I wish that the world were always a good and kind place; that humanity was naturally good-natured, and that I could become a good person… but that’s not the case. There was a reason that God had to come in human form, live a perfect life, and die a brutal, bloody death on the cross for our sins: it’s because there is sin, darkness, and suffering in this life. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.”
Why would “faith-based films” need to be sanitized? I appreciate the advantage of watching a PG-rated movie so that it can be viewed with the whole family, but my point is that sometimes adults need to watch adult films that deal with adult issues. The world needs gritty and redemptive films, not for the sake of being shocking or disturbing, but for the sake of sobering the mind to the fact that people are suffering with existential struggles everyday. The world needs Films that can explore all areas of life and get down to the muck and the mire of what the fallen world truly looks like.
Christian community thrives with vulnerability and authenticity. Some of the sweetest tastes of heaven on earth is when you can have a deep conversation and feel mutual empathy with another person. I strongly believe that an artist making a film should be vulnerable and authentic in telling stories, and unrestricted from shying away from the depths of the world that most faith-based films would deem “too real.” Nothing should be too real for a Christian, and we should be able to bring truth to situations that seem inexplicably dark.
We need Christians to look death in the eye, in order to truly experience life. If we are not going to allow depravity to rear its ugly head even in cinematic narratives, then we are going to have difficulty appreciating salvation in our own lives. I’m afraid that if Christians turn a blind eye to the brokenness in our world, it will not only hurt our witness to needy and desperate people, but it will also hurt our own understanding of the potency and transformational power of the Gospel.
The Gospel is good news to a world devastated by sin. There is nothing in the world that escapes sin. This is evident in the R-rated stories that fill the pages of the Old and New Testaments, and it is just as evident throughout all of human history, including present day. Faith-based films should reflect the gritty world that we all live in. If the world weren’t broken and full of darkness, then what would be the point of the atonement?
Jesus came for two types of people: sinners and sinners that love Jesus. We sinners that love Jesus cannot be naive about the effects of sin in our own hearts and the hearts of others. There is a lot of suffering and hardship in the world, and for those we love. In order to better empathize with the down-trodden and broken-hearted, we need to understand the world that our brothers and sisters actually live in. It’s my belief that if there were films that show the world as it is, then we will better connect with people who need the light in the darkness.
I, for one, need a savior. I want people to be transformed by real love. I yearn for the world to one day be free from the chains of sin and to be groaning for the new city. But in the meantime, let’s take off the blindfold for both our own sake and for that of our brothers and sisters. I leave you with a quote from JRR Tolkien: “Fairy tale does not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…giving a fleeting glimpse of joy; joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”