The year I spent teaching 7th-8th grade was eye-opening for me. One of the surprises was the size of the role television and movies played in the lives of students in this age group. Why is this true for so many students (including many adults)? One reason is that visual media has a unique ability to captivate our hearts and minds. And with that captivation comes the ability to influence how we think and feel.
This Christmas season, many of our students will be eagerly going to the movie theater to see the newly released Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Most will judge the movie simply in terms of its entertainment value: it’s fun, exciting, has great special effects, etc. These are all valid means for evaluating a movie, but they shouldn’t be the only means, or even the main means. Let’s guide our students beyond this and help them to evaluate everything—even the movies they watch through the lens of Scripture.
One way to do this is to encourage your students to evaluate a particular movie in light of verses such as:
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)—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.
Colossians 2:8 (ESV)—See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Additionally, other resources that provide background information about a movie can further develop our students’ perspective. At Ligonier Ministries, Peter Jones has a timely article regarding the philosophy behind the newest Star Wars movie. His article is titled, “Star Wars and the Ancient Religion.” I would highly recommend that parents, teachers, and small group leaders read the entire article. It will provide you with valuable information about the movie and some great points to discuss with your students. Here is how he begins:
The appearance of a new episode of the Star Wars film series is an important moment for Christian witness. To be sure, we can shrug our shoulders, since Star Wars is old news. Or we can enthusiastically introduce our grandchildren to what we might think is a beloved, harmless yarn. Or we can—and should—discover in the series an occasion to sharpen our presentation of the gospel message and help our children and grandchildren, and anyone else who might be interested, to understand the culture in which they live.
…Answering questions of morality and spirituality was the goal of George Lucas when he created Star Wars. In the 1970s, in the heyday of secular humanism, people were hungry for spiritual truth. Lucas realized that stories were more powerful than intellectual theories—especially for children. He intended to produce a children’s fairy tale set in outer space as a “teaching tool” for the re-creation of “the classic cosmic mysteries.” In so doing, he influenced audiences young and old and deeply affected the last few decades of Western civilization. The new films will no doubt extend that influence into the next generations.
As millions of people stream, perhaps naively, into theaters this weekend to reconnect with the powerful Star Wars adult fairy tale, most of them will be unaware of the worldview that gives this saga its structure and coherence…
Later in the article, he adds:
I believe there are good reasons for viewing this film. We can certainly respect its artistic and entertainment value. Galactic battle scenes and human drama are entertaining. But also, by seeing this movie, Christians can sharpen their understanding of both contemporary culture and their appreciation of the Christian faith, allowing them to see in antithetical clarity both the Christian message and the message of Star Wars in order to present the gospel in a fresh way for our time.
(Found at www.ligonier.org. Another helpful resource is an article by Albert Mohler, “Star Wars and Christian Truth—A Collision of Worldviews.”)
Also, in case you want to examine the topic of biblical worldview further with the youth of your church, you may want to check out our 40-week curriculum: Your Word Is Truth: A Study for Youth on Seeing All of Life Through the Truth of Scripture.
(Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)