Star Wars & Christians - Part 3
This series is adapted from episode 11 of the Reason Together Podcast found HERE.
I. What is the content?
A. Are there dangers to moral purity?
B. Are there dangers to behavioral and social expectations about violence?
C. Are there dangers to one's Biblical theology?
II. What is the frequency in which you watch it?
A. Are there dangers to your time, productivity, and growth?
B. Are there dangers of being identified with its culture?
C. Are there dangers to your financial stewardship?
1. What about boycotting Hollywood?
2. What if you have disposable income?
III. What is your reason for watching it?
A. Can entertainment have a Godly reason?
B. Can escaping reality be a healthy form of entertainment?
C. Can nostalgia be dangerous?
IV. What should Christians do about Star Wars?
A. Is isolation from it the answer?
1. Can you have education in isolation?
2. Can you hurt your testimony by isolation?
B. Is having no restraint the answer?
1. What do you think you can handle?
2. What do you think about future generations and moderation?
Proverbs 14:15a The simple believeth every word…
As we’ve said before, there are two ways Christians commonly approach Star Wars- watch it all without reservations, or avoid it like an Ouija Board. The latter response never becomes more apparent regarding Star Wars than when it enters the realm of one's Theology.
I’ve met some Christians who feel that if you so much as get near a stuffed Yoda toy on the shelf at Walmart, you’ll suddenly feel some strange desire to move things with your mind and form a new religion around it. I exaggerate, of course, but you get the idea. Star Wars clearly has some undertones and in some spots even overtones of false religion- specifically eastern mysticism. In particular, the characters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as various times explain “The Force” as an “energy that exists between all living things”, and the “source from which a Jedi gets his power”. It allows a “Jedi” (one who has learned to “let go” and “reach out with [his] feelings) to move things with his mind, see the future, influence someone's thoughts, and have heightened senses. He is able to get better at this by learning “the ways of the force”. The force is represented in the films as an impersonal force, not a personal god, and it basically is in everything. The writer, George Lucas, even admits to being influenced by such eastern mystical philosophy.
So, what happens if you watch a movie with embedded false religion? Well, what constitutes a false religion? It can be argued, not unreasonably, that any movie that portrays life without God, and specifically a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ the Lord as “normal life” is embedded with false religion. That is Practical Atheism, and it is a religion too. Just because a movie does not embed the mainstream, organized, false religions in the story does not make it neutral. People are often afraid of Star Wars because the religion it resembles is a well-known one forgetting the even more subtle influence of Practical Atheism. Practical Atheism is simply living with no acknowledgment of God in your life. That could even be the case in the life of one who claims to believe in God! I would argue that a Christian has more of a danger of trying to live the Christian life like a practical atheist than becoming a Buddhist by watching Star Wars, and the former is far more pervasive in movies than the latter.
So does Star Wars have an agenda to convert you? That gets into the realm of the writers motive. That’s nearly impossible know. Some Christians who’ve written about Star Wars try to paint a picture of the writer that makes him look like some kind of deviant trying to start a cult. Motive can’t fully be known, to be fair. Admittedly, some material is clearly propaganda with the intent of retraining the way one thinks. Movies like that do exist. In my personal opinion, Star Wars is not one of them. The application of the philosophy to the characters in the movies is so absurd as to make the concept unequivocally Science Fiction. What makes the movies so entertaining to millions is the fantastically absurd notion of Jedi and the force, not their appeal to a set of beliefs. I’m not certain there’s any evidence that anyone has watched Star Wars and decided to then try to move objects with their mind or make lightning bolts shoot from their fingertips (both of which happen in the films).
So, to the Christian who fears the Star Wars might influence their Theology I say, let’s be realistic. I’d be more concerned about an “innocent” movie that makes life apart from Christ seem fun, normal, and carefree.
So, let’s just watch them without discretion then, right? Not so fast. As we’ve established, there IS a philosophy represented in Star Wars. And, it’s represented heroically in the protagonists. Someone would have to be very naïve, simple, and perhaps immature to be influenced by these concepts in Star Wars in any meaningful way. I wonder if maybe such a people exist. Ah, children! Childhood can be pretty much defined by the words “naïve”, “simple”, and “immature”. So, you see while I believe a Christian has the liberty to watch Star Wars (with the exception of the portion mentioned in Part 1 on the “Purity of the content”) it should be done with discernment if at all. No one says you have to see it or that your kids have to see it, but if you do choose to, do it with understanding. There’s nothing wrong with hitting the pause button to have a teaching moment about why the force is ridiculous, and that the Holy Spirit is not a force but a person of the Godhead. And how it’s better that we have a personal God Who we can know and Who orders our steps than some fictional, impersonal ether that seems to constantly get overpowered by the bad guys fictional, impersonal ether and no one knows who’ll win in the end. It really sounds silly when put that way. So, if you choose to let your children watch Star Wars, don’t miss the opportunities to call out the absurdity of false religions and show the rational nature of our God, THE God, the One who’s given us a greater power than any movie can portray- the “power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).
We’ll continue with Part 4 next time on “How often is too often when it comes to entertainment?”
Pastor Thomas Balzamo is the pastor of Colonial Baptist Church of Norwich, CT and one of the hosts of the Reason Together Podcast. This series is adapted from episode 11 of the podcast found HERE.