Does Using VidAngel to Screen Offensive Content out of Movies Still Involve Financially Supporting Hollywood?

A reader wrote:

I ran across your blog while researching VidAngel. I’m a Christian, and a mom to seven. We love movies and are pretty choosy because of content. I’m thinking VidAngel is an amazing answer for us, in wanting to enjoy so many stories without the smut. 

But I had a friend ask, “Aren’t we still supporting those who make movies with all this content we wish to avoid?” I’m struggling with the moral question of whether to financially support Hollywood, even though my contribution would be miniscule in comparison to what they already make. Is this an issue you could speak to?

Here's my answer:

I think it’s similar to how we view Wallstreet. If you invest in stocks, you should stay away from those that clearly dishonor God. But just because some stocks are immoral doesn’t mean I shouldn’t invest in good ones. None of us have the power to turn a bad stock into a good one. But if you have the power to remove from a movie everything that dishonors God, why not use it?

If you go to see some movies in theaters that are appropriate, arguably you are indirectly supporting those that aren't and are making the theater profitable. If you buy milk from a store that also sells inappropriate magazines, is that acceptable? If there was a piece of clothing that was inappropriate, could you buy it and sew on something that would make it appropriate? That’s what I think VidAngel is doing—It’s taking mostly decent movies and removing what isn’t decent. (If a movie is mostly bad, and some certainly are, I wouldn’t use VidAngel with it. I just wouldn’t watch it at all.)

I am more concerned about what I take into my mind than what the movie industry makes money on. They are not making money on my choice to listen to their bad language or watch their bad scenes, because I’m not doing that. True, technically a handful of Christians who use VidAngel to morally screen a movie may at an extremely small level contribute to the financial success of that movie. But I think that’s negligible. In the same way, if you buy from a store owned by Mormons (or for that matter if you subscribe to VidAngel) you are supporting Mormons. But if you knew who owned the other stores there would likely be atheists, supporters of Planned Parenthood etc., who in their own way are as bad as Hollywood.

The truth is many Christians do end up watching things on Netflix and Amazon Prime, etc.—as well as on network TV—trying them and hoping they will be moral, then seeing what they shouldn’t. With VidAngel, you don’t have to hope because it actually will screen out what you’ve told it to screen out—I will never see a sex scene, hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, or hear the f-word. You are making choices to guard your mind. To me that outweighs the considerations. Of course, everyone has to make their own choices. It’s a matter of conscience, and if your conscience says don’t use a service like Vidangel, then don’t. But realize the consciences of others, such as mine, tell them that’s exactly what they should do. It’s just like Romans 14 says:

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God….

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean….

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Browse more resources on the topic of purity, and see Randy's book The Purity Principle and his booklet Sexual Temptation.

Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries