Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Save a Life

(Like my blog about the peace symbol, this blog was written as a default response to all the parents, students, and other people who are asking my opinion of To Save a Life.)

By now you have probably heard of the movie To Save a Life, which opened nation-wide in theaters on January 22nd. The movie deals with so many issues that teens face today, like suicide, cutting, drinking, drugs, premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and abortion. At first glance this movie looks like an awesome resource that we should recommend for our teens, parents, youth pastors, and youth workers.

But a closer look at the movie reveals a few disturbing things. For starters, according to, there are 2 uses of the “A” word, 5 uses of hell (used as a curse word), and once the “D” word is used. There are other crude terms used to describe a girl, and crude terms for referring to sexual activity. There is also a bedroom scene that shows a girl removing a boy’s shirt, then afterwards the girl putting her shirt back on.

I know the arguments in favor of this movie. I realize that the curse words are before the young man gives his life to Christ, and I know that the bedroom scene is essential to the storyline.

The movie’s writer, who is a youth pastor in California, said that he prayed over every curse word he wrote into the script. While he admitted that cussing “is not cool,” he added that those words helped to make the story real. I have to take issue with this (here comes the part where I get called a Pharisee and legalist again). Where do we read in the Gospels that Jesus used curse words to appeal to those “real people” around Him? Where do we see Him stealing to reach the tax collectors, kicking people around to reach the Roman centurions, or bragging about Himself to reach the Pharisees? Obviously He did not do those things; instead we see Jesus transcending culture and urging people to change their lives and follow Him.

As followers of Jesus we are told to be light to the darkness, salt to the earth, and a city on a hill. What will really reach people is Christians living a different life, not doing what Casting Crowns sings about, “blending in so well that people can’t see the difference, and it’s the difference that sets the world free.”

Ironically, one of the elements in this movie is hypocrisy in the church. How is it not hypocrisy to live by the Bible that says to be separate from the world, then make a movie with profanity in it? A movie about hypocrisy is being hypocritical.

About the curse words, the movie’s producer said that kids hear much worse all the time. That is a terrible way of justifying sin. The reason many people, youth pastors included, don’t have a problem with 8 curse words in a movie is they are already watching movies and TV shows that use much worse language. If you have no problem watching and talking about sitcoms that use cursing and taking God’s Name in vain and movies that will use F-bombs and gd’s, then there is certainly no problem with a few of the “lighter curse words.” The same point can also be made for all the sexual innuendo on TV.

I know the bedroom scene sets up a crucial part of the storyline, and I know that many people are praising the movie for not showing too much, but in my opinion (here comes more legalist accusations) it does show too much. Can a young man’s mind not wander and continue to play out the scene in his mind? Can the image of the young lady putting her shirt back on (while the young man says, “Let’s do it again. You know you want to.”) not cause a student to lust?

While this movie can and will be used to compel many teens to look out for the outcasts in their school, I still see it as a wasted opportunity, as the movie’s writer admitted that he did not intend to make a Christian movie, and that this movie does not “share the faith.”

I have and do endorse movies, but I will not endorse a movie that can cause a student to fall into sin. Youth pastors, just imagine that one of your students goes home and uses the “A” word in front of his mother.
“Where did you learn to talk like that?”
“It was in that movie that Pastor ___________ took us to see.”

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

--Jesus, Mark 9:42

To save a life, I will not endorse To Save a Life.


bmann24 said...

I have never heard of this movie, but I did see the movie "Not Easily Broken", which is a Christian-themed film about the bond of marriage. This movie had its share of the "lighter curse words" as well as some scenes of a slightly sexual nature, as one would expect from a film about adultery and marriage. (By your description of To Save a Life, it sounds like Not Easily Broken contains much more language and more realistic sexual representation.) While there were certainly some things about the movie that I wouldn't openly recommend for anyone and everyone, it did contain much of great value and was a beautiful story of grace, forgiveness, and redemption.

I say that to say this: I fear that too often we reduce things down to the lowest common denominator and lump things all together as being totally good or bad, totally right or wrong, totally secular or sacred. As those who have the Spirit of God living in us, we have the ability to celebrate the good, the true, and the beautiful in all its forms, even if it finds itself in elements of unredeemed culture, and recognize and reject those aspects that are not in line with God's heart .

Our kids DO see and hear much worse every day than what has been described in this movie. You cannot drive down the street or stand in line at the grocery store without seeing something that may cause lust, and you can't go to school or work without hearing someone use curse words. This is not an excuse to pick the latest issue of Playboy or buy Eminem's latest album- its just a statement of fact.

Many kids have a strong enough foundation in their faith that they will be able to name and reject the unchristian elements of the movie for what they are and still be able to embrace the overwhelming good of the movie's message. Other kids may not be believers at all and certainly would have no reason to have issues with those elements of the movie. These kids' parents and spiritual leaders should be the one's making the determination on the individual kid.

It is also healthy for a youth pastor or parent to explain to the kids, maybe after the movie, about why certain behaviors aren't practiced by Believers and why we don't endorse certain elements of the film. In this way they get the good teaching from the movie and good teaching on right Christian living.

My point is this: I don't think it is healthy for us to run completely in the other direction when we see things that are not 100% in line with right Christian living. Rather, it may sometimes be good and relevant for the lives of the people in our sphere of influence for us to take a scalpal to things, or use a "line item veto", instead of completely rejecting.

If we truly withheld any endorsement of any media for being not 100% in line with our faith, then we would have had to reject The Passion of the Christ for Peter's curse word, and The Chronicles of Narnia for the violence. Instead, we recognize and embrace the good in these films and advise parents to use caution, evaluating these films on a kid-by-kid basis.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Bobby, I fundamentally disagree.
Things should be reduced down to being right or wrong; when Jesus spoke He left no room for gray areas. Everything should be black and white. How can a movie that teaches a positive message and has inappropriate language be both good and bad? It cannot. It is either all good or all bad, and in the case of 8 curse words, it is all bad.

Just because teens see and hear much worse other places, why would we still willingly enter in to a place to hear more? I do not ever want to hear profanity, and I do not want to see a young lady putting her shirt on; this is not legalism, it is sanctification. When the Bible tells us not to put anything evil in front of our eyes, it did not add the exception, unless it is a movie with a positive point, or unless it is not as bad as the other stuff they see. This is like watching Family Guy, the worst show on TV, and "embracing" the positive elements of it. There are no positive elements once we have compromised.

A lot of our students do NOT hear worse at school because they have such a reputation that people will not curse in front of them. Others are homeschooled, and many go to the Christian school, and believe it or not, their parents actually guard what they watch at home. How dare their pastor take them out to hear and see things their parents (and their own convictions) forbid them to see!

The rich young ruler is a classic example of drawing a line in the sand and not merging what is right and wrong. He was not willing to deny himself and surrender his life 100% to Jesus, and his 95% surrender was not good enough. To me, this is the same as watching shows or listening to music that is "not that bad." If you can't watch it with Jesus sitting next to you, you should not watch it. I could not watch To Save a Life with Jesus next to me.

Finally, if we do take unbelievers to see this movie, as you suggested, I think the movie will do more harm than good. The unbeliever will be forced to conclude that Christians still curse and look at sexually inappropriate images (I know, he stopped cursing after he got saved; I'm referring to the Christians in the movie theater seats--and by the way, no one left Facing the Giants saying, "That movie was so fake; there were no cuss words!" ). Why would they need to change their lives if Christians havent?

Consider these verses:2 Corinthians 6:14-17 what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore [because of this] come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing...

Anonymous said...

I often hear the word "compromise" and not being smart I wanted to look up this word and get a clearer definition. We say it a lot, but I've never really thought about the literal definition and how it relates to "Christians compromising with the world"

com·pro·mise (käm′prə mīz′)
a settlement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions
an adjustment of opposing principles, systems, etc. by modifying some aspects of each
the result of such an adjustment
something midway between two other things in quality, effect, etc.
exposure, as of one's reputation, to danger, suspicion, or disrepute
a weakening, as of one's principles

Tommy, sanctification is a tough pill to swallow. I'm afraid many of us spend our time justifying sin rather than simply not taking part in it. Reality is so much easier! (Everyone cusses... everyone is having sex... well, I don't do __________..., Nobody's perfect..., I can ignore the the bad parts... That sin doesn't bother me..., God will forgive me..., I don't want to be a goody goody..., my friends will thank I'm self righteous.., God doesn't actually expect me to be perfect... ___________ (insert every excuse in the book!)

Many Christians have compromised with the world. Thank you for taking a stand against compromise and "reality" (especially as a parent of a future teenager!)

If we say we are Christians then let's "really" be Christians. May we not "adjust", or "weaken", or "modify" our Christian principles to gain popularity with the world. I'm so glad that when I was lost, I saw this difference in someone and they introduced me to Jesus! Thank you Jesus for not compromising!

Proverbs 4:23-27
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Tonya Moss said...

Well said Tommy Mann!

bud said...

"I say that to say this: I fear that too often we reduce things down to the lowest common denominator and lump things all together as being totally good or bad, totally right or wrong, totally secular or sacred."

Wow! What a dangerous way of thinking. I will assure you of one thing. Thanks be to God that He does not follow this reasoning.
When God saved me, He took a TOTALLY depraved person with no element of good in me and credited me the life of Jesus, a TOTALLY righteous person with no element of bad in Him.
In addition, this salvation is TOTALLY secure with no chance of God changing His mind. Amen!
Jesus again reveals the character of God with these words, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." There is no gray area there. Just a choice between death and life. A line in the sand. The apostle Paul continued to teach this notion in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Hard to be transformed when exposed to sin in an intentional way.

Nick said...

What I find interesting about your review of this movie is how you actually label yourself as a "Legalist" and a "Pharisee" throughout your post.

I respect people's convictions and their willingness to take a stand on those convictions, but although you may be trying to deflect criticism or being labeled a "Legalist" and a "Pharisee" - you are doing that very thing. Your article would have been better served if you wrote it from a personal standpoint as to how you desire to apply Scripture to your life and ministry and what resources you desire to use when ministering to students. However, you do not do that in this post, you try to marginalize anyone who would use this movie as a resource, by either promoting it with their students, taking their students to see it, or even using it to illustrate messages.

In Philippians 1:12-19, Paul was in prison, reports came back to him that some were abusing the Gospel for selfish ambition. Paul declares that Jesus is being preached, so how can he complain? He rejoiced.

You admitted in your post that the Gospel is presented in the movie. Your stance is that the means does not justify the end result. I would disagree and instead of wasting time complaining about a director or a movie writer that does not live up to my standards, I would rather use my time to rejoice that lives will be changed through the movie, because the Gospel is being shared.

1 Corinthians 9: 19-23 Paul declares that he became all things to all people and that everything he did was to share the Gospel so that ONE (1) might be saved.

We are definitely called to be sanctified, however, you are using Scripture that promotes right living for us as Christ Followers, as a new law, in order to be pleasing to God. We are found righteous, blameless, and faultless only through a relationship with Christ, not through a relationship with Christ and not cussing. Is cussing good? No, but if I disagree with the language of a movie I take students or adults to, it only provides that much more opportunity to have a conversation with them about the power of the tongue, the power of words, and what Christ desires from us.

If you think the bedroom scene in this movie would cause a young man to lust, that is definitely your opinion, however, I think that is way too extreme. In fact, it is much milder than the text of Song of Solomon. I know you wouldn't propose for us to cut that out of the Bible would you?

Anyway. I doubt you and I would agree. Thanks for your review of the movie. However, I would rather remain united with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Ephesians 4:2-6) rather than marginalize them because they don't live by or minister by my standards.

To save a life, I will rejoice that the Gospel is shared.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Wow, I didn't think the post modern crowd was allowed to be confrontational! Ha Ha. Thanks for your comment, and for taking the time to read my post.

You were right about one thing, we do disagree.

First, since we don't know each other, let me start off by saying that I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and serve as the pastor of students of a 1,000 member church. Because of the small town and large church, I have had many people ask my opinion of To Save A Life. That was the purpose of the post, not to "show what rescources I would use when ministering to students." or to "marginalize" anyone. You said I was "wasting time complaining about a director or a movie writer that does not live up to my standards." However, this was not a waste of time, but as the heading of the blog suggests, it was an answer to all of the questions I received about the movie. It is humorous to me that you thought it was a waste of my time to criticize the director, so are you not wasting your time by critcizing my critique?

Secondly, I was using a little sarcasm when I used the words Pharisee and legalist. I have been called those names, which I find ironic, but I do not deflect the criticism. I simply find it funny that one would call me legalist for not wanting to hear cuss words. What is the opposite--wanting to hear cuss words because we can be forgiven later under grace? As Paul said, "God forbid."

More to come; out of room...

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Now for the important part: you must have misunderstood me. I never said the movie presented the Gospel. In fact, I said the movie admittedly DOES NOT present the Gopsel. Your verses from Paul do not apply because Jesus is not preached in the movie, and I would NEVER assert that the "ends justify the means,"
as you accused me of. If this movie preached Jesus and left the world out of the movie, I would be right there rejoicing with you.

By the way, when Paul said he became all things to all men, he was not giving himself extra freedom to cuss to reach someone who cusses. He was atually retricting his freedom, giving up his RIGHT to eat meat if it offended someone. Today we like to use this verse to say "I can drink a few with them to each them for Jesus" or "We can put a shirtless woman in a movie to make it realistic" in the name of being "all things to all people." No, we should "come out from among [the world] and be separate, an do not touch the unclean thing (2 Cor. 6:17)."

You said I was way too extreme for thinking the bedroom scene could cause a young man to lust (come on, a man can lust if a woman has her shirt ON, what do you think happens when her shirt is off?), and you compared that to Song of Solomon (which Jews were not allowed to read until their 13th birthday, when they were officially men). This is just a classic example of how Christians have compromsed with the world by saying "it is not as bad as___." They watch The Office because it is not as bad as One Tree Hill, but in reality, both are bad. I will instead be like Job, and commit to "put no evil thing before my eyes."

As a pastor, it really concerns me that pastors have no problem watching tv shows or movies that use profanity. Do you not realize that you have no witness if you are watching the same things the world watches? Whether it is a "Christian" movie with profanity or an R-rated movie with profanity, both must be viewed as being wrong. As Christians we are to be holy, blameless, set apart, different, peculiar, salt, light, and a city on a hill. These commands leave no room for debate on their interpretation.

Do I sin? Yes, but it is not on my dayplanner. I cannot say I love Jesus if I am living in sin. Jesus said "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." If I cannot watch any movie or tv show with Jesus sitting next to me, then it is sin to watch it. Ultimately the choice each of us must make it, "Do I love Jesus or do I love myself?" The choices we make show where our true love really is.

You said this:"We are found righteous, blameless, and faultless only through a relationship with Christ, not through a relationship with Christ and not cussing." How sad! We are NOT blameless if we cuss! Neither are we righteous or faultless. We must be above reproach, and if anyone can pin some sinful habit on us, what hope do we have to offer them? No lost person will desire to give their life to Christ if Christ has not changed Christians lives.

To save a life, I will live a set apart life.

Rarlee Cae said...

As teenagers, Tisha and I would like to put our 2 cents into this controversy.

First of all, we haven't seen To Save a Life, and we don't plan to. We don't need a movie to tell us how to treat the unlovable at our high school; we have the Bible for that. Actually, we've reached many "misfits" at our school not because some movie made us feel bad, but because Jesus commanded us to. I'll believe this movie is "life-changing" when the people that have watched it stop talking about what an impact it had on them and actually start doing something about it. I know a lot of "Christians" that went to see this movie, and when they start acting like Christians, I'll believe it might actually have done some good. But the thing is, a movie can't change (or "save") someone's life; only Jesus can.

Second of all, I don't recall there being this much hoopla among church youth groups over Facing the Giants and Fireproof and those were actually Christian movies. I don't understand why this movie is publicized so much when it's not even a Christian movie. Save a Life doesn't even tell you how to save a life.

And finally, what bothers us most is, why isn't the Bible good enough? Why can't we just read it, study it and obey it? Why do we need other secular means to tell us how to live our lives?

bmann24 said...
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bmann24 said...
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bmann24 said...

Tommy, I admire your conviction and understanding that Christians should be blameless, but Nick’s theology is sound and inarguable. Our justification has nothing to do with whether or not we use curse words, our holiness is not dependent on what we see on tv, and our righteousness does not hinge on how well we keep God’s commandments. Our acceptance before God is not based on anything we could or could not do. Bud got it right in his earlier post when he noted that God placed upon us the perfect righteousness o f His perfect Son, and now views us as perfectly perfect, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us.

We are in no way whatsoever capable of doing anything that would cause God to love or accept us any more than he already has. You mentioned that some people have the attitude of , “I’ll just sin and God will forgive me later”. Because of our right standing before God, because of the perfection placed upon us by our relationship with Jesus, God has already forgiven our sin and redeemed us. We already stand blameless and holy, with no more forgiveness needed. Too many Christians, though, can’t accept God’s acceptance, so they stand with one foot in the old covenant and one in the new, not resting in the finished work of Christ, but trying to keep a list of rules to maintain God’s acceptance.

You rightly pointed out, though, that this is no license to sin, as Paul said that we should not keep sinning because of the abounding grace of God. Thank God that he has given us his Holy Spirit to guide us into right living and placed us in community with fellow believers to spur each other on to righteousness and good works. A right understanding of our standing before God moves our desire to abstain from sin off of ourselves (avoiding sin to keep God from being mad at us or to make Him happy with us) and on to God (living a life that is beautiful before God because of His beautiful love for us).

And yes, I know firsthand that a man, especially a teenager, can lust at just about anything, but I believe Nick is right that the Scriptures are full of salty language. If Song of Solomon was only to be read by Jews once they became men, doesn't this imply that as grounded adults we are able to discern things for what they are? Jesus (or any mature adult Christian) wouldn't run from a reading of S.O.S, but would judge it accurately as a story of sexual expression between husband and wife- something that most children are unable to understand and apply without hurting themselves. Even John used very sexual language in Rev. 18:4 when he said to "come out of her, my people". The greek phrase used there is a very sexual image that I'm sure you can figure out on your own. John is sending a message to his readers that they will understand and benefit from, not thinking they will refuse to read the book because of the language and imagery.

to be continued.....

bmann24 said...

There is MUCH on tv, movies, and music that has no value whatsoever, and could and should be avoided by most Christians. I do, however, feel that much could be watched with Jesus on the couch right next to me. I don’t picture Jesus as running away with His hands on His ears when he hears a curse word. Jesus is mature and grounded enough to see or hear things that do not come from God’s heart and discern and judge them for what they are- the things said and done by people who do not know God or embrace Christ. He would understand that what He sees is not what should be done, nor would he be tempted to re-create what he had seen or heard.

This is not to say that Jesus would curl up on the couch in a snuggy and settle in for a Family Guy marathon. There are some things that are no longer funny when a person falls in love with God, and so they will have lost their entertainment value. There are also many things, maybe like the movie in question, that would still have tremendous value for those mature enough to discern the right from the wrong contained in it and understand why some small parts of its content would not be worth applying to their lives.

You mentioned Paul’s teaching on Christian liberty and how it gave him the ability to abstain from certain things. This is very true. Paul is teaching here that there are many areas where believers may decide for themselves what they want to partake in or abstain from. Paul is very clear that those who partake should not judge as sinners those who abstain, and vice-versa. He also makes it clear that those who abstain should not try to convince the partakers to abstain, and vice-versa.

Tommy, I respect you and Alicia's convictions about TV and movies and such...way more than you know(or maybe believe). I think it is awesome! I just hope it is done out of a deep love for God, not out of a sense of duty. The former is worship. The latter is legalism (and I DON'T think you are a legalist.)

I do believe that this issue falls under the banner of Christian liberty, and so discernment and right judgment could be taught for everyone, rather than your convictions taught for everyone.

Sorry I wrote so long. I love, admire, respect you, and am proud of you.


Tommy Mann Ministries said...

"Rarlee Cae" and "Tisha,"
Thank you for giving your two cents as teens. It is refreshing to hear anyone, espcially teenagers, strive for holiness you like you do.

You two have long reached out to the "outcasts" at your school, not because of realistic curse words, but because you have endured sound doctrine and have a love for Jesus Christ. As I often say, if you love right, you will live right. You love God first and your neighbors second, and that has led you to live right. Thank you, and may you continue to strive to see people's SPIRITUAL lives changed by giving them Jesus.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Bobby, I love and admire you too, which is why I so badly want you to understand this.

For starters, let me reiterate that Nick misinterpreted what I said and based his whole comment on his misinterpretation.

I do not believe that I can earn God’s grace. I do not believe that I can earn acceptance. I do not believe that I can earn forgiveness. I do not believe that I can earn salvation. I do not believe that I can earn the righteousness of Jesus Christ which puts me in right standing with God. My refusal to watch immorality is not based on trying to earn those things, but rather in light of those things. Because of God’s grace I will not watch immorality; because of God’s acceptance I will not watch immorality, etc.

And while I don’t believe I can earn those things, I do believe that I can negatively affect those things by watching immorality. Can I be in right standing with Jesus if I were the one with the Snuggie watching the Family Guy marathon? If you admitted that Jesus would not watch that, then can He really be OK with me watching it? Of course not! And if Jesus is not OK with me watching filth on TV and I choose to do it anyway, am I still righteous? No!

If there were no more need to worry about righteousness just because of the crucifixion, then why is the vast majority of the New Testament (not the Old Covenant) Paul writing to the church to stop sinning? He is constantly telling believers to give up some sinful practice, and I imagine if Paul were writing today he would tell Christians to stop watching shows that “aren’t that bad.”

See, righteousness is not just a one-time act that puts us in right standing with God; that is only the first half of the word’s biblical definition. At the moment of salvation, we become righteous, that is, able to be in fellowship with a Holy God. However, in a more narrow sense, the word also means to have a virtue or purity of life. So while Jesus’ victory at Calvary made us able to be in right standing with God, each day we must make the choice to be righteous, which comes through a pure life. Since pure means “free from sin,” then I cannot be righteous and watch a movie that has 8 curse words (yes, this is about a movie, but it also applies to all areas of life).

And for the ones who do not have a problem with the curse words in this “Christian” movie, or on TV in general, think about this. As a pastor, what if I used the “s” word or dropped an f-bomb in a sermon. Everyone reading this, no matter how liberal or post-modern, would admit that would be wrong of me. If it is wrong behind the pulpit, it is wrong on the TV screen (and when you replace a church service with a curse word infested movie, the movie screen becomes your pulpit).

About the Song of Solomon issue, my point was made entirely in the context of the curse word movie. If minors were not allowed to read the passages, then teens today shouldn’t be allowed to watch sexuality, in this case, a shirtless girl in a “Christian movie” (and again for those who do not have a problem with that, what if this Sunday we had a shirtless woman behind the pulpit doing a dramatic monologue of the woman caught in adultery? Again, everyone would admit that this is sinful. If you can’t do it behind a pulpit, you should not do it on a TV or movie screen).

On Super Bowl Sunday I am preaching from Ephesians 5:1-17. This is a great passage that I will close with (won’t type it—but its worth looking up and reading). The chapter opens by saying to live life like a saint, and then lists many sins to avoid. It ends in v.17 by saying that this is the will of the Lord. That is my reason for taking the stand that I do. I know it is not popular, and it brings me little support, and a lot of criticism (read above). It has even turned many in my county against me. But I do this because I do have a deep love or the One who died for me, and I understand that this is the will of the Lord.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I compare it to me growing up as a child. I wanted to please my parents because I loved them and they did so much for me. I couldn’t stand for them to be upset with me, but that’s not why I tried so hard to do right. They loved me so much and I wanted to show them love and respect back by doing what they said. You get that point.

I’m so thankful for Chrisitan liberty, I will never be good enough for God. My good deeds are as filth, etc. I can’t use Chrisitan liberty as an “occasion to the flesh” (Gal. 5)

I believe in a “radical” Jesus. He was so different that it either made people mad or made them change their lives completely. The converted wanted no part in the sin of their culture. I believe Jesus’ main mission on earth was to make people aware of their sin and convert them to holiness. How would I know I need a Savior if I didn’t know or care I was in sin? All that leads to why I work so diligently to abstain from sin. All the other stuff... witnessing, helping the poor, reaching out to the community, etc. should follow. But, I feel I would have no affect if I’m just like the world.

And since so far this has nothing to do with the topic of “the movie”, it contains unrighteousness, so it is not righteous. If I were lost and saw the movie at a church event, I might learn to be nicer at school, but would not learn about Jesus and salvation. And if my teacher used the movie to teach me about Jesus and salvation, then I would assume Jesus doesn’t care about my language and sexual promiscuity. And if I were told by my teacher that Christians don’t use that language or are supposed to abstain from sexual immorality, then I would say, why did you take me to see it then. And if your thinking... well, Alicia, that’s your take on it... I wouldn’t think that way,then I guess there’s nothing else to say to you :) I’m with Carlee. I think we’ve tried to use so many other “resources” to reach others for Christ, that we’ve forgotten the power of the Bible.

Righteousness always wins. It’s never wrong. <I thought of that all by myself. Please tell me it sounds intelligent :)

bmann24 said...

I really respect your stand. When I made the comment about the family guy marathon I was equating Jesus with us, showing that Jesus would not be doing that, so we probably shouldn't either. I was just making the point that because of our maturity and grounding, and our ability to discern right from wrong and properly understand the context of the things we see, that some things, even if they did contain material that was not God-honoring, might still be watched, even if Jesus was there too.

I do understand what you are saying, though, and I don't want to negatively influence myself or the people in my sphere of influence. When I see something on TV and understand where it comes from and that it is not good for me to do, it doesn't negatively influence me, it serves to reinforce the sense of right and wrong I already have. My heart breaks with God for a lot of the junk I see and hear, whether it be on TV, or on the real streets of downtown Orlando where I spend a lot of time.

I strive to make my life a beautiful reflection of God's love for the world, and want to give my life for His Kingdom. I love Jesus more today than I probably ever have, and it is for this reason that I want to honor Him with my life.

I know you feel the same way, and I would never think that you are trying to earn your salvation or something. I just think that a lot of times we subconsciously try to root out sin to make God happy or keep Him from getting mad instead of resting in what he Has done for us and letting the Holy Spirit and our community help us lead beautiful lives for God and those around us.

I would never criticize the personal choice you and Alicia have made, and I don't want to sound like I was. I just don't think it should be dogmatically taught, when we could teach people to discern what they see and hear and use sound judgment instead.

I will say, though, that since I have been wrestling with this issue in my mind, there have been a few times where I have seen things and thought that I am receiving no benefit from it and should spend my time doing something better. Thank you for that.

bmann24 said... does sound intelligent :)

Anonymous said...


Tommy Mann Ministries said...

For the people who have a different opinion than me on this movie, no one has still answered my original question from the blog itself:

"Where do we read in the Gospels that Jesus used curse words to appeal to those “real people” around Him? Where do we see Him stealing to reach the tax collectors, kicking people around to reach the Roman centurions, or bragging about Himself to reach the Pharisees? Obviously He did not do those things; instead we see Jesus transcending culture and urging people to change their lives and follow Him."

I still think this puts the movie in check mate, and until I see a biblical account of Jesus stooping into committing sin to reach sinners, I will rise above these sinful methods and stick to God's Word as the power to change lives.

Thank you Alicia, Rarlee Cae, and Tisha for reminding me of the power of God's timeless Word!

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Bobby, we've done it again: quite a conversation we got going!

I appreciate what you do Downtown Orlando; we both know how badly that city needs Jesus, and to be loved by the followers of Jesus.

I never want to be guilty of teaching people WHAT to think, but rather HOW to think. Instead of telling people, "Thou shalt not watch Family Guy." I teach why Family Guy is wrong; using the criteria of anything that uses bad language, dirty jokes, God's Name in vain, glorifies drunkenness, disrespect to parents, etc. is wrong, than no one will stumble on a show and have to remember if it is on my approved list or not. Just use spiritual discernment.

The difference between you and me is we take a different stance on where to draw the line. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on where the line should be drawn until you agree with me...

Sorry, couldn't help it.

Anonymous said...

I think it seems dogmatic b/c of the topic. But, in a sense, I beleive Jesus was dogmatic about sin! Either quit and follow me or continue living for yourseIf. That's one of many characteristics of Jesus and we must have a balance of all. (even the "beautifulness of Jesus" ha ha... love ya Bobby :)

Sooooo, I think the question is what is sinful? Watching a show and discerning right from wrong while still watching it and letting it negatively influencing you or totally abstaining from it.

(man I feel like I'm in an ABC dorm room)

Genoa Mathias said...

Dear Sir,
I notice in your lovely family picture that you have a football with you. Do you watch football on TV? If so, have you noticed the players (who likely aren't Christians) swear and fight and often behave badly? Also, have you noticed the cutaways to cheerleaders who are dressed very immodestly and act very sensual? I hope you also pause during commercials instead of watching them because most commercials in football are geared at men and some are quite provocative and innappropriate - potentially causing a brother to stumble. If you don't watch football on TV, perhaps you just attend high school games in person. In a recent high school stadium, I heard people around me cussing and the players were poor sports, mistreating the refs and using profanity with the opposing team.

I am not condoning participating in swearing, sex, drug use, etc. But, I am saying that sometimes being in the world and participating in some activies is going to expose you to the behavior of the un-regenerate.Sometimes this is a reminder of how empty that life is. Sometimes we choose to just look the other way because we "love football" or another hobby. But, we will shun it if its in a movie or a song because maybe that's not somethingwe really like personally.

I think it's important to evaluate the motives of the heart and not just look at superficial issues.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Thank you for the comment, and for the compliment about our family pic.

You are absolutely right about your assessment of football, and if you read my blog about Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl ad, you will see that I do not watch football commercials for the very reason you described. Whenever a shot of a cheerleader comes on I do turn my head, and since I usually watch a game with other guys, we will even say, “Look away.” That is great for accountability. And yes, many players are not Christians, but the swearing and trash talk is not picked up on the camera.

As I have said in many of these blog comments now, this particular post is in the context of a movie that is being advertised as Christian. If an unsaved football player swears through his facemask, he is behaving as an unsaved person is supposed to, and I don’t hear it from my couch or the bleachers. If Christian actors in a Christian movie written by a Christian pastor swear, then they too are behaving like the unsaved. That is the difference.

If I knew going into a football game that I was going to hear a bunch of profanity, than I would not watch it. Honestly. I have given up my favorite TV shows, Seinfeld and The Office, for that reason. But I have seen hundreds of football games on TV in my life, and I can count on one hand the number of curse words I have heard when watching them. As I think about it, I can count them on one finger.

But none of than changes my original point from the blog. I will not justify taking our teens to see a movie with cussing in it, no matter how much they hear at school. I will not take them to see a movie with a girl in her bra, no matter what they may see on a magazine cover in a grocery store. Instead of being like the world that they see everyday, I want to offer them something so much better, so much different, so much purer. Only Jesus fits that bill, and He would never use curse words to reach somebody. Ever.

Finally, I will respectfully disagree with you on the matter of the motives of the heart. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and that we cannot know it (Jeremiah 17:9). What do we do about these people that say that God told them to mutilate their children? They claim their motives come from God, but we reject that as lunacy. I see no difference in justifying something sinful and claiming that the motives came from God.

Again, I cannot help what a lost person in our culture does, but what I can help is exposing our teens to worldly things done in the name of Christ.

Anonymous said...


Tommy Mann Ministries said...


Anonymous said...

From the Passion of The Christ--

PROFANITY 1 - 1 mild obscenity (damn), one instance of "Jew" being used as an insult.

SEX/NUDITY 1 - Women lounge in King Herod's residence. A nude man walks out of a cave (we see a brief glimpse of a bare buttock). A man's robes are ripped off him in a couple of scenes, leaving him in a loin-cloth-type covering. Two men are bare-chested, wearing loin-cloth-type coverings.

I've never seen The Passion of the Christ, much like it seems you've never seen To Save a Life.

I was just wondering...because of this use of the word "damn" in the Passion of the Christ, should I not see it? What about the provocative women in King Herod's residence? They could possibly cause me to stumble into lust. Should my wife not see it either, because it also shows a males bare buttocks, and chests. This could cause her to lust.

You openly support this movie, yet it has the same content as To Save a Life. I really have never seen it, but would like to someday. It seems that it may be on the same level as To Save a Life in your opinion though.

I guess I should not see it.


Tommy Mann Ministries said...

AllforChrist, (Nice name,by the way)

I have to be honest with you and confess that I have only seen the Passion one time, and that was in the theater in 2004. I did not realize that it had the content that you listed, and I don't know where your review came from, but I will take your word for it.

I am not the same person today that I was in 2004. In those days I would watch things on TV or in the theater that used foul language, and I'm sorry to say, it didn't bother me because I was living a lukewarm, compromised life. That must be why I don't remember profanity in the Passion.

Because of this, I have removed the part of my blog where I endorsed the movie. I know my life became an open book when I posted this blog (to our teens' parents), and people will scrutinize my every word. Therefore, I will not endorse anything so readily again, without making sure that I know what is really in it.

Thank you for taking the time to point this out to me. God bless you.

savedbychrist1 said...

While I agree with your first ammendment right to speak out against this movie, I have to say I disagree with you. I believe the Movie To Save A Life is a great movie! This movie is a great tool that can be used to reach people for Jesus Christ that may have otherwise not even stepped foot in a church. The movie accuratley depicts some of the struggles that today's youth deal with. Our church's youth went to see the movie and because of the witness that the movie provided a teenager, who did not normally attend our church, got saved and will now spend eternity in heaven instead of hell. Isn't the eternal salvation of a teenager more important than a couple of "bad" words. Teenagers today are exposed to much worse than this at school everyday, which is a shame, but is true. I recommend that you see the movie before you judge it. I say that if one soul is saved from the fires of hell than the movie is worth it.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...


Thank you for reminding me of my 1st Amendment right. However, even if not protected by the Bill of Rights, I would still stand in opposition to a movie that uses 8 curse words in the name of Christ.

I will say this again: I will not see the movie, and I do not have to in order to judge it. As I have made clear, I have read an extensive interview with the movie's writer, I have heard youth pastors tell me about it, teens have told our teens about it, and I have read these blog comments. I also have had conversations with the actual movie crew from California after a local person here called them and complained about my little harmless blog (which again, was written to parents at our church, not to others youth groups). I know what this movie is, and I will not see because I know what it is.

With that said, I really hope people have gotten saved after watching it, and I would certainly rejoice if I ever met a person who did. As I said when I was interviewed on Faith Xtreme, God has chosen to work through unredeemed things to bring about good. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy, God still was able to bring good out of the situation. That certainly does not mean that it was ok or good for his brothers to do that, much as it is not ok or good to let “corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” in an attempt to bring somebody to Christ.

I have heard other people announce how this movie has opened their eyes to the outcasts around them—as they stay in their huddles and make fun of people who are not like them. One guy told me that this movie has changed his life—but that is only a partial quote since he was still using curse words himself. These are just things I have observed, which is what I fully expected from a movie written by a man who said, “I never intended to make a Christian movie.” I hope people do get saved, but I will continue to stick to preaching Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Thanks for your imput.

Anonymous said...

In honor of all those who like to anonymously comment under anonymous names.... I am going to anonymously ask why you choose to not say who you really are when taking the time to comment. If you feel so passionately about this movie and your beliefs, don't be afraid to voice your opinion and say who you really are. People certainly have a right to voice an opinion and Tommy, I think your blog is asking for it! It's okay for people to disagree... but let's be mature about it. I admire your stance Tommy, knowing it's not popular and people will "talk".

By the way... thanks to FB and living in a small town with people who are bored and unfortunately crave drama, it's pretty easy to figure out who you are anyway! Not incredibly sly. Come on, lighten up... it's just a simple blog that was honestly intended for parents of youth at Philippi Baptist Church. And yes, I mentioned the "P" word! Ha! Ha!

Jim Shorts

P.S. Before you go plug that name in Facebook under "Find Friends" and look for any mutual friends you may know only to find we live in the same county and know the same people, I hope you have figured out this name is fake. and funny.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Jim Shorts,

Very funny! I see your point, and certainly agree that if people are so passionate than they should have no problem using their [real] names. I realize that my blog is asking for feedback, which I certainly welcome, but I want to remind everyone that none of my blogs have been written as an attack on anyone. I have mentioned many times now that this blog was my default answer to all the MANY people who were asking my opinion of the movie, most of which were parents and students of the “P” word. I had other youth pastors asking about it too. Instead of getting into it with each person, I told them to read my blog.

But Mr. Shorts, I cannot help but wonder why people are so angry about it. If the roles were reversed I would not behave the way many of these others are. For example, I remember when the Passion came out (which I no longer endorse) that a lot of people protested the movie because of the violence. I saw the movie. But never did I track down the people who protested it, use a fake name, criticize them personally, report them to Mel Gibson, or have out-of-state friends deliver a message on my behalf. No, I simply recognized that as their opinion.

We are allowed to disagree. But the difference is I can still smile about it and live my life. Others seem to have such a bitterness that points to something deeper than a movie. I’m not blogging about anybody’s Mama, so the question begs to be asked, “Why are they so angry?” Is it a guilty conscience? Do they just hate me personally? I don’t know, but I have prayed for each of these people to let go of their anger.

But standing up for what you believe rarely makes you popular, but I am not here for popularity. I want to hear Jesus say “well done.” The praise of man, or the complete lack of it, means nothing to me.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Also, you wouldn't believe how many "Jim Shorts" there are on FB. I don't have any mutual friends with them, though.

Faith Xtreme said...

I would invite all of you to tune into AM 1460 & 103.5 FM WBCU in Union, SC(and surrounding areas) as well as online @ this Saturday night (03/20/10) for an interview I'm doing with Jim Britts, the actual writer. I will be asking him about the issues in the movie, as well as some fun stuff. So please tune in if you are really interested in finding out his personal view on the movie he wrote and put out.


In Christ,
Jesse R. Fleming, Host
Faith Xtreme Radio Show
210 East Main Street
Union, SC 29379

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Jesse, this is not a place for you to get free advertising! J/K

I'm looking forward to hearing the interview. Keep up the good work.

courtney_page said...

You should really take the time to actually see the movie before making such a hasty judgment. It was a far more relevant movie than say, Facing the Giants... We can't pretend things don't happen!!! They need to be dealt with and addressed. Kid's deal with far worse these days than what was even depicted in the movie. To be honest, it was a "breath of fresh air" to actually see a movie that dealt with real issues and didn't portray the christian life as a happy-go-lucky one. The christian life isn't always easy... To Save A Life didn't condone those sins you describe above, it depicted a boy coming away from those things, coming to Jesus and dealing with the consequences of those sins.I saw this movie really make a difference in the lives of the teens that saw it! I don't say any of this to be controversial. I would really encourage you to see the movie and construct your own opinion from it.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...


Thank you for your comment, and I am glad that you enjoyed the movie. I really am. I am also glad that you have seen it make a difference in people's lives.

But I still do not need to see the movie to make a judgment on it. I have said many times now, even on this blog, that I have read an interview with the writer, heard another interview with him, read many other things about it, and have had several people tell me (or yell at me) about this movie. I am fully capable of making a judgment about this movie without watching it. Also, nothing is harmed by me not watching it. This blog was for the parents and students at my church to help them make a decision about seing it.

I don't think people fully understand my position. I know the movie is not condoning sin, but it is sin. I'm NOT talking about the acting; I'm talking about the fact that real people said curse words. That is wrong, and it always will be wrong. That can never be justified, no matter how much good can come out of it.

Tommy Mann Ministries said...

Faith Xtreme,

Thank you for your interview with Jim Britts. You showed that it is possible to disagree with someone without insulting him personally or yelling your opinion. You treated him fairly and with respect.