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Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of The Christ'
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Should You Take Your Teens to 'The Passion' As it is Rated 'R'

By Doug Fields

CBN.comEditorial Note from Rick Warren: Having seen Mel Gibson's, The Passion of The Christ, twice, I can tell you that it is a cinematic masterpiece, and I would encourage you to use it as an outreach tool within your community.

In the meantime, below is an article by Doug Fields, youth pastor at Saddleback, discussing the 'R' rating on the film. We believe the film is excellent, but we would not recommend anyone under 13 see it, and in our discussion with Mel Gibson, he agrees. Doug explains more ...

I just saw a premiere screening of Mel Gibsons new movie about Jesus crucifixion. Heres my one word response to this controversial movieWOW! This movie impacted my life, it got me thinking, and I became so excited that teenagers might actually see what weve been teaching.

Upon reflection, I also became very aware that many youth workers will probably get in some trouble for suggesting that their students watch an R rated movie.

This amazing movie is rated R because of the violence.*

As a youth worker youre going to be faced with a dilemma do you encourage students to see this movie or do you avoid it because of its rating? I hope you promote it with caution and intelligence. The movie will cause students to think and ask questions. Its really an amazing movie.

Lets be honest, the Cross was violent! Crucifixion was a brutal form of execution. When Jesus died for my sins, the nails were real, his flesh broke, and the blood fell. This incredible (and violent) act paid the price that I couldnt pay.

'The Passion of The Christ'After seeing the violence that Jesus may have suffered, I want to know Him more, I want to be a more committed follower of Jesus, I want people to know what Jesus did. Because of this, I personally believe its worth the risk of taking some heat by promoting this movie.

Because I was privileged to see the movie, I wanted to tell my youth ministry friends to get ready. Think about it. Discuss it with parents. Consider the options. But, be ready for the opportunity, because the movie releases in a few weeks.

Ive read about Jesus on the Cross hundreds of times. Ive spent my life pointing kids to Jesus and trying to explain the reason behind the Cross. Ive intellectually studied the evidence, Ive read about the brutality of crucifixion, but Ive never felt the emotion of the crucifixion like I did when I saw Mel Gibsons movie. I dont think Ill ever be the same.

I wept as I saw the Scriptures come to life. I felt the humanity of Jesus like never before. You see, when I teach about Jesus, I typically talk about his divinity ... often to the neglect of his humanity.

This movie reminded me of his humanity. Honestly, I cant put into words what I felt as I watched this.

One controversy that you may hear about the movie is that its anti-Semitic. That wasnt my observation. It didnt portray an indictment toward Jewish peoplerather humanity. Jews didnt put Jesus on the Cross, sin didit was my sins that put Jesus on the Cross. I dont see the controversy.

After the movie, Mel Gibson spoke and revealed his heart. He was great. He said he didnt feel called to make the movie ... rather he felt pushed. Not making it would have been an act of disobedience.

Mel Gibson Directs 'The Passion of The Christ'Mel said that making this movie may be a career killer, but he had to make it. As you may have heard, no one was willing to finance a movie about Jesus that was true to Scripture. So, he financed it himself. I was impressed with his heart, his motive, his faith, his transparency and his spiritual journey. Hes the real deal!

After the preview, I met with some youth ministry friends and talked about how we might use this with students at our church. Honestly, I dont know yet.

Heres what I know were going to do:

1. Write to parents and encourage them to take their kids to see this.

2. Contact our local movie theatre and see if we can rent it out for a private screening for our teenagers and their friends.

3. Purchase large quantities of the Gospel of John so non-churched students can further investigate Jesus.

4. Create discussion opportunities following each screening.

5. Show the trailer to our leadership students and begin brainstorming how they might want to bring their friends to the movie when it opens February 25th (Ash Wednesday).

6. Create a handout for our regular students: 10 ways to get your friends to see this movie.

7. Start talking about the movie to our students to create a little pre-view hype. Honestly, I think the R-rating will work to that advantage for students to be interested in seeing it.

As you prayerfully consider this movie and how you might use it as a way to introduce students to Jesus, I would encourage you to visit some of the movies websites.

*Because movie ratings are assigned by the dozen members or so of the ratings board of the Motion Picture Association of America, the boards rating decisions are entirely subjective. Nor does the ratings board base its decisions on scriptural standards of conduct or of art. Ratings simply advise viewers about the level of adult content in a movie so parents can exercise appropriate control over what their underage children see.

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Used with permission,

Doug Fields is youth pastor at Saddleback Church. You can learn more about his ministry at

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA., a congregation that now averages 16,000 in attendance each weekend. Rick is also author of The Purpose Driven Church, and The Purpose Driven Life. He is the founder of, a global Internet community for those in ministry. You may reprint this article in your publication with the following attribution: From Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for those in ministry,

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