Confessions of a Pastor who saw Trainwreck

I like to laugh. I mean, really laugh. Neither of my jobs require heavy-lifting (props to the landscapers and bricklayers out there), but pastoring and radio work can still be stressful. So, I like to unwind with a good comedy. The problem in recent years is the famine of comedy that’s really funny without being inappropriate. There are family-friendly comedies that really aren’t that funny (in my opinion). So I’m left with crass comedy that makes me laugh a lot, but only as I ignore the subtle whisper of the Holy Spirit, “Cisco, are you sure you should be watching this?”

I ignored the Holy Spirit last week and saw Trainwreck. I had to take our car in for some work and there’s a movie theater right across the street from the shop. How ironic that Trainwreck was starting right as I had two hours to kill. “Surely, God wants me to see this movie!” While everyone else in the theater was laughing out loud, I was having a deeply spiritual experience. Instead of relieving the stress of a busy life, I was engaged in a conversation with God that finally led to me screaming “Uncle!” But it was a movie theater, so I didn’t scream out loud.

Here are three thoughts from a pastor who saw Trainwreck:

1) I’m not that mature. Maybe you’ve said this to yourself, “I’m spiritually mature enough to laugh at the good and ignore the bad in any movie. I can handle this.” I’ve said that to myself a million times and it’s a lie. Every bit of nudity, every crass joke, and every cruel insult enters my brain and never leaves. They slowly numb me so that I am less able to see a clear distinction between what is godly and what is not. It’s a subtle danger that we can try to ignore, but it’s a danger nonetheless.

2) Crass humor isn’t just for boys anymore. Porky’s, Animal House, and so many other movies in the same genre were designed by men and for men. The lead characters telling the jokes were men. It was widely understood that potty humor was for guys (not that it was God-honoring for men, but that’s a discussion for another day). That’s changed. Now, comediennes such as Amy Schumer and Melissa McCarthy (both VERY funny) are the ones starring in the movies. It’s turned crass movies into girl flicks that are good for ladies night out or even date night. So instead of fewer people ingesting this, there are more. That can’t be good.

3) Is it pure and lovely? Philippians 4:8 gives us a filter to use when deciding whether to see a movie or not.

“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”

It’s hard to put Trainwreck through that filter and reach the conclusion that we should see it. Add Spy and Bridesmaids to the list too.

God works in each of our lives at His own pace. You may not agree with this post. Yet. There was a time not long ago when I thought any kind of media short of pornography was alright. But increasingly I’ve begun to see the importance of filling my mind with things that glorify God. It means I don’t get to see quite as much comedy as I used to, but my soul is thanking me.

9 thoughts on “Confessions of a Pastor who saw Trainwreck

  1. Thanks much Cisco — note to self — send Cisco things that really make me laught out loud!!!  Sending love to you and Anna,  Denise

  2. Watch Duck Dynasty! LOL! Since you’re not from the South, you might need an explanation of the show… A family of [mostly] smart people (all the men have college degrees, the 2 main men, Phil and Willy, both have Masters degrees) design each episode to have 2 “skits” or stories. Sure, they act silly in these skits, but they’re to illustrate a moral. At the end of each episode, there’s a prayer thanking Jesus for His salvation power, then Willy gives the moral. It might be about humility, or what we treasure, or adjusting our life priorities. It’s fun trying to figure out what the moral is that week before it’s explicitly explained.

  3. Thanks for your comments Cisco. I couldn’t agree with you more. I remember when I made the mistake of watching Bridesmaides I was struck by the notion that Hollywood could sell obnoxious women, just as they had been selling obnoxious men for years. How sad. If you’re looking for a good laugh, at 60 yrs old I laughed out loud at Pixels, and for that matter the Lego Movie as well. Thank goodness I’m raising my 12 yr old nephew & have an excuse to go to kids movies!

    Keep up the good work Pastor.

    Maureen Mulhall

    Springfield, IL

  4. I left a message in fb for you on this. Thank you for your honesty. not to much good comes out of Hollywood.

    Sincerely, Consuelo

  5. If you like British comedy, Keeping Up Appearances is a hoot! It’s all reruns now but it’s very funny. I think it’s on PBS.

  6. “Call the Midwife” on PBS is delightful. “Doc Martin” is another BBC program we enjoy. Earlier programs may be on Netflix.

  7. Being a male L&D nurse for 24 years soured me on all humor (by and for males) that reduced women in status or treated their bodies as sex objects. Unfortunately, my hostile reactions weren’t just to secular movies but to carefully crafted innuendos from pulpits. However, the more I was weaned off this male-oriented viewpoint, the more I saw how even some moral warnings promote this sexually objectifying view of women.

    The sexual focus religiously imposed on females was the first falsehood debunked by my work with nude moms birthing and breastfeeding babies. Naked truth exposed the naughty error. But most Christian men in America look at female bodies through a sexually tainted lens held up to their eyes by church teaching. The realization of this shocked me at first, but further thinking revealed an even more hideous reality: our prudish view of the body has created a pornographic culture. We think we fight porn, even while perpetuating it.

    I grant that the above analysis is a paradigm shift for modern believers. But when that shift mentally occurs, Christians can fight porn, body-image issues, gender confusion and sex trafficking at its roots, and the church can repent its delinqency of stewardship as God’s expert sex-educators in a world hungry for sexual truth. (For further reading on this: sustained.html).

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