Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Wanderlust" Letter to the Editor

A letter I wrote to the editor of Chimes, Biola's student newspaper:

I am convinced that there is nothing more lethal than legalism. No mindset is more antithetical to life in Christ. That is why I am so concerned by the recent review of the film “Wanderlust.”

According to the author, “Wanderlust” is a “raunchy comedy” filled with “gratuitous, full-frontal group nudity.” Despite this, it is clear that the author does not believe he has committed a sin in watching this film. On the contrary, he appears to have enjoyed it immensely. Going into the movie, he knew it “could be nothing but hilarious” and was not disappointed. The movie was “darn entertaining.” “Grotesque amounts of nudity not withstanding, ‘Wanderlust’ is another very, very funny comedy.”

In these words, the author has revealed that he is a thorough legalist. Contrary to the popular misconception, a legalist is not one who condemns activities not explicitly condemned in Scripture. Many legalists certainly do this, but so do all Christians who condemn abortion, slavery, or pornography. A true legalist is one who believes that righteousness consists in the external. Legalists have clean hands and filthy hearts. Legalists are “white-washed tombs.” The essence of legalism is the attempt to drive a wedge between inner and outer, between heart and hands, between soul and body.

No doubt, the author considers it a sin to engage in the activities depicted in “Wanderlust,” but he clearly does not consider it a sin to enjoy them. This is one of the most fundamental and devastating misunderstandings of Christianity. The popular slogan “What Would Jesus Do” fails to capture the goal of the Christian life, which is nothing short of total conformity to the image of Christ. Such conformity does indeed include our actions, but it also includes our affections. Not only are we to do what Jesus would do, we are to enjoy what Jesus would enjoy. This requires a total transformation, accomplished only through daily participation with Christ in his death and resurrection.

I am fairly certain that Jesus would not find “Wanderlust” funny. I believe his emotional response to this film would be markedly different than the emotional response described by the author.

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