Christians, Changing Standards and Forrest Gump

By Connie W. Adams

We don’t go to the movies much anymore. The last few times we did, we were greatly disappointed and left feeling we had wasted our time and perhaps had contributed to a business which is helping to ruin the moral sensitivities of many in our nation, including many who profess to love the Lord. It appears to me that the problem is akin to Isaiah’s complaint against Israel in his day. He said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)

What has happened to us is that we have lowered our tolerance level for that which ought to make us shudder and draw away in revulsion. Instead, we have learned to tune out obscenities, crudities, profanity and look for the artistic expression in the music or the acting. This seems especially true of many in the younger generation. We have had younger friends to rave to us about certain movies which were listed as PG or PG-13 and have inquired about how much sex, profanity or obscenity is in them, only to be met with a sort of blank stare and either a lack of recall of any of that, or else an admission that some of that was in them but that in spite of it, “it was really a great movie.” We have walked out, sometimes before we had finished the popcorn. Other times, we read reviews of some of these which were enough to tell us we did not need to go.

We have been told repeatedly by Christians whose judgment we would normally trust what a great movie “Forrest Gump” is. This is a story about a man of lesser intellect who was endowed with a great measure of common sense and who succeeded in spite of all his obstacles. We did not go and have no plans to do so because we understand there is a great deal of profanity in it and we are exposed to enough of it in the normal course of life that we just don’t aim to pay to hear anymore of it. But the other day I was reading the last edition of Think published by Al Diestelkamp and came across an article by Ed Brand on “Forrest Gump.” Based on recommendation from friends he decided to see this PG-13 rated movie. Following is a part of the article.

Within ten minutes his mother committed adultery with the school principal (who didn’t have any principles), so Forrest could go to regular school.

In college and in the army he associated with people who could not speak normally. Their language was laced with “God” this and “God” that. Of course, Jesus was also a popular item in their speech, plus every kind of profanity Americans have learned to use. I guess that’s what I had to overlook. It was sort of hard to overlook it. There was so much of it.

Then there were the obligatory sex scenes. One involved Forrest and his girlfriend. Another involved his former unit Captain who had his legs amputated, with two half-dressed prostitutes.

Then there was the war, with blood, gore, napalm, death and the inevitable cussin’. You know, the general family-type entertainment of the liberated 90’s.

I never did find out what happened to Forrest. My senses were so overwhelmed by what I had seen and heard. I got up and left.

It may be that these are the reflections of an old man (Ed is a good deal younger than me CWA) who can’t adjust to the present standards (?) of entertainment. You are right, I can’t. I thought that something which makes the time pass pleasantly was entertainment. “Forrest Gump” was not pleasant, nor was it uplifting. It contained the combinations of speech and action which were offensive and repugnant. Jesus said something about what you put in your mind comes out in action (see Matt. 15:10-20).

It seems ludicrous to go to the garbage can to try to find something sweet to eat. I’m sorry I went. I thought you might want to know (Think, Oct., Nov., Dec., 1994).

My brethren, when men and women who rake active roles in the work of local churches, some of whom are fathers and mothers, elders, deacons, song leaders, Bible class teachers, and preachers and their families, give rave reviews to the likes of “Forrest Gump” and speak of what a “great movie” that is, and who urge “you just have to go see it,” then in all candor, I truly fear for the future of the church.

When moral senses become dulled by overexposure to this sort of thing, then how can doctrinal soundness not be affected? If we can learn to just “tune out” all such wickedness in the interest of artistic expression, then what is to prevent “tuning out” some false teaching if the general material is well organized and presented in art appealing fashion? It is my conviction that is already happening in a good many places. Some brethren have become so accustomed to an overdose of pretty motivational speeches with a little Chuck Swindell and Max Lucado thrown in to make it tasty, that many brethren are actually startled. and some outraged, when they hear sound doctrine which draws a line between truth and error. We heard one young brother giving the invitation talk on a Wednesday night who held up a copy of a Chuck Swindoll book and then a copy of one by Max Lucado and recommended both of them very highly. Oh yes, he also used the NW as his text. He read only a verse or two and then treated us to lengthier readings from the two aforementioned books. The sad thing is that many brethren are blissfully unaware of the dangers involved.

Evil is not good and good is not evil. Bitter is not sweet and sweet is not bitter. I leave you with these passages to ponder.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prow. 4:23).

“Righteousness exalteth and nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words” (Prov. 15:26).

“Oh generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34).

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there by any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 7 p. 3-4
April 6, 1995