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What Does the Bible Say About Watching Violence?

In a world inundated with graphic depictions of violence in films, TV shows, and video games, many people wonder what the Bible has to say about watching such content. As a Christian, you may be seeking guidance on this topic and looking for a biblical perspective.

The Bible is not silent on the issue of violence, and it offers wisdom for discerning what you should or shouldn’t watch. In this article, we will explore what the Bible says about watching violence, examine the violence in the Bible itself, consider the effects of watching violent content, and discuss biblical principles for discerning viewing habits. We will also explore how to cultivate a balanced approach to entertainment.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bible offers wisdom for discerning what you should or shouldn’t watch in terms of violent content.
  • Violence is present in the Bible, and it can be difficult to understand.
  • Watching violent content can have psychological and spiritual consequences.
  • Biblical principles such as Philippians 4:8 and Matthew 5:27-28 can guide our viewing habits.
  • Cultivating a balanced approach to entertainment involves discernment and seeking out redeeming qualities.
what does the bible say about watching violence

Understanding Violence in the Bible

As you explore the topic of violence in the Bible, it’s important to understand that violence was prevalent in the ancient world in which the Bible was written. The Bible contains numerous examples of violence, ranging from wars and battles to individual acts of violence. These examples provide historical context for understanding the culture and society of the time.

One of the most well-known examples of violence in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. Cain murders his brother Abel out of jealousy and anger, which sets the stage for the theme of violence throughout the rest of the Bible. Other examples of violence include the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, and the conquest of Canaan in the book of Joshua.

These examples of violence in the Bible can be difficult to grapple with, especially for those seeking to follow a religion based on love and compassion. However, it is important to remember that the Bible is not promoting violence, but rather recognizing its existence in the world.

Furthermore, it is important to view these examples in their historical and cultural context. The violence depicted in the Bible was often a result of warfare and political conflict, rather than personal vendettas or acts of aggression.

Examining the Effects of Watching Violence

It’s no secret that violence is prevalent in today’s entertainment industry. From movies to video games, many forms of media contain violent content. However, it’s important to consider the effects that watching violence can have on a person’s psyche and spiritual wellbeing.

Research has shown that exposure to violence can have a profound psychological impact on individuals. It can desensitize them to violence, making it seem less shocking and traumatic. This can lead to an increased acceptance and even tolerance of violent behavior. Furthermore, exposure to violent media can increase feelings of aggression and hostility, potentially leading to violent behavior in real life situations.

Not only can watching violence have negative psychological effects, but it can also have spiritual consequences. The Bible teaches us to avoid anything that goes against its teachings, and violence is no exception. Watching violence can desensitize us to the suffering of others and promote a warped worldview that glorifies violence instead of promoting love and peace.

That being said, it’s important to note that not all violence in media is created equal. There are certain types of violence that can be more harmful than others, such as graphic violence or violence that is glorified and celebrated. It’s important to exercise caution and discernment when choosing what media to consume.

Psychological Impact of Exposure to Violence

The psychological impact of violent media exposure has been extensively researched. Studies have found that exposure to violence in media can result in an increase in aggressive behavior, decreased empathy towards victims of violence, and an increased acceptance of violent behavior.

Children, in particular, are vulnerable to the negative effects of violent media exposure. Excessive exposure to violent content can result in a desensitization to violence, making it seem less traumatic and more acceptable. This can lead to an increased risk of violent behavior in the future.

Spiritual Consequences of Watching Violence

There are also spiritual consequences to watching violence. The Bible teaches us to avoid anything that goes against its teachings, and violence is no exception. Watching violence can lead to a desensitization to the suffering of others and can promote a worldview that glorifies violence instead of promoting love and peace.

As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. This means that we need to be intentional about the media we consume, ensuring that it aligns with biblical principles. We need to be vigilant in protecting our hearts and minds, guarding against anything that might lead us down a path of spiritual compromise.

In conclusion, while it’s impossible to avoid all exposure to violence in today’s media-saturated world, we need to be cautious and discerning about the media we consume. We need to consider the psychological and spiritual impact that watching violence can have on us, and ensure that we are not desensitized to the suffering of others or promoting a worldview that goes against biblical principles.

Biblical Principles for Discerning Viewing

As Christians, it is important to approach our entertainment choices with discernment and caution. The Bible does not explicitly condemn watching violence, but it provides us with principles to help guide our viewing decisions.

Philippians 4:8

One such principle is found in Philippians 4:8, which states, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” This verse encourages us to focus on media that is positive, uplifting, and edifying to our faith. When evaluating a show or movie, ask yourself if it aligns with these qualities.

Matthew 5:27-28

Another principle comes from Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5:27-28, where he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” This passage reminds us that our thoughts and desires can be just as sinful as our actions. When choosing what to watch, consider if it will lead to impure thoughts or desires.

These are just a few examples of the biblical guidelines we can use to discern our viewing choices. Ultimately, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us wisdom in this area.

Balanced Approach to Entertainment

As you cultivate a discerning approach to watching violent content, it’s important to remember that not all entertainment is harmful. In fact, some media contains redeeming qualities that can educate, inspire, and encourage you.

So, how do you determine whether a movie or TV show has redeeming qualities? One way is to look for themes and messages that align with biblical principles. For example, a story that portrays forgiveness, sacrifice, and integrity can teach you valuable lessons about living a godly life.

But even when a show has redeeming qualities, it’s wise to practice cautionary discernment. This means being aware of the potential psychological impact of watching violent content and being intentional about setting healthy boundaries.

Discerning Viewing: Biblical Guidelines

So what does the Bible have to say about discerning viewing? Philippians 4:8 instructs us to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Similarly, Matthew 5:27-28 teaches us to guard our hearts against lustful thoughts and desires.

By applying these principles to your entertainment choices, you can cultivate a balanced approach to consumption that honors God, uplifts your spirit, and protects your mind and heart.


What does the Bible say about watching violence?

The Bible does not explicitly address the act of watching violence in entertainment. However, it does provide principles and guidelines that can help us navigate this issue from a biblical perspective.

Why is it important to understand violence in the Bible?

Understanding violence in the Bible is crucial because it helps us comprehend the context, purpose, and lessons behind biblical examples of violence. It allows us to gain a deeper understanding of God’s sovereignty, justice, and the fallen nature of humanity.

What are the effects of watching violence?

Watching violence can have psychological impacts, desensitize individuals to real-life violence, and potentially contribute to negative behavioral patterns. It is important to be mindful of the potential spiritual consequences as well.

Are there biblical principles for discerning viewing?

Yes, the Bible provides principles for discerning what we watch. Philippians 4:8 encourages us to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Matthew 5:27-28 reminds us of the importance of guarding our hearts and minds regarding lustful desires.

How can we cultivate a balanced approach to entertainment?

Cultivating a balanced approach involves considering the redeeming qualities and messages of the content we consume, engaging in cautionary discernment, and being intentional about maintaining a healthy media diet that aligns with our values.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.