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Hollywood, 'Noah' and Creative Liberty's Gray Areas

Hollywood, 'Noah' and Creative Liberty's Gray Areas

Editor’s Note: Darren Aronofsky’s Noah movie comes out on Friday. We invited XXX Church founder Craig Gross, whose son appears in the film, to discuss his thoughts on the project, the filmmaker behind it and the controversy it’s caused. RELEVANT will post a full review of the film when it releases tomorrow.

You know what color I love? Gray. I have tons of gray clothes, and it’s gotten so bad that my wife has told me to stop buying them. Gray shirts, gray shoes, gray jeans … I think my wife may have a point. 

But this isn’t about clothes. I think I love gray because that particular color reflects my views on most issues that face our world today: I pretty much find myself in the middle on most things. I have very, very few opinions that I would consider black and white, where there is a clear and definite absolute. 

Unfortunately, the loudest voices in our culture are often black and white.

You know what I’m talking about. These voices belong to people who say with clarity and certainty things like: 

  • Women can’t be pastors.
  • You can’t get into heaven without being baptized.
  • Jesus is coming back before the tribulation.
  • There is no such thing as speaking in tongues.

I get it. I understand the need to defend the faith. But I do wonder how these types of lines get drawn so definitively; why do these loud, black-and-white voices get so argumentative? 

Too often, those of us who are Christians find the need to dig in and prove that we’re right, to the point where we get very exclusive—often to the detriment of the large part of gray around us, holding to the really important parts of black and white. 

And still the Church gets divided on too many gray issues, treating them like they’re black and white.

And even if they are black or white in your opinion, nothing is as important as Jesus. 

Which brings me to the movie Noah, which hits theaters tomorrow, and which many Christians have already made up their minds to not see.

Hollywood taking some liberties with a Bible story is a gray issue, but the minority of voices in the Christian world want to make it black and white. It’s a major Hollywood production, financed by a major Hollywood studio in an effort to reach a wider audience with this epic story. 

And some Christians are approaching it with fear. Just like some of us approach so many other things. We’re afraid to talk to our kids about sex. We’re afraid of the government. We’re afraid of Hollywood basing a movie on the Bible. 

The fact is, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by major Hollywood studios to make movies from the Bible. That’s a good thing!

Will they take liberties with it? Yes.

Is that OK? Yes.

My son is an actor, and he had the opportunity to work on the film, playing Young Ham. I met Darren Aronofsky, the director, and heard firsthand about his passion for this project, how it’s been one he has been wanting to make since he was a kid, and how inspired he is by the story. 

None of us are going to be perfectly true to the Bible. But if we can live our lives, make films, and create music and art that attracts nonbelievers to Jesus, then we’re fulfilling the Great Commission. A film like Noah is a great opportunity for Christians to introduce this gray world to the black-and-white Jesus. 

But unfortunately, Darren isn’t part of the Christian elite. He used the F-word in an interview. He gets profiled by The New Yorker. He doesn’t make safe, “family” movies, but instead creative films that get messy and ask more questions than provide answers. 

Add to that the fact that Noah is being produced by Paramount, a major studio in Hollywood, instead of some upstart independent—and provably Christian—studio in Colorado Springs or Nashville. 

All of those things scream “gray,” and that makes them uncomfortable. Which makes them afraid. Which makes them dig in and get even louder in their black-and-white interpretations. 


Why are we so scared and fearful? 

Don’t we believe that Jesus is bigger than this stuff?

Don’t we believe that Jesus can handle some people getting their hands on one of the greatest stories in the Bible?

Don’t we believe that He can use that in some great and grand way to make Himself known? 

This movie isn’t taking your Bible away—you’ll still have the actual Scripture to read, to fall back on, to go through with your kids and your families. Regardless of how Noah is received or how well it performs at the box office, the words of Scripture will remain on the page.

Now that’s black and white I can get behind.  

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