At a time when our culture desperately needs to be impacted by a positive, Christ-centered worldview, too many church folk fritter away any potential influence with their own “my way or the highway” belligerence.
In a recent Breakpoint commentary, Eric Metaxas says that many believers “seem to have confused being salt and light with being curmudgeons. Here’s a particularly egregious case in point: the recent campaign to remove a great movie, The Blind Side, from the shelves of LifeWay Christian stores. Remember, The Blind Side was denounced as Christian propaganda by many liberal critics. It explicitly depicts an affluent white Christian family devoting itself to helping an impoverished black kid because it’s the Christian thing to do.
The film’s offense, according to a Florida pastor who started the campaign . . . is that the movie contains “explicit profanity, God’s name in vain, and racial slurs.” It doesn’t seem to matter that the objectionable language is used to depict the palpably unpleasant world from which the young black man, Michael, was rescued by his adoptive family.
What seems to matter to this pastor is that if we “tolerate” the presence of this movie in Christian bookstores, our children and grandchildren will “embrace” this kind of behavior. I’m not making this up – this is the exact reason given by the pastor. And frankly, I think it’s insane. I saw the movie myself. I even let my 12-year-old daughter see it. That’s because it is a great film and I recommend it highly. But sadly, LifeWay caved in and removed the “offensive” discs from their shelves.
For outsiders looking in, the moral of the story is that “there is no pleasing Christians. They always seem to be looking for something to be mad about.”
We complain about the calumnies and caricatures of Christians on the big screen; and then, when an Academy Award-winning film shows us at our very best, we complain that scenes depicting harsh, inner-city reality are too true to life!
We are, in effect, making our participation contingent on all our possible objections being met beforehand. Since there are many people who would be happy if we stayed within our cultural and religious ghettos, it’s difficult to imagine how we Christians can hope to be taken seriously in cultural discussions and debates with this kind of an approach. . . .
If we Christians can’t get this, then maybe we really should refrain from commenting on culture in the first place.
I understand denominational realities and that it is easier for LifeWay to remove the DVD of a 3-year-old movie from the shelves than to fight an extended public battle. But the fact that some consider this the battlefield tells us how far we have to go in truly making an impact on secular culture.
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.