This week, I took on water (so to speak) when I suggested that we could use movies like Noah and Heaven is for Real as conversation starters with unbelievers. I expressed this opinion thinking it was rather common in a blog entitled “Hollywood’s Very Good Problem.” I had no idea how furious a handful of people would be with my opinion, and I want to confess that I learned a lot in listening to the hearts of those with other ideas. I even clarified some of my early blog statements and readjusted them as my heart was brought into alignment through confrontation.
Might I share a little more deeply with you what my experience with the Noah movie has led me to believe, and petition you to put your good energies of dissuading people from harmful messages to use? There are two things just bursting to get out of my mind today.
I must begin with this confession: my husband and I invited a small group of friends to go see Noah with us last Saturday night.
We made two requests of those we invited. First, everyone needed to read the Biblical account of Noah in Genesis before the movie, and then come to our house to have a discussion after it.
I admit, I was a little bit shocked at how I felt after viewing Noah.
Though I saw more clearly just how depraved mankind had become and looked into the eyes of a man who wanted to be faithful to God (Crowe’s Noah is deeply committed to obeying Him), I immediately turned to Bob and said, “My spirit is deeply troubled.”
The movie was frustratingly unbiblical. I learned just how physical the manifestation of the Spirit’s discontent can be within me. I ached for the people who would see the movie and not hear the Truth, knowing very few were headed to my home to dissect it through the lens of a Scriptural microscope. And there would be a lot like that. You see, Noah topped the box office in terms of sales. People went to see it in droves.
What does that mean?
1.) Lost people are hungering for heaven and what is real.
The fact that a Bible story (and I realize we have to use that term loosely in this case) beat out other expected blockbusters speaks to the thirst of our nation for spiritual Truth. I would like to plead with you to grasp this with me as we face other mediums with equally unbiblical, anti-biblical, or outright sinful messages.
With Heaven is for Real releasing on the heels of Noah, we’ll be hashing it out again this weekend as to whether we should or should not spend our dollars at the box-office. And this controversial movie will likely do very well at the box office. The book is a New York Times bestseller and that’s just more evidence that people are hungering for heaven and want desperately to know what’s real about it. Could this movie be a bridge that brings them to know the Truth?
You already know what I think: in this game of chess called entertainment, we’re left with only one move and that is to use the movie rather than disregard it. (Let me say that if the movie were violent, sexual, or full of profanity I would suggest that we should not see it. But since it is none of these, might we consider viewing it so we can have conversations with people who don’t know Truth and need our help dissecting it?) I hope you don’t feel that this makes me a hypocrite as some have charged. I assure you I’m not wavering in my faith, just hoping to share it.
But speaking of hypocrisy, can I point out some? (Yes, this is where I might offend you, but hopefully I’ll just energize you.) You see, for 18 months I’ve been pleading with the Church to hear my small, lone voice about something happening in our entertainment culture that’s every bit as hideous as Noah’s rock people or a little boy’s near-death experience forming the theology of heaven.
And I feel like the Church is overlooking this one.
Christian women are passing Fifty Shades of Grey through their neighborhoods in brown paper bags. How do I know? They’re telling me. Shamelessly. The book glamorizes transgressive (read: violent) acts of sex that take place under an upside down cross in a red room of pain filled with the music of Latin hymns.
With sales of soft bondage rope up and visits to the bondage section of a leading on-line sex toy site up 24%, whips, chains and canes are not only for fantasy and paid actors, but real life users and (dare I say it) abusers. A few weeks ago, a Dominant named Robert stopped by my online blog to proudly describe his relationship with his wife who he calls the “s” (or submissive). Their relationship is reflective of research that indicates that the vast majority of women involved in the bondage, dominance, masochism, and sadism are more likely to act as the submissive than the dominant.Here’s what Robert told me:
Yes, at times my wife will have bruises, rope burns etc…And there is ALWAYS aftercare… I love and respect my wife, and will always give her what she wants and needs. Am I taking to her bare backside with a cane? Yes.
Christian women are reading stuff like this and they are claiming it awakens their sex life. How do Christian women find this sexy? There’s no such thing as sexy abuse. It’s still just sexual abuse.
Why is this attractive to post-feminist women? I think the public dialogue surrounding the current erotica fetish tells us. In a conversation on “The View” the fearless five were discussing why women love Christian Grey, the sadist in Fifty Shades of Grey, so much. Barbara Walters suggested that “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”After reading the series, Walters also stated, “It raises the question about whether or not women like to be submissive….that’s the theme.”
This seems to have come out of left field. But it hasn’t, really. While I’m thankful that I can vote, own property, and make more money than my husband, the feminist movement has also taken something from me. The mantra that “you don’t need a man” has created a culture of strong women and weak men. Now we secretly yearn for the very thing our independence has destroyed—strong, confident men.
Solving the “weak man” problem with bondage and dominance is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. As my co-author psychologist Dr. Juli Slattery and I point out in our recent release Pulling Back the Shades, the appetite for strong men that’s being revealed by the current erotica craze has to be solved by providing the right nourishment to feed the starved souls of women. And that requires both a proper understanding of sex and Biblical submission. You see, once again, the reaching for harmful entertainment is just evidence of our spirits searching for heaven and what is real. What God designed and meant for us to know.
The original Hebrew version of the Bible referred to the woman as ezer kenedgo. The word ezer means “helper” and the word kenedgo means “to accompany.” God created women with the intention that they would accompany men in order to help them. But the power in this submissive role isn’t found until you look much more carefully at how these words are used throughout the whole of Scripture. Only two references in the Bible point to a woman being an ezer—a helper. All the rest describe Someone else in that role: God himself. God is called our ezer multiple times in the Old Testament.
This is one of many examples where the language about love between spouses and love between humans and God is divinely blurred within the Scriptures, leaving us with the understanding that God intended marriage to be a picture of our love relationship with him. Nowhere is that love more profoundly expressed than in the laying down of Christ’s life for humanity. Following his example means true submission is mutual with the man leading by the daily laying down of his life for a bride he protects so selflessly that her desire to act in the submissive role of helping him is safe, not harmful.
And this is where Biblical submission becomes somewhat of a paradox that is magnified during this Easter season as we commemorate the submission of Christ to the cross. The “dominant” lays his life down on a wooden cross and takes all the bruises and bloody blows to protect the “submissive” leaving us spotless and whole, not broken and beaten.
True love takes the beatings. It doesn’t dispense them.
2.) The Church is overlooking one of the most insidious counterfeits of all in turning a blind eye to the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena.
I googled “Christian critique of Noah” and got thousands of articles to read. The first ten were from credible, top-of-the-mind Christian mediums like Christian Post and Christianity Today. Then, I googled “Christian critique of Fifty Shades of Grey” and I found one only one of these credible mediums on the band wagon to sound the warning. Barna research says there is no difference in the percentage of Christian versus non-Christian women devouring this trash. Why aren’t we talking about it?
How is it that we’re so upset about the movie Noah which was created by an unbelieving man with no spiritual agenda of his own, but we turn a blind eye to Christian women devouring erotica that’s so vile that even pro-BDSM advocates decry how harmful it is for women?
I guess it may come down to this: I’ve felt a tad lonely out here sounding an alarm to warn our own Christian women about their reading habits. I believe that the current wave of erotica spreading through the Church will do far more harm than Noah or Heaven is for Real. And it seems a little lonelier when so much energy is expended by Christians to tell unbelievers they should have gotten things biblically right when they made a movie instead of tending to the sin of it’s own. Jesus never criticized the lost, but he was quick to address the sin of the religious.
It seems we should be cleaning our own house before we try to judge the work of unbelievers.