee temptation, not flee nudity. If, for someone, nudity automatically triggers temptation, then they should probably stay away from nudity. But I don't have that problem, and certainly many other (male) viewers don't.

And obviously, if (read: since) there CAN be portrayals of real nudity (something objective) apart from temptation (something subjective), then it can serve good purposes, as in Schindler's List.

I certainly don't LIKE seeing nudity in films, but then again, I don't really like seeing people shot in the head in films. I think it's sometimes good for me to see things that I don't like seeing in films.

I find it hard to believe that the male gaze is ever anything less than predatory. No matter how hard we try to fight our basic instincts they are seldom very far below the surface, bubbling away, reminding us of our fallen state. I can't help but think of that speech Billy Crystal gives in "When Harry Met Sally" about men wanting to "nail" any woman they find attractive. Perhaps things are less intense for the marrieds, but I rather think that Harry speaks for all of us.
Er, I guess I've already denied all that.

I also think that the cinema reflects this male gaze. It defines women by their bodies and presents sex as a commodity. Few actresses survive in the movie industry for long if they refuse to unbutton.

No no no no no. Hasty generalization fallacy. And where did you get this info about actresses?

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Say, Joel, have you seen The Mission? I mean, sure, there wasn't any full-frontal nudity in it, but still...

Nudity CAN be portrayed in a non-erotically-stimulative (is that a real word?) way.

First off, yes, I have seen the mission. And I deeply appreciated the movie. However, IIRC, there was full frontal child nudity. I did find the nudity to be a bit troubling, moreso the child nudity than the other. I find it just a little exploitative.

As to non-erotically-stimulating nudity, I'm afraid I don't follow. The reason that society has covered up for thousands of years is to cloak specifically sexual portions of the body. If a person is stimulated by nudity, which is, by it's essence sexual, there is going to be some undeniable erotic thought going on in the individual's head. I'm not sure if I can make the differentiation between non-erotic stimulation and erotic stimulation. It's just kind of silly. Sorry!

I watched Schindler's List when I was 15. No joke. Never once did I find the nudity tempting. Never. I found it genuinely unsettling, to be sure, but then the whole movie was.

Ok...I guess I'll just take your word for it. However, I'll venture a guess that the average person would definitely find it tempting at 15. I'm sorry, but especially through the middle of the teenage years, sex issues are especially tricky. I would NEVER use your example across the board.

The general exhortation in Scripture is to flee temptation, not flee nudity. If, for someone, nudity automatically triggers temptation, then they should probably stay away from nudity. But I don't have that problem, and certainly many other (male) viewers don't.
Really? Do you have some specific verses in mind? Because several verses that equate nakedness with shame come up in my mind. I'd be willing to provide them if you'd like.

Again, I can't judge for every guy out there. But I know for a fact that the male brain is wired to be aroused by imagery. Again, this is why pornography is such an enormous issue. You don't see men having an addiction to the written word. Again, even if you (or others represented on this board) don't have a problem with nude imagery, I would NEVER apply it across the board. As a matter of fact, I'd say it is the definite exception to the rule.

And obviously, if (read: since) there CAN be portrayals of real nudity (something objective) apart from temptation (something subjective), then it can serve good purposes, as in Schindler's List.

Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. But I highly disagree with the very assumptions of the statement. Let me emphasize this again. The parts of the human body which nudity reveals are destinctly sexual in nature. There is no way around it, technically or theoretically. I'd be surprised if a person, especially a guy, could view anything blatantly sexual in nature, and not be tempted by it.

As to portraying nudity in films like Schindler's List, I admit, I've never seen the film (I know, shoot me. Sorry, just not one I got around to yet), so my thoughts here might not make much of an effect. But I tend to think that a film almost never "needs" to show actual nudity, or more explicit nudity, to get the point across. Filmmaking rules the power of suggestion; even this board praises movies the use suggestive and creative camera work instead of blatant camerawork. Why is it that when it involves something controversial like sexuality or violence, we all of a sudden change our perspective, and advocate blatancy? Are filmmakers not creative enough to find ways to communicate a point, without revealing everything? Even filming an unclothed person, but not revealing actual nudity, is far better than exposing all. I simply do not see the point in total exposure.

But again, that last statement is based on my own conclusions about filmmaking, and I'm sure many will disagree with it.

I certainly don't LIKE seeing nudity in films, but then again, I don't really like seeing people shot in the head in films. I think it's sometimes good for me to see things that I don't like seeing in films.
Well, I think I can safely say that people respond mentally and physically differently to violence than to sexuality. It engages a different part of the brain. However, I tend to find excessive violence to be just as offensive as nudity. I failed to appreciate the violence in Braveheart or The Patriot, just because of some "themes" of bravery and justice. I found both movies to be excessively violent, gratuitous. So, I'll be consistent. I think it applies to more than just nudity.

There is a fine line between knowing and cautiously navigating evil, and actually jumping in for a swim. To be completely honest, there are few things that people have said that I need to see, that I felt afterwards that they were right. I don't feel like I need to watch Saving Private Ryan to understand what traumatic horror the troops of WWII experienced. The reason they fought was to protect us from having to experiencing it ourselves. It almost seems insulting to their sacrifice to try to presume that we "need" to see that kind of violence to relate.

I find it hard to believe that the male gaze is ever anything less than predatory. No matter how hard we try to fight our basic instincts they are seldom very far below the surface, bubbling away, reminding us of our fallen state. I can't help but think of that speech Billy Crystal gives in "When Harry Met Sally" about men wanting to "nail" any woman they find attractive. Perhaps things are less intense for the marrieds, but I rather think that Harry speaks for all of us.
Er, I guess I've already denied all that.
Again, perhaps for you, but I would wager that you are a very small exception to the rule.

I also think that the cinema reflects this male gaze. It defines women by their bodies and presents sex as a commodity. Few actresses survive in the movie industry for long if they refuse to unbutton.
No no no no no. Hasty generalization fallacy. And where did you get this info about actresses?

I'll actually agree with...

...Plankton on this. Take someone like Reese Witherspoon for example, who at some point in her career, made the public decision to not appear unclothed in a movie. It's not necessary, and someone like Witherspoon sees the reasoning behind it. I really respect her for it.

However, I will agree that cinema presents a very physically-inclined female figure, as a whole. But I would stretch it beyond cinema to almost any kind of modern media; magazines and newspapers, music, etc. It's all very much focused on the body. I agree with Invisible Man that this is very troubling.

Edited by Joel C

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Just a few quick thoughts.

First off, yes, I have seen the mission. And I deeply appreciated the movie. However, IIRC, there was full frontal child nudity. I did find the nudity to be a bit troubling, moreso the child nudity than the other. I find it just a little exploitative.

Exploitative how? It seems to me that the nudity in The Mission is there not for its own sake (which is the first thing I would think of in terms of exploitation), but is an incidental aspect of the realistic portrayal of a particular culture (hence the USCCB's useful term "ethnographic nudity" to describe this phenomenon).

It seems to me, your choice are [a] don't tell this story, don't tell it realistically (i.e., subject the Guarani culture to an ethnographically incorrect European dress code), or [c] don't tell it frankly (i.e., play with camera angles and so forth to avoid depicting the nudity that is there).

There are many stories for which [a] or [c] seems to me the right answer, particularly stories involving explicit sexual content. I consider the explicit depiction of sexual intimacy to be highly problematic and almost always a violation of the inherently private nature of the act.

However, I cannot see that The Mission has such a story to tell. If it is feasible for the Jesuit priests to live chastely among the Guarani, then it is feasible to make a film that depicts this frankly without violating the norms of chastity.

As to non-erotically-stimulating nudity, I'm afraid I don't follow. The reason that society has covered up for thousands of years is to cloak specifically sexual portions of the body.

But society has also uncovered the body in art for thousands of years. I'm very sympathetic to the anthropological argument, but it cuts both ways. Too many churches are decorated with nudes for me to feel that the explicit depiction in art of the nude human form is necessarily a moral problem.

If a person is stimulated by nudity, which is, by it's essence sexual, there is going to be some undeniable erotic thought going on in the individual's head. I'm not sure if I can make the differentiation between non-erotic stimulation and erotic stimulation. It's just kind of silly. Sorry!

Nudity is essentially sexual inasmuch as it speaks to our maleness and femaleness, but it is not essentially erotic. A Guarani woman walking bare-chested through the village square is a sexual sight inasumuch as she is visibly a woman, and she may or may not be attractive, but this is not an essentially erotic act.

As a more extreme example, since Schindler's List has been brought up, the nudity of the bedroom scene may or may not be problematic erotically, but consider also the nudity of the concentration camp prisoners in Schindler's List, many withered and decripit. I just can't see such images as in any way erotic.

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I have trouble understanding why the expression of the erotic in art, be it film, prose, dance or music, is such a problem for Christians. Art depicts the wide range of human experience. Sex and sexuality happen to be a pretty important part of human experience. The consensus here, as on past threads, has been that nudity and sex are acceptable so long as they are strictly utilitarian, i.e. they serve to "forward the story" or feature homely women, concentration camp victims or primitive native tribes. I think it's silly.

Many of us raised in fundamentalism or other rigid forms of christianity have been conditioned to believe that any art that triggers sexual feelings is porn and therefore adultery of the mind. I think this is an unhealthy misinterpretation of the verses in Matthew related to lusting in ones heart.

Edited by coltrane

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Joel and IM, I think you're both taking your own circumstances and generalizing them onto the entire male half of the human race - and as Alan said above, it's a highly individual thing. I know you find it hard to understand or believe that other people have experiences (right now) that are different from your own, but it's 100% true.

Could you give me some proof that viewing explicit sexuality and nudity is an "individual thing", especially for males? Because given enough time, I think I could come up with some evidence that sexuality really effects the brain, more specifically the male brain, in a very stimulating, tempting way. There have been plenty of studies that show how men are engaged visually, very easily. I'm sorry if what I say doesn't fit within your perspective of men. But you're still opining about the issues, instead of giving any real evidence to your case. If you want, I think I can find it for mine.

It's actually unfair of you to be making these assumptions about everyone else (i.e., all other men), to be honest. I think the only thing that you can accurately say is that we're all sinners, but that what causes one person to stumble repeatedly may not ever pose an obstacle for another.

No more unfair than for you to make the assumptions you are making about other men. All of your aprehension of my argument has been very subjective, and have shown me no scientific, cultural or any other kind of proof for your argument.

I can't say that I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt right. But I think I've got some well-informed thoughts about this issue. In the spirit of giving a rational argument for my side, I will try to find some studies that relate to this subject. As I am not a particularly scientifically minded person, it might take me a while to find all the substantial proof; but here's an article that suggests, based on a recent study, that the brain is immediately affected by erotic-type imagery. And from what the article says, it doesn't really even require extremely explicit material to arouse that brain activity.

There's plenty of stuff out there which suggests that erotic or explicit imagery affects both the male and femal brain in a much stronger way than non-explicit material.

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I'll second you on that. coltrane. (Hah! Gotcha, didn't I? ;))

but I'll also say that not all nudity is meant to be (nor is) intrinsically erotic. Go put that in your pipe and smoke it. :D

Well, this might be where we have to part ways on a subjective basis, because I have neither the time, nor resources with which to prove my point. However, I doubt you do either, so let's call it a draw. Cool?

As to Coltrane's suggestion, of course sexuality is part of the wholistic human experience! We can't avoid it, that's for sure. But like I've suggested in previous posts, it's not a public experience. When abused, it has dire consequences. It is a private issue.

If nudity is not objectively wrong, then what of nudist colonies? ;)

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Joel, i've said pretty much everything I can say - either you can accept that or not.

Ok. Respected, not accepted.

I think you're wanting to make laws about this, when there's no need for them. You have to live with your own conscience as to when, how and if you sin. It's not up to me - or anyone else - to dictate that X is sinful for you but Y isn't. This is one a multitude of cases where you have to look at the principles laid out in Scripture re. how to deal with temptation.
Well, as I told Plankton earlier, I've got plenty of verses that equate nakedness with shame. So yes, I have looked at scripture, and what I found made me think differently than what you have suggested.

If you wish, I can post those verses! :)

if that's not adequate for you, or if you're still troubled by these issues, I'd suggest going to talk with a minister or counselor.

:huh: Troubled? Uh, no. If I feel a movie is going to have explicit material in it, I don't go. End of story. It's pretty settled in my mind!

I did not come here to accuse people of some sort of sin. I originally posted here in defense of Invisible Man, who appeared to be the only person advocating modesty as a better thing than exposure. I thought it a bit unfair for him to receive all the flack, as I know there are other people here who advocate the same viewpoint we believe! I received some responses with some VERY strong emotions in them, and felt obliged to answer. At this point, people are coming at me from all sides. I simply can't answer four or five people all at the same time. I simply don't have time, and I don't want to repeat myself a million times. It's probably a take-it-or-leave-it argument on both sides.

Edited by Joel C

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As to Coltrane's suggestion, of course sexuality is part of the wholistic human experience! We can't avoid it, that's for sure.
I think thats my point. Sexuality, in and of itself, is not necessarily something to be avoided. It should be celebrated. Even if one is unmarried or joyfully celibate.

Edited by coltrane

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