Hunger Games: Have You Caught the Fire?

Scott D. Winnail
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“Happy Hunger Games!” is the greeting from Suzanne Collin’s blockbuster sensation Hunger Games. Interestingly, fans of the movie series almost wish each other the same greeting via texts, tweets and social media messages, as they make the pilgrimage to theaters for the second movie in the trilogy, Catching Fire. But, is this movie series, which has now developed a cult following, something Christians should really be “happy” about?

Set in a futuristic world, the movie creates a two-caste system where the abundantly wealthy, hedonistic ruling class suppresses the masses, exploiting them for their own pleasure. In the movie, Hunger Games is a futuristic reality show modeled after the Roman gladiatorial games in the Coliseum. It is an annual event where male and female representatives (age 12–18) from the twelve working-class districts fight to the death, while the sadistic elite watch their every move with bated breath. The heroine cheats death, and outsmarts and leads the weaker minded, less resilient men. The elite audience of the games is cast as foolish, arrogant, voyeurs excited by the blood and brutality of a very real reality TV show. Intrigue, lust, vanity and brutality permeate the first movie and continue in the second, which ventures into the realm of governmental overthrow.

The sad but blatant irony of the plot is that while the movie-goer is directed to “look down upon” the self-centered and blood-thirsty elite of the movie, he or she actually fulfills the same disgusting role—an audience member being thrilled by blood, violence, intrigue and the overthrow of a subjugating government.

So how should true Christians view a movie series like this one? And “Christians” are certainly fluttering to see this and other movies, like moths to a flame—even with their children! After all, the plot is action-packed and engaging. The heroine is beautiful, powerful and intelligent. And everyone likes to cheer for the unfortunate underdog. What criteria should Christians use to judge whether a movie, TV show, or video game is acceptable to God? The answer can clearly be found in the pages of the Bible!

The book of Isaiah was God’s warning to the physical Jewish nation. He directed them to change their pagan and violent ways lest He be forced to destroy them. Isaiah’s warnings are also for us today. God clearly tells His people: “He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly… Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil,” will be blessed by Him (Isaiah 33:15). Although movies and violent video games are “not real,” if we imbibe in them are we really stopping our ears from hearing bloodshed and our eyes from seeing evil? We are commanded not to “see” or even “think” evil (Ezekiel 20:7; Zechariah 8:17). Movies (and video games) that motivate us to tolerate bloodshed, cheer for the brutal deaths of those who “deserve it,” and wish for the overthrow of governments through rebellion—even if a governmental regime is evil—damage our minds, hearts and character. They motivate us to defend our actions with statements like: “It’s not really real. It is just fiction.” Satan deceives and desensitizes, even some of God’s elect, to fall into the trap of “it’s not that bad” and “there are only two or three bad parts in it.” True Christians who love God will hate evil, and keep their eyes, ears, and minds far from it (Psalm 97:10). They will “love good” (Amos 5:15) and seek to fill their lives with things that are “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if virtuous and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and parents of future members of the God family, must raise the bar of morality and live in ways that do not contradict what they preach, becoming a “pattern of good works” (Deuteronomy 6:6–8, 1 Titus 2:7–8).

As society catches the fire of the Hunger Games and other ungodly media, God’s people must be about His business of developing His perfect, righteous character. For more insight into the ways Satan deceives God’s people, be sure to view our powerful sermon entitled “Connecting the Dots.”