Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Should a Christian See Deadpool?

Dear Pastor Gabe

I was introduced to your blog through Tim Challies website who posted your movie review of Exodus: Gods and Kings. You should do more of those. I really like your reviews. I happened to catch that you collect comic books, or you said you used to. How familiar are you with the character Deadpool? I've heard the content is very adult, and I wanted to know if you were going to see the movie and write a review. Thank you for your dedication to defending the faith.

Alan, El Paso, TX

Allan, yes, I used to collect comic books. That was before I got married and had kids. I don't spend money on that anymore. Occasionally I'll buy a graphic novel, but rarely. Yes, I'm very familiar with the character of Deadpool. No, I'm not planning on seeing the movie, and I don't think anyone should. I'll expound upon those answers in that order.

I've been buying comic books since my parents started giving me an allowance. In Middle and High School, I traded issues with some friends of mine -- just the usual titles like Superman and Spider-Man. Through those exchanges, I latched on to Deadpool, the Merc with a mouth, mostly because it was just so side-splittingly funny. He was a recurring character until he got a regular series in 1997 written at that time by Joe Kelly. I bought every issue Kelly wrote.

Because I'm a nerd.

The comic book was violent, yes, but PG-13 violence in the realm of X-Men. What they're showing in this movie is not at all how the comic books went. They are trying to be over-the-top. It's Ryan Reynolds. It's an irreverent Marvel character. I get that they're using Deadpool to push the envelope on superhero films. Lots of bad language, lots of violence. I'm not surprised.

But varying opinions about violence aside. I know that different people have different views on what's an acceptable use of violence and what's not. My biggest concern about anyone going to see Deadpool is the sexual content. It's bad.

I do not watch a lot of movie previews and I don't read a lot of reviews. Interstellar is one of such movies I've seen having not watched a single preview or read a single review. If a movie sounds interesting and I don't think it's going to waste my time with a lot of special effects and no story (hence why I've only seen one Transformers movie) then I'll go see it.

My wife and I had planned on seeing Deadpool. She knew how much I liked the character. Thankfully we got a tip from a friend who went and saw the movie that the sex is gratuitous, and even pushes the envelope of being an NC-17 film. It's that bad. (Note: Since first airing this review on the podcast this past Friday, I've had other messages agreeing with that.)

It was at that point I started reading the parenting guides, which I rarely ever do. My kids don't see a movie until I see it first, no matter what the parenting guides say. But the parental guide on Deadpool reads like an adult film video stores keep in a separate room behind curtains. It's pretty raunchy.

Desiring God and Tim Challies have both posted articles about the movie. Desiring God specifically wrote about Deadpool. Challies wrote about Sex On the Silver Screen. He didn't mention the movie, but I get the impression he was thinking about the recent superhero flick when he wrote it. Phillip Holmes writes for Desiring God, and he presented 7 questions to ask before seeing Deadpool. I'd like to present those seven questions to you:

1) "When will I tear my eye out, if not now?" 
Jesus said everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away (Matthew 5:27-30). By not seeing this movie, you are tearing out your eye and not subjecting yourself to sin.

Look, it doesn't matter how much you think you won't lust, no matter what you're watching up on the screen. You are a participant in watching two people taking their clothes off and do something with one another that was meant only for a husband and a wife. Ray Comfort doing street evangelism will ask this question: Is it okay to stand at someone's bedroom window and watch them make love? How is seeing it in a movie any different?

2) "Am I longing to see God?" 
Here he uses Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Participating in this kind of content stains the heart.

3) "Do I care about the souls of the nudes?" 
The actors on screen are sinning. Unquestionably. And you would pay to watch them do that? How is that any different than paying a prostitute?

4) "Would I be glad if my daughter played this role?" 
This question is very similar to the same kinds of arguments Tim Challies presented in his article as well. I'd highly encourage you to read it at Challies.com (link also above).

5) "Am I assuming nudity can be faked?" 
Holmes says, "Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see."

6) "Am I assuming nudity is necessary for good art?" 
I mean, really, the sex acts portrayed in this movie are not necessary. They don't further the plot or enhance the movie in any way. The script-writers, filmmakers, actors -- they're all doing this because they can, not because they're trying to be artistic. If you believe God created sex for the confines of marriage, then you believe this: No one needs to pantomime sex in order to make a movie better.

7) "Am I free from doubt?" 
Here Holmes references Romans 14:32, "Whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." In other words, you've probably already been playing in your mind whether you should see this movie or that movie. This doesn't just apply to Deadpool. This applies to any movie. If you have to ask if you should, you shouldn't. It's a simple principle.

You have got to take my word on this, and I hope that you follow my example. I'm not setting myself up on a pedestal. You're hearing this coming from a person who grew up reading the Deadpool character. I'm interested in a Deadpool movie. But I will not be watching this film, not even when it comes out on video. I love my God, my Savior, and desire to please him more than I'd like to tickle my imagination with a silly comic book character, filling my mind with all kinds of bad things in the process that I know do not please my Savior.

This is not about making a statement. This is not about sending a message to Marvel or Fox or Hollywood: "We will not see your pornographic movie until you remove all those gratuitous sex scenes!" This movie has already made a ton of money. That won't make a difference.

This is about worship. Romans 12:1-2 reads, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Our Lord Christ laid his life down to pay for sins such as these being portrayed in the movie Deadpool, to cleanse us of exactly this kind of stain. He spilled his blood for us that we would not have to experience the wrath of God burning against all unrighteousness (Romans 2:5). If you love him, you will keep his commandments (John 14:15). Keep yourself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

I know this next verse gets tied to movies and music a lot, but that's because it is a perfect fit. It is something we truly have to keep in mind before we subject our minds to the things the world calls entertainment. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

And we are told, "the God of peace will be with you." The God of peace be with you also. Stay away from this film.

This Q&A was featured on the WWUTT podcast episode #130. You can subscribe to the podcast by clicking here!