Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Missionary Dating Movies

As I've watched a bunch of "christian" movies lately, one theme that I'm a little concerned about is basically this-- the "protagonist" in the story is messed up. He will come to Jesus by end of movie. And helping him along the way is his "Christian" girlfriend.

I haven't just described one movie. I'm looking at a stack of 5 movies and 3 of them have this plot device. My thirteen year old boy was watching with me on one of them and I really became conscious of what we're preaching here.

Back in my day in youth group, this was called "missionary dating." The term describes the Christian who dates a non-believer in the hopes of converting him. Usually, this is total farce and full on hypocrisy-- because really, the Christian simply wants that person and justifies the "unequally yoked" principle by introduce the mission purpose.

And as the youth leader said back then, it hasn't changed-- missionary dating is dangerous and doesn't work. It's wrong and dysfunctional. But now, all of a sudden, our "christian" burgeoning pop culture is reintroducing the idea-- showing that "see sweetie, you can date that heathen and he'll come around. Quick! Go plant him a big one on the lips and get him to the Kingdom!"

Now as a screenwriter, I understand the predicament. You have a man who is going on a journey of faith. (Or to Faith). You need a female lead. Voila, the die is cast. I challenge you Believers that are going to make movies-- don't introduce dangerous theology just so that your main message can work better as a plot device. I challenge you to find creative solutions that avoid error and enhance your plot. You work for the Giver of all creativity anyway. Why not reflect Him?


  1. What films? Have you seen "To Save A Life" yet? I just gave an Imposter DVD to a work acquaintance - actually a client. This is something I never would have done or found too risky to do not long ago, but I'm trying to live it out as NAF has had a strong impact on me!

  2. I haven't seen TSAL yet. What's "NAF?"

  3. TSAL has that level of realism that the Imposter has - check it out!

  4. I didn't realize that was you Jim. I haven't had a chance to get back to NAF. It is good stuff.

  5. TSAL preview:
    we showed it this past Saturday night and had a great response!

  6. You're right Daniel, the "missionary dating" device is not only common, it can be spiritually confusing. I don't know if you have had a chance to visit our website but we decided not only to shun that device, but to enter a realm (supernatural genre) where many Christian filmmakers dare not tread. But as an Independent creative type, I'm certain you can appreciate our passion for reaching a broader audience.

    Keep on "killing yourself", but remain healthy in your journey.