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Ezekiel 23-24, Psalm 60

How do we reckon with the Bible’s graphic imagery? Often related to this question, are discussions on whether the Bible’s sometimes graphic nature justifies consuming most entertainment. In today’s reading we have both graphic sexuality and violence (see Ezekiel 23:3,20, and 25). If I were to do a sound expository sermon on Ezekiel 23, I would have to give parental warning in advance. So why do Christians get so concerned about graphic entertainment when such imagery is in the Bible? Before I give two answers to that question, let me just remind that the main point of Ezekiel 23 is to explain just how horrendous Israel and Judah’s evil has been. So that brings me to the first point. The Bible’s graphic imagery exists to cause us to hate evil (like in Ezekiel 23) or delight in the good (like Song of Solomon causes us to delight in sex within marriage). Entertainment often, on the other hand, uses graphic imagery, descriptions, sounds, or effects to encourage us to delight in sin and despise the good. Secondly, and somewhat related, the Bible’s descriptions are not superfluous. In Ezekiel 23, God is describing the vileness of spiritual adultery and explaining the real life consequences of such treachery. Entertainment typically could tell its story just as easily without any graphic images at all, or at least could tell its story better by showing us the gravity of its graphic imagery. There are a few good examples of graphic imagery in entertainment that I would argue has helped portray something powerfully, gravely, and arguably necessarily. Such artistic expression, I would argue is a fitting response to the way the Bible portrays its subject matter. It never delights in nor encourages sin, but when it describes sin it does so in a way that accentuates its gravity. Or when art celebrates the beautiful, it does so in a way that discourages misuse. I hope those thoughts lead to some healthy conversation. Do not be afraid to drop me an email to discuss these ideas.

Jeremiah Vaught