It’s tough today for Christian filmmakers. They want to witness and they want to relate. Neither is easy to do for Christians in the movies.
I recently viewed two films that had different ideas of how to reach young people for Christ. Old Fashioned, which opens the same day as the secular and very provocative 50 Shades of Grey, concerns a former frat boy who has decided to refrain from any sort of intimacy until after he weds. It’s an old fashioned concept and the filmmaker is attempting to bring it back to a generation bombarded by sexuality that is anything but chaste. Then there is Pass the Light, which has just opened in selected theaters, about a 17-year-old high school senior who decides to run for Congress in order to promote the one law of the Christian faith that often is ignored – love one another.
Though both these film endeavors are noble attempts, they leave the Christian community looking either bizarre or biblically uninformed.
In Old Fashioned, Clay is a religious, hard-working carpenter/antique shop owner. He’s turned his back on being a party boy and throws his energy into work. Amber is a free-spirited woman who has just rented an upstairs apartment from Clay. He doesn’t believe in kissing or even dating before marriage. She has been abused by each of her past lovers, so she’s intrigued by this quiet guy who won’t even set foot in her apartment. But there is an attraction. And despite his dogmatic beliefs, Amber pursues him, perhaps out of curiosity.
I do know a couple who never even kissed before getting married, and their marriage is an amazing one still going strong after twenty-five years. But theirs is the only such example I know of. This puritanical ritual harkens back to a time eons ago when parents did the spouse-picking. Today, that concept comes across as somewhat fanatical and more than a bit odd, even to those of us who believe we should adhere to biblical teachings and respect those we date.
I’m not sure what the point of this film is. Are the filmmakers suggesting we all abide by this concept of no intimacy until after the wedding? And does that really guarantee a wonderful wedded life?
The problem with Old Fashioned is that the lead is unmovable to the point that he can’t even worship in church because others don’t take his same path. We all deal with the guilt of past wrongdoing, but Clay’s past deeds have overwhelmed him. He may be a nice guy, even devout in his beliefs, but he comes across as a troubled soul.
In fairness to the makers of Old Fashioned, I think their desire is to forthrightly suggest a strict Old Testament alternative to today’s sexually promiscuous lifestyle. The writer/director is definitely not trying to be socially correct. He’s gutsy. He’s trying to offer the new rebel, a screen hero that doesn’t care what others think, so long as he can enter his house (or bedroom), justified.
The makers of Pass the Light are equally determined. In the story, a 17-year-old high school senior decides to run for Congress because his established politician opponent is running on a platform that is exclusionary and anti-gay.
It’s about embracing those who feel like outsiders. That’s good. But I found the message to be unclear concerning the acceptance of a practice the Bible says is wrong. Simply said, Pass the Light seems to be avoiding the true issue. How do we show a caring heart for gays while clearly stating we believe that sexual act is sinful? Now there’s the movie that would take guts and skill.
The book we Christians direct our lives by speaks clearly about homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments. To accept the practice of homosexuality means to ignore verses in the Bible. Some would be pleased if we simply removed those verses from the Bible. If we did remove them, does anybody think the rewriting of God’s Word would end there?
I have no hostility towards these well-intentioned filmmakers. However, after viewing these two productions, I’m reminded of how important it is to know the Bible, not just a storyteller’s concept of it.
I think Pass the Light is attempting to tell movie viewers that we should leave the judging to God and follow what Jesus said were the two most important commandments – love God and love one another. Indeed, if we attempt to prioritize those two commandments, we’ll accomplish the true goal of our faith – not just to be right, but, more importantly, to point others in the direction of God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice. And if we somehow feel superior to someone else, then we probably aren’t.
As for being old fashioned in today’s culture/society, the Bible is clear about not fornicating. Some intimacies should be saved for the marriage chamber. This just makes sense, as this determination brings a couple together in true marriage, as they cling to one another, forsaking all others. It reveals a respect for your life mate-to-be and the sanctity of the wedding vows. The film does present an alternative to finding love in all the wrong places. Alas, it does so in a strange way. It’s difficult to make a romantic movie without any display of passion other than frustration. Old Fashioned doesn’t picture Christians as having something solid that differentiates them from those who ignore spiritual values, so much as just making us look nuts.