Author Dave Wager, who appears frequently with us at Stand Up For The Truth, takes on the blockbuster hit (based on a popular book for teens and adults), The Hunger Games. Reprinted via Wisconsin Christian News:
The Hunger Games By Dave Wager
To say that I am saddened by the events that are taking place in our nation would be an understatement. I do not think that I have been more discouraged in my entire lifetime. Yet, it is not the national deficit, political situation, or the idea of global warming that bothers me.
It is not that those who are Christless act Christless, for that is all natural. My discouragement comes from the fact that Christians are living Christless lives.
The discouragement I am experiencing is not despair or anger; it is a genuine feeling of losing hope for the next generation and beyond.
I think it hit me most recently with the release of the movie The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games movie (and book, I imagine) portrays a “Godless world that throws its children and teenagers into a large but confined area to kill each other as the society watches for entertainment. The Hunger Games has a strong humanistic worldview with violence that no child should see and it is unacceptable viewing that media-wise parents would not allow to influence their children.” (movieguide.org)
Christians seem to be flocking to this movie just like everyone else. There are Facebook cheers, thumbs up, and discussions about how “good” it was.
My discouragement comes from realizing that we are no longer on the slippery slope; we are already down the canyon walls.
Some who I have talked to went to this movie because others were going, because it is popular, and because it is something the culture is going to and experiencing. The mature ones were sad they went, but they still went.
How have we gotten so far away from a standard in life where we honor God and the lives He has given us?
Many years ago we used to have churches who understood that they were about God and His bride, the Church. Church was about teaching the Word of God, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. Sin was not tolerated, yet pastors and elders were patient, knowing that growth takes time. Churches used to meet on Sunday mornings for church and Sunday School, and again in the evening for more Bible study and worship. There used to be a mid-week service dedicated to prayer and deep teaching, and several outreach programs during the week to demonstrate the love of Christ to the community.
There were standards in life that were established by God in His Scriptures and upheld by the pastors and elders. These might have included things like refraining from using alcohol, dancing, movies, rock and roll music, as well as the expectation of being faithful in marriage for life, caring for the widows and orphans, and taking the gospel message to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Slowly through time, some of the young people who grew up in the church began to spread their wings and fly, and challenged the old guard in the church. Even though they had heard about legalism from their pastors, they decided that they would redefine legalism and throw their pastors in that new definition. In fact, anyone who would limit one’s enjoyment of this life would be considered judgmental or legalistic, and the idea of judging and being legalistic became the most evil of sins.
This idea flourished as the church began to shift its emphasis from God to man. Churches and pastors redefined love to mean accommodating and tolerant, and expressed the need to experience sin in order to “relate” to sinners and bring them into the kingdom. Christianity became about having a ticket to Heaven, and instead of being saved from the ravishing effects of sin in this life, it became about not experiencing the due punishment of sin in our lives.
The church body began to celebrate the fact that its sins were paid for, and that in death there was a place for them in a blissful and wonderful realm called Heaven.
The idea of a transformed life was minimized. The idea of being in a church that taught the Bible and actually applied it to life was minimized. The idea of leadership calling out a congregation on actions that were not glorifying to God became unacceptable.
The line of deviancy was moved up, and what was normal was now found deviant. This has been Satan’s way throughout history.
Satan, from the very first story in the Bible, worked hard at getting Eve to marginalize what God said and to believe that if she did not do so, she would be missing out on something special. Satan was wrong and evil, and we should not pattern our lives or churches after his ways.
In fact, many years ago I heard a preacher speak (a second generation preacher) who was, in a sense, making fun of his father (a preacher) and his congregations. He indicated that they were simple-minded and destructive due to their legalism and judgmental attitude, and he worked at helping define grace in a way that I thought was not Biblical and he spoke of the idea of God creating this world for us to enjoy, making our enjoyment the ultimate end all of our life experience. This pastor went on to make fun of older people who contributed to his father’s church services, in that they were people who were, by today’s standards, unpolished and unrefined, and who made Christianity something unattractive.
He and a slew of other pastors have redefined things like this: to have conviction is to be legalistic; to care about others is judgmental; to love this life is deserving. They have made church about man and reduced the amount of teaching time in order to preserve the family. They have congregations who know not God or His Word, yet rule their churches by a democratic process. They have normalized alcohol, dance, movies, rock and roll, and minimized service to others. They have marginalized God’s Word by allowing small groups to pool ignorance as they function without true leadership. They have changed the goal of life from being useful to our King to being comfortable and pleasurable. They have worked hard at “relating” to our culture, while no longer relating to our God. They have made conviction a sin, and the widow’s mite a trifle. They have promoted the pretend over the real, feelings over knowledge, and tolerance over all.
In 2 Timothy 4, we are warned that people will not listen to the Word taught in a reproving, rebuking, and exhorting way. In fact, we are told that they will just find teachers to satisfy their itching ears and they will follow them. We are warned that man will take over the authority that God alone should have, and that we, as a people, will be looking for those men to justify us rather than to challenge us.
God defines grace for us in Titus 2:11-15 where He says this: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self- controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”
The grace of God that brings salvation trains you to renounce ungodliness. We are to declare these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority, while letting no one disregard us. We would need to know this because as we declare these things, many disregard us.
In each area you can find a prominent Christian teacher who will tell you what you want to hear, but we must ask what it is that our God would say? What would God say about marriages? He would say that a man should love his wife as Christ loved the church and that He hates divorce. What would God say about lust (pornography)? He would say that adultery is wrong and that the thing that leads to adultery is wrong. What would He say about alcohol, modern dance, television, and perhaps the movie, The Hunger Games?
During the Iraq war time period we lost about 900,000 people due to alcohol abuse. There were countless rapes, murders, and robberies committed under its influence, yet there are preachers who are labeled legalistic who preach against such.
The average high school/college age boy watches 40-50 porn clips a week, and is now preparing to take our daughters to prom. Our daughters are dressing for prom in a way that leaves little to imagine, and will be anxious to move that body for all to see when the music plays, yet there are preachers who are labeled legalistic and judgmental who warn against such a practice.
There are movies that promote the homosexual agenda, that glorify sex outside of marriage, and, like The Hunger Games, promote a Godless, violent and hopeless world that the labeled legalistic and judgmental when preachers speak against them.
There are hours of music written by Godless self-absorbed individuals who promote a self-centered Godless way of life, and those backwards, so-called legalistic preachers are speaking against filling your minds with such.
There are hours of worthless television programs glorifying all things unGodly, and a program like Dancing with the Stars that shows scantily clad women moving to music in provocative ways, and programs like America’s Got Talent who wants Howard Stern to be a judge, and the so-called judgmental, legalistic preachers warn you of such influence.
We can spend hours entertaining ourselves, but let’s keep the message on Sunday morning to about 20 minutes, and let’s try to have a movie clip or two inserted to keep our attention.
I am discouraged. The church has lost its prophetic position. It has lost its safety net. It is powerless to change the world, for it has become the world.
Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Obeying God does not make you legalistic; it shows that you love God. Holding others to God’s standard is not judgmental; it shows that you love them.
- Trends in Christianity (standupforthetruth.com)
- When transparency is not forthcoming (standupforthetruth.com)
- The Hunger Games and Jesus… Not Quite (dangeroustalk.net)
- The Hunger Games: What’s So Good About Evil? (christianresearchnetwork.com)
- Warning issued re: violence of ‘Hunger Games’ (onenewsnow.com)
- The Hunger Games and Children: Playing with Fire (christiannewswire.com)
- ‘Hunger Games’ Scores $155 Million Opening Weekend (theblaze.com)
- “Hunger Games” – the Movie – The Orwellian Theme Behind the Movie (lighthousetrailsresearch.com)