We're getting e-mail from parents asking whether to take their children to see The Passion of The Christ.
I've seen the film twice, and I've decided my 10- and 12-year-old sons won't see it. Now, they've seen plenty of Orcs hacked to bits in the Lord of the Rings films, and are thus somewhat used to movie violence. But Jesus is no Uruk-Hai. That's our Lord getting thrashed and slashed on the big screen. It's horrifying.
One pastor told me he thought the film was okay for children as young as 12. I strongly disagree. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times calls it the most violent film he's ever seen. He says if it "had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross," the MPAA might've given it an NC-17 rating—instead of R—which means no one under 17 admitted.
But it's not just the graphic gore that concerns me when it comes to children. It's the indelible images that may never leave us. I've been a Christian for 25 years, and my faith is fairly "image independent," so to speak. But my sons' faith is still in its formative stages, and I don't want these intense images to be a part of that faith formation. Apparently, they agree: When my 12-year-old came down to breakfast the other day and saw a front-page story showing a bloody Jesus on the cross, he turned the paper over, face down. "It's too disturbing, Dad. Just thinking about Jesus on the cross is enough for me. I don't have to see it." Wise words from a 12-year-old.
Here's my advice: Before taking anyone under 17, watch it yourself first. Then make the call.1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more