Twenty years ago, President Clinton was accused of engaging in…uh…not your normal sex acts with a young intern, in the Oval Office. One of the defenses presented for him was “He’s the president, not a pastor.” The thought here seemed to be that he shouldn’t be held to the same standard as a pastor or other person who “does” religion for a living.
Fast forward twenty years and the sitting president makes it clear that he endorses legal liaisons (I refuse to call them marriages) between same-sex individuals. The defense? He’s the president, not the nation’s pastor. While I disagree with the sentiment, I can at least see how the supposed differences can be justified. But you folks are going to have to help me out here. I obviously don’t understand the idea of holiness and uncompromising service to our Lord and Savior by those who profess to follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
We don’t expect the unsaved to live up to our standards. But apparently we give those who ARE pastors the same pass. Again, I probably just don’t understand. After all, I teach in a church that has fewer than twenty families as members. We don’t have a choir to die for, and we rent space from the Lutheran church. And it must be that I’m just too focused to have realistic expectations.
I would expect Jerry Bruckheimer to produce, direct, and otherwise create some movies and television shows that are, at times, vulgar and, shall we call it immodest. And you’d expect Christopher Nolan to direct movies with a fairly worldly point of view. But would you expect the same behavior from a man who insists he is the highly anointed pastor of a church and is the “covering” (whatever that is) for hundreds of other churches?
Several weeks ago, I took the wife to see “Sparkle.” Though going to movies isn’t the easiest thing in the world for us, I figured it would be good for us to get out and see a movie. She wanted to see “Sparkle” so I worked it out for us. It was a mistake.
After watching the previews for coming attractions, I settled down into my stadium seating chair with a big bucket of popcorn (no butter), set to watch the movie. And it opened with that foul-mouthed performer Cee Lo Green. While he was relatively clean in the movie, I wouldn’t have picked him as the first thing the audience sees. And I certainly would have looked for a less foul-mouthed performer to put on the pay roll.
The movie has four-lettered expletives sprinkled throughout. And I’m not just talking about theological terms like “hell.” I’m talking about scatological ones.
The only thing some of the shots of the performers were missing was a little bump-and-grind music (I would direct to some sites that explain that reference, but the sites’ contents were worse than the movie I’m complaining about).
The clothing was way past suggestive. While I don’t want to be a prude, I did have to look away several times. Here’s one of the milder wardrobe choices made by the director. I felt somewhat obliged to do a little editing on this very mild example.
So, any guesses as to who produced the movie? Bruckheimer? No. Nolan? No. Or maybe the Broccoli brothers? Okay, okay! The Broccoli brothers are dead, but you get the idea.
No, “Sparkle” was produced by none other than (drum roll), T. Dexter Jakes.
What’s my point in all of this? Simple. Is T. Dexter a Christian and a church leader, or is he an entrepreneur willing to do whatever it takes to make a profit?
I’m becoming more and more certain of the latter, with respect to both theology and economy.
Make no mistake about it: I think it is outstanding for Christians to be involved in the arts, to mirror creation, and to be creative in giving glory to God. I don’t have a problem with Christians writing books (heck, I’m trying to sell one right now), with Christians painting, or with Christians’ involvement in any and all of the arts. Why leave that area of culture to the unsaved? All they will generally do with it is corrupt it through the glorification of man or the promotion of rebellion against God.
Does a movie have to have an explicitly Christian theme? Certainly not. Should a movie producer, one who professes not just to be a Christian, but a leader, produce a work that glorifies ungodly behavior? Certainly not.
Of course, I don’t limit this to “Christian Leaders.” It’s applicable to all Christians. Paul told us in 1 Cor 10:31 to do whatever we do to the glory of God. Granted, he was speaking primarily about the observation of the Law and its strictures on what a person could eat or drink. But I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to follow this out to the arts. Do you really think a Hip Hop artist is “giving glory to God” when they receive some award wearing pasties?
When God told the artisans to embroider the hems of the robes with pomegranates (Exodus 28:33, 34) do you think He wanted it to look just any kind of way? No. It’s a pretty safe bet he wanted them to look like the fruit. And while I’m sure God had a reason for a pomegranate and not a kumquat, the point is, this artistic representation of the physical world seemed not only alright with God, but it was approved.
Then there’s music. DO you really think music has to be explicitly tied to God to be acceptable to Him? I suggest not. But I would also say the music should not promote ungodliness. The list of songs that are in rebellion to God are the norm rather than the exception. Theater and cinema are the same way. I would even go so far as to say literature is the very same way. The books need not be explicitly Christian, but they should reflect a Christian world view rather than a secular world view.
T. Dexter failed in all of this in the production of “Sparkle.” But then, should we expect anything different? He also produced “Jumping the Broom.” The actors were quite skilled. And the story line was substantial, more substantial than most of his movies and most of the modern, less violent and sex soaked Blaxploitation movies. But again we come back to why he would produce a movie with some very questionable scenes (the opening scene for starters). And why would he include at least one character who seemed to go out of its way to make Christianity look like an exercise in self-righteousness.
T. Dexter not only is too dishonest to openly admit that he is a Oneness proponent, or to stop promoting Word of Faith doctrine even while he preaches it, but he is willing to create and profit from blatantly ungodly movies. And unfortunately a lot of you professing Christians line up and give him your money to he can put ungodly philosophies and images into your heads.
So, am I missing something here?