What Really Hurts Children

What is the real danger to children? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about the hysteria that comes whenever any new piece of technology comes out. It’s always argued that this will lead to the children being corrupted. The reality comes and goes and there’s no major change. Most of us look at what happened with comic books in the past as silly today. Odds are years from now today’s fear will seem silly.

But yet, no one can deny that children are being hurt. Yes. We do have problems with children committing violence and we do have problems with sexual promiscuity in children. Children often do drugs and children struggle with suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide.

It’s really easy to blame this on the surrounding culture. It’s comic books! It’s TV! It’s movies! It’s music! It’s smartphones! It’s video games! It’s the internet! I am not denying that some of these can play a part, but there is something far more influential that comes beforehand that if this gets wrong, the others are far more likely to be hazardous to children. If this gets right, they are far less likely to be hazardous.

What children most need right is a stable family.

By this also, I mean that children living with a mother and a father both, and preferably their own biological parents. I realize that sometimes this can’t happen. I have a wonderful friend who’s a widower raising children on her own which is wonderful. A cause like being widowed suddenly due to a tragedy often cannot be helped.

Technically on my end, my sister is my step-sister as we have the same mother, but my mother left an abusive marriage and remarried my father and I come from that one, but my Dad has never treated my sister like any less of his own flesh and blood. I never got preferential treatment growing up that way. You could ask my sister and she would say the same thing.

Today, divorce is often prevalent because if the parents aren’t happy, well surely the children aren’t. Often, with a bad divorce, it doesn’t change the happiness of the children. Sometimes what they want most is their parents to work matters out and it can set the path for them to do the same.

If anyone thinks that’s what happened on my end, no. You can ask most anyone and I fought tooth and nail for my marriage and this was even when wise people told me I should seek divorce. I always said no. If it ended, it would be on her end, but I also told her when she was telling me she was going to divorce that I didn’t want her to do that, but if she sent me papers I would sign them. I wasn’t going to hold her hostage or anything.

Children can wrestle with abandonment over divorce and issues of trust. One reason I am sure of this personally besides my own reading on the topic is I am 42 and divorced and I still wrestle with this as a result of my divorce. It’s far harder when you’re a child who doesn’t have a fully developed cognitive faculty to know how to handle this or a whole worldview behind it. I remember the story of a man in his senior years who at the age of five had his Dad kill himself and he still wondered why his Dad didn’t want him.

Don’t think that just having the right parents is all that matters either. No. Invest in your children. If your children are engaging in media you think is harmful, talk to them about it. Find out why they like it. What are they really gaining out of it?

Don’t think also that if you’re in ministry, you can bypass this. You can’t. Some people can be so committed to ministry that they fail to be committed to their own families. I hate saying it, but Billy Graham was even like this. There’s an account of how he left his wife behind sick once because he had to preach somewhere. If children think your ministry matters more to you than they do, they are more prone to resent your ministry and the God that ministry is about.

Children need to be invested in. We can often think that if we take them to church every Sunday, which we should, then we’re okay, but it needs to be more. Christianity needs to be lived in the home. It needs to be shown. Christians need to do actions that will speak love to their children.

If this is actively going on, you have far less to be concerned about with the media around them. I have been in the world of video games since I was in kindergarten, and yet I have never had a violent streak or anything like that. I was a virgin until I married and will be one, God willing, until I marry again. I never use profanity and I have never had a drug problem. I have struggled with anxiety and depression, but overall, my upbringing has been very helpful for me.

Also, if you are someone alone raising a child, get them involved with someone who can be a role model of their own sex. If you are a man raising daughters, find a woman who is a role model for them and vice-versa for a woman raising sons. Let them know how they are to be.

Your children are yours and they are to be a great investment. You will be the greatest influence on their life. Use it well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Avoiding Hysteria Over Children

What is really putting our children in danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was doing through Alexander Kriss’s book, he referred to another book I am going through now called Grand Theft Childhood and the authors are arguing, and I agree, that there is no link between violent video games and violence. I finished a chapter yesterday taking a look through history. There is a trend and the first three people mentioned are people cited in the book, but the rest are not.

First, there was the introduction of books like dime novels and others and of course, this led to a fear over some of the material therein. Anthony Comstock was the main one behind this fear and Comstock laws are named for him. After all, look at the sex and violence. Something odd about this was the Horatio Alger books were written to teach better morals, despite Alger being a Unitarian minister who sexually abused boys. At the end of the day, Comstock insisted that this would lead to rampant poor behavior among the young.

Then it came time for the film industry and even silent films and Henry James Foreman was the main voice here. He wrote Our Movie Made Children which had the exact same fear. Children would see movies about gangsters and people like this and then go out and do what they saw.

After this came comic books and once again, here was someone raising the alarm. This time, it was Fredric Wethram with his book Seduction of the Innocent. (I am planning on getting any book by these people for further research purposes.) Comic books were seen as what would lead to degeneracy and figures like Batman and Robin were obviously in a homosexual relationship. One wonders what Wethram would think about comics today. (And interestingly, apparently, when comics try to make an established superhero gay, it doesn’t sell well at all. The first issue could do well, but no one follows the story as it goes on to other issues.)

A few years later, you had Dungeons and Dragons and The Devil’s Web from Pat Pulling who saw herself as an expert on the occult after the tragic suicide of her son. Fortunately, there was someone like Michael Stackpole who wrote The Pulling Report, which you can read here. Again, the danger is always towards the children.

Then you have writers like Phil Phillips come later who wrote Turmoil in the Toy Box and Saturday Morning Mind Control. You have writers like Phil Arms, who I have reviewed, and you have so much fear and obsession over the Harry Potter books. No matter what, when something new comes out, it’s dangerous and will destroy our children. Not a shock that gaming also has had several people do the same for it.

And then years later people look back and think, “Well, that was awfully silly”, and in reality, we are doing more a disservice to our children. Treat something as forbidden fruit and they are more prone to want to explore it and eventually, they will. They will either do it secretly in the house of their parents or they will do it on their own when they get out.

In all of this, what is missing? Are we spending time teaching a biblical worldview such that if our children encounter anything that is harmful to them, they will know to avoid it? No. Are we teaching them about a biblical view of sexuality so they can resist temptation? No. Are we teaching them about war and peace and when it is proper to use violence and when it isn’t? No.

We are living in reaction mode. This can’t be done constantly. What needs to be done first is to teach our children how to think and fend for themselves such that when new situations arise, they will know what to do. If we think that a book or a game or a movie or a TV show can destroy the faith of our children, instead of going after that thing, maybe we should be looking at building up the children instead.

This is not to say that everything in the media is well and good. I have no problem with parents evaluating what comes into their house and what their children are watching and doing and playing. I have a problem with them listening to alarmist works only and not studying themselves.

We also miss out the bigger problems. There can be contributing factors, but really the reason people sin, including you and I, is ultimately that we want to. Think of the old joke about saying “Lead me not into temptation. I’ll find it myself.” That is how we are often. We don’t need anything to influence us that way.

And speaking of gaming, if this were the case, we would expect matters to be a whole lot worse today than ever. In my Greek class this morning, my professor said he’s played video games all his life and really likes the ones about killing the enemy, but getting into a fight is repugnant to him. I prefer RPGs and I do believe in self-defense strongly, but I am definitely not a violent person. For people who do this kind of violence, usually they have issues long before they ever play a game, and many mass shooters never did games anyway.

Hysteria also leaves us looking ridiculous to the world and them less likely to hear us. It also increases our gullibility factor, much the same way as every end of the world scenario that pops up where this time, the rapture is definitely going to take place. Our focus is to be on Jesus and His message and not just reacting to what the world does. We are to be proactive instead.

No doubt, sometime in the near future, there will be another hysteria going around. I recommend you don’t get into it. Just teach your children well. Share your opinion, but listen to others around you who are Christians who disagree and find out why. Hysteria though is just living in fear, something we are to avoid.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Failure of Bros

Is this due to “homophobia”? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve seen on YouTube today a lot of talk about the failure of a movie called Bros. If you haven’t heard of this movie, it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but the lovers in this are a pair of men. This was the first of its kind and its fail was tremendous.

Billy Eichner, who is behind the movie, has sadly taken the lower path in handling this. Instead of looking at himself and looking at his movie and seeing why it is no one went to see it, he is instead blaming the audience. Why did it fail? It is because YOU must be a homophobe.

However, if that is the case, then even assuming everyone who saw the movie in America is gay, a lot of them even didn’t see it, so does that mean someone in the homosexual community is a homophobe? Eichner has also been on Twitter sending out regular tweets about this. Little tip here. If you want your audience to listen to you, it’s probably not a good idea to call them homophobes and anything else at the same time.

Well here are a lot of reasons most people didn’t go see this movie.

First, romcoms are normally meant for women. For the most part, men do not go to see romcoms unless their girlfriends or wives insist on it. Men would rather see an action flick of some kind. They want to see some fights, car chases, shootings, and something getting blown up. If they do go see a romcom, they want to at least see a beautiful woman in that movie.

A gay romcom has neither. No straight guy I know of wants to see two dudes getting it on together. Add in there are supposedly multiple orgies in this and we’re even less interested.

While men will go see action flicks wanting to be the man in the films, women go see romcoms because for the most part, they want to be romanced. They like the love story and it’s their kind of fairy tale. They are not interested in seeing two dudes either.

If you’re wanting men to go see your film, don’t make it a romcom.

Second, people don’t want to see something if they think they’re being preached to. Most people do not go to church for entertainment value and there’s a reason we’ve called a long message we don’t want to hear a sermon. There’s a reason we refer to a negative onslaught of what we ought to do as preaching. When people see a system they don’t want regularly put in their face, they lose interest. It’s the whole “Go woke, go broke.”

Consider how it is in superhero comics. Most people I know wouldn’t really care too much if someone wanted to make a gay superhero. What they don’t want is to take a traditional superhero who has never shown any inkling of being gay and then turning them gay to appeal to diversity. People go to comics for entertainment. They don’t go for politics.

Third, yes, a lot of people don’t agree with homosexuality, including myself, but it doesn’t do anything to call us all homophobes any more than calling non-Christians Christophobes is going to get them to repent or seriously examine Christianity. Instead of having any debate on the topic, instead, it is easier to just shout an insult at someone. It doesn’t help your side any.

That means when we go see a movie, we don’t want to see an orgy with a bunch of guys in it. That might appeal to the homosexual community, but not to heterosexual community. We also don’t care for a movie that tells us that we had a good run. You don’t tell us our time is done and then respond negatively when we choose to not show interest in you.

Ultimately, if people don’t like your work, no matter how passionate you are about it, you need to look to yourself. You will never have something that pleases everyone, but I have to do the same thing here. If people aren’t interacting with my content or taking it seriously, I have to look at myself mostly. Now there’s no harm in looking at my audience and asking what they want. I wrote about divorce for quite awhile, for instance, because I saw views were up on my blog when I did that. Give the people what they want.

If someone isn’t interested in my content, I can ask what I can do to make it interesting to them. I could look at my writing style or website presentation or anything else. The first place to start if someone doesn’t like my work is always with me. It is not with the audience.

So Billy, take a look at yourself. How passionate you are about the work doesn’t matter a bit. I can be super-passionate about selling overcoats, but it won’t work if I’m talking to people in the Middle East most likely. I can be super passionate about pork products, but it won’t work with Muslims or Orthodox Jews. Passion doesn’t equal success. Having a good product or service and then knowing your audience well and what they want does.

We just don’t want Bros. Time to accept that and move on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Makes A Movie Bad?

Are our ideas way too simple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I bought a book on Kindle by Roger Ebert called Your Movie Sucks. In it, he goes through a number of movies he thinks are really bad. I’m on the D section right now, as in alphabetical and not gradewise, and some of these movies I have seen and I disagree with. Some I haven’t seen, but I have heard enough to agree. (Battlefield Earth anyone?)

It’s really got me thinking about what makes a movie good or bad. Sometimes, we can be tempted to just look at the questionable content we could find in a movie. Consider that if you look at Ebert’s list of the best movies where he picks one for each year, one year has an R-rated film.

This film has listed as severe on IMDB, sex and nudity, as plenty of times you will see full frontal nudity. It stays on screen for a long time. There is no hiding. This movie is full of women who are naked.

The same applies for violence and gore. The movie is loaded with it. Again, this is not hidden. It is drawn out and you see it all.

And yes, the same applies to frightening and intense scenes. This movie is full of them. If you want to be comforted, you don’t see this movie.

And many Christians are saying “I would never watch something that had all of that.”

Actually, you would. Odds are you have seen it. Not only have you seen it, you think it’s an awesome movie and everyone should watch it.

This movie is Schindler’s List.

Schindler’s List contains all of this, but yet we know it’s a great movie because we understand the purpose of all of this. Why have nude women? Because that’s what happened in the holocaust when millions of Jews died. Why have violence and gore? Because the holocaust wasn’t pretty. The same applies to frightening and intense scenes. This movie should not leave you comforted or feeling good.

I have definitely seen this movie and I definitely think you should as well.

So if you go and look at just things like sex and nudity, violence and gore, frightening and intense scenes, and just go from that, you will miss out on this movie. There’s so much more to a movie than this. For one thing, let’s consider the lesson of a movie that it is trying to teach.

Christian apologist Greg Koukl has talked about Pleasantville before. This one is PG-13 so many might think it’s okay. However, he points out the lesson is that the society is improved when we break free of repression represented by 1950’s suburbia. There’s no right way to live and we need to live free lives, including full sexual expression.

There’s also worldview for Christians to consider. I have many friends who are big into science fiction and really like Star Wars and Star Trek. They are devout Christians who can discern fantasy from reality, and I am sure they would also say they do not embrace the worldview of these movies. Star Wars is greatly influenced by Eastern thought and Roddenberry of Star Trek was heavily into humanism.

For Christians, this means we need to be better at engaging the media. We need to evaluate movies not by how many times we have to use a bleep button or how many times we see a flash of skin. I am not saying these factors don’t matter and certainly if you struggle with lust or can’t take the sight of blood, there are some movies you shouldn’t see, but we need to see movies and all media as teaching tools as they all are.

When you create some piece of media, you are often trying to teach something as well. You are trying to share a piece of how you see the world. Do this right and you can have a great impact for generations. Lewis and Tolkien have had their books done into movies today even though the authors died decades ago.

Can you think of any Christian writers who are doing the same today?

Note when you watch the media presented by others, they don’t come right out and blast what their worldview is because the audience is too stupid to figure it out. You know who does that? Christians do that. When we make movies, they are usually awful. The only people who really go see Christian movies are for the most part, Christians. One great exception to this is actually The Case for Christ. Even on Rotten Tomatoes the film as of this writing has an audience score of 79% and the Tomatometer is at 61%.

It’s not enough for us to make movies that we like. We have to make movies that other people would like. How many of you would really like to take your non-Christian friends to see some Christian movies that you see? If all we’re doing is preaching to the choir, we’re not reaching anyone.

That means we have to make good material.

Considering television, recently I finished going through The Good Place on Netflix. I found this to be a highly intriguing show and no, I’m not going to tell you much about it aside from the show revolves entirely around moral philosophy. Yes. That can be in a show and it can be a good show. You can present a show that touches deep topics.

No. I’m not going to claim to know entirely what makes a movie bad or what makes a movie good, but reading Ebert’s book, I am thinking we need to make better movies. In the past, you had classics like Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments. We don’t have those today.

I also would like to see this move on to Christian music that secular people would like. Also, good Christian video games. Five Nights At Freddy’s, I understand, is made by a Christian. The Castlevania games got their name because of what a Christian said as the original name was something akin to Dracula Satanic Castle.

Also, these movies and games and anything else don’t have to be delusional and present the world as pretty and nice. We can show real evil in them because there is real evil in the world. We can show real loss because there is real loss in the world. (How many of us 25 years later can still deeply remember the death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII?) We should be the ones showing real heroes, however. It has been said that whenever you have a hero and a villain, somewhere you have the gospel.

So I don’t close this post with any clear answers. I just know that if I see a Christian movie in this book, I’m not going to be surprised. What I would love to see is a secularist make a list of top movies to see and have Christian movies regularly be up there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

On Celebrity Deaths

What do we do when a celebrity dies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A little over a week ago, the world received a shock. I remember I was at work that day and I had just randomly started thinking about Betty White’s 100th birthday coming up. In the break room in the past few days before that, I had seen on what I think was Entertainment Tonight that plans were underway for her birthday party. Everyone was ready. It was coming. Let’s celebrate!

Except we didn’t. Before the new year on December 31st, Betty White died.

Then on Sunday night, I received a message from friends about the death of Bob Saget. If your family was like mine at one time, watching America’s Funniest Home Videos was a staple in the household. Bob Saget hosted that and although he was not a bit funny, we did enjoy the videos. I know he was on Full House, but I never watched that so I can’t comment.

When these people die, we mourn and it’s not because we’re normally close to them, but more I think for the nostalgia. For Betty White’s performances, I mainly watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show and I remember her from her husband being the host of Password. I never watched The Golden Girls. I have already said where I remember Bob Saget from.

I suppose you could say it’s like the past dying in some ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie Patch Adams, but I have not seen it once since Williams’s suicide. I suppose it’s like my own parents talking back about their past experiences and mentioning someone and saying “They’re dead now.”

Yet there are some matters that need to be said.

First off, most of these celebrities probably had plans, which is not bad, but they never got to pull them off. Saget was on a comedy tour. He had no idea his time was limited to that very night. It’s something to consider that one breath is all that separates you from eternity.

After I get done here, I will take a shower and after some time, I will go to work. I have no guarantee I will come home tonight. I don’t even have a guarantee I will get to work okay. I act like I will and I don’t think we should live in terror that we will die at any moment, but I do need to remember more often that every moment is a gift.

So let’s look at what happens next. What will happen to many of these celebrities? Will they enter into eternity with joy or will they enter it with shame? Will they love the presence of God or will they hate it? Right now, their choice is made and they are done. What would it profit them if they gained the adulation of the world and lost their souls? I’m not saying that happened for sure for either White or Saget. I can’t speak on that. I am saying it could have.

Hollywood is one of the most influential systems in the world today, and we Christians have to admit it’s full of depravity. So what are we doing about it? Do we write them off because they’re celebrities? We often treat them as gods and goddesses and our magazine racks are filled with stories about events in their lives to which I often want to say, “Who cares?” Why should anyone live vicariously through a celebrity? What difference does it make who so-and-so is dating? Don’t you have enough issues in your own life to work out?

However, these people have struggles like everyone else. They have questions and problems like everyone else. They also need Jesus like everyone else. Are we trying to influence Hollywood at all or are we just avoiding it? There is no reason Jesus Christ cannot redeem Hollywood. There is no reason He cannot use you to do it, except for one. You are unwilling to be used. That includes me as well.

When we get to Hollywood also and start making our movies, can we please also make good movies? Right now, for the most part, Christians make movies only other Christians want to see. What good would an evangelism method be that only reached other Christians and never those who don’t know Christ? One rare recent movie I understand was an exception to this was Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ.

Christian movies for the most part are universally bad and Christians go see them because they’re Christian and that’s what you do. Sadly, that’s often the reason we could give for going to church as well. What if we made them so well and they were so popular that non-Christian celebrities wanted to be in them?

There will be other celebrity deaths in 2022. Are we trying to reach these people that seem out of reach with the gospel? Do we consider that they are a breath away from eternity? Do we consider that we are?

God loves them as He loves us. Let’s show Jesus to them as we should.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Review of Paul: The Apostle

What are my thoughts on this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Warning! Possible spoilers ahead!

So last night, my in-laws took Allie and I with them to see this movie. As far as Biblical movies go, I actually thought this one was very well done. I cannot really comment on the acting and such because I really just don’t normally notice that kind of thing. I pay more attention to the story.

The story is set in Rome with Paul being held as a prisoner and Luke coming to see him and staying with the Christians in the area. They are often hiding because Rome wants to kill them, especially since this is set at the time of the fire of Rome which Nero was more than happy to blame on the Christians. Christians were regularly lit on fire to provide light for Nero’s games and for any other events he had going on.

Luke meets up with Paul and encourages him to tell his story in an account, which will be the book of Acts. My question at this point is why is it that if this was meant to be Paul’s story that Luke would include so much information at the start that is not about Paul? This is a question that scholars will be debating on why Luke wrote what he wrote. Still, that is a bit nit-picky, but it’s just something I wonder.

Paul will regularly then recount events that happened prior to his coming to Rome and being a prisoner. You can see events like the stoning of Stephen and the road to Damascus. Sadly, there wasn’t much beyond that. It would be fascinating to see Paul at Mars Hill or in Ephesus casting out demons opposite the failed exorcists there or in the Philippian jail cell or in the raging ocean of Acts 27. Perhaps a fuller movie will come out sometime.

Luke also deals with the Christians in Rome who often have different attitudes with what to do. Some Christians want to take up arms and fight against Rome themselves. Some want to flee the city thinking there’s more good to be done outside. Some want to stay in the city thinking that they can still stay inside.

At this point, I find another problem I have as each person decides to do what they think God is revealing to them to do. This is common terminology in modern Christian circles today, but I don’t think it’s the way the ancients thought. It’s more of our individualism seeping through.  I always get bothered when I see something like this in a Biblical film.

The other major character is a Roman soldier who has a sick daughter and the struggles he and his wife have as the gods seem to be silent and each blames the other. This is the same soldier who also has to regularly deal with Paul. It is quite interesting how it all turns out. I leave it to you to go and see it for yourself.

Many times, Paul and Luke and others do quote Scriptural passages in the film. If you have a good Biblical knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize a number of them. Paul is seen as someone who is willing to suffer for Christ greatly. A great theme in the movie is that suffering is temporary. Eternal joy awaits instead.

Biblical movies have normally been a miss for me, but I think after Risen and now with this one, we’re getting more of a step in the right direction. I’m also thankful that a lot of the sappiness of Christian films was left out of this one. There is much suffering in the film and it should be clear to all that the Christian walk never promises freedom from it.

So yeah, I recommend going to see this one. It is an enjoyable film.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

For Christians Seeing Movies

What should we consider when we see a film? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have some dinner and a movie gift cards, so today we’re going to go see the new Star Wars movie and then go out for a dinner. Some of you might be surprised to learn I’m not really much of a Star Wars fan. I know the basic story, but that’s about it. We went to see Episode VII because my wife wanted to and that’s the same reason we’re seeing VIII.

So I wanted to give some advice about seeing movies. I’m not going to talk about the usual things you might expect such as sex and violence and profanity and the like. That has been said over and over. What I am saying will apply to not just movies, but to books and most any other form of media as well.

When I was a student at a Seminary, we had a professor who really loved movies and wanted to start discussions based on movies. One night at the seminary all students who wanted were invited to watch The Truman Show. I had never seen it and it was a free movie so I decided to go along.

When the movie ended, the professor came out to ask us what we thought and also to talk about the messages that we saw in the movie. Naturally, this is a room full of Christians and I have no doubt many of them wanted to impress the professor and their peers with how insightful they were. I was off sitting more by my self, but I saw student after student speak up and talk about how X was a symbol of Christ.

It’s understandable. In some ways, I think Christ figures are unavoidable in movies. Christ is the ultimate hero after all and the ultimate example of self-sacrifice. What we have to ask is if that was really what was in mind.

This gets down to how to approach any work of media in the world. When someone goes to see the new Star Wars movie, they could see images that remind them of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that that was in the mind of the producer necessarily and even if it was, it doesn’t mean that the producer of the film is trying to give a Christian message.

When you see a work in the media, try to interpret it based on what you think the author is really trying to convey first. Be honest with the work. If the author is not a Christian, he’s quite likely not trying to convey a Christian message. We would not want someone to watch The Chronicles of Narnia and try to find a Buddhist message in it. We know Lewis is talking about Jesus in it.

Also, keep in mind you can enjoy the movie. Just because a movie or a book is by a non-Christian doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, and even still you can find some glimpses of the truest story of all in there, even if they are not really intended by the author. If the Gospel is what our hearts really long for, it will come out eventually.

If you’re going to see the new film today, have fun and enjoy it, but don’t try to turn a non-Christian film into a Christian masterpiece. Treat the work fairly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Nintendo, Sega, and the Gospel

What do the console wars of the 80’s and 90’s have to tell us about Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend recently gave me a Kindle gift of the book Console Wars and I have started reading it. It’s all about the war between Nintendo and Sega in the 80’s and 90’s. Now I had always been a Nintendo guy. What made me get into Playstation also was just one thing. Final Fantasy. Reading through this book, I think back to my own growing up time and all the events going on behind the scenes that I had no idea of and the connections Nintendo and Sega had with other events that I was unaware of.

I also am thinking about the Gospel. Sega did take on a giant in Nintendo. Ultimately, we know that they eventually lost to the point that now they make games for Nintendo. Still, there is something we can learn here. If we’re in apologetics, how do we take on the giant of unbelief today? If your objection is that Sega lost the war still, then I remind you that there is no silver bullet in evangelism. Perhaps we can learn from where they succeeded and from where they failed both.

The usual reply I get to something like this is that using some sort of marketing technique will mean watering down the Gospel. Not at all. We do not need to change one thing about the Gospel. We need to say sin is sin and Jesus is Lord and everything else still. What we can do is change our presentation to better reach the people.

Part of this is finding out what drives the desires of the people. For instance, we can consider that we think a series that has a great actor or actress in it could sell well, but this doesn’t follow. The Crazy Ones had Robin Williams in it and yet it only lasted one season. The Big Bang Theory did not have an all-star cast at the start and yet it is just now finishing its tenth season. What did the latter have that the former didn’t?

We’re seeing a lot of superhero movies coming out nowadays. Why? What is it about superheroes that drives us so much? This also includes retro heroes. I went to see the Power Rangers movie as soon as it came out as an example. That is a series that has been going on for over twenty years despite the basic theme never changing. What is it about all of these that is the draw?

Music. This is one area I do lack a lot in. My taste in music is pretty much restricted to Weird Al Yankovic (the greatest musical genius of all time) and video game music. If I had to choose a decade, I would go back to the 50’s and 60’s. I consider too much of modern Christian music to just be light and fluffy. Still, why do people like the songs that they like?

As we come to understand people and what they like, we can come to learn how to approach them. If you go to an honor-shame culture and you give the Gospel in a Western way, you will not reach a lot of people with it. Describing God as a judge to them means He’s someone who can be bought off easily with a bribe. Talk about sin and they’re confused. Talk about broken relationship and dishonoring God and they will understand. In the same way, we have to work with our culture.

We often go on to the truth question immediately, but that might not be where they’re at. If it was truth that was the driving force, everyone would be going to the library regularly trying to study and learn. Perhaps we need to find out what drives the culture and how we can use that.

C.S. Lewis did this with the Chronicles of Narnia. Few little children would really go to a library and get a book about Jesus and study it, but in learning about Aslan, they found they learned about Jesus. Lewis managed to sneak past the watchful dragons of his day. If we present just an argument and have no reason for people to really care about the argument, then the fact is they will not care about the argument.

If you think I’m changing the Gospel, again, I am not. Christians have adapted themselves to the internet, social media, and any other new forum that has come along. My own ministry partner makes apologetics-themed cartoons on YouTube. The material he presents does come from scholarly sources. Again, few people will go out and read those scholarly sources, but having it in an entertaining format brings it to the people. The entertainment factor also makes a point of it. Several years ago Boss Tweed’s biggest problem was a cartoonist named Thomas Nast. Why? Because he knew people would not read articles against him, but they will read cartoons.

As we go into these other areas, we need to make sure we’re producing high quality material. If we make Christian movies and only Christians see them, we really haven’t done much. The Case For Christ movie recently has been a great exception to this. Even Richard Carrier said that it’s a good movie. There was no scene in it that you had the Gospel rammed down your throat. Too often in Christian films, we have thought we had to spell everything out because otherwise, the audience is just too stupid to catch on. It’s worth pointing out that Lee Strobel’s original book The Case for Christ caught on so well because he made it not just a book of facts, but a story with real discussions going on. We could argue that the Da Vinci Code did the same thing. Sure, the information was bogus, but the concept was the same. People started thinking about the claims of the book more and if we wanted academic discussions, that was a gateway to those discussions.

At this point, I’m still pondering how all of this will work out. The main point I have is to find the people where they’re at and start with what matters to them, why it does, and see how the Gospel meets that need. For instance, we can talk about the truth question all we want, but it’s not likely to faze a guy who is not becoming a Christian because he wants to keep having sex with his girlfriend. If you think that scenario doesn’t exist out there, you’re incredibly naive. What we can point out is that the Gospel has an extremely high view of sex (I find it amazing that so many non-Christians treat it as if just a biological function and physical activity alone and we’re the ones saying it’s so much more) and that if we go the path of Christianity and its rules on sex and marry with those, we can have a far better sex life than we would without. We are not opposed to his desire for sex as there’s nothing wrong with that, but we think that the Gospel has a much better way to appreciate it. Note that in all of this, I did not say that sex outside of marriage is okay. It isn’t. It’s just going to be convincing someone that they can hold off on something now so that they can appreciate it in a greater way later on if they marry.

Like I said, I’m still pondering. I’m only about a fourth of the way through the book and I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn. I’m taking Kindle notes regularly to try to see what steps were done that I think correct and what steps were incorrect. How did Nintendo successfully share their product? How did Sega not?

I appreciate any suggestions anyone else has on this. Consider this blog some thinking out loud as you will. This is not the final word on a conversation, but I hope it will not be the only one either. I prefer it to be the first of many here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts on War Room

What did I think of this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re wondering about last week, I was away in Atlanta visiting my in-laws. I had a hard time connecting to the site with my wife’s laptop so I thought “Forget it. I can go a week without. I’ll just focus on my family.” That’s what I did. Right now, it looks like things are back to normal as we’re back home in Knoxville again and the first subject I want to talk about is a movie that we went to see with Allie’s parents and that’s War Room.

It’s no secret that Christian movies lately have been really cheesy. Most filmmakers of Christian movies have this idea that your audience is really stupid and think that if we are going to make this a Christian movie, we must somehow shove the Gospel right in your face because that’s the only way that you’re going to get it. War Room is certainly a step up and what I thought to be an excellent Christian movie. Does that mean I agree with everything? No. It only means that the parts that I favored stood out above the parts that I did not.

The movie involves the story of a real estate agent helping an elderly widow move out of her house. The widow shows the real estate agent all the rooms of her house and then points out eventually what her favorite room is and calls it her War Room. It’s a room where there are prayers and Bible verses written on the wall. In fact, it’s hardly a room as it really is a closet. The widow then begins talking to the real estate agent, Elizabeth, about her marriage and what she needs to do to win back her husband Tony when they are in a terrible place in their marriage. Elizabeth is also reminded that she can’t be the one to directly change Tony. She needs to work on herself. In this way, the movie also gives some great marriage advice.

Elizabeth is encouraged to develop a prayer time, though we can all relate when the first time she tries her daughter and her daughter’s best friend interrupt her lounging on the floor drinking sprite and eating chips. Most of us don’t start out too well. Still, she keeps going and she gets better and better and her daughter soon follows suit. Probably the only scene that I didn’t really think was fitting was Elizabeth after praying hard and realizing a problem in her marriage starts yelling at the devil and telling him he’s not going to have her marriage or her husband.

I find this problematic because I really don’t see anything in the Bible telling us to get into a shouting match with the devil and also too often we treat him like he’s omnipresent and can hear everything we say. Yet even if demons aren’t directly involved, I think in every marital destruction we experience the work of demons in the long-term, not as if they directly caused it, but it has been the work of the devil from the beginning to destroy the things of God, including marriage, and that destruction to today continues. Even if no evil entity ever tries to act on your marriage, you can still feel the effects of that from other marriages. (Our divorce culture has given us the idea that giving up or abandoning one another is okay for any reason and just fine for a Christian. That affects Christians who have no desire to divorce either.)

Elizabeth instead keeps changing around her husband and yes, this change gets her husband’s attention. She does not give back sarcastic answers when tragedies strike and she seeks to respect her husband. Men respond to this. After all, we crave respect and we go where the respect is. I found myself smiling at her actions in that I knew that she was reclaiming her marriage. What happens then? Well I’m not going to tell you the plot of the movie that far!

And I can also say this had an effect on my life. I’ve seen my wife going through some hard times and I’ve been doing everything in the world for her except seriously seriously praying for her. If you’re like me and wanting to do better, I have some suggestions. First, try to find a quiet place where you can be alone. Second, if you want to be good with time, don’t start off with a goal like an hour of prayer. You’re setting yourself up for failure that way. Set a short time like ten minutes and work up and if you have a device with a timer on it, feel free to use it so you’re not constantly wondering about the time. On my Kindle Fire, I have an app called Mobile Knee. I can write down prayer requests that I have and times those prayers have been answered as well as journal entries and Bible verses that help me.

In the end, I can say I encourage you to see this movie. It is an entertaining and touching film and I can say it made me take prayer more seriously and I “pray” I keep that up. If that was the goal of the producers, it has worked with at least one and I hope Christian movies keep improving like this one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Fifty Shades of Freedom

What do I think of Daniel Eaton’s self-published Ebook? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I write this review, you’re going to get some insight at the modern situation, because it is two days after Valentine’s Day and Fifty Shades of Grey has come out. This is a movie that has been described as “Mommy Porn.” In fact, Dakota Johnson who plays the lead female character Anastasia Steele has said she does not want her parents to see it. It’s not just her. Jamie Dornan who plays the lead male role of Christian Grey has been interviewed as well:

How do the actors feel about their movie? Not much better. Johnson says she doesn’t want her family to see it. Dornan says he was often uncomfortable playing his part. “I had to do stuff to [Dakota Johnson] that I would never choose to do to a woman,” he says, adding: “I’m a dad.” Dornan tells one interviewer that he went to a “sex dungeon” in preparation for his role, and that when he came home afterwards he was careful to shower before touching his wife and infant child.

Now in case anyone is wondering, no, I have not seen the movie. I have no intention to see it. I have also not read the books. I have no intention to read the books. Normally, I would recommend something like that, but with the dangers of pornography, I am making an exception. In fact, my wife has told me that she has heard that the female in the film has full frontal nudity. No. I am not doing a search to see if that report is true or not because I am concerned that search would come with images and I do not want that.

But while Fifty Shades of Grey goes to one extreme, the movie Old-Fashioned goes to the other. This is supposed to be a Christian response and frankly, as soon as I saw the trailer, I did not want to see the movie. I uphold love and that romance is created by God. I uphold that sex is something good and wonderful that God created. I am an upholder of chivalry. I still open the car doors for my Allie. I pull out her chair at restaurants and I do not sit down until she has sat down. Believe it or not, because people date and actually have physical contact (Not having sex, but having contact), they can still respect one another. If anyone is wondering what all we did, if you consider the twelve steps of intimacy, we did not do 9-12 until after we were married.

It wasn’t because of lack of desire, but because I knew as did Allie that once you reach a certain point, it would be hard to put the brakes on, yet her parents trusted me entirely with her. They did not have a moment of concern. When it came to the time that I asked them for her hand in marriage, (honestly, for respect, I get a little emotional just thinking about it) they said yes. They knew exactly who was marrying her daughter. If you had told them I was not treating their daughter with respect, they would have said that was ridiculous, this despite that yes, Allie and I did kiss on our first date.

When I see a movie like Old Fashioned I see instead a more gnostic approach to Christianity. It’s as if we’re all these creatures of hormones and we’re bound to listen to our wicked bodies and we need to avoid contact like kissing. I understand people wanting to have the first kiss at the altar, but I don’t think it’s wise. To go straight from kiss to total nudity with one another and sexual intercourse? Too much, too fast.

But the people behind Old Fashioned had this as a response to Fifty Shades of Grey and a challenge. How did that work? Not well. According to this reviewOld Fashioned brought in $258,000 since its opening day. I can quite assure you that was largely Christians, aside from perhaps some film critics who were probably forced to go see it and might have been sitting there wishing they could see Fifty Shades of Grey instead.

A movie, by the way, which brought in $30 million on opening day alone.

Yep. David when he took on Goliath took him on knowing how to fight and knowing what weapons to use and knowing what promises had been made to Israel through God. We today instead go out and enter the battle and count on God being behind our plans instead of looking to see if we’re really equipped. Had David not had experience fighting wild animals as a shepherd, he would not have gone out to fight the giant.

And this is also a problem. Note what the movie is said to be. It’s a response.

A response.

Do you know what that means?

It means that we are seeing what the world is talking about and saying “Whoa. We gotta get in on this.” As long as we are just in response mode, we will never grow. If anyone wants to change their life, they have to stop being reactive. They have to learn to be proactive. They have to learn how to act before an event happens and know what they will do if something happens. Oh sure, you have to know how to properly respond, but you also need to know that you have to act in advance. If you exercise only when you overeat, you will never lose weight. If you make love only when your spouse wants you to, you will never be taking the initiative he wants you to. If you wait until you’re in debt before you seek money, you will have a hard time getting out of debt.

As long as we are just reactive, it is the world that is taking the lead and the Christian church will not make an impact. Did we make an impact with Old Fashioned? Not a bit. In fact, we might have done more harm because people could say “This is the Christian ideal? What prudes.”

That’s why I’m thankful for books like Daniel Eaton’sFifty Shades of Freedom is meant to tell you what your pastor never told you about sex. In fact, the release of Fifty Shades of Grey should be a huge wake-up call for us. This might sound like a shock, but people are actually interested in sex. Yes. Believe it or not, Christians are even interested in sex. That’s right. Christians actually want sex. Can you believe it?

In fact, Friday night my wife and I were at a church event where Heaven Is For Real was being played. Now i won’t deny it. I did not care for the book. Why do I bring this up? Because there are scenes such as the one with the mother wanting to go on a trip to Denver for a reason I do not remember, but her husband, the pastor, says nothing she says could convince him to go. In response she says “Really? Because I was thinking” and at this point, she leans over and starts whispering in his ear.

“Kids! Pack your bags! We’re going to Denver!”

And that is a Christian movie with a pastor saying that. I love that. You know why? Because it’s real. Men really do think that way. This includes Christian men in ministry, including men like myself. As Eaton says

“Evolutionists would say this was some kind of necessary primal urge or something, but it seems like singles want to have sex. Real profound, I know”

While the statement is applied to singles, it fits on all levels. For Christians, when they get married, believe it or not, sex is often in the picture of things they want to do first. Those who do what we did and get a dinner first in fact do so because we want to be ready when the sex comes. At our wedding reception, after about twenty minutes or so, I was ready for us to go. Were my friends and family there and people who I hadn’t seen in a long time? Yep. Sure were. And frankly, no offense to them, but they weren’t on my mind. I just wanted to get my bride to our room and enjoy what I’d waited years for.

And that is a godly desire. Christians should not be ashamed about sex at all. It’s God’s idea. Just think about the male and female bodies. Look at how they go together. God designed it. He made the system. He made it also that it was to be enjoyed by both men and women. As Eaton says about how Christians handle the topic,

“Something tells me that if an accurate interpretation and translation of Song Of Solomon were to be published under another name, the average church would protest its inclusion in the local library. It would be called porn, or at the very least, seen as “dirty” erotica”

It’s almost as if we want to make sex a hands-off subject. (Pun intended)

As Eaton goes on to say about marriage retreats that he has been on

“It was all “romance” and “communication” and “parenting” and personality types and so forth. Nothing wrong with that. It is needed as well. But not even in the frank single-gender break-out sessions did they ever get anywhere near as open as what is talked about in other, less-Christian venues. Every guy in the room would, I’m sure, have loved a frank discussion on the topic. But it is guidance that Christian couples seem forced to get somewhere else”

Eaton is right in saying sex is a beautiful thing. Why turn into something taboo? We all want to talk about sex. A lot of us actually have questions about sex. We seem to be told that it is actually wrong to desire your spouse. Could it actually be that you might want to have sex with your spouse for a reason other than you want to procreate? Men need to talk about sex. It’s a way they can be held accountable and avoid pornography. Women need to talk about sex because as mind blowing as it can be, women desire sex also. If they didn’t, they would not be interested in Fifty Shades of Grey. As Eaton says

“Here in the Bible Belt though, most Christian ladies that I know would die of shame if one of their friends from church found out that they had purchased a revealing piece of lingerie from somewhere. And the activity on the church grapevine “prayer chain” would be enough to light up Vegas for a night if someone actually saw the head deacon’s wife in Victoria’s Secret! I believe that if the church was a bit more open to discussing the subject, you wouldn’t find so many Christian men addicted to porn and so many unhappy Christian marriages. It’s great to say that married couples should satisfy each other, but typically you end up with different interpretations of what all that can/ should entail and it becomes a source of stress instead of pleasure”

Eaton’s book is not a list at rules. It’s a look at many controversial topics and how to handle them. One such topic is lust. Eaton says he struggled with this one. Not in the sense of lusting, but in the sense of being told what was lust. Is it wrong to look at a woman and think she’s beautiful? No. It’s what you do with the thought. When you start thinking about how much you want to have sex with her, then it is wrong.

In fact, Eaton tells about his wife who went to a Christian college. One of the dorm matrons taught the females that all nudity was just dirty. This is even after you’re married. You should always be covered in some way. If you are going to be unclothed because you just had to be, then by golly you’d better make sure that the lights are off. God forbid that your husband actually sees you naked.

Now please tell me, if a wife wants to follow that rule, how on Earth can she help a married man follow the commandment that God gives in Proverbs 5 to a husband?

18 Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

19     a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

May her breasts satisfy you at all times;

may you be intoxicated always by her love.

Yes, believe it or not, men are to desire their wives physically. I know that’s a real shock, but yes. If a husband wants to see his wife naked, it is no sin. In fact, if a husband does not want to see his wife naked, he’s got a real problem. As was said in A Celebration of Sex, a young bride was told by her mother “Your husband is going to want to see you naked.” If women are getting messages like the one that Eaton’s wife reports, then there is a problem. Sex is not wrong. It is not in itself a sin. It is a gift from God. It can be used wrongfully. It can be sin in some situations, but in the context of a husband and wife acting in love towards each other, it is not a sin. Far from sin, it is a commandment. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7

2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The main part I disagreed with Eaton on is that he thinks the church is doing an adequate job telling us that sex is a good thing. It is not. It is not doing that because it is hardly talking about sex at all. In fact, too many times when I have heard sex talked about from the pulpit, it has been in negative terms, especially to our young people. It’s okay to tell young people about the joy of sex.

From my perspective, I remember we used to have a speaker come to the schools and sometimes churches and he would say he was saving up money because when he got married, he was going to be having sex with his wife for two weeks. This is a guy who loved sex. He wanted sex. He was in fact still a virgin and encouraging other kids to wait until marriage like he was and then, go at it! I understand that he is married now so I hope those two weeks were excellent) I remember a message like that positively. I don’t remember the negative messages that way.

Fifty Shades of Grey should be a wake-up call as to how poorly the church is handling these issues and thankfully, there are books like Eaton’s out there.. This is also a short one. It’s 23 pages long on the Kindle and it can be read in half an hour to an hour, but that will be a half hour to an hour that is well spent. It is my sincere hope that the church could follow principles like these and learn the importance of talking about sex. Fifty Shades of Grey is one extreme. Old Fashioned is the other. As in many cases, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think Eaton is closer to it than many.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

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