This week, a Senate panel is hearing arguments about whether or not a film should be R-rated if it shows characters smoking cigarettes.

It's not such a wild idea. After all, films get R-ratings if their characters use certain swear words, expose certain areas of their flesh, or if the violence becomes too extreme for the vulnerable minds of younger viewers. Why not give a film an R-rating for giving attention to equally volatile behavior—one that causes cancer, obesity, depression, and even death?

It makes you wonder—why do we give films strict ratings for certain portrayals of misbehavior while other misbehaviors are shown regularly without any protest? Pride. Lying. Jealousy.

And what about the glorification of eating foods that are bad for you? Should a film be R-rated if the characters wolf down Big Macs on screen or drink Big Gulp-sized cola? Certainly, if characters who cuss can influence impressionable viewers to make poor choices, so can the presentation of reckless consumption of foods that lack nourishment.

Scripture tells us to avoid idle talk, murder, and lust. Thus, many Christians are offended—even outraged—whenever these behaviors are reflected on the big screen. But Scripture also tells us that our bodies are our "temples." We should honor God by being wise in how we use them and in what we give them. Why are those same Christians undistracted by big screen role models who advertise the pleasures of addictive soda pop, candy, and fast food?

Personally, I think artists should be free to portray the way human beings behave—both the good behavior and the bad behavior—in contexts that prod us to think about choices and consequences. It is up to the viewer to listen to his conscience, ...

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