There has been a bit of commentary on Lifeway Christian bookstores bowing to Southern Baptist pressure to stop selling the movie “The Blind Side” because it contains some profanity and racial slurs. The comments I have seen have been entirely critical, ranging from “This is what’s wrong with Christian bookstores” to “When will Christians stop acting like curmudgeons?” I am sympathetic to this argument (and I am embarrassed by much of what I see in Christian bookstores), but I think the critics might be blind to the other side.
1. These Southern Baptists are not calling for a boycott of the movie (it may be bad but it’s not Disney bad). They simply don’t want it sold in their denominational bookstores. This strikes me as a reasonable request, and doesn’t prove, as Eric Metaxas suggested, that “there is no pleasing Christians. They always seem to be looking for something to be mad about.” These Southern Baptists aren’t attempting to engage the culture at large, but are simply saying how they want to live amongst themselves. What does it matter to us if they choose to live a bit more narrowly than some of us might?
2. Thank God for Christians who take seriously the call to holiness. We may not agree where they draw the line, but we need to hear their voice, even—and especially—when we disagree. In a year when the Hermeneutics blog at Christianity Today ran a piece praising the virtues of a pregnant Jessica Simpson posing nude on the cover of Elle, we desperately need to hear from those who still care about purity.
Here’s the money quote from the story on Simpson: “I choose to see this cover—this beautiful picture of a naked and pregnant woman—as an Edenic reprieve from the shame that women are saddled with….I choose to see this cover as an opportunity to freely stare and smile at this woman, at her fearfully and wonderfully made body as it holds yet another fearfully and wonderfully made life, being knit together by God, and declare Simpson, her unborn daughter and all of us—no matter what the state of our bodies—good.” And all the junior high boys said “Amen!”
Recently I was reading an inspiring book by a theologian I admire, when he mentioned, for no apparent reason, that he “saw the new James Bond movie over the weekend.” That startled me, and made me wonder what his theological heroes might think. Here’s a list of Christian leaders in chronological order, and you tell me which one you could imagine watching and recommending a James Bond movie:
Jesus, Peter, Paul, Tertullian, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, Barth.
If you said “Karl Barth,” you would be right. Is it a coincidence that the only one who would watch a James Bond movie is someone from our own age (Barth died in 1968)? Does this mean we are more enlightened, more in tune with our freedom in Christ, or might it suggest that we have lost something that used to matter to Christians?
To the point, I enjoyed “The Blind Side” and don’t remember being offended by its profanity or racial slurs. But I still wonder, is it possible that these Southern Baptists seem extreme, at least in part, because we have fallen off the other edge?