Archive for category Movies

Rated “R” Movies and the Bible

I will continue my posts on Bagnall’s book tomorrow; however, today I would like to post about something that comes up all the time in ministry. Let me preface what I am about to say with acknowledging that proper leadership for a young person as they develop (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) is very necessary. So, I am not suggesting an unfiltered method of parenting or mentoring young people; however, I am asking that we do not ignore the obvious and ask appropriate questions about our relationship with media as we are informed by the Scripture and the Spirit.

It is striking to me the number of adult Christians who vehemently condemn the viewing of rated “R” movies simply because of the rating, but have no problem reading some of the things written in the Bible. So that we’re on the same page, here is the interpretation of the rating system in the U.S.A. according to Wikipedia:

  • E – Exempt from classification. Films that are exempt from classification must not contain contentious material (i.e. material that would ordinarily be rated M or higher).
  • G – General. The content is very mild in impact.
  • PG – Parental guidance recommended. The content is mild, but somewhat moderate in impact.
  • M – Recommended for mature audiences. Parents are strongly cautioned. The content is moderate in impact.
  • MA15+ – Not suitable for persons younger than 15. Persons younger than 15 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The content is strong in impact.
  • R18+ – Restricted to adults 18 years and older. The content is high in impact.
  • X18+ – Restricted to adults 18 years and older. Reason is because of pornographical content. No violence nor “fetishes”, including spanking, may be shown (legally may be sold in the ACT and the NT only but may be purchased interstate via mail order). The content is high in impact.
  • RC – Refused Classification. Banned from sale or hire in Australia.

Based on this rating system, I would like to try a little exercise :). I would like to share with you a script. After reading it, classify it according to the rating system above—I’d love to see your rating in the comment section. Here we go:

But he urged them persistently, so they turned aside with him and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them, including bread baked without yeast, and they ate. Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men–both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom–surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him. He said, “No, my brothers! Don’t act so wickedly! Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please. Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Out of our way!” they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us! We’ll do more harm to you than to them!” They kept pressing in on Lot until they were close enough to break down the door.

So the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house as they shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness. The men outside wore themselves out trying to find the door. Then the two visitors said to Lot, “Who else do you have here? Do you have any sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or other relatives in the city? Get them out of this place because we are about to destroy it. The outcry against this place is so great before the LORD that he has sent us to destroy it.”

So, what do you think? Of course, there a number of passages—some even sketchier than this one—that I could have employed for this exercise. What about the story of Tamar and Judah? What would that look like on the big screen? David and Bathsheba?

It’s true isn’t it? Sometimes even the Bible deserves an “R” rating. Honestly, it is in the “R” rated material that we are oftentimes confronted most firmly with the deceitfulness and sickness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) as well as the core of what true righteousness and holiness is (who was more righteous, Tamar or Judah?). The crucifixion of our Lord, when accuracy is sought as in Mel Gibson’s film, even landed an “R” rating for violence, but in the violence, we also learn of the love of God, the faithfulness of the Son to the Father, the power the Spirit gives to endure suffering, the weight and magnitude of our sins, and a slew of other things.

So, where do we go from here? What should the Christian’s relationship with the media look like? I have a couple of suggestions, take ’em or leave ’em.

(1) Pornography is not o.k. The purpose of porn is to exploit the lust of the human heart. It destroys people and families. There is no story. The sole purpose is to highlight lawlessness and results in the corruption of one’s sexuality.

(2) Affirm the good, and be warned about the evil. In most cases, isn’t this the writer’s purpose anyway? This is what we do when we read the Scriptures isn’t it? As David traveled down the road of adultery and murder, we are constantly challenged in our spirit to test our own hearts. The same should be true with any film—no matter the rating.

(3) Prepare your young to interpret media. Look, our world has gone hook, line and sinker into the age of media and technology. The prospect of avoiding it—unless one joins an Amish community, a convent, monastery or something of the sort—is highly unlikely. So, what are you, parent, doing in order to teach your young ones to interpret the media? Just as you teach them to interpret the stories and teachings of the Bible, so must you teach your children to interpret the stories that appear on the internet, in the news, on the T.V. and on the silver screen. To cop out by totally cutting off your youth from the media or to allow them to view anything without instruction are two extremes that this youth pastor advises must be avoided.

(4) Rely on the Spirit. You might think I would say, rely on the Scripture. However, even the Scripture needs interpreting. God supplies the follower of Jesus with the Holy Spirit for a number of reasons—one of which is to illuminate and teach the Christian. He is referred to as the Spirit of truth, and Jesus promised that he would lead the Church in his teachings. Trust him.

I hope this has helped to create “level paths” for you so that you are more able to see the glory of God and his great wisdom in how he has communicated to us—those who live in a broken world and stand in need of salvation.

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The Real You

Recently, I joined some buddies for dinner and a movie. We are all sci-fi fans – even though to be such a fan means that one must deal with the occasional film that is drenched in cheese :). I was expecting exactly that when we decided to watch the new Bruce Willis film Surrogates (see trailer above).

The film was fast – often moving forward to advance the story without stopping to explain details. The action was fair; I for one could have used a little more action emphasizing the superhuman abilities of the surrogates – just for fun. However, it is clear that the minds behind the film wanted to keep things moving. Overall, it wasn’t too heavy on the cheese.

I would like to highlight four features that I found incredibly redemptive: 1) Willis’ desire for and commitment to his wife, 2) the exposure of our lack of integrity in the cyber-world, 3) sin is present in humanity and utterly dark when allowed to reach its full potential, and 4) there is something special about being human. It is clear from the beginning that Willis longs for the real presence of his wife in a world that has chosen to live life in a false reality where any one can be anybody (e.g., a fat, ugly guy can pose as a beautiful, blonde woman by means of his surrogate) and anybody can do anything. Morality and accountability become things of the past. For Willis to remain committed to his wife is heroic in and of itself.

Secondly, the viewer is forced to ask, “am I person of integrity when I roam the online community?” Further, “Is the cyber-world my unrestrained playground, or do my convictions and beliefs in reality extend to the virtual world?” A related concern for me as a student pastor is whether or not we are equipping our tweens and teens to “proceed with caution” during their time online. Online strangers aren’t always who they present themselves to be.

Third, our capacity for evil, if left to our own devices, is grotesque. If this isn’t clear in reality, virtual reality is the realm where we feel “safe” giving ourselves over to our desires – because after all, it’s not real right?

Lastly, there is something special about being human. Very basic and simple things often taken for granted in human experience are so vivid in the film: seeing one another, hearing one another’s voice, touching one another. There is something special – divine even – about humans in relationship with one another. During premarital counseling, Pastor Jim Riggle at Shawnee Hills Baptist Church in Jamestown, Ohio looked me straight in the eyes and urged me, “When you get in the car and realize that the gas gauge is on ‘E’ because Aimee used your car yesterday, I want you to say, ‘That’s my Aimee.'” I try to make it a habit of taking note my wife’s “That’s my Aimee” habits. These are the things I would miss so much if she were not with me. There is something indeed special about being human and being in relationship. Thank you God, and thank you that relationship both with you and with other humans is being reconciled through your Son, Jesus Christ.

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