This past weekend (April 1, 2016), the movie “God’s Not Dead 2” came out. If I’m being honest, I have as much desire to see that as I do Batman v Superman, which is zero. The reason for this is because I saw the first one (and as for Batman v Superman, I was a comic book nerd as a kid [ok fine I still kind of am], and let’s be honest, Superman would DESTROY Batman in a fight; and DC is just trying to play catch-up with Marvel, making a Justice League movie too rushed and sloppy). The first “God’s Not Dead” movie made me physically hurt at points—the writing was lack-luster and unrealistic, racial stereotyping was present, “Christian Celebrities” were put on a pedestal (examples: The Newsboys [as soon as The Newsboys prayed with the journalist she felt AMAZING and was ok with EVERYTHING because “O MY GOSH THE NEWSBOYS PRAYED WITH ME!!!”] and the Duck Dynasty fellas [I have no problem with them, but they didn’t really need to be in the movie]), and Islamaphobia played an internal role in the movie (the father of the Islamic daughter decides to beat her as soon as she listens to a Franklin Graham sermon, even though he has had NO violent tendencies, but only shown her love throughout the film until that point). Not only this, but the ending drove me insane. As SOON as the BAD, ATHEIST PROFESSOR (I have friends that are atheists and am using the word bad sarcastically) gets hit by a car…he sees that God is real, accepts Him, and then dies…which depending on how far you want to take the pastor’s theology on “God sent me here today”…doesn’t that also mean that God made that professor die? Yikes.
If you like the movie, please don’t get mad at me, and maybe I could have held back a little and not been so brash with my review of it. As long as you’re cool with me, we can still be friends. I just found the movie problematic in many aspects, and unfortunately, this is my problem with most popular Christian movies and music. I think that Christian music and movies generally tries to keep things too “family friendly” and not leave any ends loosened.
I do think it’s a good idea to keep your children as innocent as possible within reason, but I think to try and keep Christianity “family friendly” could be a detriment to their faith. When we read the Bible, we see lots of things that are NOT family friendly. Ehud stabs a fat king to the point that the king’s intestines and poop spills out, and the king’s stomach completely absorbs the sword (Judges 3:20-23). King David is looking out from his rooftop, sees a naked woman bathing that he thinks is hot, brings her to him, has sex with her, impregnates her, and has her husband killed (2 Samuel 11). The entire book of Song of Solomon is about the “married people times” *wink wink, nudge nudge*. When Judas hangs himself, no one wants to cut him down from the tree because they believe his body is cursed (since he betrayed the Son of God, aka Jesus), so he ends up decaying to the point that his guts spill out, and his head pops off, causing his entire body to splatter on the field below his body (Acts 1:15-20). These are only a few examples of pretty intense or explicit things in the Bible. Yes, be cautious of what you expose your children to, but by reading the Bible, they will be exposed to explicit things—and what better person to explain them to their child than their parent!
The Bible really is not a family friendly book. The Bible is a narrative that shows the depravity of man and God redeeming His creation regardless of their depravity. In most Christian art, whether it be film or music, we do a pretty terrible job of showing this Gospel message of God coming to us in our sin and making things right. We make storylines that don’t deal with struggle, sin, or the terrible things that this world creates all too often. We want to watch or listen to something that makes us feel good and happy instead of challenging us or realizing the hope and joy we have in Jesus, regardless of our circumstances.
Art should give us happiness, yes, but art should also push us out of our comfort zones. Art should inspire us. Art should bring a conversation starter to the table. Christians, it’s time to start making better art.