Why We Must Redeem Hollywood
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
Note: This article is excerpted from Dr. Baehr’s book, “The Culture-Wise Family.”
The Christian Film & Television Commission®
In 1985, I established The Christian Film & Television Commission® and began publication of the magazine MOVIEGUIDE®. We began with a two pronged strategy for redeeming the media. We sought to inform and encourage movie producers to make more family and Christian entertainment, and we sought to inform families about the movies being made and encourage them to make wise choices. In 1992, we established the MOVIEGUIDE® Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry to honor those who have made the best movies and televisions shows. Also, in 2006, we established the Kairos Prize® to award scriptwriters, and we now offer filmmaking HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL) classes to those who wish to make movies that glorified God.
The impact has been obvious. When we started in 1985, less than 6% of the major movies were aimed at families. In the past 20 years, movies marketed to families have increased to more than 35% of the top movies released in your local movie theaters, though some of these movies are more family-friendly than others.
The Christian Film & Television Commission produces an Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry showing such things as the true negative impact of foul language on box office.
We don’t make movies, but we do work diligently with those who do. We work toward the day when movies that honor God fill the international box office top ten. We do speak out about highly offensive movies and programs, but our focus, and delight, is to instruct and encourage. Our passion is to leave a better world for everyone’s children and grandchildren.
We realize that media shapes culture. We work to shape media, not as much by waging war on ugliness as by creating opportunities for beauty, and for God’s Truth.
God’s Role in Media
Jesus Christ is Lord over all. He is Lord of believer and unbelievers. He is Lord of Hollywood. He and his disciples did not take on the Roman Empire with swords and battles. The only bloodshed was his own. Jesus transformed the Roman Empire with love. His disciples died for their faith and love. Christians were fed to lions and burned at the stake, but the Colosseum in Rome is a ruin, and the world is filled with churches. Christianity is the largest religion in the world, not because of earthly lordship, but because Jesus reigns in His kingdom.
As Lord of Hollywood, Jesus simply offers salvation. This is not just fire insurance to keep believers out of Hell when they die. This is the kingdom of heaven manifest on earth. Jesus is Lord of heaven on earth, including heaven in Hollywood. He “rules” with grace, love and righteousness. When you grasp the wonders of his love for you, you will naturally love Him. The result is a hunger to live in harmony with Him and to experience the fruit of heaven: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
God’s role in media is to offer something better. He doesn’t force acceptance of what is better. He tolerates being mocked and ignored (for the time being). However, He created and governs the Universe. Jump in the air and you will come back down to the ground as a result of gravity. Ignore his design for the family, and you will experience horrific personal results and terrible social chaos. America is a nation under God, not because politicians declared it in a pledge of allegiance, but because every nation and every person is under God. And, yes, Hollywood is under God.
Hollywood isn’t just the home of the world’s most prominent entertainment empires. To really redeem Hollywood will require more than just some shockingly successful Christian movies and programs. What God desires is something greater.
Men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby have been castigated and are being punished for their behavior, but have they been loved by those who would like to see then set free? Jesus Christ came to set those captive to sin set free.
When Jesus declared the creation of the church, He didn’t say go slay all those captive to sin. He commanded the church to storm the gates of Hell and set the captives free. He gave the church the authority to bind and loose things on earth and in Heaven to accomplish this.
Redeeming Hollywood isn’t about punishing those deep in an evil culture. It’s about setting captives free from demonic bondage and inviting them into the kingdom of Heaven.
There are people in Hollywood today who would like to get out of demonic bondage, but they have done things that, if revealed, would send them down the path of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. They enjoy a position of authority and don’t want to be exposed and destroyed.
Even someone who isn’t being held up for blackmail payments can he held up with fear. There may well be believers who know about some very evil behavior who won’t come forward out of fear they will never work again. They are trapped by fear, shame and accusations. You can see signs of this in today’s “cancel culture” that’s depriving people of their liberty and even their livelihood because of some past sin or mistake. The deeper you get into this culture of fear, shame and accusation, the greater the fear and shame.
Jesus Christ went to the cross for the forgiveness of sins AND REDEMPTION. He came so the old person could die and the new be reborn. He came to end the bondage. When the accusation comes, Jesus Christ stamps it FORGIVEN.
This doesn’t eliminate all consequences. If laws have been broken, legal consequences aren’t automatically removed. People can lose jobs, respect and even freedom, but redemption offers a spiritual clean start. No one gets to Heaven for being a movie mogul or producer. That comes to those who chose to receive forgiveness and a clean start.
The entertainment industry is moving from broadcast and cable with channels and schedules to digital streaming. Not only will God know everything you watch but so too will entertainment distributors. This means you can change the world all the more quickly with your entertainment choices. Avoid the bad and less bad will be made. Choose the good and more good will be made. You can help drive the redemption of the entertainment industry.
For now, however, there’s still a massive onslaught of godless entertainment. Given few positive options, it will take determination and perseverance to choose only the good. This will improve.
With the remarkable success of some wonderful movies and television programs, the demand for creative, talented, well trained Christian filmmakers and visual artists will increase.
Hollywood is likely to suffer more Harvey Weinstein like exposures, but we pray that the church will play a more loving role in the redemption of Hollywood.
What is true now, and will never change, is that Jesus Christ is Lord. We hope that more and more of those in Hollywood will choose to board the train headed toward producing more of Heaven on earth.
Today you stand in the great entertainment train terminal. There are some trains headed to pornography, violence and just disbelief. There are other trains headed toward more of the kingdom of Heaven on earth. At the ticket booth, you get to purchase tickets for yourself and your family.
If you buy tickets to the good, the true and the beautiful, you help leave a better world for your children and grandchildren. If you look at the crowds boarding the trains to vulgarity, violence and illicit sex and get curious, you may wind up on a train you regret boarding. As country singer Josh Turner crooned in his classic country gospel song about 20 years ago, that’s a “long black train.” You can run down the aisle back toward the station, you can even get off the train in the middle of a movie or show, but you bought the ticket. You voted for more Hell on earth.
Whatever choice you make, or have made, God loves you. He’s in the redemption business. He wants you on the right train. He wants more of the right trains in the station. He wants lots of the right trains offered in your local theaters and on your streaming service.
At any moment, you can reject the bad and choose the good. At any moment, you can help make a difference in Hollywood, not just with good choices, but by supporting efforts like those of the Christian Film & Television Commission® to encourage many more wonderful entertainment choices for the whole world.
My prayer is that this book will encourage you to shape your home more like heaven on earth. I pray that together we can leave a better world for our children and grandchildren.