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FIRST-PERSON: Christians & movies (part 4)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is the fourth in a five-part special series by movie reviewer Phil Boatwright examining the coarse content of movies.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–My past three columns in this series reflect the change Christians are willing to accept when it comes to movie content (the reason for the rating), both from Hollywood and from Christian filmmakers. For example, I’ve talked to several Christians who attended “Avatar” and not one has mentioned the eleven misuses of God’s name or Christ’s in that film. Even some Christian critics are avoiding referencing the film’s profanity.

I’m sometimes mocked for mentioning in reviews the number of times our Creator is shown irreverence in a film, with some calling me a “profanity counter.” The profane use of God’s name in movies is no longer an issue for them. That’s strange, because I find profanity the most troubling of Hollywood’s spiritual infractions, and I’m baffled that Christians don’t walk out when they hear it. The Word is clear both in the Old and New Testaments that we are not to misuse God’s name for any reason.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).

You wouldn’t believe the debate I’ve heard concerning that verse. It usually goes something like this: “Well, Phil, God’s name is Jehovah, so saying the word ‘God’ is not really misusing his name.”

That defense doesn’t hold up. The defiant slang “G– d—” is asking our Creator to curse something or someone. And you don’t think that’s a wrong use of the word “God”? It’s a flippant abuse of the Lord’s name.

“Well, Phil, that may be true, but the phrase refers to the Godhead, not to Jesus, so the use of ‘Jesus’ is not a profanity.”

Let me get this straight. Jesus was without sin. He humbled himself by coming into this world and was the Savior of mankind. He did this so we would never have to be separated from the Father. So using His name as an angry invective is not a form of profanity? Jesus is God, and make no mistake, the frequent misuse of His name is profane.

If I sound holier than thou, let me confess that I have in my life yelled in anger at God. In frustration, I’ve even mistreated my Savior’s name. I make this pronouncement to make a point. I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 and my life is dedicated to our Savior. So, why is it that even a man who seeks to please God would revert to irreverence?

Does it mean I’m not really a Christian? Of course not. Does it mean I’m too influenced by the world? Perhaps. Does it mean my old sin nature is defiant? Most likely. The Apostle Paul said of himself in Romans 7:18, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.”

When you think of it, the deprecating of God and Jesus is just a further proof of their existence. After all, no one uses the expression, “Oh for Buddha’s sake.” We have taken the name of the Holy Creator and blasphemed it like no others. That’s Satan’s calculated evil and mankind’s childish rebellion clearly evidenced.

Profanity has become an entertainment colloquialism, a staple in the screenwriter’s palette. It seems to have lost spiritual significance for most moviemakers. When’s the last time you saw a film that didn’t include some sort of irreverence toward God’s or Christ’s name? Can you name a major film star from this generation who hasn’t profaned God’s name? George Clooney has done it in nearly every film he’s been in.

It’s one thing to wrong our Lord and sincerely ask for His forgiveness. It’s something else to deliberately utter the profanity on screen where it will last until movies are no more.

Reading my rant in agreement isn’t enough, though. If you agree that irreverent behavior toward God is a symptom of illness in mankind’s soul, then we need to make a clear statement, one that rings loud throughout media boardrooms.

Tune in tomorrow, folks. You and I will begin our offensive.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective and is the author of “Movies: The Good, The Bad, and the Really, Really Bad.” Read his film reviews at previewonline.org. To read other columns in the “Christians & movies” special series click here.

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  • Phil Boatwright