Posts Tagged ‘children’

What do I expect from What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Well, I certainly don’t expect to see conscientious husbands and fathers exercising spiritual leadership in the home. What would be the humor in that? And, how would that be reflective of our society anyway (since Hollywood always tells us that they strive to reflect culture in their movies, not promote it)? Therefore, I expect that WTEWYE will have plenty of fathers-to-be acting like idiots, with absolutely very little idea what fatherhood is all about.

Granted, movie trailers don’t always give you the entire story–even though many of them do clip together the extent of the good parts! But the trailer for WTEWYE tells us much about the men in the movie. Specifically, we witness a “dudes group”: a support group for fathers and fathers-to-be. Now, I’m not a big fan of support groups, but I understand why they are popular with so many. It’s comfoting to have the encouragement and counsel of those who are experiencing the same circumstances as you.

Like all most support groups, the dudes group in WTEWYE has a couple of rules. First, what is talked about in the group stays in the group (I know, sounds eerily similar to Vegas). Second, and most importantly: No judging in the dudes group! These two governing principles makes the group a safe place to share and discuss common problems. Sounds fair enough.

But what happens when the group becomes more of the “blind leading the blind” rather than a repository of wisdom and knowledge? For example, one “seasoned” dad gives this advice to a father-to-be: “Stay on the other side (meaning childlessness). This is the side where happiness goes to die.” Definitely a funny line. But is this the encouragement our new fathers need? Obviously not. It is our duty as Christian fathers to communicate that, while fatherhood is really hard work, it is a joyful calling from the LORD! This is just one example that reminds us to be careful of what sort of groups we participate in–that we aren’t really being counseled by fools.

Here are some other great lines from dads in the dudes group: “You dropped your kid off a changing table?” “My kid ate a cigarette!” “I caught him playing in the dryer yesterday.” “I picked up the wrong baby from daycare.” Again, very funny. And, you can see why the two main rules of the support group are so important! What would the wives say if they knew? Remember, no judging!

Don’t get me wrong, we fathers make LOTS of silly (and sometimes serious) mistakes with our children. We are often particularly incompetent when it comes to infants and toddlers. If I catalogued some of my own errors with my babies, this post would become way too long (and much too embarrassing). So the dudes group in WTEWYE is probably a fairly good representation of the modern father.

My problem with the dudes group (in addition to the “blind leading the blind” aspect) is the notion that there should be no judging of one another. But, wait a minute–aren’t the dudes just following Christ’s injunction in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? Even non-Christians throw out this verse to support a view of absolute tolerance of the behaviors of other people. We should allow all people to live their lives, make their own decisions, with no criticism or moral judgment. Besides, the dudes will only be free to share if they feel no condemnation from other dudes, right?

But there is a vast difference between harsh, thoughtless judgmentalness and Biblical judging. One just needs to read the next few verses of Matthew 7 to see this truth. In verse 2, we learn that we will be held to the same standard to which we hold others. In verses 3-4, Jesus describes the hypocrisy of judging someone else’s sin while refusing to looking at our own sins. Then finally, in verse 5 we have these words: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So Jesus is clearly not forbidding all sorts of judging or even the confronting of others in their sin.

Biblical judgment is essential among dudes (and dudettes) for numerous reasons (I’ll just list three). First, we have a responsibility to live according to God’s Word. We are free in Christ in order to live to please God. Second, we need other people to see our sins and failings due to our own blind spots. Because of our sin, we can’t always see our actions and decisions clearly. And finally, we should recognize that Biblical judging serves as safety and protection from the LORD. If we don’t allow others to confront us in our sins and errors, we will most likely continue in them.

So while I applaud men seeking the help and support of other men, let’s take it to the next level and openly invite one another to level some Biblical judgment!


I think I’ve just been typecast. Assign the review of What to Expect When You’re Expecting to the guy who has been through eight full-term pregnancies with his wife. Sure, I get it. Come to think of it, I’m probably the only one among us Reel Thinking guys who actually read the pregnancy manual that’s the basis for this movie from cover to cover. Hey, I wanted to be prepared! To this day, my wife teases me for how often I quoted from “the manual” (actually many, many manuals) over the nine months leading up to the birth of our firstborn daughter. More on that in a bit.

WTEWYE appears to be a pretty standard ensemble cast dramedy about “real marriage and family life.” One of my personal favorites of this genre was the 1989 movie Parenthood, starring Steve Martin, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, a young Keanu Reeves, among many others. It chronicled the struggles of yes, you guessed it, parenthood. The film has a lot of heavy subject matter, but for counselor-types like me, I enjoyed all of the family dysfunction. Since then, there have been many more movies that attempt to look at the joys and pains of family life, with WTEWYE being the latest. And, throw in some attractive, popular movie stars acting pregnant (plus the humor of Chris Rock), and you have a sure-fire hit!

Just the plot synopsis from IMDB cracks me up: “Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don’t stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; while Wendy’s husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad, who’s expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child, but her husband Alex isn’t so sure, and tries to quiet his panic by attending a “dudes” support group, where new fathers get to tell it like it really is. And rival food truck chefs Rosie and Marco’s surprise hook-up results in an unexpected quandary: what to do when your first child comes before your first date?” Sounds like five fairly typical American couples, doesn’t it? (Although I am quite stunned to not see at least one homosexual couple in the mix!)

If I actually see the movie one day, the character I would most be interested in is Wendy. She is a high-powered author and conference speaker who trains women how to be perfect new mommies. According to the trailer, she shares with her audience these motivating words: “I’m calling [expletive deleted]. Pregnancy sucks!” All her years of attempting to convince moms of the joys and glories of pregnancy went out the window when she finally experienced it herself. Surprise, surprise…carrying and giving birth to a child is extremely tough and painful! What did she expect?

Well, that’s really the message of the movie, isn’t it? Expecting a baby is really about the unexpected. First of all, many women (like Wendy) do not expect their pregnancy (or labor) to be as difficult and painful as it is. They ignore (or are unaware) that this pain and tribulation is part of the curse found in Genesis 3:16, “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth your children…'” As much as we all would love to offer women a pain-free method of pregnancy, it is impossible in our sinfully fallen world. Any freedom from suffering that does come during those nine months is purely due to the grace of God.

Another expectation many parents have during pregnancy is that their child will be born “perfectly” healthy. Every time Martie was pregnant, the predominant comment to us was: “Well, it doesn’t matter if it is a boy or girl, as long as it’s healthy!” Now I understand why we say those things to pregnant moms–we all have some level of fear of a child with birth defects. Unfortunately, because we often have this expectation, it makes giving birth to a child with “special needs” that much more difficult to handle. It rocks our world because we expect this to happen to others, not us. Yet none of us are promised healthy children, or even to be able to have children at all! Again, living in a fallen world means that we will have illness, disease, and even birth defects. Supremely painful, yet to be expected in a Biblical worldview.

And, finally, many new moms and dads are just like me. I wanted to have absolutely NO surprises in our pregnancies. I wanted everything to go according to the manual. My expectation was that if we just followed what the experts told us, then all would be well. This sort of need for control is actually quite pitifully humorous (which I’m sure we’ll see a lot of in WTEWYE) because we Christians should know better. Only God is in control…especially in the giving of life. Our expectations are rarely achieved. So, instead of trying so hard to learn what to expect when we’re expecting, we should use times like pregnancy and childbirth to learn to trust God more!

The people have spoken–especially the pre-teens and teens!  The Hunger Games set the box office opening weekend record for a non-sequel film, making a whopping $155 million dollars.  And, according to, 95% of the moviegoers recommend the movie.  This sort of response demands just one more post, so once more into the fray we go.  If you haven’t read the two other reviews yet, please look at post one and post two first, since this one will build on those thoughts.

A couple of opening comments.  First, these posts on The Hunger Games are about the first movie/book only, not the entire trilogy.  Second, the goal here is to do our best to illuminate movies with the light of Scripture in order to encourage Biblical thinking–not to either recommend or not recommend.  And finally, since this movie/book is written for and marketed to pre-teens, the reviews have been primarily written with their minds “in mind.”

So, for all of you who have, or will watch The Hunger Games, here are ten discussion questions–especially for parents who are training your teens and pre-teens to think as Christians:

1.  Suzanne Collins has commented that she wrote this book as a critique of war (especially the Iraq War).  In that light, what does she want us to think about war?  Do you agree with her?

2.  If you came out of this movie saying that it was “great” or “awesome,” why was it great?  Because the story was so sad/distressing/painful?  Because the heroes “won?”  Because of the characters?  Because of the action?  Because it showed you how horrible life is without God?  Why?

3.  There are reviewers of this movie that believe our children need to see even more violent movies because we shelter them too much from violence.  Do you agree or disagree?  And, how does that square with the research that estimates children see approximately 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence on TV shows/movies by the age of eighteen?

4.  Some have suggested that the extreme violence of The Hunger Games is okay for children because the Bible is filled with violence.  So, what’s the difference between a story of a violent world without God and one with God?

5.  Some also believe that the film teaches children how miserable a world without God really is.  Is this what you took away from the film?  Before you answer, consider this: When will our children actually experience a world without God?  Even in the most evil of times in Scripture (think the days of Noah or the Judges), God was still in control, and God still intervened and delivered His people.  So how does a totally naturalistic story teach us anything about our own reality?

6.  My apologies if this offends all of you friends-of-Katniss: But what makes her the heroine of the story?  I know, it’s written from her perspective, and the author wants us to view her as the hero.  And she is certainly very heroic.  But, aren’t all twenty-four children “innocent?”  Don’t they have parents and loved ones too?  Shouldn’t we be rooting for all of them?  Are there really any “good” guys or “bad” guys in the Games?

7.  The storyteller wants us to believe that Katniss does absolutely all that she can do in this miserable situation.  Maybe so.  She doesn’t really want to kill anyone.  She actually wants to figure out a way to destroy the Games.  But could she have done something else?  For example, what about just refusing to play?  In other words, what about martyrdom?  Think of it this way, if someone told you to kill an innocent 15 year old girl or you will be killed, what would you do?  Or how about this way…how do we compare Katniss’ choices to the choices of Joseph, Daniel, or especially Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

8.  We are also led to believe that the adults in the districts are absolutely unable to resist the Hunger Games.  Since they lost the rebellion, this is the only way to survive.  But is this realistic (I know, it’s fiction)?  Consider that, even in the most repressive regimes in history, there have always been people who refuse to go along with the program.  Shouldn’t there have been adults who gave their lives for these children (you’ll have to kill me before you take my kid sort of thing)?

9.  Many have said this story, at its core, is really just about surviving.  That’s certainly true.  But is life for the Christian in this world ever just about surviving?  Do we embrace a Darwinian worldview and believe deep-down in the “survival of the fittest?”  Think about first century Christians and their Roman oppressors.  Were they exhorted by God’s Word just to survive a hopeless situation, or to strive for something more (See I Peter)?

10.  Effie introduces the Games this way: “And may the odds be ever in your favor!”  Is this your view of life?  Is it all just random?  Or, to put it another way, do the rich and powerful always have the best odds in this life?  Is life just a game of chance?

That should be plenty to think about.  May The Hunger Games make us all the more thankful that we have a loving, gracious, and all-powerful God in control of our world!