What’s on Netflix?

Netflix has quickly become America’s movie and media outlet of choice. 38 million households subscribe to satellite television. 48 million households pay for cable. 60 million American households subscribe to Netflix. Currently offering more than 5,500 titles for streaming, Netflix is a massive media source available at your fingertips.

Have you ever stopped to ask, what am I watching? I’m not talking about asking that question from the perspective of whether or not you like the show; as in what would you recommend to a friend. I’m talking about questioning what we watch from the perspective of content. Do you realize that Netflix is not simply a massive media source, but if you subscribe to Netflix, or have a television in your house for that matter, that what is on that screen is the largest library of worldview content in your home.

In this message I evaluate several of the most popular shows on Netflix for their worldview content. Pop culture is full of post-modern and secular themes. What are they? How can we be discerning, but at the same time have a helpful dialogue with our culture? These questions and more are answered in this concluding message to our culture series at Liberty, Brainwashed.

What’s on Netflix?

Watch the entire Brainwashed series on My YouTube Channel.

Check out the opening message of this series, Captured by Culture.

How to Drive Through Hollywood and Not Wind Up in Hell, A Christian Guide to Watching Movies

Christians view Hollywood as the Babylon of modern culture. We criticize it. We despise its ideals and we reject much of what it produces. But then comes the films that Christians seem to drool over; Les Misérables, pretty much every film in the Star Wars universe, The Greatest Showman (which my youngest daughter saw five times), and most recently, Black Panther. Most people outside of the church think we are hypocritical idiots anyway, but what about the confusion that our Hollywood mood swings seem to produce within the Christian community? We are borderline bipolar in our going to and shunning of the theater.

For my undergrad, I attended a Baptist university. It was quite a culture change from my public high school. I will never forget the Freshman orientation session in which we were lectured on the rules. The one I found most amusing was “no mixed bathing.” I didn’t know Baptists had issues with jumping in the tub together. But that’s not what he meant. He meant that if you went swimming, there could be no girls in the pool at the same time. Seriously?

Spending lots of summer days at the old community pool I couldn’t think of a single instance in my life in which I went swimming and there were no girls. I had no idea that swimming was a sin. Now that I’m 44 and well past the statute of demerit limitations, and considering that my Baptist University is now no more, I will offer my confession. I went swimming while I was in college. There were girls.

Amongst the other commandments of Baptist U were no physical contact, no dates, and no movies. The irony of it all is that for my first two years at Baptist U I dated a girl, also a student at the U, who worked at the movie theater. One weekend while cleaning up the theater, she found the student ID of one of our classmates. Baptist U forbid it, but the ID on the floor was like a smoking gun of sin. Baptists go to movies.

That was a long time ago, and despite it being a rule in the Baptist U handbook, the Bible issues no explicit commandment for the theater. And so when it comes to movies, one will find within the Christian community a wide range of opinion. There are some who believe it is best for our holiness that the theater is banished to Babylon. Even a screening of Bambi puts money in the pockets of infidels who also produced the Wolf of Wall Street. And, there are those for whom no movie is off limits. They see it as a bridge to the gospel in cultural conversation much like Paul before the Areopagus in Acts 17. Then there are countless others in the middle who just go to movies and think nothing of it or of them. Who’s right? Which position is more Biblical? Can a Christian drive through Hollywood and not wind up in Hell? I think so. Here’s how.

Your Right is not Your Brother’s Left

In Romans 13 and 14, Paul is trying to give direction to those in the church who are quarreling over opinions about meat. If you trace this conversation in the NT you find that it is one that was evolving as the gospel moved from predominantly Jewish cities into Gentile territories.

The issue first arises in Acts 15. The locale of this conversation is Jerusalem and so new Gentile believers were not only coming to Christ but also being saddled with the kosher regulations of the Jewish people. It’s pretty tough when you tell a new brother in Christ that he needs to be baptized – AND circumcised! It is hard to get new members when the First Steps class at FBC Jeru involves a knife! So to help the new brothers bind together, the apostles ruled that circumcision was not necessary to salvation (much to the delight of the Gentile males), but that they did need to abstain from some things for the sake of Christian morality and brotherhood. Both sexual immorality and strangled meat sacrificed to idols were a part of pagan Temple worship. Abstain from sexual immorality because it is a matter of God’s command. Abstain from strangled meat as a matter of Christian community in Jerusalem. Eat meat, but be selective.

We find this directive perpetuated to Paul as he carries the gospel further in Acts 21. But if you follow Paul, you know that his heart was always to get the gospel to Rome. While there were Jews most certainly living in Rome, the demographic of the budding church in there would be far different than Jerusalem. Thus, the conversation changes.

Ironically, the conversation became more polarized. The conversation was not over which kinds of meats to eat, but as to whether a Christian should eat meat at all. In that culture, it would not be unusual for the leftover meat of animals sacrificed in a pagan Temple to make its way into the local market. How were you to know if the meat you were buying at Piggly Wiggly had not been filleted in the Temple of Jupiter the night before? Some were of the opinion that its just meat. It doesn’t matter. Others were seeking to be more careful and so they swore off meat altogether.

The conversation Paul was having with the Romans about meat is much like the conversation we are now having about movies.

The problem for the Roman church came as some embraced the position that “my choice is your command.” No matter how you fall when it comes to Hollywood, in our current culture, we all drive through Babylon. Some take a hard right. They make no choice about watching certain movies because they simply don’t go to theaters. As stated previously, buying Bambi tickets also supports the Wolf of Wall Street. Hollywood is Hollywood. God is God. Take a right.

The problem comes when that right becomes a brother’s left. Those who do not make the same choice are unduly criticized as loving Christ less. In Romans 14 Paul makes it clear, a matter of choice may be a matter of conscience for an individual but it is not a commandment for the whole. But wherever each falls, he is to love his brother (Romans 13:8). Christ is not glorified and the church is not edified in quarreling over opinions (Romans 14:1).

So when it comes to driving through Hollywood, I think as brothers and sisters in Christ, we can have productive conversations, but we need to respect the routes we choose when it comes to movies. We need to distinguish the difference is personal opinions for the sake of conscience and Biblical commands given for the sake of holiness. Some will avoid the theater altogether, but you may find your preacher’s car in the parking lot of the Regal 8 as you pass by. He still loves Jesus and so do you. You just navigate the issue differently. You may be right, movies are not for you. But don’t think that he has left the faith with buttered popcorn in his hand. Don’t divide over opinions.

Proceed with Caution

So now that some of our brothers are driving by the rest of us with a little more understanding, allow me to address those of us who ride together to the theater. Now that we are here, there are still choices to be made. Your brother makes a valid point. The same people who made the G rated film about deer and chipmunks gleefully playing in the forest also made the film about men who lacked any moral self-control romping with gratuitous sex on Wall Street. And, there should probably be a red flag waved before several couples from the Dorcas Sunday School class meet up to see it.

While the Bible doesn’t offer us a clear Thou Shalt Not when it comes to Hollywood, it does offer very clear principles in our pursuit of holiness. Central to the conversation over “meat or not to meat” in Romans 13 and 14 is the vision Christ has for all of us:

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:11-14).”

I think the modern version of American Christianity has also moved far from the nuanced conversations Jews and Gentiles were having in Jerusalem to the extreme conversations like Paul was having with post-Pagans had in Rome. In Jerusalem it was meat, but not strangled meat. In Rome, it was herbivore or carnivore. Leaves or meat. Feast or famine. WAY over here – or WAY over there. We struggle with balance.

Baptist U was a product of a version of Christianity that sought to call people out of the culture and into a clear, unmistakable commitment to Jesus Christ. The intent of it was noble. The end result was horrible. We call it legalism. In short, legalism is Christ – plus. You need Christ – plus no movies, plus this church not that church, plus pants no shorts, plus don’t jump into a pool with a girl. Legalism says that saved people don’t swim with girls. The end result was a group of sneaky Christians who did not forsake sin but rather became proficient in hiding it. We proved Paul’s caution to the Colossians to be true. It looks good until you get caught. In the end, it is a Christ-less, useless Christianity.

These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:23)

So our new WAY over there is in casting off legalism, we have embraced indulgent liberty. Paul also warned us of the mistake of this. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 3:15, see also Romans 6).” We have forgotten that in rebelling against legalism that there is yet a call to obedience that the redeemed are to embrace.

In short – WAY over here or WAY over there – it doesn’t work. Both are equally useless in what should be our common pursuit of holiness.

It is here that Christians need to add a word to their vocabulary, discernment. This is a wonderful word used in various places in Scripture that points to a fabulous gift that God has given to His people – a redeemed brain! Use it.

Discernment means that you think. Discernment means that you have the end goal in sight – to be transformed into something that looks more like Christ and resembles less the world (Romans 12:2). Discernment says I will go to movies, but not all of them. Discernment says I don’t have to see it to know what’s in it. And just in case you’re wondering about my references to Wolf of Wall Street – didn’t see it, but I can tell you what’s in it. Why? Discernment – I have a redeemed brain!

Which turns the screw on our current conversation. How does one set a standard when it comes to watching movies? I think Trevin Wax’s posts are particularly instructive and balanced. Consult Evangelicals and the Hollywood Muck, as well as his, follow up, Christians and Movies, Are We Contextualizing or Compromising?

Trevin nails it, but here is my two-cents in short about how to establish your personal standard.

  1. Know who you are. Because of what we’ve come from and what we need to work through to pursue holiness, not every person will have the same reaction to every film. I’m very male. Films with sex – no question. Films with very attractive yet underdressed women – still no question. I can’t handle it. But I could also watch Black Hawk Down and sympathize with the tragedy of it while also having the ability to walk away without cursing every other word. When it comes to the cursing, I just don’t like it. Most of the time I just wait for those great historical films, like Black Hawk Down, to hit TNT. The inconvenience of commercials is worth the language filter.
  2. Know what Christ has called you to. Though you are forgiven there is a lot of work to be done. Though you are under the blood, remember your call is Christ-likeness, not unrestrained liberty.
  3. Use the Bible. Walk in the Spirit. Listen to others. God has given His people three pretty good filters for the soul. The Word. The Spirit. The Church. We don’t want to divide over quarrels, but I do appreciate my brother’s objections when I do talk about movies. It makes me check up. I love Him. The same Spirit in him is in me. It makes me revisit Scripture. It helps me think through things. Furthermore, I may not forever be in the same place with movies. I am being sanctified. I am growing. I am listening, not quarreling.

Don’t just drive into Hollywood full speed ahead. Observe the signs. Proceed with caution. If you want more about Christian discernment in movies, see my post The Fault in Our Discernment.

Welcome Conversations at Intersections

Jeremiah 29:11 is a fan favorite among Christian high school graduations.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Because the context of the verse is ignored, the meaning of the verse is misapplied. As it stands alone, Landon walks across the stage on graduation day, grabs his diploma and sets off into a prosperous future. Taken in context, the reader realizes that the verse was not given in a time of achievement, but one of defeat. The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar has sacked Jerusalem and has separated his captives from their homeland. Jeremiah 29:11 must be read in the context of Jeremiah 29:1. As Jeremiah continues he alerts the exiles that as for their time in Babylon – they are going to be there awhile. Build houses. Raise families. And then he tells them to do the unthinkable, seek the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:5-7). And if anyone comes in the name of the Lord to tell you differently, they are lying to you (Jeremiah 29:8-9). And all important to Jeremiah 29:11 is Jeremiah 29:10. You are about 70 years away from ever getting out of this. God has parked you in Babylon, so make the best of it!

Living the rest of your life in exile is not the best news for graduates, but important instruction even now for Christians trying to navigate a Babylonian culture. Learn to garden! We are going to be here for awhile.

Movies are culture messages. They reflect the struggles of our past and our hopes for the future. They are good versus evil. They are intrinsically moral and as such inseparable from Scripture. You may not be interested in having conversations about film, but the Bible is in constant conversation with them.

Back to Paul in the Areopagus (Acts 17). In having a conversation with the culture he makes an observation about their idols. He does not worship them, but he has driven by and paid attention. He has learned about them (Acts 17:22-23). In referencing the idol dedicated to the “unknown god” Paul seeks to fill in the blank by pointing them toward truth (Acts 17:23-27). He points out how people intrinsically try to “seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him (Acts 17:26).” And then pulling a quote from one of their poets, he points out how they are so close to him. It is expressed in the art they produce, yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring (Acts 17:28).’”

Imagine Paul speaking with the execs at Paramount in Hollywood and telling them, “I’ve seen your movies. You’re not that far from God.”

Recently I viewed Marvel’s hit film Black Panther. On my Thursday night Facebook Live show, Biblical Conversations on Culture, my guest, Pastor Angulus Wilson from Fresno, CA, pointed out that the story was about an invisible kingdom that existed in the world, but had chosen to withdraw from the world. Its king, in his evolution throughout the film, was a warrior, an intercessor, and a sacrifice. When the king leads his kingdom to engage the world, it becomes a missional power for world transformation. If you read the Bible and understand the nature of CHRIST’S KINGDOM, you realize immediately, Marvel has no intention of producing a film about Jesus – but wow – they are not far off!

Does that mean we need Hollywood to help us spread the gospel? Absolutely not, but they are handing us a marvelous opportunity for conversation. What it does mean is that you and I need to pick up some hitchhikers along the way as we drive through Babylon. They are as Paul said, “feeling their way towards him.” They need a ride! If you pay attention to movies, they are laced with the cries of searching souls and as such become incredible intersections of conversation.

Whether you go to movies or not, we all have the same call. We are called to bring people to Christ. For those who go to movies, we should be there for more than just mindless entertainment. We should be paying attention to the messages in them and then helping people fill in the blanks with Scripture.

While living in Birmingham a couple of the guys who lived on my street invited me to go see the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. One of the guys with us was not a Christian. As we watch the film, that “not far off” story begins to unfold:

  • The human race has been infected with a virus – the Bible fills in that blank with sin (Romans 5).
  • One man seems to have an immunity to the virus – the Bible fills in that blank with a Christ who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • After extensive research and many failed attempts to reverse the effects of the virus, Will Smith’s character realizes that the immunity is in his blood and that the only hope for humanity is his sacrifice! Slam dunk! (Romans 5:9)

The movie version of I Am Legend is not far off from Romans 5. Help seekers fill in the blanks with Scripture.

As a Christian, how can you not watch that movie with a friend and point him to Jesus? I used it as an opportunity to fill in the blanks with the gospel. The film became a garden spot; an intersection for a Biblical conversation with culture. A trip to the theater did not send us to Hell, in fact, it gave me a great opportunity to keep a friend from heading there.

If we are merely entertained by Hollywood we will be absorbed by it and fail to be transformed into something other than the world (Romans 12:1-2). But if we can approach Hollywood with discernment, critically, and Scripturally we seek the welfare of our city by showing them a better end to their searching. Movies give us stories and images which we can use to point people to the truth. We have to be discerning, but not divisive. We have to approach film with personal respect, but also be concerned for personal holiness. We are not simply here to support Hollywood, but to talk with it. Who else will show them a better way?

When it comes to film, what are your standards? Is there a movie you have viewed recently that has given you a great opportunity to share the gospel? Please share.

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Have you read my book #TheWalk? One question changes everything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grace, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional: 52 weeks of great stories and devotions with Scriptural insight from some of America’s greatest pastors, evangelists, and authors, to help you on your daily walk. I contributed week 50!

Discussion of Marvel’s Black Panther with Pastor Angulus Wilson

If you missed last night’s edition of Biblical Conversations on Culture, I interviewed Pastor Angulus Wilson, Dean of Chapel at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, CA about Marvel’s hit film Black Panther. Takeaways from the interview:

  1. Black Panther presents an alternative, progression vision of Africa than we usually see on screen.
  2. The film breaks the mold of the typical “Black Movie” genre that Hollywood produces. Rather than portraying a black character that glorifies violence and crime, or focuses on poverty and oppression it portrays a positive image of kings, queens, and heroes. “You see a black man in a role of positive leadership.”
  3. Angulus makes some interesting Christological parallels with T’Challa as an image of a king with an invisible kingdom.
  4. Angulus makes some interesting missiological parallels for the church and shares some great information about the mission movement that is coming FROM Africa to America.

Watch the interview here. If you’ve seen the film, what did you think about it? Please reply below.

Join my Facebook group Christian Conversations on Culture and be a part of the Thursday night conversations on Facebook Live. Join the group. Contribute to the conversation.

If you enjoy BrianBranam.com, please subscribe for the latest content!

 

 

Have you read my book #TheWalk? One question changes everything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grace, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional: 52 weeks of great stories and devotions with Scriptural insight from some of America’s greatest pastors, evangelists, and authors, to help you on your daily walk. I contributed week 50!

Black Panther Discussion Thursday Night on Biblical Conversations About Culture

Last week I introduced a new Facebook Group called Biblical Conversations on Culture. The group can be found on my public page. The launch of the group exceeded my expectations as we had a great discussion about a Biblical response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

This week’s topic will be the new Marvel film Black Panther. I have heard this is a fantastic film and it is important from a cultural standpoint as it offers important themes concerning responsibility and injustice, as well as being the first superhero film to feature a black hero and a predominantly black cast. I hope to have a special guest with me for this week’s episode, so don’t miss it!

Also, please note that this week’s broadcast will take place on Facebook Live at 6:00 p.m. EST. Login to the group, Biblical Conversations on Culture and join the discussion.

Please be looking for my upcoming post, Raising Cain, what’s missing in our talk about Parkland; which will either hit late tonight or Wednesday.

The Movie that Made Me Miss My Wife – A Post about The Post

The Post is an intriguing historical film that explores the dicey relationship between the government and the press. Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major newspaper (played by Meryl Streep), and executive editor Ben Bradlee  (played by Tom Hanks) are faced with a choice. Do they print the leaked Pentagon Papers that reveal what Washington really knows about the failing war in Vietnam and risk losing everything, or do they obey an injunction from the White House to stop the publication of the story and save the family business?  The Post is entertaining enough for those who take even a casual interest in history, yet deep enough to spawn conversations amongst those who are serious followers of politics. As intriguing as those conversations may be, for me, there was another theme that makes this movie a must-see for every husband in the room.

This past weekend Shannon and I celebrated 21 years of marriage. The great thing about our anniversary getaway was that for about a day and a half it was just the two of us. It was a short weekend interspersed with a lot of food and great conversations. We decided before heading home that we would head to the theater to see The Post. I’m glad we did. As I sat and watched the story of a remarkable woman unfold it made me realize something about the remarkable woman sitting right beside me. I miss her.

When you are as busy as we are, sometimes you don’t live, you survive. I hear, but I don’t listen. I see her, but I miss her. 

In the film, Katharine Graham is misjudged by men. They appreciate her as a wife, a mother, and a hostess, but they think of her as a woman out of place when it comes to running a major news outlet. Even though she holds the most critical seat in the company, many of the businessmen at the Washington Post talk to her as a courtesy but do not take her seriously as a professional. Yet when the critical moment comes, Katharine demonstrates that she is fully capable of making a tough decision; one that has profoundly shaped our country.  

For men, what happened at the Post also happens at home. We fail to take the most significant woman in our life seriously. That female in your marriage, she’s critical. She’s capable. She’s valuable. You see her, but you look right past her. You share the same house, but you’re missing her. 

Men, despite what is going on in Washington between politicians and the press, we can’t afford to lose at home.  

Later that evening, I sat down with Shannon further digesting the take-aways of the weekend, and I asked her, “What is it that women want from their husbands?” Here is what I learned from her. Guys, don’t miss this.

1. Know who she is.

As portrayed in the film, the most striking thing about Katharine Graham was that even though she may not be comfortable with the circumstance she was in, she was ever confident in who she was. Her climactic moment comes as she is surrounded by a group of powerful men, shouldering the weight of her decision, she tells them in no uncertain terms that The Washington Post is not her father’s company, nor is it her husband’s. It is hers. She is not the face of it by default, she is the leader.

At the same time, Katharine is a woman who was loyal to her troubled husband and she admired her father.  In an era in which women had little opportunity for corporate leadership, Katharine’s father made the decision to pass the business to her husband, Philip, rather than to her. In her personal memoir, Katharine says that she was told by her father that the reason for his decision was because “No man should be in the position of working for his wife.” (source: The Smithsonian Magazine)

Yet, in a surprising scene for a film made in a day in which we seem to scream sexism at every turn, Katharine recalls her feelings about the transition in a conversation with her daughter.  She remarks that, at the time, it seemed a natural choice and she held no resentment. In fact, she says that she enjoyed raising her children and playing hostess to the Washington parties. No matter what station of life she was in, Katharine enjoyed being Katharine.

We live in a culture in which women are being killed by comparison. She has to be an activist for the left. She has to know her place for the right. She has to be filtered for social media. She has to have the best friends, the best life, wear the best clothes and no matter what else she endeavors to do, if it doesn’t look good on Instagram, she fails.

The appreciable thing about Katharine is that she didn’t fit the liberal left nor did she fit the mold of the male-dominated right. She could read a book to her kids as she tucked them into bed and she could face the Supreme Court in a landmark decision for freedom of the press. She had the hospitality to host a garden party as well as the courage it takes to face a political firestorm and publish a groundbreaking story. It seemed throughout the film as Katharine was being pulled in conflicting directions she was always having to remind those around her, but “this is who I am.”

In the pressures of all we have to do as parents, as leaders, and as couples, we can’t forget to take the time as husbands to look beyond what our wife does and explore who she is. Ephesians 5:28 says that “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

In short, that verse means that you should know her as much as you know you. She is not your second self. She is not to be lost behind you. She is to be loved so deeply that it changes you. If you love her rightly, you know her as much as you know you.

2. Affirm her desires

Left or right. Trump or Hillary. Fox or CNN. The Post challenges every man to take a pause and ask the wives, daughters, and women in their life, “but what do you want?”

Katharine’s father handed the Post to her late husband. In 1963 Philip Graham committed suicide and so the Post fell to her. As the cover-up behind the Vietnam war begins to unfold, The Washington Post was on the verge of being offered as a publicly traded company. The timing of the leak of the Pentagon Papers could not have been worse for Katharine. To print or not to print becomes a battle between company and conscience.

Katharine is surrounded by men who are passionate about their stake in the game. On one side are the men who feel they have the scoop and thus the story must be told. In doing so, the Post could become as respectable as The Times. On the other side are men with deep pockets who see the implications of TheWashington Post going under in the public offering if the injunction from the Nixon White House stands and the press is stopped.

Katharine occupies the seat that holds the power between both worlds. She is torn between the loyalty she feels to her family’s company and the conviction of conscience to print the story.  The men surrounding her treat her as if she is a family hand-me-down, they want her only to agree with their desires, they hardly consider her to be a powerful person with desires of her own.

As a husband, I focus on what we have to do and I forget to take the time to ask what she wants. My wife is not a female hand-me-down from God; a puppet for my own ambitions. She is a person God has created with purpose, ambition, and desires of her own.

One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is Genesis 3:16. As a consequence of sin, God curses the man and the woman. To the woman, he says, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”

God was not saying that because the woman sinned that she was sentenced to be second to her husband.  He was not saying that the woman would have limited aspirations and that all of her desires could be fulfilled by a man.  The verse is not a verdict on what she must do with her life, but rather a revelation on how difficult relationships between male and female sinners will be in this life. Men and women were created incredibly complementary but now influenced by sin would find themselves in constant competition.

As husbands, we are called to follow Christ and sacrifice self for the sake of our wives. As men, competition works in business, it does not work at home.  If I rule her, I am a casualty of the curse. If I prop myself up as if I am all she desires, I am an idiot!

Guys, she was created complimentary, out of us, not over us, and especially not beneath us. If you don’t want to be yet another curator of the curse, desire her. Don’t rule over her, romance her. Hear her. Ask her. Affirm her. Serve her.

3. Recognize her abilities

As a man, we tend to watch a film like The Post and give a nod to a woman like Katharine. She did something admirable as a woman in her time. We see a film about a woman. We miss that it is ultimately a film about a leader.

Katharine Graham was a capable leader. What I appreciated about her most was that even though she was under-appreciated in the position she held, she valued the opinions of the people around her. She weighed the options. She listened to counsel. She took responsibility for the final decision. She was willing to be sacrificed for the sake of doing the right thing.

But even though I watched a woman on the screen from whom I can learn as a leader, do I pay attention to the woman in my home? Do I take her seriously as someone from whom I can learn?

I’ll be honest, there are times that I feel threatened by my wife. I feel that if she has a better answer or is capable of doing more, that I have failed. The problem with that attitude is that it stands opposed to God’s design for us as husband and wife. I think the English translations of the Bible have struggled to capture what God is saying about the creation of the woman in Genesis 2:18. For example, the ESV describes her as “a helper fit for him.”

Any interpretation of that phrase that makes the woman anything beneath the man, or insinuates that she is not as capable as him, fails to capture what God has said about her. The words more literally translated from Hebrew to English would be something more like “a helper face to face.” It means that we don’t need another “him.” He needs another face, a different perspective if he is to ever fully fulfill his purpose as the image of God.

She is not his helper so that he has the luxury of doing less. She is his helper so that he can do more. And she is fully capable of doing as much, if not more, than him. There is both facing and following in marriage. I miss it if I am amazed by a woman in a movie, but not amazed at the other face, the amazing woman I have at home.

I, like a lot of men, in seeing my wife as a competitive face, miss the mission of marriage. She is not my competitor, she is God’s compliment to me and I to her. She is equal, but thank God, not the same. She is the other face. She is the face that sees things the other way. If I read Genesis 2 correctly, it makes me more of a man to recognize her as capable, not less. I am idolatrous before God to think that the other face in our marriage is my competitor.

Cue Jerry MaGuire! “You complete me.”

4. Celebrate her accomplishments.

In the closing scenes of the film, Katharine Graham walks down the steps of the Supreme Court silent, smiling, victorious. She says nothing, but her path is lined with scores of young women admiring her for her bravery. The scene seems to be set up as an artistic nod for what Katharine did for the women who would come after her. I have no idea how historically accurate that moment is, but it well conveys the idea – it is time to celebrate Kay.

Many see the Bible as an archaic book that is demeaning to women. Yet the Book of Proverbs, a book written by the world’s wisest man, closes with the words of a wise woman.

In the book’s final chapter, the mother of a king counsels her son to find a woman who is capable and celebrate her.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; HER HUSBAND ALSO, AND HE PRAISES HER: ‘many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Prov. 31:28-31)

Did you catch the command? She is to be praised!

The Bible is not demeaning to women. Men who do not adore their wives are demeaning to women. The Bible does not oppress women. The Bible commands men to celebrate them. In the Bible, a woman is not to be held back but held up as she is admired by her husband.

Your wife may not be walking out of the Supreme Court after a landmark case, but she should be celebrated as she passes through the corridors of your home. She should be met with appreciation rather than aggravation. Her husband should find reasons to look up at her rather than talk down to her. In God’s design, the husband is not the only hero in the home. There is room for two.

Boys, we have been issued a command. She is to be praised. I will admit. I am often out of step with the command. That will change.

5. Empower her decisions.

As leader of The Washington Post, Katharine is an intruder in a world full of men. There are times she seems overwhelmed and intimidated by them, but there is another subtle dynamic to the relationship that can’t be missed. Boys will be boys, but there are times throughout the film in which you get a real sense that it isn’t just business, she has some men behind her who genuinely care about her.

I think the world is the same for each of us, both male and female. This place is smoky and it stinks sometimes; we all need some support.

The story of The Post communicates that even though Katharine’s father and husband had passed, she missed them and wished that she still had them. She did what she had to do, but it would have been easier to have had their support in the valley of decision.

Not every woman needs a husband. Not every man needs a wife. There is something admirable about being single. Paul actually argues for it in 1 Corinthians 7.

But if a woman has a husband, she ought to have in him strong support. She is not alone in parenting the children. She is not alone in managing the household. She is not alone in making decisions. He is not the only one who works! If anyone she should be able to count on to stand with her, defend her, and empower her – it ought to be him, her husband.

Another misunderstood passage about marriage is Ephesians 5:22-33. Most trip over the word for the wives in verse 22, “submit.” The passage is then misread as if it is a directive to the wife that upon marriage she must give up her autonomy, her dignity, and in a left-leaning world, her respectability.

A mistake is made in ignoring the context of the passage. What precedes is a word of instruction that begins by telling us to be imitators of God (5:1) and ends by telling us that the end result of it is that we are “submitting to one another (5:21).” Both male and female share the same call, but they flesh it out in ways unique to them. What follows to the wife and to the husband is how each of them takes responsibility in mutual submission to imitate God in marriage in such a way that it becomes a demonstration of Christ and the church. Done correctly, it becomes a demonstration of redemption to a watching world.

From her, the husband needs respect. From him, the wife needs genuine, self-sacrificing love (Eph. 5:33).

The word sacrifice here does not mean merely that a man is willing to take a bullet for his wife. The focus of the passage is not on how a man dies, but on how he lives. It does not matter if he dies for her if he does not live for her.

Sadly, many married women feel alone with their husbands. She has to make all of the decisions and shoulder the suffering that often comes with them. She has no support. It is hard to live with a man who makes no sacrifice.

Marriage should not be a woman in a smoky room with a stinky man. She should have in him a strong support. If he is truly a living sacrifice for Christ (Rom. 12:1), he will be a living sacrifice for her (Eph. 5:25).

It’s ironic that it was in watching a movie with her, that I was reminded of how much I miss her. She was in the seat right beside me, but when it comes to the critical decisions of life, I fear I make her disappear. Like the men in the movie, I push to the edges a marvelous woman that the world shouldn’t miss. I married a great, gifted, capable woman. The Post should make us think about things – politics and press – Trump and Hillary – Republicans and Democrats . . . but there ought to be some men watching the film who are also thinking about husbands and wives. Don’t miss this movie.

Husbands, don’t miss your wives.

Have you seen The Post or do you plan to see the film? If so, get ready for some strong language. For those who have seen The Post, what were your takeaways from the film?

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