He is whipped by the cat’o’nine tails, pierced with a lance under his arm, and has the crown of thorns pounded into his head with a mallet. The crucifixion and beating alone lasts forty-five minutes. Do these sound like images a ten-year-old child should have embedded in his or her mind?Apparently many religious leaders do. According to USA Today, Pastor Matt Stoehr from Utah thinks, “Most images of Christ on the cross are too tame.” Churches, including Stoehr’s, are renting out entire theaters to view Mel Gibson’s controversial film, “The Passion of the Christ.” Pastor Jerry Johnston from Kansas City said, “The violence is necessary to understand the sacrifice Jesus made.” Johnston has rented out six theaters and one auditorium for children eleven and older. He went on to say, “I hope they’re disturbed enough to make their peace with Jesus.”
Some adults feel children have no business viewing the extremely graphic portrayal of Jesus’ final twelve hours, and anyone who has seen “Braveheart” or “The Patriot” can assume how violent this film will be. Nell Minow from “Movie Mom” said, “Disturbing images can be what sticks with a child, not the message behind it.”
Aside from these graphic details, the entire movie is subtitled as the characters speak Aramaic and Latin, two dead languages. Most children who go see this film will not want to sit in the theater for the two hour long movie and read the subtitles to characters they can barely identify with. The only thing keeping their eyes on the screen will be the blood and torture of Jesus, and that should not be the focus for a movie children are watching.
Most adults who see this film will be just as shocked and disturbed as the children. However, the children will not have the emotional capacity or stability to rationalize the violence and torture. Most people do not come into their faith until they can make it applicable to their lives, and children will not be able to apply these images to their young and inexperienced minds. Teaching children about the crucifixion in Sunday school and preaching about Jesus’ sacrifices in church can be positive and thought provoking. However, for parents and priests to send their children to a movie with such graphic and realistic images at such a young age is inap-propriate and irresponsible