How would a faithful movie of the Bible rate?

I love movies. My wife and I have a fairly decent sized collection of movies which we very much enjoy. We also rent movies, and we’re careful to check the movie ratings label on the back to see what kind of content to expect. That is probably a peculiar practice for two adults who don’t yet have children, but it happens nonetheless. And it got me thinking…

If the Bible were faithfully made into a (very epic) movie, what would it be rated and what content descriptors would that rating carry with it?

With the first appearance of man we would have “nudity.” And this would be real nudity, not the artsy kind where tree branches, flowers, or various other things just happen to be acting as a covering. Adam & Eve would have no reason to hide themselves and a faithful movie would have to depict that. There was no shame in their nudity. But there was nudity, and it would certainly be mentioned on the back of the box.

And before long, another descriptor would need to be added, as Adam & Eve “knew” each other. A faithful movie would have to depict that–it is just as much a part of the Word of God as “let there be light” so why shy away from it? And so we would add “sexual content.” We might also add “sensuality” at this point as well; it’ll be there anyway once Song of Solomon showed up on screen.

Moving on, we have more characters introduced in this movie, a pair of brothers by the name of Cain and Abel. We all know their tale, and so we should not be surprised that “violence” would need to be added to our movie’s box.

Let’s skip ahead to the time of the flood. Here we have sons of God mating with daughters of men, resulting in giants. And the thoughts of men become increasingly and continually wicked. And a great flood covers the earth, resulting in the drowning of countless men, women, and children. I think it’d be safe to call all of these things “thematic elements” and depending on the realism of millions drowning and what a flood would look like littered with countless dead men and animals, we might also add “disturbing imagery” to the list.

We could jump forward a fair bit to the Judges, where we learn of Ehud thrusting a sword into a man so fat that the entire sword entered his body, his fat closing in around the handle. Depending on the translation of the Bible used, either the exit point for the sword would make sitting down a very difficult task or the man’s waste matter was spilled as a result of the wound. Perhaps the “violence” descriptor should be upgraded to “strong violence” or even “strong pervasive violence” in light of the many battles depicted in the Bible and the many, many millions (or even billions, in light of Revelation) that would die as a result of them.

As Judas’ bowels burst forth on a rock and blood flows like a river in Revelation, we should probably note that this movie would contain “gore” as well.

Satan would certainly have a part in this movie, as would his demons, witches, and so on. “Demonic imagery” should certainly be noted.

Sorcerers are mentioned as well, and they were the “drug dealers” of their day, druggists or poisoners who perhaps used psychedelic drugs to make people think they were communicating with lost loved ones or whatever. At the very least, let’s add “drug references” to our list of descriptors.

I’m certain the list could go on for quite a while.

Movies are often criticized by Christians for their “adult content,” but it doesn’t take laborious research to discover that much (if not more) of the same content can be found within the pages of Holy Writ. Is reading it that much different than seeing it on screen? If one is really getting into the Bible, his imagination will fill in the visual part of it anyway, would it not?

The Passion of the Christ comes to mind; on more than one fundamentalist Christian website I saw the very idea of a Christian movie containing so much violence and blood as being completely and utterly wrong. But the Bible says that Jesus was beaten and whipped even more so than the movie depicted for the Bible says He was unrecognizable after His beatings. In the movie, that wasn’t the case.

Perhaps Christians think that if they see certain things on screen, it somehow corrupts them. How could a gory movie possibly corrupt me? It isn’t real. It isn’t even a depiction of something real. But the Bible describes real incidents which were really gory and in some instances very, very, very bloody. Is imaginary gore bad but real gore okay? Or is it simply a matter of visual versus mental? I don’t know about you, but mentally imagining gore is just about the same as actually seeing it. The difference is mostly of source–the mind or the eye.

As far as I know, most of you reading this enjoy movies; I’m willing to make that assumption. So, the next time someone criticizes you for the movies you watch, ask them how they enjoy “The Bible — Rated ___ for Nudity, Strong Pervasive Violence, Gore, Adult Content, Strong Sexual Content, Drug References, Disturbing and Demonic Imagery, Thematic Elements, and whatever else you can honestly add.” The rating itself I will leave up to you to fill in. Would a movie with all of these manage the R rating? Or would it be even more restricted?

How would you rate such a movie?

8 thoughts on “How would a faithful movie of the Bible rate?”

  1. I forgot to mention this in the message itself, but I want to clarify that I am in no way condoning violence or things of that nature. Sin is still sin. But is the portrayal of sin wrong? Does not the Bible itself portray numerous examples of it?

    I’m also curious… Is viewing nudity wrong? Would it be a sin to have portrayed Adam and Eve in the garden, allowing us to watch? If the actual viewing of such nudity is wrong, what of the rather detailed depictions in Song of Solomon which leave little to the imagination? Or even what of the explicit incident involving Onan in Genesis 38? What we know of him most people would probably consider very private, but the nitty gritty details are there for all the world to read, regardless of our age.

    I have read that Jews at one point forbade children under 13 to read the Song of Solomon because of its “adult nature.” Is not the whole of Scripture profitable to the whole of humanity? How does one determine an age limit on these things? And if such a limit cannot be created on religious content, are not the secular content limitations without scriptural basis then?

  2. Nicely done. Although i do encourage my kids to read the bible, im not sure i would want them to see it in a movie until they are old enough to understand it. My oldest daughter is 8 years old and i dont mind her hearing foul language because she understands the nature of the sin and can now choose not to fall into it. My younger daughter is 4 years old and cannot make that distinction yet, so i wont let her watch movies with cursing. As far as an entire biblical movie goes, i would look forward to seeing one. I personally own a copy of The Passion and plan on letting all my children see it when they are able to understand what it represents. I found that it put the entire New Testament into a much more realistic light as opposed to the “story book” context that many people view it as.

  3. I’m also curious… Is viewing nudity wrong? Would it be a sin to have portrayed Adam and Eve in the garden, allowing us to watch?

    I think it depends on the person who is viewing it. How does that person respond to it? Does he or she think impure thoughts about it? I am a firm believer that a lot of things have to do with motives. Like drinking, are you drinking because you like the taste, and you want to enjoy a drink, or are you doing it to get drunk?

  4. I agree also. The difference between something being a sin and not being a sin depends on where the persons heart lies. For example, if somebody is gambling because they enjoy the strategy behind it and they find it entertaining then it probably isnt a sin. If they gamble because they lust after money and the things that money can buy, then it most definitely is a sin. Two different people sitting at a casino and only one of them may be sinning. This makes drawing distinct lines difficult because sometimes the only two that know if something is a sin is the person committing the sin and God himself.

    –Brett

  5. Was this posted in 2006 – are you still accepting and responding to comments? Your take on sin in movies compared to sin in the Bible is missing a HUGE element that I’d be curious to discuss with you.

  6. First, let me say I’m in agreement with your premise the Bible would earn an R rating or even more restricted (as you point out). I agree with that and appreciate how you presented the details of the Bible that they could be classified as “sensuality”, “violence”, “gore” etc.

    But the element that is missing is in your conclusion/application of watching a movie being the same as reading the Bible.

    I’ll call the missing element “purposeful context”. Sin is depicted in the Bible in the context of being wrong with the purpose that we will respond in godly sorrow (I am specifically talking about “sin” and not necessarily every occurrence of violence, sex etc.). In the Bible, sin is never presented for our vicarious enjoyment. However, in movies, sin is often in the context of a clever punch-line or various other amusing dramatic elements presented with the purpose of our vicarious enjoyment.

    I think Romans 1:32 teaches us this. In my interpretation it basically says you are guilty if you sin and you are guilty if you take pleasure in someone else sinning.

    There’s also something that even takes this a step further that I’d be curious to discuss but first it would be great to hear from you and if you think this meshes with your article or if you disagree etc. Thanks!

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