Based on the comments I’ve seen, my BreakPoint commentary on the movie “Noah” certainly stirred the pot. Actually, I wasn’t speaking so much about the movie, but about how we Christians should not expect Hollywood to validate our faith.
Perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I thought. Some folks thought I was urging us to turn our backs on popular culture, which seemed odd, because if you know me just a little, you’d know I think quite the opposite. And a brief look at all the movie and book reviews on the BreakPoint website will tell you my colleagues think the same.
But one commenter in particular struck me. Should she pay money, she asked, to see “Noah?” On the one hand, she’s not interested in a film that many think misrepresents Scripture. On the other, should Christians go see it as a way of engaging the culture? What would Chuck Colson have said?
Well, after finally seeing the movie myself, my take is this: Be sure to see it . . . Or don’t.
There is no single definitive Christian take on the film. Now, there are areas of life where you can say that there is a definitive Christian take on the matter: For instance, marriage is the union of one man and one woman. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t Christians who would argue otherwise. But I’m afraid their position clearly contradicts both Scripture and the traditional Christian understanding of marriage.
Movies are not one of these black and white areas. Yes, there are certain kinds of movies that are off-limits to a committed follower of Jesus Christ. If a film is loaded with what’s euphemistically called "strong sexual content," or if its treatment of the sacred (whether of God or the dignity of the human person) is deeply disrespectful, then I say stay away. Nothing very good can come out of being exposed to this material.
Likewise, there are films whose images convey Christian truths, regardless of the filmmaker’s beliefs or lack thereof. These films deserve our support.
But what about all the rest? Well, that calls for a discerning eye and a discerning heart. Now, discernment in this area is not easy, because it requires us to be active and not passive consumers of media. And after a long week of work and meeting the obligations of family, friends and church, we often just want to relax and let someone else do the thinking for us.
Unfortunately, given Hollywood’s outsized influence on our culture, we don’t have that luxury.
This doesn’t mean that we should only watch films whose underlying worldview we agree with. And it doesn’t mean that worldview should be the only criterion by which we judge a work of art. For instance, I could appreciate the director of “Noah’s” artistry, which I do, while taking issue with some of the things he did with Noah’s story, which I also do.
What’s more, this should really be true of everything we decide to watch, and not just the controversial stuff.
The key word is “decide.” Christian faithfulness in matters of media requires that we be intentional in our choices of what we watch, listen to, and read.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it’s only because we’re used to letting the entertainment industry decide what we watch, listen to and even read. Before a film even opens in theaters, Hollywood works overtime to make sure we think that seeing the film is mandatory for the culturally literate.
Our task here at BreakPoint is to help you understand that there is nothing mandatory, necessary, or even in some instances desirable, in this parody of cultural literacy.
If you understand this, and you’re able spot the worldview assumptions behind the story that’s being told, then please, by all means, go and see “Noah” and films like it.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: April 14, 2014