Editor's note: This is the fourth of a four-part series about what it means to make "good, Christian movies." In this part, the author and a friend, filmmaker Jeffrey Travis, discuss what it means to responsibly portray violence, profanity and nudity in film—even noting that all three things likely occurred at the Cross. As you'll discover from reading this fascinating conversation, there are no easy answers to the question.
As filmmaker Jeffrey Travis and I approach this subject of violence, profanity and nudity in film, we are keenly aware of our limitations. In no way do we presume to have figured it all out. Others have written more eloquently, more insightfully on what, arguably, comprise three of the most tricky decisions for a Christian filmmaker (see Jeffrey Overstreet). We come with humble hearts and a genuine desire for wisdom. As a pastor (me) and a filmmaker (Travis), we cannot escape these issues. As responsible Christians we are determined to seek out good answers.
A summary of our thoughts, though, might go something like this: There are five basic things that, when confused, create the mess of muddled thinking and angry words regarding this topic: 1) What is art, 2) What is the purpose of art, 3) The use of Scripture, 4) Context is everything, and 5) "Each man according to his own conscience." If any of these five is mishandled, the mess ensues. The following dialogue is offered then not as anything conclusive but as a continuation of a larger dialogue within the community of Believer artists. Our assumptive question is: How do we represent violence, profanity and nudity redemptively? We assume it's possible; it's just a matter of how.
Jeffrey: Didn't you get in trouble for sponsoring a discussion of Magnolia ...1