Thursday, January 28, 2010
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 pluggedin.com, 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.