By Lisa Cherry
Sometimes it seems easier to continue arguing about surface issues than to deal with the root of our problems. That’s what has happened with the controversy over the “Noah” movie. Theater attendance, heretical stories and Hollywood profits are the least of our concerns with this movie. We are overlooking four critical issues that this important story brings to light that are poised to potentially divide our families and destroy their future.
First is the issue of biblical illiteracy. Seriously. Some of the most outlandish discussions concerning the details of the plot of “Noah” underscore the fact that, as a nation, our basic understanding of the Bible is lacking. Take the rock monsters that have been inserted into the Hollywood version of this story. In the movie, it is suggested that they are angels. Others propose that these creepy monsters represent the giants mentioned in the Genesis account of Noah. A recent poll revealed that 30 percent of millennials think Noah was married to Joan of Arc! How can we imagine that the average American adult or teen could accurately sort fact from fiction in a “Bible-inspired” big-screen production?
Second is the issue of deception. When an atheist film director reinvents Noah as a radical environmentalist who wants to kill his own grandkids, we rightly shout, “biblically inaccurate!” But meanwhile, here in the church world, we are guilty of our own form of creative license. Painted elephants and giraffes riding sweet little boats decorate the walls of our children’s nurseries while songs about “arky arkys” are taught to our young. But these are far departures from biblical history. Isn’t this religiously sanitized version of an account of sinful depravity and utter destruction as deceptive as Mr. Aronofsky’s fictional Hollywood tale? Aren’t we missing the point?
But if the danger of the growing biblical illiteracy and deception in our land is not enough to raise an alarm, let us consider issue number three: apathy.
In Matthew 24:37-39, when Jesus was asked about His second coming, He stated, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (NIV, italics added).
As we reflect on that passage, the moral decay in our nation, and the signs of the times – as biblical prophecies are being fulfilled in our midst – aren’t we in the exact same situation Noah was thousands of years ago? Shouldn’t we be building an “ark”?
Some may yawn, “Yeah, Jesus is coming back. And yes, there is sin in the world … but hasn’t there always been sin? I guess it will be kinda like the time of Noah and the animals on that ark, but really, it isn’t that serious.”
But this is serious.
It will be “as it was in the days of Noah”! We are already there.
Apathy abounds all around us. We can no longer complacently stand by and watch as doctrines are rewritten to suit us as the church morphs on foundational issues never dared to have been touched before. And now our brother Noah’s story serves as our reminder. Souls – possibly of our own kids – could be eternally lost! Verse 42 of that same chapter in Matthew says, “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Keeping watch is a whole lot different than watching entertainment on a big screen. It means taking to heart the full weight of Genesis 6:5 that says “[each] man’s heart was only evil all the time” (NIV). It means staying awake and alert. It means taking time to learn what else God would say in such places as, Luke 21, 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Peter 3.
We must comprehend His heart cry that says:
People, I am coming again. It is very important you do not lose your way. Prepare. Be alert. You won’t know the day, but you will note the season. In fact, the days will be wicked and confusing as men’s hearts will fail them as most even turn away. There will be itching ears and false prophets and rebellion to parents and such.
Hmm, does this description ring as familiar in your ears as it does in mine? The world lures our children into compromise with words such as:
Come on, young ones. Do you own thing. Make your own way. Find your own path. Be open to all ideas. The old guard has had it all wrong. Shake off the shackles of closed mindedness. Everyone has a right to their own truth. Do not worry or fear. This sin concept has been misunderstood all along.
All the while, God is still trying to get our attention.
Remember: It will be “as it was in the days of Noah.”
Finally, apathy leads us directly into the painful and fourth issue: generational strife.
Noah’s story brings to light what we would rather not see, let alone face. Society has redefined the same words we taught our kids not so long ago: Sin. Sex. Righteousness. Marriage. Science. Faith. Grace. These words, as we know them, have shifted to accommodate the sight and sound generation’s itching ears. The church has felt compelled to give the Bible and its accounts a fresh makeover. But in doing so, have we watered down the truth? Has the message of holiness been lost?
Consider the generational conflict that ensued from the recent World Vision homosexuality mess. As World Vision leaders appropriately responded to correction by leading evangelical leaders, there were many who, embracing the new cultural trend of homosexual marriage, were deeply upset by World Vision’s reversal. The CNN Belief blog post, written by millennial author Rachel Held Evans, “How Evangelicals Won the Culture War but Lost a Generation,” outlined her peers’ disillusionment with the traditional interpretation of scripture.
Consider also the recent Charisma news article, “Noah Was Not a Righteous Man,” authored by popular pastor and author Mark Driscoll, in which he attempted to redefine Noah in light of the new doctrine of grace. Two days later, author Michael Brown countered the younger man’s view sharply with his piece titled simply, “Mark Driscoll Was Wrong about Noah.” In the article, Brown states, “To be sure, we can always discuss questions of God’s sovereignty and His empowering grace, but those questions are not the subject of the flood account, nor are they part of the lesson the Lord wants us to learn from the text.”
Noah’s example is best understood from Hebrews 11:7, which says, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark” (NIV).
Please take note of the two strong words from the writer of Hebrews: faith and fear. These may not be popular topics among the modern progressive church, but they are still key elements today.
Make no mistake: I hate generational conflict. Like most, I cherish peace and unity and want us to just all get along. And so, I am quite tempted to soften and change my stance – just enough so that our kids will not leave.
But then I consider the example of Noah. And I read again what caused him to obey. In holy fear he did not bend to popular opinion. He did not change his morals to fit the culture’s. He boldly chose the different path that God commended. He was righteous. He was blameless among his generation, and he walked with God (see Genesis 6:9). And by the ark, which he built out of obedience, what seemed foolish in Noah’s generation saved his entire family.
Fellow parents and leaders, as the controversy over the “Noah” movie swirls around us, let us focus on the most important factors and reveal the whole truth of the biblical story of Noah to all who will hear. His legacy is the message for this hour. It is beckoning us to take a fresh look. And when we will take heed and remove these four dangerous blinders, we have the chance to follow his lead.
The flood of dissipation is coming, and, in fact, is already here. The seasons have changed and our world is afloat. So maybe we cannot win the culture war for our whole nation by ourselves. But we can take a stand in our own lives and in our own homes for the truth.
No more biblical ignorance. No more fantasy land deception. No more apathy, and no more strife. Together we choose the fear of the Lord.
I am comforted to know God saved at least one family through the flood of long ago. Today, He is looking for others who will respond to His words of warning – and by faith, and in holy fear, build their boats.
Have you and your family determined you will obey His instructions and build a home that will stand for righteousness, even when others are swept away?
Lisa Cherry is a national speaker on the road 24 to 32 weekends out of each year addressing parents, teens and Christian leaders on the growing spiritual culture war. She is also author of “Not Open: Win the Spiritual Culture War” and “Unmask the Predators.” For additional information about Lisa, go to FrontlineFamilies.org or join the “I’m Not Open Revolution” on the Facebook page I’m Not Open.