When I was nine years old, I had a brilliant idea.
“We need a new rule in our house,” I explained to my dad. “No movies on Sundays unless they’re rated G.”
My dad (the ward bishop who had zero free time on Sundays to watch movies anyway, G-rated or otherwise) wholeheartedly agreed, and the tradition began.
And it stuck.
To this day, my younger siblings—who live at home and are all 17-years-old and older—surely mutter under their breath when, on Sunday afternoons, they have to choose between A Goofy Movie or Robin Hood for the millionth time. I’m sure my name has been cursed more than once for coming up with such a seemingly restrictive rule, but I can take it.
I now have two kids of my own, and we follow the same rule in our house: only G-rated movies on Sunday. As soon as my 2-year-old son grows out of Lightning McQueen and Elmo Learns to Use the Potty (yes, the movie), I may have a small uprising on my hands, but for now, that’s the rule—and compared to some families, that’s generous. I know some parents who don’t allow any television viewing on the Sabbath—movies or otherwise.
Maybe that’s your rule. And I think you should enforce whatever rules help your family make the most of the Day of Rest. After all, we all honor the Sabbath in different ways, and what is right for me might not be right for you.
But today, just for a second, hear me out while I explain why I think some movies can actually help you have a better Sunday, not make it worse. And whether you agree or not, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
What sort of Sunday movie rules do you have at your house?
So what’s the number one reason I let my kids watch movies on Sunday? Here it is: not all movies are created equal.
Do you let your kids read books on Sunday? You probably do. Of course reading is a good Sabbath Day activity. It’s peaceful, it’s calm, and (maybe most importantly for tired moms) it’s quiet. But there was a time in history, I’m sure, when reading books was a terrible way to “idle away your time.”
But I’m not here to debate whether or not reading books on Sunday is appropriate. That would be ridiculous, right? Or would it be? I mean, I can think of a few books we all could probably stand to read more of on Sunday, and I bet you can, too. But I can also think of a few books to stay away from on the Sabbath. (Would you stop reading if I used the word “vampire” here?)
And so it is with movies.
There are some movies we probably just shouldn’t watch on Sunday. They’re simply not in keeping with the spirit of the day. I mean, watching a group of superheroes save the world from aliens? Maybe not the best Sunday activity. But what about movies like 17 Miracles, The Work and the Glory, or The Other Side of Heaven? Aren’t there great things to be learned from these movies? Things that can be learned on Sunday as well (or better) than any other day? Is it possible that the tone and spirit of these movies will add to your Sunday worship instead of detracting from it?
I think so.
I should now, in full disclosure, tell you that the “G-only” rule I mentioned earlier has expanded to include movies that uplift and inspire my family and me. We’ve adopted a higher law. A “spirit of the law” kind of rule instead of the “letter of the law.” I have to constantly remind myself that this new, higher law still probably doesn’t allow me to watch Denzel Washington do anything amazing on Sunday. But that’s okay. Denzel can wait ‘til Monday.
Not sure which movies your family should be watching on Sunday? Here are a few I have seen and can recommend.
The Other Side of Heaven
The Errand of Angels
The Work And The Glory (Trilogy)
Alma and the Zoramites (Living Scriptures)
One Voice: On the Road with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Story of Jesus
On Sacred Ground; with Truman Madsen
What about you? What sorts of movies do you watch on Sundays? Leave a comment on this post and share with me how it all goes down on Sunday at your house.